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Home > Culture and Society

Names: stop the madness!

Too many silly names with too many silly spellings, thinks John Camm

31 October 2003

Yesterday saw the birth of Beatrice Millie McCartney, the offspring of ex-Wings frontman Paul McCartney and his imaginative wife Heather.

Beatrice Millie can count herself relatively lucky: she got away with only slightly absurd names. Condemning a person to a lifetime of being called "Beatrice Millie" is fairly cruel (and has all the hallmarks of Heather's sad ambitiousness: the royal first name; her own surname mirrored in "Millie"), but it is nothing like as cruel as calling her Piper Maru - which is what Gillian Anderson's daugher is called. (Is it an alien name?)

Celebs are notorious perpetrators of wrongful naming. Apart from obvious ones like Moon Unit Zappa, try these horrible celeb namings:

Toni Braxton: children called Diezel and Denim. (Perhaps future sprogs will be called Gap and Doctor Martenís Industrial Workwear)

Elle Macpherson: son called Aurelius. (Why not go the whole hog and call him Caligula?)

Christie Brinkley: daughter called Sailor (can you imagine people saying "Hello Sailor" to you EVERY SINGLE DAY for the REST OF YOUR LIFE?)

Alex Kingston: daughter called Salome. (Quite a lot to live up to, there).

Sean Penn: son called Hopper. (If nominative determinism is true, Sean should be booking Hopper a place at the Betty Ford clinic right now).

The trend isn't restricted to celebrities. Itís increasingly common to come across people with weird names, which appears to be a trend that originates in the US. Like all the best things. Try these names compiled by a US newspaper from news stories and birth certificates:


"Not only don't parents necessarily care whether they get their baby's name spelled "right"... they often seek to get it wrong. In so doing, they hope to bestow a fillip of uniqueness on their child," comments Natalie Angier of the University of Tampere in an article in the New York Times. (So when Chevy Chase named his daughter Cydney, he was ahead of the game. In this as in so little else).

Three processes appear to be at work here: mangling an existing name, making one up, and misappropriating an existing name of someone or something famous. In this spirit, we present the TFT Approved List of Childrenís Names:

Port Vale FC
Warrington Runcorn

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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