In my case, there’s only three syllables because my parents chose not to lumber me with a middle name. I’ve been endlessly grateful to them for that. Although its been somewhat annoying living in England with a name which the English persistently choose to reverse (Duncan Roy into Roy Duncan), it has been anglo-centricism that has annoyed me, rather than my parents’ choice of name.
These days many parents seem to want to name their child as a tribute to their self-perceived creativity. I know a couple who have invented every one of their children’s names, with the result that the names are hard to remember. It comes as no surprise that their children are unruly and a real pain in the arse. Hopefully, they’ll grow out of the ill-disciplined home they’ve been born into.
Children are a blessing I haven’t received in life. Perhaps that is why it irks me when I see them treated as accessories to lifestyles. Britain’s famous liberty allows any name to be given to a child. Some other countries control what is allowed. Years ago I knew an American woman who lived in The Netherlands. She wanted to name her child “Calico” because the Dutch names all seemed foreign to her and it was such a lovely word. Initially the Dutch authorities wouldn’t let her but she persisted and they relented. Where are you now, Calico? It would be great to hear from you. You’ve been blessed with a beautiful name.
We’ve all heard of the child from New Zealand who had her name changed by a judge during a custody battle when she was nine years old. It had been Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. That is just plain malicious. New Zealand seems to struggle with parental liberty. The names Fish and Chips (twins), Yeah Detroit, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit were banned but Number 16 Bus Shelter and Violence were allowed.
My all time favourite misnomer was reported in the Guardian many years ago. I cut it out and pasted it to a piece of cardboard, which I carried with my possessions for many years. It was stuck to my wall in many of the 54 addresses I had in period spanning 19 years (I am less of a Traveller now) and often brought much amusement at parties. Last year I suddenly realised that there was no need to carry it around any more – we’ve got the internet now! The name was bestowed on a hapless child by a Swedish couple but they were prevented from having it officialised by the authorities. Hardly surprising since they had really pushed the boat out. It is the closest thing to a random name I have heard of. The preferred name was Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 which was to be pronounced Albin. Apparently this was a political protest against Sweden’s strict naming laws. Sweden’s tax authorities have to bless first names and surnames before they can be used officially. Consequently, Sweden has also banned Metallica, IKEA, Veranda and Q. Google got through the net for some reason.
I’ve got a friend called Rick. Nothing odd about that. He’s got four brothers. Their father decided that it would be too difficult to remember different names so he named all of his five sons Richard. Luckily that is a name which can be altered easily. They are now called Richard, Rick, Ricky, Rich and Dicky. Can’t think why none of them wanted to be known as Dick.
The Danes take the business of naming more seriously than the Swedes. Parents are given a list of seven thousand names to choose from and told to get on with it. Danish parents can deviate from the list but only with special permission. Perhaps these laws are required in Scandinavia? Perhaps their populations need to be reigned in for the sake of the children? Ethnic names, odd spellings and compound surnames are forbidden. I’d be in favour of banning compound surnames over here in the UK. Luckily for the child, Anus was rejected.