What’s important is the person behind the name

  • Letters
  • Monday, 18 Dec 2006

I RECENTLY started working with newborns and kids and have noticed that children’s names are becoming more unique and creative.  

We have baby Shawana, Tayla, Dameak, Roxi-lee, Terique Rose, Latelle, Chenoa, Jaxson (note the x instead of ck) and so on. 

Sometimes I find myself fumbling in trying to guess their gender. Baby Latelle turned out to be a boy (after I exclaimed “What a cute baby girl!” which was not the best way to establish rapport with his mum) and Terique Rose is a big-eyed two-year-old boy. Perhaps it is a good idea to open their diapers first before opening my mouth.  

What is it with these names – difficult to spell, pronounce and remember, and not gender-friendly at all. Some do sound nice and acceptable, though. 

One of the horrible things you can do to your child is to give a funny name that guarantees endless teasing and mockery from their peers. From entertainment magazines or TV, you probably would have come across names like Pilot Inspector, Poppy Honey, Peaches, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Kaya or Gigi (sounds okay if you are not Malaysian), Kawaii or Copernicus.  

Imagine if we have Attorney-General Pilot Inspector, Datin Kawaii or Cikgu Poppy Honey – a bit out of whack, isn’t it?  

How about names that are associated with a certain character or stigma? Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Jack the Ripper or Lucifer do not exactly enjoy the best reputation around here, so unless I am thinking of moving to another planet, I would think twice about giving these names to my kids.  

I used to like the name Angela until a horrible girl came along and spoilt it for me. For the time being, the name Erin is sweet, soft and graceful simply because my friend Erin is one of the loveliest girls around. 

Having said all that, what is in a name anyway? It serves as a “label”, a convenient way of introducing ourselves to others but it is in no way a reflection of the person inside. A name may sound funny to one because it is new or different from the norm or to a certain culture. It is all a matter of perception.  

At the end of the day, what is important is the person beneath the facade. One may be named Sophia or Sophie (which means wisdom) but be devoid of common sense. The meaning behind my lovely name is to be as “graceful as a swan” and to “sparkle like a diamond” but sadly the exact opposite turned out to be true (much to my mum’s disappointment).  

I actually like the names Daisy, Missy, Pebbles (please don’t ask me why) and Siobhan (pronounced “Shu-von”). 

However, naming my child Pebbles or Princess Consuela Banana Hammock is a different story because of the inevitable lifelong taunting she will have to face in our cruel and narrow-minded world.  

I am still not brave enough to deviate from the norm. And definitely not Siobhan, which I predict would be a pronunciation disaster. 




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