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Like David Copperfield, I was born.  Immediately thereafter, my parents decided it would be a good idea if I had a name.  In that regard, their judgment was sound.

Then sentiment took over, and they decided to give me the same name as my father.  My father had reservations, because when he was a boy, he knew a kid who had the same name as his father.  Everyone called this kid “junior,” which my father thought was icky.  The fact that my father did not like this kid only intensified that feeling.  In order to spare me the fate of being tagged with a moniker like that, my father insisted that I be a “second,” which is to say, the Roman numerals “II” were added to my name on my birth certificate.  I think my life would have been easier if the blank on that certificate following the word “father” had been filled with the word “unknown,” allowing me a name that was all mine, with neither “jr.” nor “II” following it.

For the first fifteen years of my life, I was subjected to the “lecture.”  I would be told, by those who think such things important, that I should never have been a second.  Only if my father had been a junior, or if I had been named after an uncle, they informed me, would that have been appropriate.  This lecture was delivered to me through the years by various people, and I became weary of hearing it, even if they never tired of saying it.  So, about the time I entered high school, I took matters into my own hands, and dropped the “II.”  This took care of the lecture, but as I was still living at home, I needed some way to distinguish my mail from that of my father, and so the dreaded “jr.” took its place.  A year later, I got my first driver’s license, with the “jr.” on it, and that made it official.  When I finally moved out, and got an apartment of my own, I dropped the “jr.” as well.  But with a birth certificate with a “II” on it, and a driver’s license with a “jr.” on it, there really was no escaping these suffixes, one of which will probably, despite my protestations, end up on my tombstone.

Meanwhile, there were my relatives to deal with, and for that purpose the “-y” was added to my first name, as in “Johnny.”  There are two problems with this kind of name-formation.  First of all, names like “Johnny,” “Billy,” and “Charley” are diminutives, which just do not have the stature and maturity of the names of their respective fathers, “John,” “Bill,” and “Charles.” Worse, they are phonetically indistinguishable from “Johnnie,” “Billie,” and “Charlie,” which are girls’ names.  With the addition of a single “-y,”, I was not only rendered a small version of my father, but was also feminized at the same time.

And then there is the use of the word “Little,” uttered before the first name, as in “Little Pete.” This last way of trying to undo the confusion of having two people in the same house with the same name is the worst of the lot.  All the ones previously considered only suggest that the person so named is derivative of someone else, a diminished version of what came before.  With the use of the word “Little,” the reduced stature of the person so referred to becomes explicit.

And all this to satisfy some strange masculine pride in one’s own name!  The whole point of having names is so that, through utterance or inscription, we can indicate the person of whom we are speaking, and do so in an unambiguous manner.  And just when we need it most, as when two males are to live under one roof, vanity triumphs over reason, and the son winds up with the same name as his father, as if it were some precious heirloom that must be handed down from one generation to the next.  I say this is a masculine trait, because the cases where a mother names her daughter after herself are so rare that I have personally only known of two of them.  The feminine solution to undoing the ambiguity that was deliberately created is for the daughter to take on a nickname, like "Sweetie."  In any event, I have certainly never heard of a woman named after her mother going by the sobriquet “Judy, jr.,” for example, or “Little Judy.” And “Judy, II” would make us suppose her to be royalty.

But the problem is mostly confined to men, and it is toward this vain sex that we must focus our attention.  In particular, it is time to abolish the custom of allowing a man to name his son after himself.  And while we are at it, it is time to abolish the custom of having the wife change her last name to match her husband’s.  There is no reason for a woman to lose her identity by taking on her husband’s name, especially when she is likely to get divorced five years hence. And what of the children, you ask?  Well, children belong more to women than they do to men. They are the ones who do most of the child rearing, and who get custody of the children when that divorce finally arrives.  Therefore, we should give the child the woman’s last name.

This last proposal, by which all male children would have first and last names different from those of their fathers, may sound like something on the feminist agenda.  If so, it would not be the first time that men have benefited from the feminist movement.  With this reform, every boy could grow up to be his own man, with his own name.

Originally posted to disinterested spectator on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 03:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community, Shamrock American Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Next time you run into Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (14+ / 0-)

    you might ask him how that Junior thing is working out for him.  ;-)

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:02:41 PM PDT

  •  There's a solution. (28+ / 0-)

    Legally change your name.

