WHAT'S IN A NAME?

It was William Shakespeare who said "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet. "What’s in a child’s name? A child’s name is one of the first, longest lasting, and most important gifts you give your child. There are several important aspects to consider when you name a child.

Most names have a meaning or origin, usually from an ancient language and culture. Michael, for example, is from Hebrew and means "who is like God". Alexis is from the ancient Greek and means "helper". Mildred is Norwegian for "drives with her nose against the steering wheel".

It is a noble thing to honor a family member by naming a child after them, but one must be careful. If Billy Joe Jim Bob Smith was a bit too much to start with, then Billy Joe Jim Bob Smith Junior will definitely be over the top. Personally, I feel naming a child after the father lacks imagination. It also leads to some confusion through the years. Consider Sam & Sam Jr.- for the first 15 years they are known as big Sam and little Sam. This works out fine until little Sam gets a growth spurt at age 17 and becomes bigger than big Sam. Now they are referred to as old Sam and young Sam. But old Sam is only 39 and doesn’t appreciate being called old. 50 years later Sam Sr has been dead for 20 years but the other Sam still has to sign his checks Sam Jr. Another thought on family names; your aunt Gertrude has always hated her name, she'll probably understand if you don't name your daughter after her.

People sometimes forget to look at the initials that they saddle their children with. Douglas Orthello Reginald Kennedy sounds impressive and regal but it won't take the kids at school long to figure out his initials are DORK.

Names from the Bible always good, unless you’re Muslim or Buddist. I live near the Mexican border and Jesus seems to be popular around here. Other popular names from the Bible are Adam, David, Samuel, Paul, Matthew, Mary, and Sara. But some of the people in the Bible were not good role models and you probably wouldn’t want to name your child after them. Cain, for example, killed his brother. Goliath was a freak of nature and a bully. Judas was a fink who betrayed Jesus. Delilah ratted out Samson so he could be sold as a slave. And Rahab and Jezabel were both hookers.

The Middle-Eastern cultures have a naming system helps prevent weird names. The son is given the father's name: Yosef Ben Mohammed means Yosef, son of Mohammed. And the father takes on the son's name: Mohammed Abba Yosef, meaning Mohammed, father of Yosef.When Frank Zappa named his son Dweezil, Frank's new name would have been Frank Abba Dweezil. Maybe he would have thought twice about that.

One of my pet peeves is the new trend to purposely misspell a child’s name. Interchange “f” and “ph”, interchange “i” and “y”, interchange "c" with "s" or "k", interchange single and double consonanats, randomly insert vowels. I recently saw the beautiful Hawaiian name “Leilani” (which means “Flowers from Heaven”) spelled “Laylonny” (which means "My Parents Played a Cruel Joke on me and I have to Live with it for the Rest of my Life”). I know the intent is to give your child a unique name, but all it does is guarantee the child’s name will always be pronounced and spelled wrong. It also means your child will never go into WalMart and buy a bicycle license plate with their name on it. I keep waiting for 2 things to happen with this misspelling trend; first, for someone to spell their child’s name with a number instead of a letter, like Fr3d.And second, for someone to change the spelling of Jesus to “Hayzeus” (Spanish pronunciation).

One last and most important issue to consider in naming your child is a name’s popularity ranking. For the first time since 1961, Mike has slipped from the most popular boy's name to the number 2 spot- replaced by Jacob. I urge you to name all your male children Mike!!!