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On Strange Names and the Curse of Individualism
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | December 7, 2012 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/08/2012 12:50:55 PM PST by NYer

Living and working the African American Catholic Community I have been subject to some time with names that are often unpronounceable. It is a controversial practice even in the Black community for parents to name their children all sorts of crazy, made-up names that are often intentionally misspelled.

DeQuanna, Sharkeisha, LaDarrius, Shamyra, Marketta, Shontella, LaRochelle, Shandrika, Charmonique, Myosha, LaKeisha, DeQuan, Rhondella, Raviona, Rominthia, Tomika, LaVenia, Trishela, LaTasha, ABCDE, Tyeisha, Mootron, Knoshon, Keyshawn, Tarquisha, Q’J'Q’Sha, Laquintas, Jamarcus, JoNathans, et al.

I trip over this especially at Baptisms when I am supposed to solemnly pronounce the name of the child. Even after the irritated mother tells me the third time, I still can’t get it right. But why be angry with me? Why name your child such a strange name? Its all so crazy. They put in apostrophes where none are needed and there seems a minor obsession with the letters ‘Q’ and ‘K’.

Now some may speak of racism, but I have been in the Black community too long to be deaf to the fact that an awful lot of African American folks hate the practice too.

Oddities are spreading to other ethnic groups too. In a recent article in The Atlantic Phillip Cohen writes:

The number of girls given the name Mary at birth has fallen 94 percent since 1961…..The modernization theory of name trends, advanced most famously by the sociologist Stanley Lieberson, sees the rise of individualism in modern naming practices. “As the role of the extended family, religious rules, and other institutional pressures declines,” he wrote, “choices are increasingly free to be matters of taste.” Mary—both a traditional American name and a symbol religious Christianity—embodies this trend.

Second, America’s Christian family standard-bearers are not standing up for Mary anymore. It’s not just that there may be fewer devout Christians, it’s that even they don’t want to sacrifice individuality for a (sorry, it’s not my opinion) boring name like Mary. In 2011 there were more than twice as many Nevaehs (“Heaven” spelled backwards) born as there were Marys. (If there is anything more specific going on within Christianity, please fill me in.)

The Full article can be read here: Why Don’t Parents Name their Daughters Mary Anymore

I have referred in this brief article to the “curse” of individualism, because frankly I think some of these names become a hindrance later in life and mothers trying to be creative and individualistic, often saddle their kids with troubles later. Frankly people don’t like to be embarrassed, and when someone tells you their name and you can’t pronounce it, or have to ask again, and even a third time, social relations, and things like job interviews tend to go badly. I mean how do you even pronounce Q’J'Q’Sha? A lot of things break down when you can’t even pass the “go” of exchanging names.

As you might expect, many of these children given strange names, end up going by other nick names. Like “Q” or Shawn or something easier. But really they should not have to, and their strange names will still have to come up at formal occasions and all the awkwardness. And even some of the names that are more pronounceable convey a kind of strangeness that makes people uncomfortable. While not necessarily fair, strange names convey an impression of the person who carries it. We tend to read a lot more in to names that perhaps we should, but the tendency is pre-conscious and is unlikely to change that much.

Interestingly, in Biblical times people were more creative with names than currently. However, they were careful to name their children with a name that was intelligible, that actually meant something. For example, Jesus means “God saves,” Michael means “Who is like God?” Sarah means “princess” and so forth. Thus, observing the essence of a child, the parents named the child on the eighth day after birth.

Controversial article? Sure. But don’t turn it into a race thing, there’s plenty of divided opinion in the African American community as well. Also if you feel offended, try not to take it personally. It is a cultural trend that is being critiqued, not you. The bottom line, in a culture where strange forms of individualism are increasing and exotica is proudly displayed by more and more, it’s good every now and then to ask about limits and encourage some moderation.

By the way, my name almost backward is Epop Selrach if your looking for a clever new name….for your pet, that is. :-)


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: childnames; children; childrensnames; daughter; daughters; girlsnames; mary; msgrcharlespope; names; namingyourchild; nicknames; saints
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To: NYer

My all time favorite has to be Aquanetta. I have seen this name twice. Once as a Marine when my SgtMaj sent out an e-mail to all the unit’s SNCOs congratulating SSgt Jones for the birth of his daughter Aquanetta. The second time I saw it was on one of those house flipping shows. One of the prospective buyers was named Aquanetta.


21 posted on 12/08/2012 1:56:27 PM PST by sean327 (God created all men equal, then some become Marines!)
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To: NYer

Wonderful and inspiring names!


