Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Most Ridiculous Baby Name Book Ever: Part III

If you've already read parts One and Two, you know that 40,001 Best Baby Names displays a remarkable insanity before you even get to the actual name listings. And if you're like me, you'd think that except for many containing some of the names in the lists, a name dictionary can't really go wrong.

And then you remember that this is the book that suggests Dusky-Dream as a name, giving its origin as "invented." It would like you to believe that "dusky" means "dreamy" (it doesn't), so the book wants you to name your daughter "dreamy dream."
Fun with names: according to the book, another female American name that means "dreamy" is Fog, so presumably you should feel free to name her Dusky-Fog or maybe Fog-Dream.
Admittedly, it would be hard to find fault with a lot of the names listed simply because it's normal for name books to contain names that would seldom be used, either because they're out of date (Eustace) or just aren't a real choice (Agamemnon).

The book is full of "American" names--that is, names with American origins, as opposed to Scottish or Arabic. And that can be legitimate: the name Colleen, for example, although quintessentially Irish, is not a name in its country of origin; it's a term for a young girl. So I'm not going to pretend that there are not names that are unique to or more common in America.

But then you have names that are deemed "American," and assigned a meaning with no reference, which makes no sense because America is a nation of immigrants. Will someone please tell me how "Ajay" (A.J.) came to mean "spontaneous"? Other "American" names include:
Cowboy (male; "western")
Curb (m, "word as a name; dynamic")
Dearon (m; "dear one")
Devender (m; "poetic")
Dobes (m; "unassuming")
Dravey (m; "groovy")
Gaddis (m; "hard to please, picky")
Kyzer (m; "wild spirit")
Momo (m; "rascal") It doesn't tell you it's actually Japanese for peach.
Orenthiel (m; "sturdy as a pine")
Phex (m; "kind")
Poogie, Pookie (m; "snuggly")
Skeetz (m; "zany")
Trocky (m; "manly")
Wize (m; "smart") and Wyze (m; "sizzle, capable")
Beige (female; "simple; calm") and Beige-Dawn ("clear morning")
Bootsey (f; "cowgirl")
Chessteen (f; "needed")
Essence (f; "ingenious")
Fluffy (f; "fun-loving")
Fushy (f; "animated; vivid")
Gregory (f (!); "scholarly") Note that in the boy's section, Gregory is a Greek name that means "cautious."
J-Nyl (f; "flirtatious")
Meashley (f; "charmer")
Nurlene (f; "boisterous")
Poodle (f; "dog; froufrou girl" )
Schmoopie (f; "baby; sweetie")
Wood (f; "smooth talker")
Yuette (f; "capable")
Zoom (f; "energetic")

Other names deemed "American" are actually combinations of other names, with meanings assigned to the combination with no apparent regard for what the original names meant. Try these on for size:
Hughdonald (m; "combo of Hugh and Donald; southern." Hugh="intelligent," Donald="powerful; world leader")
Jathan (m; "combo of Jake and Nathan; attractive." Jake, from Jacob="replacement; best boy," Nathan="magnanimous")
Johnny-Dodd (m; "country sheriff")
Rajoseph (m; "combo of Ra and Joseph." Ra has no entry, Joseph="asset")
Tedwayne (m; "combo of Ted and Wayne, friendly." Ted, from Theodore="a blessing," Wayne="wheeler-dealer")
AthaSue (f; "combo of Atha and Sue; sweet and discriminating." Atha has no entry, Sue="lily")
Caykee (f; "combo of Cay and Kee; lively." Cay has no entry, Kee has no entry although "Keekee" is American and means "dancing." Apparently this is different from "Kiki," which is both Spanish and American and means "vivacious")
Deandralina (f; "combo of Deandra and Lina; divine seer." Deandra="combo of Sandra ("protective") and Deanna ("divine girl"); Lina="light of spirit")
Jo-Allene (f; "combo of Jo and Allene; effervescent." Jo ("from Josephine")="spunky," although Josephine="blessed;" Allene="wonderful")
Maryalice ("friendly"), Maryann ("special"), Mary-Catherine ("outgoing"), Mary-Elizabeth ("kind"), Marykate ("splendid"), Marykay ("adorned"), Mary-Lou ("athletic"), Mary-Marg ("dramatic"), Mary-Margaret ("dramatic, kind"), Marypat ("easygoing"), Marysue ("country girl")
Michaelannette ("combo of Michael and Annette; spirited")

If you're sick of Mary-Anything right now, consider that I did you a favor and left out all the Mari-Names and Marie-Names.

