Friday, September 20, 2013


Which Name Is Weirder, Saxby Chambliss or Barkevious Mingo? The Answer May Tell You Whether or Not You're Racist

The great Jamelle Bouie wrote about "black names" for the Daily Beast, and it's a solid one if you missed it. Prompted by a question posed to the "Black American parents of Reddit"—“[I’m] just curious why you name your kids names like D’brickishaw, Barkevious D’quell and so on?”—Bouie writes the ever-necessary reminder that black Americans are not a monolith, that the adoption of names that signify difference was an important part of the Black Power movement in the '70s, and that black children are not the only ones with unusual names.

It’s not hard to find white kids with names like Braelyn and Declyn. And while it’s tempting to chalk this up to poverty—in the Reddit thread, there was wide agreement that this was a phenomenon of poor blacks and poor whites—the wealthy are no strangers to unique names. The popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, written by a Jenji Kohan (a white woman), was based on the experiences of a Piper Kerman (also a white woman). And in last year’s presidential election, nearly 61 million people voted for a Willard Mitt Romney, at the same time that the current head of the Republican National Committee was (and is) a Reince Priebus.

On Twitter, riffing off of the Reddit thread, I mused on this double standard with a comment and a joke. “Seriously, I will take your ‘questions’ about ‘weird’ black names seriously when you make fun of Reince Priebus and Rand Paul,” followed by “White people giving their kids names like Saxby Chambliss and Tagg Romney is a clear sign of cultural pathology.” If names like “DeShawn” and “Shanice” are fair targets for ridicule, then the same should be true for “Saxby” and “Tagg.”

All names are ridiculous. Next person who tells that dumb urban legend about "La–a, pronounced Ladasha" gets a permanent time-out.

[Daily Beast]

128 Comments / Post A Comment


My name is so stupidly common and boring that I wish wish wish my parents had given me something crazy. It's not super-awesome-times being a writer whose byline is shared by several other writers, and having to explain to editors which one you are.

/write whine

Better to Eat You With

@Emby My writer-husband shares his name with an actor and an underwear designer, among others. He just loves that so much.


I still love this @m

Count Chocula

Yes, thank you Jia - the Ladasha "story" needs to DIE.


@Count Chocula I have a friend who is an OB-GYN and she SWEARS that she saw a baby named that. I don't think she's lying. Maybe somebody heard about the urban myth and made it real. I mean, why wouldn't you want to??

Lisa Frank

@Count Chocula Can we retire the Lemongello and Orangello story too?


@bevrockin But my friend actually DID have brothers in her class named God and Lord...


@Lisa Frank Yeah like, I think weird names are awesome, funny names are funny, whatever, changing my name to Jermajesty Tolentino, there are hundreds of men in America named Dick Sweat and I love that, etc. It's just that those two stories, the La--a and Lemongello in particular, never get told without a "AREN'T GHETTO PEOPLE THE FUNNIEST" gross little tone, right?


@bevrockin My grandmother was an OBGYN nurse and claims she once had a patient who named her daughter "Female," pronounced "fe-mal-ee," because "that's what was on her wrist-bracelet."

My favorite unsubstantiated weird name is "Y'all Jealous Jones."


@MoxyCrimeFighter That's the thing though, Female was, for a time, a fairly common name in recently-colonized pacific island cultures because of the sudden transition to western medicine and a new expectation of documentation in a language that was foreign to most people. There is so much historic baggage that just saying "haha, these people are so dumb" decontextualizes their very real experiences.


@MoxyCrimeFighter I had a coworker who swore his sister was an OBGYN nurse who had a patient that named her daughter S'Phyllis because she heard someone say it in the hospital and thought it was pretty. I immediately called bullshit but he was adamant that it was true, and he's definitely not the racist joke type. Maybe he's just gullible?

I've heard many variations on this trope before but the Ladasha and Orangello ones are new to me.

Better to Eat You With

@MoxyCrimeFighter I had a friend whose mother was a teacher who claimed she taught three sisters whose names conflated this and the Lemongello thing. She said this first-hand, as though she wasn't making it up.


