A Grin at the End: What’s in a name

July 2015 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

I’ve always been amazed by the names some parents choose for their children.

Some are practical.

For example, my Mom always said she chose Carl because she wanted to a make sure I could spell it.

I don’t know what that says about her faith in my abilities, but to this day I have not misspelled my name.

Mission accomplished.

Other parents rely on traditional family names.

That’s fine.

If your great grandfather was named Bananafana Fofana, you can name your child whatever you want from the Fofana family.

But sometimes, names are creative, to the point of being, well, a bit bizarre.

When we lived in Alaska, one set of parents decided to to call their son “Boy” until he was old enough to choose a name. I never heard what he chose, but I assume it wasn’t Boy, or Bananafana Fofana.

Other parents chose outdoorsy names.

One boy was named Skiff, presuming that he would like the water. Another was named Brick, a solid name if there ever was one.

When my wife was student teaching, she ran into some interesting names. One boy was named JNU, the abbreviation the Alaska Ferry System uses for Juneau. At least he’ll never get lost.

One rule I always heard about naming a child is to pretend you are yelling the child’s names at sporting event or at the playground. There are definitely some names that should not be shouted out loud. Anad while they may look good on paper, the name doesn’t translate well when spoken out loud.

Maybe that’s why some people change their names when they become adults.

An acquaintance switched from Gladys to Eve. Hey, if she liked it better, who’s to argue?

Still other parents have veered toward movie or television stars’ names.

Years ago, when we lived in Louisiana, I knew a kid named Hoppy. This was when Hopalong Cassidy was popular in the movies. Come to think of it, I also knew a Roy and a Dale, as in Rogers and Evans.

Still others were named for colors. Red has always been popular. One of my favorite names of all time was the character Red Green, whose show used to be on Canadian TV and PBS.

The reason I bring this up is I was thinking of starting a new business.

I want to be a name consultant. A name consultant is important because some parents have a difficult time deciding what to call their little bundle of joy.

Sometimes that uncertainty bridges over to another JNU.

As a name consultant, for a small fee, I would work with parents to develop a list of possibilities. I would guarantee that all of them would be spelled correctly, or at least have an adequate number of vowels.

Once junior is born, the parents could just pick a name from the list.

Or not. It would be up to them.

Before our oldest son was born, we had decided to name him Maximilian. For practically the entire pregnancy, we referred to the baby as Max, although we didn’t even know whether he/she was a boy/girl. I suppose if she was a girl she’d have been Maxine.

But he was a boy, and the first thing we did was name him Paul. I don’t know why. We just figured he looked like a Paul instead of a Max.

I totally understand how parents think when they’re trying to figure out a good name.

It’s a tough decision.

That’s why a name consultant could come in handy.

Now, if I could only come up with a good name for the business….

Qarrl (I mean Carl) Sampson is a freelance writer and editor.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.