22 posted on 12/08/2012 1:56:57 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
My children were all meaning based traditional names.

Samantha - She who listens
Arlen - Pledged one
Dorthea - Gift of God
Beatrice - Happy blessing

Of course, they now stand out in their millennial generation because their names aren't made up or uniquely spelled.

I sometimes wonder if the parents making up names and spellings are just simply illiterate and proud of it.

23 posted on 12/08/2012 1:58:53 PM PST by Valpal1
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To: Noumenon

You forgot Gynalotrimin and Gonorrhea.


24 posted on 12/08/2012 2:01:49 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Noumenon

“They left out LoRenta, Urethra, LiNoleum and VaGina.”

You left out FE-MA-LE!


25 posted on 12/08/2012 2:03:56 PM PST by dljordan (Voltaire: "To find out who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.")
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To: NYer

Everyone here who hates anything other than standard names realizes that there are many countries that have actual laws about baby naming? I know people who were given a list of names at the birth of their child and required to pick one.

I suppose this is one freedom you would all like to see go away? Quite frankly for a bunch of freedom lovers some of you don’t seem to embrace it like you claim.


26 posted on 12/08/2012 2:07:27 PM PST by pennyfarmer (Your socialist beat our liberal AGAIN.)
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To: BwanaNdege

I was at a McDonalds in Baltimore many years ago, and the girl behind the counter had a name tag that read,

“Baby Girl”


27 posted on 12/08/2012 2:09:55 PM PST by Zeneta (Why are so many people searching for something that has already found us ?)
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To: NYer

I remember hearing from a black comic, can’t remember his name, he commented that he doesn’t understand why black mothers gives their kids such awful names, he cited, “Advil”, Excedrin and some other nonsensical names. He got a good laugh at the expense of his fellow blacks but I guess he was truly puzzled by their choices.


28 posted on 12/08/2012 2:09:55 PM PST by Rockiette (Democrats are not intelligent)
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To: sean327

29 posted on 12/08/2012 2:12:07 PM PST by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: manic4organic
Racist! s/. “Q’J’Q’Sha” will have a few job options:

For the past decade, there have been a number of articles suggesting that curriculum vitaes bearing such names are all but destined for the circular file/bit bucket.

30 posted on 12/08/2012 2:14:06 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: pennyfarmer
Everyone here who hates anything other than standard names realizes that there are many countries that have actual laws about baby naming? I know people who were given a list of names at the birth of their child and required to pick one.

I suppose this is one freedom you would all like to see go away? Quite frankly for a bunch of freedom lovers some of you don’t seem to embrace it like you claim.

*********************************

Feel free to show us the post where someone on this thread proposed making these unusual names illegal.

31 posted on 12/08/2012 2:15:04 PM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
My boy is just George.

Boy George?

Been done...


32 posted on 12/08/2012 2:18:58 PM PST by null and void (Going Galt: The won't of the people)
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To: NYer

Ginantonica.


33 posted on 12/08/2012 2:21:20 PM PST by martiangohome
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To: Noumenon

What about Ammonia and Chlorine?


34 posted on 12/08/2012 2:21:27 PM PST by Fresh Wind
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To: rockrr

One I heard of a little while back. Actually 2. woman with two sons, L’monjalo and O’ronjalo. Twins I think.
Spelling on each: Lemonjello and Orangejello.


35 posted on 12/08/2012 2:22:41 PM PST by Tupelo (Hunkered down & loading up)
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To: NYer

Funny, when you go to the article at the link, the first name on the right-hand column of other writers is “TA-NEHISI COATES.” It’s a male. Or, someone who looks masculine. You never can tell these days.


36 posted on 12/08/2012 2:23:29 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can’t redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
Actually this isn’t just a black problem....Whites do it by re-spelling normal names abnormally and using previously totally obscure Irish names.

Well said. There is a radio announcer around here who pronounces her name "Cottie" and spells it "Kati." How much do you want to bet her name is really "Katherine"?

37 posted on 12/08/2012 2:31:56 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can’t redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: null and void

Actually he’s named after the best George - Washington.


38 posted on 12/08/2012 2:39:07 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: NYer

We live in a rural/small town part of Maryland and I bet my high school aged son knows 5 boys named Tyler and 5 or more others named Logan as first names. Probably half a dozen Cody’s too.

The black kids mostly have fairly common names.


39 posted on 12/08/2012 2:40:13 PM PST by perez24 (Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.)
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To: NYer

LaTrina is not a Biblical name? Who knew?!


40 posted on 12/08/2012 2:42:36 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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