    I did it when I was past 30, not because I was a junior but thought the name my parents chose didn't suit me. After all, it was a guess, they didn't even know me.

    Several legal hoops to jump through, but the cost is minimal. Once you've changed your ID and notified everyone, and friends and relations have gotten used to your new name (doesn't take as long as you think it might) it's very satisfying.

    •  I have a friend who never liked her name, (6+ / 0-)

      so she had it legally changed at the time of her divorce decree. I guess that's an option only available to women. Or maybe men can do it too. I don't know.

      For me, Mitt reminds me of Jeff Bridges in Starman. He's like an alien that hasn't read the entire manual. You know, he's going, "Nice to be in a place where the trees are the right size." -- Robin Williams on Letterman 26 Apr 2012

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:24:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My Mom changed her name after divorcing my Dad (16+ / 0-)

        She didn't want to be the First Ms X or the Former Mrs X and she wanted my Dad's newest wife to be THE Mrx X so she legally changed her name to that of a park she loves to go to.
        (And years afterwards my Dad was to accuse her of marrying again without teling him to keep the alimony flowing--not fooling)

        if you don't like your name, change it diarist, rather than sit and make rules for other people

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:06:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I believe anyone can change their name as long (10+ / 0-)

        as the purpose is not to avoid the law...  But consult a lawyer!

        ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

        by slowbutsure on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:20:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is true (5+ / 0-)

          I know my first cousin chopped off an extra first name because he never used it and it wasn't in his signature.

          Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

          by fearlessfred14 on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:43:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My sister finally did this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            trueblueliberal, slowbutsure

            Our problem was with Mom, who had been the victim of a lot of ridicule about her name and various nicknames that arose.

            She named me after her favorite cousin, a woman I dearly loved and was happy to be named after, Mary Virginia. She was always called by both names. I was Ginny from day 1 I think. My daughter decided she prefers Virginia to the diminutive and as I age, it becomes more of a thorn.

            Mom named her middle daughter Diana Christine, and called her Chris. And my sister fits the Diana image to T...

            My ex and I chose our kids names to avoid many of the problems. I specifically wanted names that I liked without changing them. Also was fine with nicknames that came along. It turned out well we called our son by his full and very common first name. One class there were 3 boys with that name that had used 1) full name 2) one shortened  3) one with the -y ending!

            On sons' names, my ex was very happy with my suggestion. We used his middle name for our son's middle name. It gives them both the link without any confusion or overwhelming issue of trying to be like dad, or develop a self different from dad. His brother and sister in law also used it for their first son.

            Last names are another issue. My daughter doesn't like either mine or her fathers, which she has good reasons for. From there she went back to my maternal grandmothers last name, and with good reasons. She hasn't changed it yet.

             I went back to the maiden name after the divorce, his name had been a choice to avoid the issues of hyphenating and people having to remember both surnames. The advantage when we split was the combination of my first and last names - there are only 3 other women in the country who share both! One was 87 last year so there could be only 3 of us soon...

            I became aware of naming issues long before we got prego. At that point I learned more and really wish more people would do that and think more of the child than their own satisfaction.

            "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

            by Ginny in CO on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:18:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Men can do -- no problem (5+ / 0-)

        My husband was tired of being "Michael Jackson."  So he changed it.  Took less than three weeks.  Don't remember the cost, but it was minimal, and today, nobody even remembers the old name.

        "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

        by stormicats on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:39:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Choosing the new name (5+ / 0-)

        I have a friend who changed her last name legally when she divorced.

        She didn't want to continue to use her ex-husband's surname, but at the same time she didn't really want to go back to her father's surname because of his conduct toward her.

        She chose the surname of a great-aunt who had become one of the first nurses in her home country. The great-aunt stayed in nursing and became a highly-respected leader within that field. She never married: had she done so, her career would have ended forthwith.

        For my friend, this new surname was a source of inspiration for her, as well as a mark of respect for her distant relative.

      •  I did that too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I can't see why that wouldn't be possible for men as well as women. Legally speaking, it's just a matter of having it written into the divorce decree.

    •  I changed my name at 14 yo (16+ / 0-)

      Having an unpronounceable 5 syllable given name and immigrating to the US, after years of mispronunciations and jeers, I decided to fix that (when we got our green cards) and shorten it legally to 1 syllable.

      Twas quick and simple, though when I got a security clearance years later I had to go through and validate all my past "aliases".