@Count Chocula
Wait wait, I swear on everything - I work in prenatal genetics and had a patient a few months back who had a daughter named La-a, pronounced Ladasha. It is a real thing!! I promise!! Unless she was lying to me!!

Beatrix Kiddo

@j-i-a I once heard the Lemonjello and Oranjello story and naively believed it, sadly-- but in my defense (if that's even possible), I was picturing the children as white and there was no "ghetto" suggestion.


My name is weird by American standards but might as well be Emily or Elizabeth by Israeli standards, which drives me butt-crazy, because I am not Israeli, my parents just thought we'd have to live there after I was born, and if you live in Israel they put a lot of pressure on you to have Israeli names. I'm okay with my name though.


@yeah-elle I love your name! It's the name of a really good friend's mom (she's Jewish) and I think it's really pretty.


@Alli525 Aw, thanks!


@yeah-elle your name is awesome. The first time I heard it (acquaintance), I was like, it's so pretty. Then when the toast did it's thing and brought the source story to my attention, I was like, it's bad-ass too.


It bugs me a lot when white parents use made up names like Braighlynn. Is that classist?


@Mike_B It bothers me more when people give their kids names that belong to historical figures (or, worse, their estates). Parents of Tiberius and Chamberlaine and Kensington: what are you trying to prove?

This is probably also classist, just toward strivers and arrivistes... names are so tied up in class and race, I don't think it's possible to have a purely aesthetic reaction toward them.


@cuminafterall i have friends who named their kid sebastian tiberious (last name), but the tiberious was a star trek reference, for them. not that strangers will know that. they call the baby "baz".


@karenb Baz is cute!

Or rather, as a white woman of my age, education and income level, I am given to think that a short, snappy nickname for a longer, more traditional name is cute. :)


@karenb (I haven't told anyone IRL, but my dog's middle name is "Tiberius" for the same reason. And I not even that crazy about Star Trek!)


@Mike_B It is a bit classist, I think. My nephew went to a Pre-K program that catered heavily to lower-income families all across our city since it's one of the few free options here. A big proportion of his classmates had names like Braeden and Destiny. His elementary school mostly pulls students from the wealthier area where my family lives, and the name mix is quite different. I don't think it's really possible to separate out class when reacting to names.


@Mike_B a baseball player I like named his daughter Bralynne. The parents' names? Brandon and Jalynne. Sigh.


@Mike_B All names are made up!!



well, I don't know. There is an impressive tradition in South America, especially Venezuela, of naming children after famous political figures, according to the NY Times, and some of them turned out very nicely!:

"A glance through a phone book or the government’s voter registry reveals names like Taj-Mahal Sánchez, Elvis Presley Gomez Morillo, Darwin Lenin Jimenez, even Hitler Eufemio Mayora. Other Venezuelan first names, which roll off the tongue about as easily in Spanish as in English, include Yusmairobis, Nefertitis, Yaxilany, Riubalkis, Debraska, as well as Yesaidú and Juan Jondre — transliterations of “Yes, I do” and “One hundred.”

What’s it like to have such a name? “I’m extremely proud,” said Mao Breznyer Pino Delgado..."


@harebell I've met a couple of Central Asians named Mels, an acronym for MarxEngelsLeninStalin. I also once processed paperwork for someone whose father's name was Partizan (as in "partisan"). Similar phenomenon, I guess!

Briony Fields

Reince Priebus whaaat? I dislike the flip flop ie/ei combos going on here. How do you pronounce this name?


@Briony Fields I believe it's Rinse Pree-bus. Definitely wins my weirdest name prize.


@OhMarie I thought it was "Rye-nce"? But I have literally no confidence in my ability to pronounce his name, so...


@Tafadhali I had to investigate--here's him saying it: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/I%27m_Reince_Priebus.ogg

It's complicated by a lot of accent.


@Briony Fields
I thought it was 'rants' (rhymes with pants). I prefer to call him by his full name, Rancid Priebus.


