Your name is an important piece of information about you. Something you are given at birth and (usually) keep until you die. Your name can have a profound effect on you as you grow and can influence how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you. If you don’t like your name or are embarrassed, it could damage your self-esteem and affect your future success. Which is probably why most parents take such care when they choose a name. Or do they?
How do parents choose their baby’s name?
There are a lot of traditions and customs across the world which are used to help choose the baby’s name. Many years ago sons and daughters were often named after their fathers and grandfathers. This tradition still continues. Johny Depp is actually John Christopher Depp II and his son is John Christopher Depp III. Donald Trump named his son Donald Trump Jr and his son is named Donald Trump III. This naming can carry on in some families for a long time. Usher (the American singer songwriter) is actually Usher Raymond IV and he named his son Usher Raymond V.
Other traditions include naming babies after family members, saints, people from holy books and historical Greek and Roman stories. In Indian mythology there are 330 million gods and goddess names to choose from. Some countries use the horoscope and the map of the planets and stars at the time of birth of their child to choose a name. In Indonesia the order of your birth determines your name. For instance, if you are the first-born, your name will be Wayan or Putu and if you are the second, it will be Made or Radek. American red indians would observe the nature or events around their teepee when their child was born. Names included running water, sitting bull and little dear.
Sharing a name with a famous person
These traditions continue but the rise of the ‘celebrity’ and their baby name choices influence many more parents these days. On the ‘Humans of New York’ Facebook page, ordinary ‘not famous’ people tell stories of how they share their name with a famous celebrity. They include Donald Trump, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Victoria Beckham, Julia Roberts, Kate Middleton. Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney to name just a few. I’m reading ‘Charlotte Street’ by Danny Wallace (see Book Recommendations page) where the main character is Jason Priestley (remember Beverly Hills 90210). The story illustrates this point perfectly and although the humour adds to the read, I’m sure it wouldn’t feel quite so funny in real life.
These people talk about how annoying it is to share a famous name. You can’t be found on a website and for those with their own businesses they often have to change their name. It can be embarrassing when people meet you for the first time and repeat the same comments you have heard many times before, either singing the songs of their famous moniker or saying lines synonymous with a character. There is also the disappointment factor when the person hearing your famous name, meets you for the first time and realises you’re not them.
Some of the ‘sharing a famous name’ people spoke about how it can be an ice breaker and for the lucky Bill Clinton Gates who works in HR, it’s actually a big selling point for him and he attracts people because of his name.
Other ways of choosing a name
And then we get to the other ways of choosing a name. We may choose a name because it’s unique or it’s actually a mistake. My husband’s grandmother was called Estranna. A very unusual name for a child born in Wales at the turn of the century until you hear how she got that name. Her father went to register the birth of his daughter but not before he had celebrated in the local public house. In his drunken state he mouthed the words which sounded like Estranna but should have been Esther Anna.
A British study undertaken in 2010, Bounty.com, asked 3000 parents about the names they had chosen for their children. 20% regretted the choice they made, either because it was unusual or because it was spelt differently and it made it hard for their child and others to spell. It is obvious from a few forums that I looked at recently that there are quite a lot of people who don’t like their name and I can’t say I blame them. This list included Merry Christmas, Mayo Naise, Macarena Diab, Jack Haas and God Gazarov. Unique names, yes, but at a price.
Yet it seems that a lot of parents still want their child to have a name different to everyone else. Trying to find that unique name, the name no-one else has is not easy and even when you think you have found it, the chances are so has someone else. My sister-in-law named her son, Bailey. Very unique eleven years ago but even she commented that as soon she had named him she heard of another parent who had named their child the same. I wonder if this true for all names?
As I researched this, I found a list of ‘celebrities’ that have recently given their children unusual names. We have all heard of Apple and North West but what about these.
- Bear – Kate Winslet (actress)
- Sailor – Liv Tyler (actress)
- Cricket – Busy Philips (actress)
- Fox – Mark Owen (singer)
- Sparrow – Nicole Ritchie (daughter of Lionel)
- Striker – Nicola McClean (glamour model)
- Audio Science (I’m not joking!) – Shannyn Sossamon (actress)
So is it true that you can name your child something unique and no-one else will have thought of the same? Well, it seems even the celebrities can’t make this happen. Sam Worthington (actor) and Jamie Oliver (chef) both chose the same name for their sons. What was it? Rocket. Either the lettuce variety or the thing that goes into space. You decide. After all it’s only a name.