What’s in a name?

gazza

Maybe it is because I am a journalist and have suffered many a
berating over the years for rogue spelling mistakes that have crept
into the paper, but I do like words to be spelt correctly. And that
includes names.
I just don’t understand how after someone has gone through all that
effort of compiling the Oxford English Dictionary and endless books on
baby names, when it comes to choosing a name for children people
suddenly think they can spell it however they want or even just make a
new one up completely. Am I just being an old pedant?
Names are back in the spotlight this week following the announcement
that Royals William and Kate are going to have a baby. Luckily for
them, in the UK we have some of the most relaxed laws in the world
when it comes to naming our children.
In many countries parents can only choose from a set list and names
have to be approved and spell-checked.
In Germany the authorities consult the “International Manual of the
First Names” and any name must indicate gender. Iceland has its own
naming committee, but whilst rejecting Pluto and Money in their wisdom
they did approve Benson and Hedges for twins and Midnight Chardonnay.
Sweden’s strict laws have seen names Metallica, Superman, Veranda and
Ikea, all binned.
But here in the UK there are already several young Supermans, along
with numerous Gandalfs and even Gazzas.
The modern trend for hyphened names has actually been around for a
while. The Puritans got there first coming up with such gems as
“If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst- been-damned” and
“Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes.”
Among the handful of restrictions in this country are that the name is
not offensive, does not contain numbers or symbols. is not impossible
to pronounce and does not imply rank or honour like Sir, Lord,
Princess or doctor etc.
It may be argued that all names were invented once. But they are all
based on some kind of meaning – personal traits, occupations,
circumstances of birth or have links to religion or mythology.
However maybe in a google and social media-driven world it does help
to stand out from the crowd? Apparently in 1800 a whopping 24% of all
girls were called Mary, that must have been confusing.
With so much choice and media pressure the couple are in a tight spot.
Charged with the responsibility of modernising the monarchy, a
traditional name is bound to be a disappointment. But could they go as
far as celebs like Jamie Oliver who named his son “Buddy Bear?”. At
least Royals tend to have plenty of names.  William’s is William
Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor. So maybe along with Diana and
Elizabeth or George and Arthur there will be room to sneak in a Gazza
too?

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