@stuffisthings I can't exactly thumb-up your link, ethically speaking. But I appreciated it. (?)


Ugh La-a! I've heard that story so many times. I always tell people it's an urban legend and basically racist. They get defensive. Stop telling that story!!


Ok, safe space internet time--I live in a place with few Mormons, but I have noticed that those I do know as well as famous Mormons (Mitt, Tagg, and co. being a great example) tend to have weird ass names. Is this a thing or am I crazy? I am fascinated and if anybody has any insight (are these from the book of Mormon or made up for some reason??) I would love to hear it.


@OhMarie You're not crazy -- there are a lot of relatively common Mormon naming conventions that lead to unusual sounding names, such as naming children after their mother's maiden name (my female friend McCall), combining parents' names to make a new name (think Renesmee), using names from the Book of Mormon (which, Biblical names are REALLY COMMON in the States -- just not those Biblical names), plus a general fondness for prefixes, suffixes, alternate spellings.

There is a whole site called the Utah Baby Namer: http://wesclark.com/ubn/


@Tafadhali Ahh, thank you, this is wonderful!


@OhMarie combining mothers' and fathers' names is common among my peoples, too (puerto rican). juan + maria = jumari, carmen + luis = caris, etc.


@dotcommie I actually think it is theoretically a really cool naming convention! It just depends so much on what the parents are named. I, for instance, am pretty happy not to be called Stevemarie.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@OhMarie Yep, one of my best friends growing up was Mormon and her first name is Carma (pronounced exactly like Karma but spelled different). I'd known her for four or five years before it occurred to me to ask her where it came from -- turned out it was just a family friend's name, nothing crazy.


@OhMarie there was a Mormon family on Say Yes To The Dress...they named their daughter (who was trying on dresses) Duvet. Why? They said they wanted her to be "comforting". SERIOUSLY NOT A JOKE.


I once thought I encountered a really weird name and then it turned out it was just Welsh. Sorry, Wales!


the name "Armin"/"Armen".

Totally a normal name to me? and also to one of my friends. It's kind of old fashioned/European sounding, but normal! It's a variation on Armand, which sounds more modern/French to me. But we came across a character named Armin somewhere, and another friend totally flipped about stupid made up white people names. :(

It has made me decide that if i ever write a book, I'm naming the characters based on that Nigerian (I think) custom of using nouns or adjectives with actual meaning, positive or negative. If it's a fantasy novel, I'm not even going to bother trying to come up with fantasy sounding names since someone will think they're stupid.


@keristars Rolling my eyes at your friend. Armin seems like a pretty normal name? Then again, I knew a girl who flipped out about the name Shoshanna in Inglourious Basterds, and I had to explain to her that it's a totally normal and pretty damn common Hebrew name that means "lily," haha.

The Welsh name I thought was weird was Dafydd, which was stupid. It was only for a hot second before I realized that it was just the Welsh version of the Western-version "David" name. I think. Maybe they just sound alike!


@yeah-elle Heh, I was just going to say "I thought Shoshanna meant rose" but I wanted to fact-check myself, and wikipedia says that "In Biblical times "shoshana" referred to a lily (from Lilium family); in modern Hebrew it is often understood as referring to a rose."

(I knew a girl whose legal first name was Rose, but whose Hebrew name was Shoshana, which I always thought was great)


@Blushingflwr I grew up just thinking it meant "flower," which seems to cover all potential bases, haha.


Oh, dang, I rolled my eyes SO HARD at her for that nonsense about Armin, and really any time she gets on her soapbox about the names of the kids at the school where she teaches. For some reason, though, as I get to know more and more elementary school teachers, I find that they can be a weirdly judgmental bunch. It's like they're subject to so much shit on a daily basis that they funnel it all into one or two things that are absurd to be judgmental/prejudiced about, and they go all out, even if they're awesome and wonderful people in every other way.