And the insanity doesn't stop there. You may remember, from Part Two, the inclusion of a list of "made-up names." If that list wasn't enough for you, here are a handful of the names with no cultural background; they're just listed as "invented" although that apparently doesn't stop them from having definite meanings.
Delete  (m; "ordinary")
Jadall (m; "punctual")
Jagit (m; "brisk")
Kelts (m; "energetic")
Odisoose (m; "invented form of Odysseus")
Chinadoll (f; "fun")
Crispy (f; "fun-loving; zany")
Dijonaise (f; "condiments; combo of Dijon and mayonnaise")
Likiana (f; "likeable")
Rockella (f; "rocker")

These barely skim the surface of what's contained within the seemingly-innocuous pages of the 40,001 Best Baby Names. It's the most baffling collection you may ever read. However, I'm sure it (and its successors of 50,0001 and 60,001 names) has its uses: announce that your twins are going to be Tankie Austeena ("big" and "statuesque") and Swoosie Tygie-Jimbo ("unique" and "energetic"-"cowhand"), and when they're born and you announce what the names really are, no one will complain. Ever.

Part I, An Introduction: Just in Case You Wanted You Child to Have a Death-Row Name
Part II, The Lists Get Weirder: Afrodytee is Much Easier to Pronounce than Aphrodite

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Most Ridiculous Baby Name Book Ever: Part II

Previously in Part I, we were introduced to the mind-boggling ridiculousness that is 40,001 Best Baby Names and its unexplained, random lists that make up the first fifty pages (not counting the introductions with helpful information telling you how to change your name, that the name Erica is evil, and interviews with people telling you how much she loved being a Jennifer, or how traumatizing the name Wendy is). And yet the lists go on.

Sure, you have the prerequisite "[country] names for boys/girls" (although Asia gets lumped together--good luck if you wanted more than one Thai name), and for the worried parent it helpfully lists "names that get shortened" (where else would Lucretia and Nanette be put together, or Wilfredo and Augustus?), but how about "girl names that spawn nasty nicknames"? She earlier introduced earlier to her female friend Christopher, unfortunately saddled with a distinctly male name, so that name is on the list, along with Dusky-Dream, Hermione, Lesbia, Scarlett, and Winifred. I'm not even sure where Lesbia came from--it's not listed in the book's actual name listings AT ALL. And Dusky-Dream?

Dusky: (invented) dreamy;

Dusky-Dream: (invented) dreamy; Duskee-Dream (alternative spelling)

Debbie-Jean and Fluffy are "girlie-girl names"; Glanville, Jaden, Maureen, and Hilary are "so over";  Cherry-Sue, Galaxy, Snooks, and Boots "make you smile"; Bryton, Derlin, and Alexakai are "made-up" (which begs the question: why are they here?); Ned, Arden, Ethel, Corinna, Irene, and Polly are "old-fashioned...[but] cute again"; Bebe, Fluffy, Pal, and Rabbit are "for playful personalities"; and along with Gwyneth and Roosevelt, Don Quixote, Bjork, and Karalenae (defined as "a combination of Kara and Lenae") are "overpowering."

I want to ask questions: what does "overpowering" mean, because there's a lot of different between Penelope and Deja-Marie. Why are "made-up" names included? Is "make you smile" some secret code for "try not to laugh at the poor person who was named by their 4-year-old sibling who really just wanted a puppy"?

I keep thinking I should be done with the lists, but things keep popping up. Specifically, two lists: "alternative spellings for boy/girl names you can't pronounce" and "Boy/girl names for children of lesbians and gays".

Please let that sink in.

In the first category, we have Dameetree, Malla-Ki, and Playtoh for the boys (Dmitri, Malachi, and Plato respectively), and Alaygrah, Sheelyah,  and Tateeahna for the girls (Allegra, Shelia, and Tatianna). Sure, if you name your child "Bouvier" there's going to be confusion (avoid that with the lovely Booveeay), but how many people have trouble with Monique (Moneek) or Dana (Dayna, which isn't too bad as a name itself except for the implication that Dana is a horribly difficult name to figure out)?

The entire reason I picked up this book was because of this last list, names for children of lesbians and gays. Surely, I thought, there must be some rationalization, some sort of explanation. Perhaps these are the names of people dominant in the history of gay rights, or current activists, or it turns out that Alex actually means "likes to kiss other boys" or something.


