What’s in a name

Along with the realisation that you are going to be responsible for birthing and raising a tiny person comes the daunting prospect of providing a name for your little bundle of joy, poop and puke.

The prospect of selecting a name that is suitable for your child is no mean feat.

You have to pick one that is fitting.  One which will provide your child with confidence. Which will suit their personality (and lets be honest, we have no idea if we’re going to have a saint or a sinner) and one which hopefully won’t leave them heading to the nearest home affairs office when they are of age to change it to something legible and logical.

We want to be creative in these choices naturally.  We want to have beautiful and powerful names, with symbolic meanings behind them. Something which will tell the world that OUR little bundle is the most special of them all.

There are so many routes to follow in selecting names.

Do you follow trends? Do you follow family names, symbolic names??  Do you create unique names by blending and mixing up your and your spouses names?  Do you name them after the place they were conceived?  Are you going to be creative and choose a traditional name, but change up the traditional spelling of it?  Are you going to name them after a favourite celebrity, or beloved family member?  Will your mother in law be offended or critical of your choices?  So many questions and options to consider.

So I’m here to help you out, with a little tongue in cheek commentary in the mix, no doubt I’ll likely offend someone who has little to no sense of humour, then again, I could do with reducing my friend list on Facebook, so here we go…

When we found out we were expecting I gave hubby some simple guidelines to follow when he came up with names.

He was not allowed to suggest any names that we could name our pets, Sebastian, Casey, Halley (my beautiful pup) and any other names ending in a y were immediately off the table.  Being the motorsport fanatic that he is, he was also not permitted to include the names of ANY motoGP riders.  I think he was gutted that Valentino and Maverick were right off the list there and then!!!  But let us  be real here, an Italian named Valentino is sexy, it’s a beautiful name, but we aren’t Italian, we’re South Africans with Afrikaans, German and Dutch decent.  A South African named Valentino sounds like parents who were desperate to be cool. Sebastian was another name I flat out refused to humour.  It reminded me of ‘The Never Ending Story’ or some cuddly St Bernard puppy.  So, what was a man to do???

So where did this leave us?  Well, there were a few paths to journey down so we decided to narrow the field.

We agreed that any name that could be used by a stripper was clear off the list. Cue the removal of Brandi, Candi, Sandi, Kiki, Destiny and Crystal as the most likely offenders.

Do we blend our names?  Ok, so there we could have Kajan?  Um, no.  Or what about Jorin?  Highly unlikely.

Name our child after the place of conception?  Karoo?  Kaboega?  ¾ bed?  Nope. Not going to work.

Do we name her after a beloved city?  Cologne?  Zanzibar? Mmmm

What of our favourite foods?  Fillet?  Salmon Salad?  Watermelon?  Plum?

Here are a few things that I have never understood when it came to naming children:

Naming them after the place of conception…  Seriously, not all kids were conceived whilst on a romantic holiday in Paris.  What if you were on holiday in somewhere like Poffadder or Pitsonderwater?  Or on a cruise ship in the Atlantic ocean?  Royal Caribbean???   What then?  And consider this, your child will forever be reminded of the one thing that any child NEVER wants to be reminded of, that their parents have sex.  And heaven forbid if you spent the weekend in Uitenhage visiting friends when you conceived your child 😉

Naming them after a favourite item, say for example a musical instrument for musicians….  Banjo?  Tamborine?  Bass Guitar? And what if you are a scientist?  Pipet? Forcep? Funnel?

Your favourite fruit?  Apple?  Banana? Quince? Naartjie? Kumkwat?

Ok, so you get the point.

Choosing a name is hard as it can get, if you choose to make it this difficult.  You don’t want your child to share the same name with 5 other classmates, especially if it’s a unisex name.  There will be years of invariable taunting and misery ahead, particularly if you have named your son Courtney, Beverley or Christine.

So why are we so tempted to over complicate it? To the point where we are setting our children up for years of struggles in correcting the spelling of it, the pronunciation of it and sometimes even its origin.

Many are tempted to stick to family names. I get it, I really do.  I vetoed this outright in fact.  Aside from banning Valentino and Maverick, I insisted that our child be given their own unique name, something new, something that wasn’t hinged on family tradition.  I lost that battle outright, but more on that later.  I really do understand naming children after lost loved ones, I really do, both my parents had passed away long before our daughter was born and I adored my parents.  But there as well, if you are going to honour a beloved relative, please, I beg of you, use their first name, hell, even their second or third name, but for the love of all that is sacred in this world, LEAVE THEIR SURNAMES OUT OF YOUR DECISION!

