This week’s news celebrates names that step outside the ordinary, from the worlds of hip-hop, college sports, and Spanish grandmothers.
Kulture and counter-culture
Maybe it’s the Cardi B effect. Last week the rapper and her husband Offset announced the birth of their daughter, Kulture Kiari. It’s a bold, possibly unique choice that reflects her father’s name and her parents’ values. Not surprisingly, the world had things to say about it.
This article is a welcome relief from the usual roll call of “crazy” celebrity baby names (which often turn out to be not actually that crazy). It’s a proud celebration of “extra juicy” names, not just because they made a change from the ones Boring Normals use, but because they challenge a dominant culture that has long belittled names that were out of the ordinary:
“As if language isn’t fluid! As if the tongue weren’t meant to always be learning! And what’s the result of it? Misplaced shaming and generations of missed opportunities.”
Now there’s encouragement to anyone thinking of naming outside the box.
Another defense of Cardi B’s baby name agrees that Kulture’s name shows her parents’ vibrancy and creativity. It’s not bestowed just for the sake of being a zany celebrity, but shows the pride they take in their, well, culture. And, as Cardi B said on her social media, “Anything else woulda been basic.”
Where do your naming tastes lie? Are you basic and proud, do you like names that blow your mind – or somewhere in between?
(And just for fun, since we’re talking about rappers: are you saying these rappers’ names correctly?)
Celebrity couple Ayesha and Steph Curry broke the mold in a different way with their new son, Canon W. Jack. With big sisters named Riley and Ryan, most of us predicted that they’d choose another R name. Instead, they went with a different letter, and an occupational name that’s rising but still below the Top 1000. Sometimes parents worry about breaking a sibling pattern – so it’s reassuring to see others do it.
Another TV chef, Donatella Arpaia, is in a dilemma. She’s expecting boy-girl twins and wants to call them Valentina and Marco. But her son Alessandro had a dream that they would be called Emma and Noah – decidedly more “basic”, as Cardi B might say. What would you do…maybe use the dream names in the middle spot?
Fantastic footballers’ names
Let’s look at some more real examples of outside-the-box names. The best names in this year’s college football teams are a treasure trove of boys’ names.
The list runs into the hundreds, including virtues (Tuf, Legend), impactful word names (Smoke, Thunder – and also Hekili, which means “thunder” in Hawaiian), spelling variations (Jamez, Ulysees), diverse cultural backgrounds (Brentavious, Egidio, Wolfgang), and surname names of all kinds (O’Shea, Briggs, Mandela). As the proportion of boys with a Top Ten name shrinks, so the long tail of individual names keeps growing.
Irish and Spanish baby names: beyond the basics
Just when you think you’re clued up on Irish names, a Gaelic footballer goes and names his twin boys Donagh and Keadán. They’re little-known outside Ireland, but Donagh ranked #125 there in 2017. Keadán is a rarity even in Ireland, but is similar to the familiar Kayden-names.
Likewise, you’ll probably be familiar with today’s stylish old-lady names, like Mabel and Violet. But how about looking further afield – like at Spanish grandma names? Whether or not you have an abuelita with one of these names, many of them sound fresh, like Eloísa, Catalina, Leonora…and maybe even Alfonsina?
Birth announcements can remind us that the ordinariness of a name is relative. It’s sometimes said that John and Mary would be striking choices for babies born in 2018. Similarly, Dave – a classic everyman name – really stands out on a newborn in Germany. Almost as much as a baby Gareth would stand out in the UK: despite public interest during the World Cup (it’s the name of the England team’s manager), Gareth is very unlikely to make a comeback from dad/grandad territory in Britain. In the States, on the other hand, it’s still waiting to be discovered.
Naming by personality type
Finally, an alternative source of name inspiration. You may have heard of choosing baby names based on star signs or days and months. If you’re feeling more psychometrically inclined, you could try choosing a name based on your Myers-Briggs personality type. It’s a novel idea, right? Er, not quite: Nameberry readers were already discussing this topic four years ago!
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