Someone better than me has asked the question, “What’s in a name?”, and it seems that there is quite a lot. The recent obsession with the name of the Royal Baby underlines that and this causes us to reflect at this time on the importance of the moniker (rather than of the monarchy).
The name splashed onto a baby is there for life and could be both an asset and a burden. I have often wondered at the stupidity of the celebrities (well actually that is self-evident rather than something to be wondered about) who name their off-spring in weird and amazing ways. The most recent was the effort of Kim Kardashian and Kayne West whose baby was called “North”. Get it? “North West”. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had given it a middle name of “South”. I say “it” because I have no idea of the gender of this unfortunate little person and the name gives me no clue.
Some celebrities indulge with great modesty in handing down a legacy. Poor Michael Jackson did just this with his three children naming them Paris-Michael Jackson, Prince Michael Jackson II and Michael Joseph Jackson II. The Beckhams just went for the unimaginative – Harper (Valley PTA I imagine), Brooklyn (a bridge too far?), Cruz ( Tom et al?) and Romeo (this lad will face some teasing I imagine).
Other parents have landed such names on their babies as: Cricket, Breeze, Blue Ivy, Seven (after Beckham’s jersey number), Audio Science, Cash (parents were of course Mr and Mrs Rich), twins Nelson and Eddy ( a musical joke from Mum Céline Dion) and the names of pretty well any tree – Willow, Cherry, Peach (and Blossom) – and Marco ( father’s name was Paolo although I would not be surprised if the audio joke was unintentional).
Does it matter? Well, apparently yes it does. A couple of Canadians with the sensible first names of David and Daniel have published a paper entitled First names and Crime: Does Unpopularity Spell Trouble? The paper shows “that unpopular names are positively correlated with juvenile delinquency for both blacks and whites. Furthermore, unpopular names are correlated with factors that increase the tendency towards delinquency and are aligned with such characteristics as disadvantaged home environment and residence in a county with low socio-economic status.”
I remember the late Sir Paul Holmes in one of those monologues he often indulged in wondering why young people who get into strife often had weird names. Well there apparently is some evidence that this is true. Giving a child a strange name can only be an indulgence that grown up people want to play out of the young who are shackled to it without any form of informed consent until they are old enough to slough off the snake skin.
There is also the issue of the extent to which people’s perceptions of people are moulded by the name. A commentator name of Figlio suggested that teachers’ perceptions of students were dependent upon the student’s name and this in turn might have impacted on the student’s test scores. Could be but I think the danger in school is that certain family names develop a pattern that precedes the second, third and fourth member of the family – ah, another Middleton eh? I hope you are better than Stuart was!
Which takes us back to the Royal baby – “we are watching the future King of New Zealand” a media person whispered in awe as the bundle in the blanket was put into the car – “oh how in touch with the people to use a baby safety seat!” What did they expect – the State Coach drawn by eight white horses? I digress. We did not expect the child to get an unusual name such as Kensington, or Coronation or even Tiara. The Royal Roll Call is pretty standard – Alfred, Charles, Edward, Francis, George, James and William and you have the Kings covered. Add Elizabeth, Mary, Anne and Victoria which are there as well but unlikely to be given to a boy.
I had my money on James. On the other hand that would be shortened to Jim or even Jimmy. They could, if that happened, be in something of a fix! But as I was writing this the announcement was made – the child is to called George Alexander Louis Windsor-Mountbatten. The newspaper that carried this news also carried some interesting further informtion about names – a list of ten top names. That list was:
Is this a list of children’s names or names for dogs? And can you tell? (Answer on Thursday next).