You’re Naming Your Kid WHAT? (Please Don’t!)

American taxpayers actually support a program run by the Social Security Administration to track the most popular baby names, yearly. (Don’t even think about the unreal, unrealistic, and unpleasant sum that must cost!) In the long run, though, it’s not the most popular names that are the most important ones: The oddest ones count for far more, because, for the entire length of the bearer’s life, they are a burden, of one or more of several sorts.

We all know, of course, about North West, the financially fortunate progeny of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, mother’s name: Donda, making both mother and son – and now grandson, victims of UNS: Unfortunate Name Syndrome. Then there are Scout, Rumor and Talullah, the three daughters of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, before they split and he married model Emma Heming, with whom he’s had daughters more-sensibly named Mabel and Evelyn. And there has long been talk that Michael Jackson’s son, Blanket, is so named because his mother is — oddly — unknown.

There are some — the younger ‘some’, in particular — who would have you think the providing of odd names to celebrity babies is a relatively recent phenomenon. Far from it! Probably the weird-name prize of all times goes to the eldest daughter of Frank and Gail Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa (born September 28, 1967 in New York City) with her siblings, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva Muffin. getting runner-up honors.

But those aren’t the ‘worst’ of the odd names kids have to suffer: Those are the ones that, for whatever reason, are difficult to ‘scan’ for either pronouncing or spelling.

All such kids suffer, throughout their lives — or at least until they are 18, and can legally change them — from UNS. Every introduction, in every circumstance in life, creates a momentary ‘speed bump’, when the new hearer of the name has to try to decipher it, to properly pronounce it, and (guess, perhaps, at how) to spell it.

As Salon pointed out a while back, “Take a quick glance down the Olympic roster. It is the Black names that disproportionately stand out: Tayshaun, Deron, Rau’shee, Raynell, Deontay, Taraje, Jozy, Kerron, Hyleas, Chaunte, Bershawn, Lashawn, Sanya, Trevell, Sheena, Ogonna, Dremiel. You can safely bet that NBC’s commentators practiced these a few more times in the mirror than the name “Michael Phelps.”

In many instances, such names clearly represent parents’ aim, with all good intentions, to make their child stand out, to be ‘special’ — not that every child isn’t special as a birthright.

But from the first time a child with such an ‘unusual’ name is introduced to others as a pre-schooler, through the deciphering teachers have to do of pronunciations and spellings, to the same issues faced by a child’s friends — right up through and beyond school — to the same struggles faced by potential employers (and eventual workplace colleagues), the UNS victim suffers.

Later, love complicates things for a surprising number of people — individuals whose last names are so incompatible, as has noted, “you might want to call the whole thing off: “Brooke Gross and Kevin Pantii have announced their engagement.”  “Lisa Renee Kuntz and Gary Wayne Dick plan to be married.” Anna Wang and Brad Holder, both of Atlanta, are pleased to announced…” — No! Don’t tell us! We Get it!

Sadly, or humorously, those folks have done ‘it’ to themselves — joined the UNS brigade.

Then there are those who, without thought or any forethought, give children names that, for one or another reason, as a whole name or the ordinary nickname thereof, doom a son or daughter to certain ridicule. Examples I’ve personally known include two Candice Barrs, a Mary Christmas, and a Hunt lad whose forename has frequently been in the number one or number two spot of the Social Security Administration‘s most-popular names list — making use of the usual nickname out of the question.

So, if you’re expecting, or expecting to be expecting, and your surname is ‘inappropriate’ for being paired with a particular forename, don’t assume that your child will overcome a disastrous name to become, as one lady, like a particular, peculiarly-named an American philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, did: Ima Hogg was “one of the most respected ladies” in her area, in her time, despite the giggles her name provoked. (She did not, as humorists like to note, have a lesser-known sister named Ura.)


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