Where have all the real names gone?

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@civitasmedia.com

Not a day goes by that I don’t deal with children’s names at work and yet, sometimes, almost a week can pass without coming across a child with a real name. You know what I mean by a real name; the name of an apostle, a saint or a minor deity, like Matthew or Mary or Diana. A name that’s a name.

Nowadays, it seems like you can go through an entire elementary school and not come across a single Matthew or Mary or Diana. Or a Paul or an Elizabeth either. Sometimes, it becomes so bizarre that I have to wonder if Gwyneth Paltrow and Frank Zappa are naming all of our children.

Or more likely, the writers of “Game of Thrones.” Who else could come up with names like Sansa and Sirjames and Lavaeh? Yes, those are all listed in a 2016 book of names for babies, a book clearly compiled by a bunch of raging Throners.

Worse yet are the people who doom their poor kids to a lifetime of product endorsement by giving them names like Audi. Sadly, it happens.

But, I must confess that I am not without guilt on this score. It was my idea to burden our daughter with a French name that we chose to pronounce in English, thereby saddling her with a moniker that was unpronounceable in one language and unspellable in another.

Of course, it seemed like a good idea at the time. As people of my generation so often do, I have decided to blame my mother.

My Mom has endured a lifetime of the inevitable problems that resulted from using her middle name as her given name because she loathes her first name, which I will not disclose here. It is a family secret that must not be revealed.

Due to her own unfortunate experience, Mom was adamant about giving her children names that would be their names. No nicknames, no shortening of names, no middle names to hide unfortunate first names, none of that would be necessary.

For a long time, she had a 50 percent success rate and her losses were minimal. Douglas quickly became Doug and Angela became Angie but those were minor changes, not likely to elicit giggles when a substitute teacher called the roll in elementary school.

But Glenda has remained Glenda to this day and Billy only became Bill when I went away to college and didn’t want to continue using a name better suited to a 4-year old. And yes, my name is Billy, not William. I told you my Mom was serious about keeping it real.

As far as my own daughter, her name was chosen to honor a Josefina, so you can see the problem. That’s a name ripe for shortening and most likely, it’s going to end up being Josie, a name only suitable for a girl that fronts a band wearing long tails and ears for hats. That was never going to work. That was not Mom-approved.

But if you just leave the “s” out of Josie, it’s pretty. It sounds like Joey and my wife and I both liked boys names for girls. It anoints them with a bit of perceived toughness that will almost certainly come in handy later on. Besides, Josefina is a feminine form of Joseph and Joey is a common nickname for Joseph so it made a vague sort of sense.

Then there’s the French connection. Joie is the French word for joy, so that’s nice. But we never used the French pronunciation. Even I am not that pretentious. So there you have it, a four letter name that’s got a funky spelling in one language and a funky pronunciation in another.

At least she doesn’t dislike her name. She got upset in high school that so many other girls are named Brooklyn and they’ve never even been there. She figured if anyone was going to be named Brooklyn, it should have been her since she was born there. I had to remind her that’s exactly why it would have been weird to name her Brooklyn. It would be like somebody here naming their kid Pinnacle or Flat Rock.

At least she can be grateful we didn’t name her Xzayvia. I can’t even imagine what that poor kid is going to go through.


By Bill Colvard


Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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