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May 13th, 2013 11:39 PM #66Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
May 14th, 2013 10:23 AM #68
May 14th, 2013 06:00 PM #70
Perhaps the core of your question comes from feeling "uncomfortable choosing a name that automatically reveals my privilege." You probably have a higher education degree, have had time to be introspective, and think about the very concept of revealing privilege, which I would say is a smaller group as a whole (U.S. based in this context) who have this luxury, so therefore would be a smaller group of people who you might consider pretentious or ostentatious for picking a literary name. When the general public is working at minimum wage and a gallon of gas takes up half of their hourly wage, you don't have time to consider if your child's name choice is communicating status or intellect.
I guess it is worth saying; everyone’s experience is different around the world, and definitely the U.S., and this is just my experience (again, everyone's experience is different!):
When I worked with wealthy coworkers/families from NY/Long Island their children’s names were Caroline, Anabel, Jack etc.
When I worked with struggling families in the Deep South, their children’s names were Othello, Apollo, Anikin, and Cain etc (the last little kiddo was super adorable, and his dad said he “wanted a Biblical name,” my silent/unshared thought was “have you read that particular story? Cain isn’t the good guy!) –
One of my clients in the Pacific NW services a heavily Hispanic community with children named Hugo, Esmeralda and Caesar on the roster, which I associate as “literary” titles.
I currently live in Seattle, which hits various well-read, literate city lists, but I wouldn't consider my friends, coworkers, clients or acquaintances who chose a literary name to fall within the pseudo-intellectual-child-status-branding club. This is of course framed by my experience, and the above examples.No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.
May 16th, 2013 09:39 AM #72
As I said, this is only my opinion, I don't think it makes me part of some sort of 'naming police' because I have opinions about styles of names. We all must have such opinions, or what is the purpose of discussing names on a naming forum beyond simply naming our own children? Names send signals, people interpret those signals. This is not some terrible, judgemental phenomenon, unless it is based on factors like class or race. In the case of literary names, I think it is only tangentially related to class, in the sense that it is way of revealing a privilege, as Daisy's post explained.
I think the name Gatsby is an ostentatious name in all cases, as it is so strongly associated with the character (who is himself an ostentatious character, ha!). It doesn't make a difference to me, particularly, if the person has read the book or not. Though it does seem pretentious if the parents chose the name after only seeing the movie partially because they liked the idea of being associated with a famous piece of literature. If, however, they simply chose the name because Leo DiCaprio is charming, or because they like the sound, then that's a different kettle of fish. I would hope, though, that all parents research the names they are considering for their children. If, after researching and discovering the history/associations of Gatsby, parents still chose the name; then, yes, that seems ostentatious to me (as it a deliberate statement/choice of signal). If parents do not research the name, then I would be disappointed about that. These are judgements that do not directly relate to class, and at most only reflected internalised societal perceptions of class.
Annora Juliet, Elspeth, Verity, Zelda, Josephine, Marianne, Rosemary Constance
Edmund Henry, Wesley, Jonah, Gilbert, August, Winston, Hugh Theodore
May 16th, 2013 12:18 PM #74Senior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
I think it is extremely important to make the distinction between extremely literary names- Gulliver, Tennyson, Eponine, Gatsby (though I don't hear that one often- and names that are kind of accidentally associated with literature, names that were used commonly before the books, such as Hugo, Ray, or Caesar. They are absolutely not the same thing and I'm talking about the former group only.
The assumption that the lower-class doesn't know about these literary names is wrong. I didn't grow up in the wealthiest of neighborhoods, and people still read classics in school, memorized the quadratic equation, all the normal education things that everyone does. With the few exceptions that you get anywhere, we still knew what the books were and who wrote them- people generally weren't so busy that they had no idea what was going on in the world. And kids from my neighborhood ALWAYS called things "rich people stuff." Starbucks= rich people stuff, Vacations = rich people stuff, Pomegranates = rich people stuff. I have a feeling that names like Keats would've fallen under our "rich people stuff" category. We thought about privilege, even if we didn't call it that.
Now that I've gotten an undergraduate degree and I'm doing fairly well, I've taken a liking to a lot of the "rich people stuff." So maybe it is my own sense of how my old friends would perceive me that's holding me back. Not everyone at home was as lucky as I was- I got a scholarship so hefty I graduated with virtually no debt- and it seems almost traitorous to do what I feel like is flaunting that.