      Getting this resolved while I still had minor status probably saved my tons of hassle... I don't envy what women have to go through these days if changing names for marriage.

      Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

      by sacrelicious on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:51:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I did the same thing, about 10 or 12 years (5+ / 0-)

      ago - to get rid of a married name (15 years after the divorce) without going back to my "maiden name" which I hated. It's been great, and I've never looked back!

    •  I did this with my last divorce (0+ / 0-)

      I went with an old family name because I didn't like the name I was born with.

      Women create the entire labor force.

      by splashy on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:46:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not a masculine thing. (13+ / 0-)

    When a child is named for a parent or grandparent, it's intent is mostly to carry on that name and to honor the person for whom the child is named.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:23:39 PM PDT

  •  good luck getting a new driver's license! (13+ / 0-)

    if you have a "Jr." license and a "II" birth certificate...well, I can only assume you're an al Qaeda agent.

    As for a woman not losing "her identity", wouldn't her last name, for now, be her father's? I don't see much difference in having a father's name or a husband's name. In the old days it represented one's clan. Maybe everyone should just choose his or her own name when he or she turns 18 or 21 or whatever.

    •  I don't know about now, but 100 years ago (7+ / 0-)

      at least, in Italy a woman kept her maiden name. Searching the Ellis Island records I have found married women ancestors arriving under the maiden names.

      For me, Mitt reminds me of Jeff Bridges in Starman. He's like an alien that hasn't read the entire manual. You know, he's going, "Nice to be in a place where the trees are the right size." -- Robin Williams on Letterman 26 Apr 2012

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:54:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Myy grandmother kept hers (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, hungrycoyote, cynndara, MeToo

        even after she got married which was around 1930.  The mailman saw her one day and said not to worry, he wouldn't report her and my grandfather for living in sin.  Only when my father was born did she take her husband's last name.

        "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

        by ItsJessMe on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:29:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha! I didn't change my name when I got married. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          My mother's main concern with it was that the mailman would think we were living in sin.  This was in 1983, not 1930!  Mom was a pretty modern woman in other respects.  In fact, I would have liked to name one of my two daughters after her, but she would have killed me if I named my baby "Harriett".   Would have loved to name one of them after my granny, too, but "Florence" wasn't working for me either.

          In the end I went for British royalty names, spelled in the traditional way.  I think it's silly of parents to come up with the creative spellings for their kids' names; that kid is going to have to deal with that forever.

          •  That's so funny, the grandmother I (0+ / 0-)

            wrote about was Harriet!  My other grandmother was Hannah so my sister, when she had the first girl of our kids' generation (there are 7 boys, 2 girls) named her daughter for both women, using Halle.  (H-A-double consonant was the commonality).

            My grandmother Harriet also ran for national office on the Socialist ticket.

            "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

            by ItsJessMe on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 08:40:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Ever try to find an old classmate (6+ / 0-)

      who got married after you lost track of her? The name she had from birth (papa's or mama's or whatever) disappears from the public record if she takes her husband's name. That is the difference.

      (Cool enough, if she wants to disappear....)

      People can choose their own names, but in many communities, it would be seen as weird.

  •  I share your philosophy about naming children ... (13+ / 0-)

    although I have daughters. I was determined (and their mother agreed after pondering my argument) that children are individuals, unlike anyone else on the planet regardless of genetic inheritance, and should have their own individual names. Therefore no giving of first or second names that were the same as the parents or their respective family members (aunts, grandmothers, etc.). We agreed their last name would be the same as mine (although I would have accepted your solution concerning the mother's last name). My first name is the same as my Dad's, as a result I've always insisted on being addressed by my middle name which is different (thank God, I'm not a junior or a second). My middle name is who I am psychologically and emotionally. When I'm in a situation where I must submit my first name (filling out forms, etc.) and then someone addresses me by that name (in a medical setting, or office setting), I don't recognize that first name as being "me" -- almost like having an out-of-body experience. Anyway, that's my take on this matter.

    Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me, "how good, how good does it feel to be free? " And I answer them most mysteriously, "are birds free from the chains of the skyway? " (Bob Dylan)

    by JKTownsend on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:24:36 PM PDT

    •  I knew I didn't want any juniors - I was hoping (8+ / 0-)

      that anyone I married agreed with that...