(My sister, sister-in-law, this friend, people I've worked with or gone to school with... for some reason, it's the teachers who are the most righteous about it? like they know better than anyone else? even though we all have our blindsides like that)


@keristars Maybe the judgmental teachers are sublimating their inevitable, repeated, never-going-to-stop embarrassment at having to stand up with a list of unfamiliar names and read them out, with minimal butchery, and deal with (however the kids react to having their names mispronounced) every fall/semester/period?

Tragically Ludicrous

@yeah-elle Armin is a perfectly normal-to-boring Dutch name. To be fair, though, Dutch names are bizarre.


@Tragically Ludicrous yeah, in my community it's a name for very old men.

Tragically Ludicrous

@theotherginger I mostly think of Armin van Buuren, which is one of those names that looks sort of cool until you realize it is a totally normal name for a guy from Leiden.


just gonna reiterate the Do Not Read The Comments rule for the Daily Beast link. don't do it. so stab-inducing.

sidral mundet

@karenb Yeah; kind of seems like a "don't read the comments" day on the Hairpin, too. How many times can people say the word "normal" in reference to an Anglo name? Ready...go! Oh wait, you started without me.


Idaho (and, I think, Utah) wins for weird/stupid names. http://jessica-jensen.blogspot.com/2013/04/names-2012.html


@yunkstahn Okay, this very Salon article is throwing complications into my old assumptions/learning, but I'll say it anyway.

While they're saying idiosyncratic names in Black America picked up during/after the Civil Rights movement, I swear I have seen (but couldn't find, tonight) a paper that suggested parents in African-American communities shortly after emancipation chose a wider variety (so, "weird/stupid" variety) of given names just to differentiate their kids from the other many kids with the same last name.

Because a lot of freed slaves had picked up surnames from their previous "owners". who had claimed to "own" a whole freaking lot of human beings, before the war that made them (legally speaking) cut it out.

And based on that - except entirely different from that except in terms of nomenclature styles - I had this theory about idiosyncratic Utah names being rooted in Anglo-style patrilineal naming meeting, well, Mormon-style polygamy. I mean, when one father can have dozens of kids with his last name, and all of those sons might have had time to have dozens of kids before Utah swapped polygamy for statehood, it kind of makes sense that any sane mother would want to avoid making her kid one of five/ten/fifteen Jonathan Rasmussens at the family reunion picnic. It's just disambiguation, at that point.

(I really wish I could find that paper. It was linked from languagelog, or its comments? HALP.)


i'm a chickenshit conformist in a lot of ways, and usually i'm fine with it.

but in all honesty, it really bums me out in my heart of hearts that i'm a white dude who, should i ever have kids, will give them names like tom or helen or frank or whatever, all because i'm afraid to buck the white-guy-expectations and name my kids something i really like, like dontrelle or catalina.

(typing this out really spotlights the absurdity of anyone ever thinking it's difficult to be a white guy)


@leonstj As I get older, the idea of naming a daughter "Cecelia Adelaide" seems more and more impossible (especially Adelaide) even though they're perfectly fine names - I just don't want my kid to hate her name or for terrible kids to tease her.

Not that I have a child. Or am pregnant. Or married. Or even dating someone. Whatever.


@leonstj Oh I do not think those names are very weird! Pretty sure I have come across at least one or two toddler Cecelias. And I loooove the name Adelaide -- kind of a mouthful, but she could always be Ada or something for short.

But yeah, I am not necessarily ever gonna have kids but also have a predilection for thinking about the grandparenty names I'd give them. Margaret. Eleanor. Henry.


@leonstj the absurdity of anyone ever thinking it's difficult to be a white guy

It's difficult to be human, though? And it's really really not a competition?
(also, who the hell would bat an eye at Catalina, that name is gorgeous.)

and @dee, can I humblebrag that my middle name is Eleanor, after my great-grandma? I love it more than I love my first name. I've met a few straight-up Eleanors, and they can really have all of the fun choosing a nickname to their taste. Not that I am pressuring you to have a kid sex-selected for femaleness, but - yeah.
(Oh, and Eleanors get all of the good songs. All of them.)


