Baby names –and why people choose the ones they do—is always an interesting topic. Some stick to the Bible or peruse the sports page; others consult the tabloids or the most popular dramas on TV. Some parents prefer plain-Jane names; others like to be so original that they make up the name entirely. And the spelling. And the pronunciation—and their children may or may not feel burdened by it for life.
My given name is French; however I grew up in a predominantly German area where people could neither spell nor pronounce it. As a result, I actually disliked my name for many years—until I started meeting people of French extraction, to whom my name was neither a source of ridicule nor befuddlement. I was meant to be named for one of my grandmothers, but a raging sex scandal in Britain circumvented that. I told my mom she should have gone ahead anyway; no one remembers these things decades on, do they? But I do see her point: I don’t imagine too many American baby girls were named Monica in 1998.
As the mother of seven girls, I did not end up utilizing any of my favourite boys’ names; by the fifth or sixth pregnancy, I had even given up thinking of them. Tending towards saints’ names (or their derivatives and diminutives) as well as Greek and Latin-derivations, my daughters’ names fall into the traditional category.
It’s interesting to watch historical trends. This page lists the top five most popular names in America for the last 100 years. As a student of history and literature, I also find it ironically amusing that many ‘occupation’ names that would have been anathema in the 19th century amongst the upper crust are now making the top tabloid stars’ lists: Mason, Draper, Cooper, Tanner, Hunter, Bailey, Carter, and Clark to list but a few. They used to signify jobs (of the menial blue collar variety)—now they are romantic leads on soap operas. Just think: maybe in another century or two, little boys will be named Janitor or Pizzadeliveryguy.
Picture: Bavarian stonemasons, c. 1505 (Wikimedia Commons)