I've spent half a century writing for radio and print (mostly print). I hope to still be tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Spare a thought for Chris Cross, Helen Back, Barry Cade, and Al K. Seltzer. These are just a few of the monikers that have been dumped on their children by parents who really ought to know better.
A British study cast its net wide: “America as you’d expect,” its authors say with a rather superior sniff, “is a haven of weird and wonderful names including Anna Prentice, Annette Curtain, Bill Board, and Carrie Oakey.”
Name Holders Often Not Amused
The BBC interviewed several of the unfortunates who no longer appreciate their parents’ sense of humour. “Retired airman Stan Still, 76, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said his name had been ‘a blooming millstone around my neck my entire life.
‘When I was in the RAF my commanding officer used to shout, ‘Stan Still, get a move on’ and roll about laughing,’ he said.
‘It got hugely boring after a while.’ ”
But, that was a long time ago Stan. Surely, we’ve put this kind of nonsense behind us by now. Nope.
2020 delivered a bunch of little tykes destined to go through life burdened with Jermajesty Jackson, Audi, Princess Tiaamii, Mustard M. Mustard, Xzayvian, and Fifi Trixibelle.
There’s no stopping some adoring parents sending their little ones off to join Espn, Shoog, Google, and Hippo (sure hope the last one doesn’t turn out to be a bit on the chunky side).
Don’t Marry a Sports Fan
Many a mother has rued the day she let her husband register the newborn’s name. Clare Smith of Blacktown, Australia wrote to Take 5 magazine “We chose our daughter’s name, Lanesra, because it was unique and romantic.”
Two years later, her husband fessed up; it was the name of his favourite soccer team spelled backwards. It is not known whether the Smiths are on speaking terms again yet.
It gets even stranger. Eirin Isabel Iversen and her husband Tor-Eric are huge Liverpool Football Club fans in Norway. They named their daughter YNWA, pronounced Yee-Nwa. Say what? There’s a convoluted connection here. The Liverpool fans have a team song, You’ll Never Walk Alone. Hence little YeeNwa’s awful name from its initial letters.
There’s something about Liverpool fans. In 1965, the team won the Football Association Cup; they've done it again seven more times. That's a big deal in the U.K.
The year after the 1965 win, Paula St John Lawrence Lawler Byrne Strong Yeats Stevenson Callaghan Hunt Milne Smith Thompson Shankly Bennett Paisley O’Sullivan, made her grand entrance into the world. The proud father named the little bundle of joy after every player on the winning squad plus the manager and two assistants.
Imagine the conversation when Dad got back from registering snookums's name: “You did what?” Let’s turn away from this discussion; it looks like it might get ugly. Is that the sound of breaking crockery?
The Law Corrects Mistakes
But, cheer up munchkins, what your deranged mums and dads cursed you with can be undone.
In New Zealand a girl named “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” made headlines. Kathy Marks of The Independent reported how this turned out: “The girl, now nine, was not amused. She refused to tell anyone, even her close friends, her name. When her parents split and launched a custody battle, it came to the attention of a judge, who ordered her to be made a ward of court until her name was changed.”
Talula now has a new name but her identity is being kept a secret to protect her privacy.
The law came down on a Swedish couple over the naming of their son. Parade Magazine quoted the couple as saying they wanted their offspring to have a name that was “full of meaning and typographically expressionistic.” That’s how they came up with Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116. The couple claimed it was pronounced “Albin,” but they were fined $735 anyway.
In English-speaking countries costly litigation isn’t needed for a name change. In Canada, the fee for a legal name change varies among provinces but is usually around $120. In the U.S., the fee ranges from $150 in Massachusetts to $435 in California.
Daft Celebrity Baby Names
Frank Zappa was an American musician from the 1960s, onward. His output has been described as nonconformist, experimental, and weird. When the babies started to arrive his naming conventions matched his musical style. Moon Unit Zappa arrived in 1967, followed by Dweezil in 1969, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan (1974), and Diva Muffin (1979).
Many other so-called celebrities have followed the path blazed by Frank Zappa:
- Before they split up, Marc Silverstein (producer) and Busy Philipps (actor) had two daughters, Birdie in 2008 and Cricket Pearl in 2013.
- Shannyn Sossaman (actor) and Dallas Clayton (writer) produced a son in 2003 and named him Audio Science. Perhaps, they regretted the choice because their second son, born 2011, they named Mortimer (could have been worse);
- Moxie CrimeFighter arrived in 2005, the daughter of magician Penn Jillette and his wife, Emily.
- Beyoncé (singer) and JAY-Z (rapper) gave the world a daughter, Blue Ivy, in 2012 and twins Rumi ( girl) and Sir (a boy) in 2017.
- Soleil Moon Fry (actor) and Jason Goldberg (producer) had four children before their divorce; Poet Sienna Rose arrived in 2005, followed by another daughter Jagger Joseph Blue in 2008, and then came sons Lyric Sonny Roads in 2014, and just plain Story in 2016.
- Meanwhile, comedian Stephen Colbert and his wife Evelyn have three children, John, Peter, and Madeline.
- It’s not all embarrassment and inappropriate jokes. Rose Bush of Coventry, England told the BBC that she loves her name: “I always get comments about it but they are always very positive.”
- Perhaps, there’s another upside to having a strange name. People are not likely to forget you if you’re called Justin Case, Candy Barr, Tim Burr, Jo King, Barb Dwyer, or Ray Gunn. It might make up for the years of ruthless teasing children with these names will have suffered.
- Announcements of engagements sometimes throw up some unfortunate name combinations in newspapers. Joe Looney and Shelby Ward were joined in holy matrimony in Salem, Oregon. Other regrettable blends announced in local newspapers are Poore-Sapp (South Carolina), Crapp-Beer (Wisconsin), and Seymour-Butts (Alabama).
- “Unusual Baby Names: 50 Strange Names of 2012.” Sarah Laing, Huffington Post, December 13, 2012.
- “Weirdest Baby Names of 2015 Included Valkyrie, Madonna, Quest and D’Artagnan.” Jen Mills, Metro, December 10, 2015.
- “Parents Must Rename Girl Called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.” Kathy Marks, The Independent, July 24, 2008.
- “The Baby Named Arsenal Backwards – and other Kids who Took One for the Team.” Homa Khaleeli, The Guardian, January 6, 2016.
- “Liverpool FC Fans from Norway Name their Daughter YNWA.” Alisha Rouse, Liverpool Echo, January 23, 2015.
- “Most Unfortunate Names Revealed.” BBC News, February 25, 2009.
- “100 Most Popular and Funny Baby Names of 2020 Revealed.” Bhavana Navuluri, momjunction.com, December 9, 2020.
- “269 Weird & Wonderful Celebrity Baby Names.” peanut-app.io, undated.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Rupert Taylor