@MashaNigel Eleanor Rigby, though? Her face is in a jar.

But agreed that Catalina is absolutely beautiful. So much so that I'd totally steal it. I loooooooooooooove Cat as a nickname, too, so that's also kinda perfect.


@MashaNigel Yeah it's my grandma's name! People sometimes call her El, which I like for its simplicity. Assume the Turtles' excellent homage is one of the songs you're thinking of?


This is my third comment on this post but I would just like to mention that at work, we have a man in our customer database named Keith Butts.


@yeah-elle I used to work for a company that employed a man named Jack Fangboner.


@cuminafterall New spin on the whole vagina dentata thing?

errata stigmata

@yeah-elle I filed paperwork for an August Harder once.


@yeah-elle Body/sex/dick names are definitely the funniest.


@yeah-elle I went to school with a guy whose last name is "Dick."



Popular dude at my high school was named, no shitting, Harry Oranges. His brother Greg was less of a legend.


@frigwiggin aaaaaah this blindsided me into a giggle-loop at work. oh my god, i can't breathe.


@yeah-elle I once had to interact with a Misty Beaver for work purposes. Around the same time as I interacted with a woman named Day-Logue Bacon (or as we called her, Day-Glow Bacon). WHY, people.

does it need saying

@yeah-elle We have his kin where I work - Kevin Butts.
Our main office building made national news being named after past mayor - Harry Baals (family actually pronounced it balls)
Also a neighbor I had 15 years ago names their daughter Satin Sheets. I'll never get over that one.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@yeah-elle We have a local Realtor whose last name is Raper. So there's always signs about a Raper trying to sell something.


@yeah-elle I worked with a Sandy Weiner (a law firm partner)!


@stonefruit MISTY BEAVER. i'm imagining a beautiful airbrushed portrait of a majestic beaver atop its dam in the mist.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose oh my god, i really shouldn't be laughing at this, but i can't help ittttt

@does it need saying i know a frank sheets and even that is hilarious. but SATIN


@yeah-elle At my last job we collected client names that could be used in a euphemistic anatomy class. My favorites were Candy Hatch and Chastity Gash.


@yeah-elle I was just at the Kaiser pharmacy where they post everyone's last name on a monitor to tell you your prescription is ready and some poor souls last name was Tryon-Dicks. Cannot make this up.


@yeah-elle I used to babysit for a family and the mother's name was
Candy Weiner. I don't know if I would have taken my husband's last name if I were in her situation, but whatever worked for her, I guess!

Elitist and Dull

@yeah-elle My junior high and high school had Colossal Teton. I couldn't pick her out of a lineup, just heard her name called over the intercom every so often.

Unless it was a code for something.

Tragically Ludicrous

@yeah-elle One of the people in charge of my department's moving to a new building is Cock Michels.


@yeah-elle Paramount Wang!!! I went to high school with a guy named Paramount Wang!

I Feel Like I Should Make a Literary Reference

@yeah-elle I had a middle school teacher, Mrs. Pitts, and her husband's name was actually Harry.
Also, my mother had a friend named Candy Kane.
But Misty Beaver is the best, I think.


Ay ay ay. A friend of mine posted a link to that article on her facebook and the comments almost instantly got derailed by defensive white people getting mad that calling them racist is racist and "Just because I say a name is funny doesn't mean I'm racist!!!" and all sorts of car-wrecky stuff. What made it worse was the ringleader of the "how dare you"s was her mother, who proceeded to argue with a guy who has actually been discriminated against in this exact fashion about how it's not racist and she knows better because she's older than him. It was something else.

In any case, I've got a weird name. It's a weird white name, as it's Scandinavian, but here in the states people see it and assume all sorts of things. I've had job interviewers tell me they thought I'd be non-white more than once. The sad part is, the people that say that always look and sound relieved. :\


I have to say, I don't understand the vitriol interesting names inspire among people. I love not-common names! Especially when they're fun to say. But really: why do we care what other people, especially strangers, call their children? Whether it's Jayden or D'Shawn or Decklyn or Apple, it's none of our business.