I have no idea where this list came from. There's no explanation, it might as well be "names of people who checked out this library book before I did" or "list of people whose favorite color is puce." Because I don't know about Bevan and Noel, but Spencer, Ethan, and the aforementioned Alex are fairly wide-reaching. And maybe I don't know that many Glorias, Annabelles, and Ramonas, but I'm pretty sure that the many Ambers and Jessicas I've met don't all have same-sex parents.

I keep looking at this thinking, surely there is some semblance of reason in here. Surely there is invisible ink explaining this. And there's not. And it's hilarious.

Part III, We Finally Reach the Name Listings: Meashley, Yu-crazy
Part I, An Introduction: Just in Case You Wanted You Child to Have a Death-Row Name

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Most Ridiculous Baby Name Book Ever: Part I

Let's talk about names. Specifically, let's talk about stupid names, and the crazy people who like them.

I think most people are aware that baby names are Serious Bizness. A literal one, actually, if you care to google "baby name consultant." It's also well-established at this point that celebrities are crazy (everyone decided we don't like Blue Ivy's name, right? We're all in agreement here?), and that parents seem to increasingly want unique names--or unique spellings of names--to make their baby stand out.

This isn't about that. Not really. It's not really about sticking 'Y' into random spots it doesn't belong ("Magnyfye Beard," anyone?), and it's not about using real words for names even when it sounds stupid ("If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone"), because that's been going on forever: you can thank the Puritans for these lovely examples (although think of the nickname potential of the second!).

No, this is about the names that are so far out there that the only way you could come up with them is if you were drunk. Or insane. And then you gathered them all in a book of lists to to help 1) other crazy people like yourself or 2) easily-fooled people who will believe you when you say that yes, Blaze (or Ophelia, or Fluffy) is an "over-the-top girl name to avoid", why not use Olga (or Queen, or Treece) from the "names for future architects" list?

If you are, indeed, looking for that crazy, you have found it in 40,001 Best Baby Names.
I own quite a few name books, ostensibly because I wanted to have them on hand when I was in creative writing classes, mostly because I took naming my Pokemon team seriously. Most books follow a similar format. They give you names, tell you what country/language it came from, and usually include any relevant history, like that Jezebel might not have the best connotations, or that Gwyneth Paltrow used Apple as her daughter's name. Sometimes they even have lists on the side, collections of virtue names or  mythological name.

This has that. Kinda. It also has sheer ridiculousness and is apparently based on the author's opinions, which is how you end up with a list for each sex of "names that give you a leg up in life" without any explanation. Why, does everyone automatically love a Celeste? Have Merits been statistically shown to be high earners? Does a Gus get better gas mileage than Ambrose (from the "burdensome boy names" list)?

I don't know. There are 75 lists, and while some are what you'd expect (the "top XX of [decade] is required, by law, to be in every name book ever),  many are just there on the page, BAM, waiting to take you by surprise.

"Why," you might ask upon reading it, "why is Adelaide on the 'scary/creepy' list? Why can't a teacher be expected to pronounce Aisha, Seth, Camilla, or Artemus? Exactly how will naming my son Britt, Gus, or London make him popular?

"Why is Gavin or Justine a 'comfy name', and how do you know that my child will 'like having' it? Will giving her the name Liberty, Harmony, or Rain really make my daughter 'feel weird'? How will I know far enough in advance if my child will be an 'eccentric' to name her/him Galatea, Echo, LaRue, or Webb? If I don't name him Shiloh or Jan-Erik does that mean I don't think my son is 'handsome'?"

And at that point, you will stop asking questions either because your brain broke or because you turned it into a game and decided to spam your friends' Facebook pages ("Hey Aileen, congrats, you share your name with a death-row inmate!").

(I think it's fairly obvious what I did. And yes, there are two lists for "bad-to-the-bone death-row names," because combing the sexes into a single list just wouldn't be enough.)

It's so ridiculous that you have to wonder what was going through the author's mind when she wrote it. She never gives you any clue as to what her criteria for a "powerful" name is, so good luck figuring out why Elizabeth, Greta, Pace, Pilar, and Wiley (or Angus, Jon, Lamar, Nash, and Quentin) are sharing the spotlight.

Part II, The Lists Get Weirder: Afrodytee is Much Easier to Pronounce than Aphrodite
Part III, We Finally Reach the Name Listings: Meashley, Yu-crazy


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...