Talk about baby names long enough, and you’ll realize that all sorts of incredibly sensitive subjects come up when we’re naming human beings. The question of Eleanor or Addisynne, Kwame or Kai isn’t simply one of personal taste. It touches on ideas about gender and class and religion and nation and race.
So I’m not surprised when I get an angry comment. But last week, I got a comment that blew me away. The gist was this: because I do not appear to be from a specific ethnic background, I should not dare to write about the associated names. It was disrespectful, and a lot of other things, too. I knew nothing, nothing! The post should be deleted immediately.
My initial reaction was to reach out, try to connect, maybe to insist that I meant no harm.
There was no indication that the commenter wanted to talk about names. It was anger, pure and destructive and pointless.
It can be problematic to choose names from other cultures. At the same time, we’re always borrowing, without even realizing it. Cross-pollination is the rule in languages, and names, too.
In Duana Taha’s excellent new book The Name Therapist, she advocates for using names from all cultures. And while I struggled with the idea, I think she’s on the right track. Names from the western world cannot be the only names on our lists. It’s just too narrow.
This bears much more thinking, and I don’t have any conclusions. But I would love to hear your thoughts. If you loved a name from a culture other than your own, would you use it?
Now, on to the name news:
- A great list of bold middles, including Triumph, Champion, Praise, and Ladybird. Betcha there’s a story behind every one.
- All about Summer as a baby name. And Winter, Spring, and Autumn, too.
- Speaking of Summer, what a great list of seasonally-inspired baby names!
- And one more here …
- This story about naming daughters from Living with Kids is fantastic: When Will and I were engaged, I said, “I want to have two girls so we can give them each one of our sisters’ names.” And they did!
- Isn’t Serenella gorgeous? I don’t think I’ve heard it before now.
- This collection of names quotes from Nancy is especially rich.
- Looking for names that are known, but rarely used? This series from The Art of Naming is a great place to start.
- Would you use a hyphenated name? I don’t think I would …
- Interesting letter from an Anastasia who wants to be called … Anastasia!
That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!