I have an unusually-spelled name because of tacky reasons (my mom was 19 and didn't know that there was a conventional spelling). But I actually think that it's aesthetically better than the typical spelling. And once, in googling myself (don't judge), I learned that it's also the name of a town in France. So now when people ask why it's spelled that way I say "It's French." Which is totally a true fact.


@milominderbender - Poussey, is that you?! ;)


@alannaofdoom Man, I wish I'd thought of that! She's totally my favorite too and I never made the connection.


DID YOU KNOW that everyone in science fiction is Republican? Because they're all white people with weird names.


All names are ridiculous.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. They're either tediously common or weird or appropriating another culture or ridiculous sounding or hard for kids to spell or easy for kids to make fun of or overly gendered or overly unisex etc. I've just decided that all names are stupid and moved on. I guess it beats going by numbers.

The correct term is babes, sir

@entangled "No child of mine is ever going to be named Seven!"


@The correct term is babes, sir My great grandmother was named Una because she was the firstborn, which I always thought was somehow both bizarre and unimaginative. That part of my family is English and I wish I knew why they did that—like if it was some kind of fashion at the time..


@The correct term is babes, sir I taught a kid who went by "Seven." He was pretty cool.


It's quite ancient Roman of them, actually.

British people preserved that tradition for a little bit, with names like Septimius (7th child) and Decimus (even though most Decimus-es weren't really the 10th child probably).

Lynn Willis@facebook

46 comments and no Dick Armey yet?


@Lynn Willis@facebook Or Dick Chain-y! Bling!

For real my childhood friend's dad was Richard Fidler. And he went by Dick...D*ck Fidler. No joke.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

Semi-related, but the "Ladasha" thing reminds me of my podcast guys who refer to Ke$ha as "Ke-dollar-ha".


@Oliver St. John Mollusc oh my G-d! The principal on Glee! refers to her as "Key Dollar Sign Ha" and my friends and I still giggle about that.


@stonefruit That was actually my introduction to Ke$ha.


My parents in my infinite genius gave me a not-super-uncommon name without knowing how to pronounce it. So I have a fairly normal name and I still get questions about it, because the way they say it is wrong. THANKS GUYS.


Also this:



I like my name a lot, and it is very traditional and has only become exponentially more common since I was born (it's Emma; it's been in the top 10 for over a decade, reaching #1 a couple times) -- but it plus my super common, super boring surname add up to give me THE WHITEST NAME EVER, middle name notwithstanding.

So even though creative spellings and neologisms really aren't my thing, naming wise, I can definitely appreciate why someone would want to give their child a culturally or ethnically distinct name. I go through a lot of internal grief over how or if I will keep markers of my future children's Latino heritage in their names, torn between my love of Biblical and slightly old-fashioned Anglo-American names and my desire not to contribute to my family's tireless, generations-long march towards assimilation.

(Plus, there's also that biracial, white-passing imposter-syndrome feeling that I don't have enough cred to pull off Spanish kid's names. Given that when I tell people my own middle name there's a 50-50 chance they think it's "Taurus" because a strange hippie name seems more likely than my mother's surname.)


@Tafadhali (Oh my god this plus my comment upthread is making me imagine a hilarifying alternate universe in which my parents were...astrologers from Utah?...and my name is Stevemarie Taurus. DNW.)


@Tafadhali I am also biracial with a really, really bland/commonly white first + last name! We should start a club. It's funny when people are like "....you are different from what I expected!" and I'm like, "...that's kind of racist!"


@avidbiologist oooh, me too! i have the whitest white-girl name and people are always like "uh.....hi. katie?"


So, I have registered emergency room patients named Nokia and Toshiba, so that's real, but I have the following names in my (white Southern, obvs) family: Southey, Atlas, Burleigh, Blanche, and Thoroughgood. The Northern side of my family is a bit more restrained on the naming front.

apples and oranges

@ba-na-nas That makes me think of Ramona Quimby wanting to name her doll Chevrolet because she thought it sounded pretty. And that's the point of names! Maybe you're picking a name that has family/cultural/etc relevance, but maybe you just think it sounds pretty.


