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06 January 2004

Safe names

An amusing editorial by Alex O'Connell in today's Times argues that 'today’s safe baby names are born of scared parents':

So why are we making such insipid choices? For truly we are: the rest of the Office of National Statistics’ line-up reads like an index of characters in a Victorian novel... There is a surge in revivalist names: Ellie, Sophie and Lucy all make the girls’ Top Ten and Joshua, Thomas, and James the boys’. With Ella and Harry present and correct, it’s all gone terribly Milly-Molly-Mandy.

Names reveal a lot, not about their bearer but the hopes and fears of their parents. That those women on maternity wards in the 21st century are harking back to the 19th shows that they want to protect their young from something in the modern age. Parents, scared by documentaries about ten-year-old car-jackers, think that if they call their poppets Samuel (No 8) or Molly (No 19) they will enjoy midnight feasts rather than re-enact Grand Theft Auto III.

See also: Names on Radio 4's Woman's Hour
Plus: Danny O'Brien's meditation on the naming of Ada, in which he identifies an emergent naming standard: [Normal] [Weird] [FamilyName]

Posted at 04:04 PM in Naming | Permalink


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» Name, space from The Prandial Post
Fiona's pointing to The Times' editorial on safe baby names, and Danny's subsequent ruminations have brought me back to an entry I made a while back on the weird names that children had chosen for themselves in Hong Kong. A swift dig around my hard dri... [Read More]

Tracked on 7 Jan 2004 15:19:11


Safe indeed. But then I saw the results when you let the kids choose for themselves...

Posted by: Andy at 7 Jan 2004 10:21:04

'Hydrogen Chloride Litmus Paper' - oooh, I love it! All children should rename themselves at the age of 10. It can be a new rite of passage...

Posted by: Foe at 7 Jan 2004 13:27:25