Saturday, April 21, 2007

What's in a name?

You have absolute control when naming a baby; the moment you settle on a name you put them on a trajectory that will dictate huge portions of their life. You have no idea what you're letting your offspring in for.

Some naming issues are fairly minor; both Emma and I have younger sisters whose names are products of apparently dyslexic parents - my sister - Annia should have been Anya, whereas Sara is pronounced as in Sarah. Still, at least it's not quite as bad as Kirsty, who had she been born a boy would have been called Devron.

When we told people that we were thinking of Amelia for a girl and Hamish for a boy most people responded with "Oh, Amelia's lovely". One out of two isn't bad. The reason we chose Amelia was because she could be Millie with her friends and Amelia when she's a QC. And it was a classic name that had a certain timelessness about it.

Not all names share this quality; not so long ago we had a temp working with us called Kylie; every time she opened her mouth - which was a lot - my mind harked back to Angry Anderson. No doubt a few Britneys will turn up at work in the next five years or so.

Emma had a girl called Holly-Blue in her class - named after a butterfly. It's a nice enough name, but it presents a challenging naming strategy. The Dobscrubs went with India for their first, which in itself is a very beautiful name - but you can't call your second Bangladesh, nor can you go to the other end of the spectrum and plump for Dave. They went with Elliot, which seems to fit perfectly.

Even middle names are tricky; Millie's is Winifred - after Emma's maternal grandmother - which means she'll have to avoid any of Brian Mawhinney's family when it comes to marriage. Could she live with Millie Winnie Mawhinney?

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; especially in baby naming. Someone I know has just had a daughter, Mia, which is a very pretty name in itself. The middle name they've chosen is Amora; which they say is Italian for love. Except it's not, it's amore. Even if it was Amora, Mia is Italian for 'Mine' which would make her name "Mine Love" - as in "Is that my cup of tea, dear?", "No, it's mine, love". But it's OK, because Amora isn't Italian for love; it's a sex academy in London - whatever a sex academy is and its dictionary definition is... 'a group of rabbis'.


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