Saw a little girl at Disneyland recently with her name on the back of her t-shirt. Beyond it being total child-abduction bait (yes, I am totally paranoid about stuff like that), it was the most awful because her parents named her PAEZLEE. Yup.


@killer_queen NOOOOOO.


@killer_queen For some reason that makes me think of spaetzle. I would totally call her Spaetzle if we were friends.

Better to Eat You With

My sister spelled her youngest daughter's name unconventionally because she didn't want anyone to confuse it with the masculine version of same (even though that's spelled entirely differently). Then she gave her a traditionally male middle name without realizing it was traditionally male.

apples and oranges

@Better to Eat You With I had to meet with someone named Erin once and only communicated by email pre-meeting. Erin was a man. I felt bad for being surprised when he introduced himself!

Rhinestone Eater@twitter

@apples and oranges
I knew a woman named Aaron. She had my job a couple of years before I took it. Got a call the other day for an employment reference that referred to her as a him. I made sure to correct them.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

I mean, I think the old school Puritans take the weird name cake: If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned; Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes; Fly-fornication; Helpless; Sorry-for-sin, etc.

de Pizan

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Victorian names weren't quite as visionary, but they could be pretty weird too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMp_xGeQ2v0


This reminds me of a piece of poetry from Warsan Shire:

"Give your daughters difficult names. Give your daughters names that command the full use of the tongue. My name makes you want to tell me the truth. My name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right."

My name is often mispronounced and I used to resent it. It took me years to stand up to people and even as an adult I am sometimes shy about correcting people when they mispronounce my name. But I love my name, feel that I've grown into it, and feel powerful when I claim my name, this space that belongs to me. I also love that it has many variants in different languages. I've met Mexicans and Russians with my exact name, Greeks and Turks and Bulgarians and Brazilians with names similar to mine but with one or two letters off. I love how my name connects me to a large spectrum of people with names that come from "Helen."


I've mostly gotten over it, but I have a first name that is Aboriginal (I am not, but am from a province with a large Aboriginal population), and uncommon outside a very specific area. As a child, I LONGED to have a name that you could find on a pink plastic hairbrush or something. I longed to be just one of the Angelas.

Adding to that: my last name is Ukrainian and anglicized in a very particular way. No one can pronounce it correctly. Now I mostly shrug it off, but it was hard when I was younger and shy and had to eitehr correct people or answer questions or just live with being called the wrong thing.

So, what I'm saying is: I had some trauma over my name, now I'm mostly over it. I am the only one of me in the whole damn world though, so I need to be good or google will get me.

Also: my responses to names are largely classist. Looking at you, Gwyneth, for naming your kid "Apple." Don't name your kid Apple! Even if it does lead to the excellent 30 Rock comment that "Hat is more of a boy's name."


>As a child, I LONGED to have a name that you could find on a pink plastic hairbrush or something

I have spent my whole damn life wishing I could buy a coffee cup with my name on it with out special ordering.


That may be a Paltrow family tradition?
Her brother named his daughter Whistler Halfnight.


There was a (white) congressman from NH named Dick Sweatt in the early 2000s. That is all.

Elitist and Dull

Registered JUST to point out that Monsterville Horton IV puts all the rest of us to shame.




Finally, a forum for my long-harbored question: "Stone Phillips?"


@Myrtle "Wolf Blitzer?"

[I barely know her, etc.]

George Templeton Strong

I have a really common first and last name. It's not John Smith but it's close. When I got my first apartment I was deluged with junk mail of all kinds. Whenever there was a prepaid card that said something like "MOVED? Tell us!" I would carefully write 123 Main Street, Anytown US 12345. It was amazing how much junk mail that little tactic diverted.

Tragically Ludicrous

The answer is Dutch names. The answer is always Dutch names. Like Olympian Sjoerd Hamburger or astronaut Wubbo Ockels.

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