      I had four Anthony's in my family. My grandfather, an uncle, and two cousins. Of course, I only knew my grandfather as Grandpa -- or dad. My uncle (not a junior, he married into the family) was Tony, then the two cousins were "Ant". The older was always "Big Ant" and the younger was "Little Ant". And sadly, Little Ant really was little so he truly hated his name.

      My cousins both hated sharing a name, but it was far worse for my younger cousin because he was a junior and his father was a drunk. I decided pretty early on that people should have their own identity. No son should have a name to live up to -- or down to...

      The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of a man, though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least -- Albert Einstein

      by theKgirls on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:36:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Weird coincidences (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        My brother figured this one out.

        My grandmother had a brother "A" -- she married an "A"

        Her daughter had a brother "B" -- she married a "B"

        Her daughters, my sister and me, have a brother "C" -- and BOTH of us, seven years apart, married a "C."

        I wasn't LOOKING to marry a "C" -- hell, ours is a late marriage, I was about at the point that I didn't think I was marrying ANYONE.  Hers, too, actually.  

        Sometimes, it's weird coincidence -- although the fact that "C" is the probably the most common man's name in our generation doesn't hurt.

        Girl cat will break the trend.  She's an only child.

        "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

        by stormicats on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:49:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, if your granddad and your dad had (9+ / 0-)

    the same name as you, your nickname should have been Trey.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:26:28 PM PDT

  •  I think kids should have their mother's (6+ / 0-)

    last names for the first 10 years. At that point if the father has participated in the child's life in any meaningful way, the kid can take his name if she wants.

    I don't know why parents name their kids before they get to know them. I think everyone has a real name if folks would only take the time to figure it out.

    But you know it could be worse, you could be named Bubba Jr.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:28:52 PM PDT

  •  I have the same name as my dad. Yeah, when (7+ / 0-)

    I was in school, in more formal settings--non school formal settings--I was a jr.

    But only then.

    When I went to visit my dad's relatives, though, it was cool.  Because for whatever reason, everyone called him Joe.  And that is its own story as well.  His sister married into an Italian family that had a LOT of Joes in it.

    Fat Joe, Skinny Joe, Old Joe, and so on.  And that's how they were known.

    Of course, everyone called them Uncle Joe, but when you asked "which one", you had to use the nickname.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:29:12 PM PDT

    •  My daughters... (6+ / 0-)

      ...have names of no family member.

      "if you don't make peaceful revolution possible, you make violent revolution inevitable." ….JFK. .......{- 8.25 / -5.64}

      by carver on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:36:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another bit of Jewish tradition (7+ / 0-)

      Sometimes parents use just the first letter of the name of a deceased relative they want to honor.  That way the relative is remembered, but the child isn't necessarily stuck with a name that had its heyday 75 years earlier.

      "If they give you lined paper, write the other way." (Juan Ramon Jimenez)

      by bread on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 08:59:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's one Jewish tradition. (6+ / 0-)

      That is true in my mother's Ashkenazi family. In my father's Sephardi family, the tradition was to name the first son after the grandfather, even if the grandfather was still alive. I was not named that way, but named after my grandfather's brother's Hebrew name (He called himself Arthur in English I think), so my father broke with that tradition a bit. Most of my generation of the family didn't follow either tradition.

      "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 11:07:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's true in the Ashkenaz tradition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, mayim

      but in Sephardic it's not the case.  Children are named for their grandparents regardless of whether they're living.  I was told once that in the strictest tradition, the first son is named for the paternal grandfather, the second for the maternal grandmother, the first daughter for the paternal grandmother and the second for the maternal grandmother.  I don't know how many people follow that rule so strictly but I did know one family where about 5 cousins all had the same name -  their (very much alive) grandmother's.

      "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

      by ItsJessMe on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:32:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ashkenazi here (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I got named after two paternal aunts (I think) who died without children.  Which ended up giving me a very un-Jewish name that's one of the most common girl's name in America, drat it.  And a perfect Southern "Jenny Sue" if you shortened both and put them together.

        Only my father can call me that.

        No idea who the aunts were, what they did, what they liked, anything.   I think it would have made it easier, in a way.  As it is, I have a name I deal with and we gave our daughter a name that was not in the top 25 for girls.

        Memo to future parents:  Check the boys list, too.  Daughter's name is not "hot" in the girls, but appears to be the female variant of the most popular BOYS name in the past decade or two.  She's always being called by that, rather than her correct name, until people get it through their head it's "-a" rather than "-o."

        Sorry, kiddo.

