What’s in a name?

Opinons_Bad namesA bad name lasts a lifetime

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. October 9, 2014

Like a birth defect, poor name choices can be an everlasting nuisance to a person’s life. Although, I don’t know the formula for perfect naming, I do know that certain words have a particular connotation that may evoke emotions that you wouldn’t necessarily want to have associated with a person.

When I was growing up, I didn’t like the name Elliot. I thought it had too many syllables, too many variations, which would lead to incorrect spelling, and of course, it rhymes with idiot, if the person could even pronounce it properly. Elliot is an uncommon name, but it grew on me, and now, I can’t imagine my life with any other name. All in all, I’m sure glad my parents didn’t give me a name that was the first noun they heard when arriving in Canada or a direct translation of a name from another culture or language. Elliot fits me; it fits my environment.

Naming is a big responsibility, and parents should not mess around with it and try to be original or clever. Allow your children to be unique by giving them a blank canvas to work with, rather than imposing a name that they’ll have to explain every time they introduce themselves at a party. Believe me, the story of why your kid is named after your favourite patio furniture will not be enjoyable to tell when they’re at a job interview.

There is nothing wrong with reusing names that have been around for generations. Some of my best friends are people with the same names as each other. I’m talking about the Ryans, the Stephanies, the Michaels, and the Erics out there who actually have a personality that doesn’t play into having a particular name.

Your Instagram user name can be witty, but your real name—the one you have on your birth certificate—should not. And if it is, you should really ask your hipster parents why they decided it was a good idea. You deserve an explanation.

Liberal naming, such as hyphenated surnames, are cool and all, and have come to the fore in this generation. I’m meeting more and more people with two last names and a couple of middle names in addition to their first name. As someone with only a first and a last name, I’m a bit befuddled as to why so many names are needed to represent a person. Can it be that having more is better? I don’t think so. I think all that having extra names does is add to the confusion: a small identity crisis.

I’m happy with my name, and I’m sure many people who have “bad” names are happy as well. But we’ve all met someone or overheard a conversation where we leave saying to ourselves: “What an unfortunate name. His parents must have hated him.” For those thinking of having kids in the future, please heed the name.

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