What's In A Name

While I was trying to think up names for my second child, I realised that that my own name gave away my age. No-one calls their children Jacqueline any more, or Sharon or Tracy or Michelle for that matter. If you have one of those names it says straight away 'born in the sixties' or worse, 'around the 40 mark'. This problem is hereditary. My mother's name is Pamela, and everyone that I have met called Pamela is the same age as my mother. Indeed my grandmother's name Edith Maud could only have belonged to someone born early last century. Even the gorgeous DJ/presenter Edith Bowman has not created a revival in the name's popularity.

If you meet a child called Kayleigh, you know for sure that they were born between 1986 and 1989, and that their parents were listening to Marrillion records (remeber records?). This was probably the first large scale adoption by parents of a previously obscure name due to its use in the popular media. Parents have named their children after favourite film stars since the birth of cinema, but they were usually already common names.

Shortly after this came the huge trendiness of Australia in the early 90's. A flood of Kylies and Charlenes were born, even infiltrating that bastion of Britishness, the Archers. The child was the offspring of a single mother with a thick yokel accent. Indeed, the naming of a child after a fleetingly famous pop artist is now shorthand for a character that is tacky and common. Coronation Street's Battersby family needed little introduction once we knew that they had called one of their children Toyah.

This brings us to the present day. What will we think in years to come of the current crop of Keanus, Dylans, Britneys or Brooklyns? Will these names become so commonplace that we won't notice them, or will they come to symbolise a particular level of celebrity obsession peculiar to the times we live in?

Finally we come to the latest naming phenomenon to hit Britain. Chardonnay. There are around 100 girls in this country whose parents, having no concept of irony, actually thought that Chardonnay was a nice name for their daughter. Ah, parents watched TV footballers and glamour models series in early 00's..

So sympathise with those children who will go through life with the currently fashionable names. Or maybe not; for when they are older they will probably, in our increasingly litigious world, be able to sue their parents for giving them a really embarrassing name.

About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.

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