        "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

        by stormicats on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:00:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's hard to research the female branches (11+ / 0-)

    of a family tree because of last name traditions.

    I hate that. Even if a woman wanted to change their name during marriage, I would argue strongly against it for sexism reasons and reasons that have to do with respecting your kids if you have any.

    I think kids deserve to be able to trace their full history and some traditions make that difficult or impossible. I think preserving that chain is a person's responsibility. People need to know who they are and where they come from.

    •  Hey my maiden name is Smith ... guess (9+ / 0-)

      how much fun I've had with that on

      But even worse, was the habit of other branches giving everybody the same first name. I found one section of the 1881 England Census that took me days to sort out because there were so many duplicate first names of cousins within the family and they all lived on the same street in Birmingham, England.  Blakeland Street will be forever engraved in my mind.

      For me, Mitt reminds me of Jeff Bridges in Starman. He's like an alien that hasn't read the entire manual. You know, he's going, "Nice to be in a place where the trees are the right size." -- Robin Williams on Letterman 26 Apr 2012

      by hungrycoyote on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 08:04:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I started researching my genealogy (0+ / 0-)

        I started with the most uncommon of my family names.  I have some Smith cousins, and have told them I can't help them research their Dad's family.  How would you ever know which Smith you had?

        My Dutch ancestors were very uncreative with their naming conventions.  Going back to the late 1500s, almost all the males were named with some combination of the following names: Arie, Pieter, Abraham, Leendert, and Machiel.  So my grandpa, Arie Pieter, was the son of Leendert Abraham, who was the son of Pieter Arie, and so on.  Confusing!

    •  in my family it's pretty confusing: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      My older sister and I took our husbands' names.  My younger sister did not, but her sons have her husband's last name and her daughter has her last name.

      "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

      by ItsJessMe on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:34:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can we ban soap opera and stripper names too? (12+ / 0-)

    I've had friends over the years who've run potential girls' names by me that are either associated with a well-known TV or movie character or that sound like a stripper name. My response always used to be, "Well you can name her that, but she'll never be president." I have to say, Obama's election has forced me to rethink that theory . . . not the stripper part but the fact that you could have such an "unpresidential" name and still become president nonetheless.

    My husband and I committed a naming offense that's possibly as bad as your parents'. We didn't realize when we agreed on our third child's name that, when shortened into the inevitable nickname, it rhymed with our second child's name. I gave up on keeping them straight years ago, so when I have to address either of them I usually just say the first name that comes into my head, whether it's right or not. Not sure if it's worse for your name to be mixed up with your father's or your sibling's . . .

    Either way, thanks for a fun read :)

  •  "Therefore, we should give the (5+ / 0-)

    child the woman’s."

    Really? Do you realize that's going to totally mess up a lot of family trees for those of us who do genealogy?

    You neglected to mention the hyphen option. One of female distant cousins born with the surname Deeley, married a man with the surname Jones. They both took the surname Deeley-Jones, as did all of their children.

    Of course, in searching ancestry records, it has caused a little bit of trouble, as some are indexed under D for Deeley, and others put the Deeley as a middle name, and index under J for Jones.

    On the other hand, if both spouses have rather long names, that might prove cumbersome to the children as in Kennedy-Schwarzenegger.

    People can be funny about their names. One of my ancestors was named Jacob Turberville Smith. He went through life using Turberville Smith, and even christened his carpet manufacturing company with that name. He also had a son who he named Harry Turberville Smith.

    I kid you not. Harry had his name legally changed to Harry Turberville Smith-Turberville. Boy those Smiths were really proud of their Turberville ancestry, especially Harry.

    For me, Mitt reminds me of Jeff Bridges in Starman. He's like an alien that hasn't read the entire manual. You know, he's going, "Nice to be in a place where the trees are the right size." -- Robin Williams on Letterman 26 Apr 2012

    by hungrycoyote on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 04:38:07 PM PDT

  •  My son is named (6+ / 0-)

    for both grandfathers -- first name maternal, middle name paternal.

    The Mister's aunt was from a family which named girl-children after their mothers.  I've no idea what her given name was, as she always went by "June" -- short for Junior.

    Then there are the male names that have more than one informal form: Rich, Rick and Dick for Richard; Rob and Bob for Robert.