Why give your child a surname as a first name?  How will anyone ever know if Van Rensburg Du Toit is possibly, actually Van Rensburg Du Toit, or maybe he is Du Toit Van Rensburg?  De Wet Van Skalkwyk or Van Skalkwyk De Wet??? You get where I’m headed with this?!  Yes, yes, we all know there are the exception to the rules and surnames exist which can operate successfully as first names.

And what of Initials?  I remember a list of names given by friends, amid many giggles.  The vast majority of these names started with ‘W’, because then our child would forever be Mr/Mrs/Dr W. Anker.  Wanker, real mature guys!!!!  So there is something to consider as well!  I remember in high school a good friend being summoned to the head masters office via a particularly loud intercom announcement, broadcast to the entire school, ‘I’d like to see A. Kock in my office immediately’. It’s burned into my brain for eternity, but then again, I have a dirty mind it would appear.

So.  What have we been left with then?

Some names are so forever synonymous with the horrors of one singular person who shared the same name that we are unlikely to ever see them being used again.  Nobody is going to be calling their child Hitler anytime soon are they?!

Which leaves us with the latest go-to trend that needs to be punished with thrashings…

Creative spelling…

This, this right here is the one which actually kills me the most.  Taking a name that was perfectly legible and butchering it.  Ensuring that 45% of your childs adult life will be spent correcting people on the pronunciation and spelling of what was once a simple name.

Britney – Brittanie, how the hell do you even expect someone to pronounce that??

Lily – Lillee, really, you thought long and hard over that one?

Courtney – Kourtneigh, kids in every playground across the globe are going to be neighing at that poor girl for eternity.

Olivia – Ohliviyah.  You should have your parental rights revoked, on the spot.

Michael – Mykel.  I have no words.

Sophia (One of my favourites) – Sophiyah.  Come one, really?? Were you stoned when you came up with that gem???

Why oh why are you not considering what kind of a life you are setting your child up for???

So, the next time you come up with something creative for your next born, please consider this:  How seriously are people going to take your daughter Merceeedeees when she decides she wants to be the first female president of the country?  How is your son going to cope with being called Dr. Fillyp Kumkwat Du Preez for the rest of his life?

Also, expect your childs name to be shortened or abbreviated if you decided to include every single dead beloved relative into their first name, Kristofferpaul-john is just not a workable name, it will be shortened to something simple like Chris, Paul or John. Don’t tell me you don’t abbreviate it within the privacy of your own home, so don’t go all sanctimonious on the real worlders who cannot be bothered with spending 5 minutes of their day trying to say all sixteen names that you gave your child every single time they enquire about them.

And one needs to apparently be careful of the hidden meaning behind some names, if this is something fairly important to you then I’d suggest staying away from these names in particular:

Claudia – ‘lame’ or ‘disabled’;

Kennedy – deformed head;

Lola – Lady of sorrows;

Cameron – Scottish for ‘crooked nose’;

Byron – Cow Barn;

These kids will one day be looking after our wrinkly old asses, they’ll be putting us into homes when we can no longer go without adult diapers, when we forget who we are and when we become a hindrance to their lifestyles. I want to make dam sure that I’ve given my daughter as little leverage as possible to punish me in my old age as is humanly possible.

After all of this contemplation we opted to go for something simple. Re-inventing the wheel, creating a new overly complicated name with ‘unique’ spelling wasn’t up our alley.

We went through it all.  We agreed for the sake of sanity that I would choose the name if it were a boy, and dad would choose for a girl. From approved shortlists mind you.  And through all of this our daughter ended up with one of the top 3 banned names on my list.

Charlotte.  A family name.  My husband has always adored it. And no logical discussions were going to change his mind.  It’s a beautiful name make no mistake.  Many have commented that we named her after one of the royal babies, which is not true.  Charlotte is my middle name.  It is one of my Aunts middle names, shared as well by one of my Grandmothers and no doubt judging by this trend, by a few family members preceding their lives as well.  The name holds stature and bearing.  It also hold a legacy of women who were undeniably stubborn and brave, which considering Charlottes extremely early birth and subsequent battles was actually fairly suitable.

So, while one day she’ll probably bemoan the fact that, while she is named after a long line of woman within my family bloodline, she will (hopefully) be less inclined to ship us off to Timbuctoo when the time comes because at least it was easy to pronounce and to spell.  I suppose we could have gotten creative if we really wanted to torment her though,  Shaarlit has a ring to it doesn’t it?!

At the end of the day you really don’t have to answer to me or to anyone really, about how you came to choosing the names of your children.  Just keep in mind, that your choices now, will have life lasting consequences on your child.  Think of school prize giving, when your son, Jaeysin, has won awards for academics and the MC of the event cannot figure out how to pronounce his name.  When your daughter, Winter Melon, introduces herself at her very first job interview.

Much love and contemplation:

Karin, or is that Korrin, Korryn?

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