Sunday, 7 July 2013

Whats in a name...

OK so there's been lots of talk lately about names...mostly because some stupid lady (she's "famous" because she was on a reality TV show) went on TV and offended three quarters of the UK population by admitting (and then trying to defend her thoughts) that she made instantaneous decisions about whether or not other people's children could be friends with her children based on their first name.  If you feel like venting some outrage the actual interview is below:

 To be honest I thought it was quite funny and the woman in question simply made herself look stupid when she declared that "India is not a geographical name"....I think someone should send her a map.

I like names.  I'm interested in how they can either shape the person you become, or how some people shape their names to fit who they are.  For example, I hate it when people shorten my name.  I don't complain about it but those who really know me would never dare (except for one especially close friend who has never called me Annalee because she's too lazy to pronounce that many letters so calls me Al instead...I let her away with it because hearing her say Annalee would be like her speaking a different language!) Don't be fooled however, I hated my name until about the age of 12 and wanted a normal name like everyone else.  As I grew up I realised that it made me different and that I didn't have to fit into a stereotype.  Instead could be whoever I wanted to be which I think allowed me to become an individual earlier in my development than others. 

Nowadays I meet/hear of many more people who share my name, (mostly with different spellings but the pronunciation is the same) but people still often react when they read or hear it because it's not common and I'm often asked about it.
Some people assume I have an exotic background because it's not a typically English name (apparently its Germanic) and when they hear I was named after a well known horse rider - Anneli Drummond-Hay - they assume that I'm from a posh background where people are interested in who wins the steeplechase....Nope. My parents heard the name and liked it...simple as that.  (As you might have noticed I don't think they saw it written down or I would probably have a different spelling!)

My name doesn't however mean that I'm a good influence on anyone else (usually in fact the complete opposite!) Whilst I probably would have been allowed to play with the snobby woman's children in my youth she would have likely learned quite quickly that I wasn't the best role model unless she wanted a child with piercings and tattoos who drank too much and definitely didn't do homework!

I found this article about the subject today which made me smile, mostly because the author (Periwinkle Jones) themselves has an unusual name and added the wonderful final line "Let the comments on my own ridiculous name start."   If it's any consolation, I quite like the name Peri but I know how evil children (and adults) can be about names so I guess that Periwinkle has possibly had a rough time of it. 

There has been a visible change in baby names in the last few decades, when I was small there were an awful lot of Claires, Emilys and Johns but looking at the top 40 baby names for 2013 there are very few "standard" names as more parents opt for the "unusual" (which therefore paradoxically makes them common) with Freya and Imogen gracing high spots on the list for girls whilst Noah and Oscar strike high for the boys.  The comments at the bottom of the page illustrate how the more common a name becomes the more off put people can be.  I admit that I would avoid any popular names for my children too but whether they would thank me for their unusual name during their formative years would be another story...