The memory of smoke

The memory of smoke

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why I dislike these names

Question about my distaste for certain names. First, this is where I put my carping, so I don't need to justify at all. But to start with, names have cultural implications. Let's start with Christine.

Or Chris. Or Christopher. Implies religious, Christian, devotion. On a baby. Who may grow up to be Buddhist, agnostic or pagan, but will always be stuck with that name. Of course it really means, Anointed One. The Messiah. So, for anyone thoughtful, it's manipulative. For the thoughtless everyone else, it's trite and lazy. If it weren't so common as dirt, it might not be quite so flabby, but it is, and it's dull.

Heather is a bit more recent, but a flower name, without the prettiness of a flower name. Pretty flower, sure. But not a name with any flow, nor any punch. Rhymes with feather, leather, weather. Not unlike say, Gretchen. Which, with a nice German accent, has a kind of charm. But in English, it's harsh and flat, with unfortunate implications of all the negative stereotypes of Germanic women. Heather is also too mushy to say, try calling a dog Heather, and you will realize it is not a name to grab attention shouted across a playground.

Jacqueline. I knew a Jacqueline who insisted on being called Jack. Which suited her. In English, it's difficult to spell, pretentious, and too long. Like Tiffany, it has the air of a stripper name. I've never liked women's names that are over-feminized, or awkwardly feminized male names. Simply appropriating a masculine name is one thing, Frenchified feminized names are innately sexist, condescending.

My nieces carry the first two names, a former friend's daughter got the last. Other names are no doubt as bad, but these are the ones I've had to deal with.

And names do matter, do shape us, all through our lives. Parents should not be the final say in any child's name. They should change during our lives, as needed. Since they don't, parents need to be more thoughtful, more careful, and provide alternate middle names. Some events can't be helped, tv show characters names when the kid is a teenager that provoke bullying, for instance.

Extraordinarily weird names are bad. Abusive names are worse. These three are examples of numbness.

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