Salon has an article on the most popular baby names for 2010, and it seems that the current batch of American infants will have yet another good reason to put their parents up at Our Lady Of The Clogged Feeding Tubes or Aspiration Acres nursing homes in fifty years. Much like you couldn’t cross a kindergarten playground in the mid-1990s without having to elbow boys named Kevin out of the way, Mrs. Krabapple’s first-grade class of 2016 will have a lot of nametags reading Jacob and Isabella.
Germany has a policy that lets the civil servant in charge of filling out the baby’s birth certificate reject the parental choice of name if the bureaucrat feels that it would be inappropriate, or a burden to the child later in life. I don’t support such draconian infringements on parental rights, especially since a legal name change is a rather swift affair in the United States, but that doesn’t keep me from flinching a little when I come across kids that have been saddled with:
- Super-popular names that are so common that they become generic, especially Hero/Heroine of the Movie of the Year names.
- Many siblings, all named by spinning the Wheel Of Biblical Names. (Bonus points: having all of them start with the same letter.)
- “Creative” spelling variants of common first names, especially those that substitute phonemes, or tack on extra letters: Brandee, Britnee, Synndy, Stefphanye, Johnathon, etc.
- “Ethnic”-sounding made-up names, especially the De-, Ja- and La- variants: DeShonte, JaMarcus, Lakeesha, and so on.
Name your kids whatever you want, folks. I’m not the Arbiter of Acceptable Names, and I’m pretty sure some people would consider my kids’ names odd or annoying in some way, too. Just be aware that a reckoning will come when little Isabella finds out that she’s been named after a bloodless emo heroine pining after a sparkling vampire. And if you name your baby boy Edward and give him Cullen as a middle name, don’t be surprised if he ends up climbing a clock tower with a scoped rifle and a sack lunch at some point in his life.