    Names, and how we arrive at them, are a personal matter and should be left to the persons involved.  If you don't like your name, change it.  I knew a woman in her mid-50s who changed her name from Janet or something, to the one she'd wanted since childhood: Sophie.

    I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

    by Frankenoid on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:03:26 PM PDT

    •  in high school I knew a Karen who pined that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JKTownsend, kyril, Aunt Pat

      her name was Karyn, and I was amazed she didn't just start spelling it that way

      "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

      by eXtina on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:07:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never legally changed mine (7+ / 0-)

        but just stopped using it when I went away to college.  I dislike it very much.

        It's a sure tip off that someone calling on the phone is someone I don't know because they're being annoyingly informal and calling me by a name I don't use except "officially".

        I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

        by Frankenoid on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:54:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My mom has a difficult first name (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat

          it's actually not really a name but a word in a different language, a word that was meaningful to her parents at the time she was born.  That's what her parents called her and her high school friends.  In college and when she first married, she had a nickname that she disliked, so after her divorce she took on a different nickname which is how she was known most of her adult life (married to my dad).  We could tell exactly how someone knew my mom when we answered the phone, depending on how they asked for her.

          She never really liked the second nickname either so she's largely gone back to her original name now.

          Oh, but when she used to call me at my first job and didn't want to tell the receptionist "tell her it's her mother" she made up a completely different name altogether.  Usually "Chloe" but not alwaynd not always; I was never quite sure when I picked up the phone back then who it would be!

          "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them"

          by ItsJessMe on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:38:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  my "unpronounceable" last name does that for us/nt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aunt Pat
    •  My mother hates her first name (5+ / 0-)

      so when she went away to college, she determined to introduce herself by her middle name and use that. She also decided to work on the campus newspaper, since she was interested in journalism.

      So, she walks into the campus newspaper office, announces she's there to volunteer. The editor smiles, walks over to her, sticks her hand out and says, "Hi, I'm Carol! Glad to meet you!" That is my mom's middle name, the one she planned on using.  

      "Oh, hi!" says mom, "I'm um, ah... Billie!" which is the first name other than her own that popped into her head. So while I grew up, mom had two groups of friends, some who called her Billie and some who called her Carol. She told me this story when I noticed the disparity and asked her about it.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:30:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Many Richards, DON'T want to be called Dick -n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, Aunt Pat
    •  I am named... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      for my mother's high school friend.

      My brother's is more interesting since when mom was pregnant with him, she got a new stove and saw the stove was made in Bryan, Ohio.  She decided Bryan was a good name for a boy.

      Oddly, for how traditional and patriarchal my family was (I was born in the late 1960's), dad had no say in the baby names.


      I promote fear of me because I am a coward; I promote equality because I know there's nothing to fear.

      by bristlecone77 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:32:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I thought this was going to be an essay on using (8+ / 0-)

    trades to name children, in an effort to sound 'upper class'

    tyler, taylor, cooper, parker, mason, etc etc etc

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:03:59 PM PDT

  •  and if both parents have hyphenated last names, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote, JKTownsend, kyril, Aunt Pat

    now that could be a problem!

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:05:47 PM PDT

  •  I knew my father's brother as Uncle Little (9+ / 0-)

    My father and Uncle Little were twins. They were called Little Boy and Big Boy by family members, which may have been far better than being called by their actual names of Loyal and Royal.  

  •  As someone with a V after his name... (9+ / 0-)

    ...I have to say I really don't agree with your idea at all.

    I'm quite pleased with the fact that my name reflects my lineage, and that I'm proud to carry the name my great-great-grandfather once had.

    In other words... if you don't want fathers naming their sons after themselves, then I recommend giving your son a different name from you.

    But I resent the fact that you think you somehow have the right to tell me or anyone else what names we should be "allowed" to give our children. Neither you, nor anyone else who isn't one of the child's parents, has any place at all in that decision.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:14:34 PM PDT

    •  This is both an honor and a burden (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, mashed potatoes

      Depending on the name and the circumstances.  You are proud of yours, and that's a great thing.  You have a legacy and a history.

      Other people, not so much.  I was no way naming my daughter "Isadora" no matter how cool a guy my great-grandfather Isadore might have been.  And our family background (Ashkenaz Jew, as noted above) precludes the kind of naming your family uses.

      I agree that no one should be forced to name -- or not name -- their child anything, nor should there be a list of "approved" or "disallowed" names or naming conventions.  I think the diarist was speaking from his own frustration, rather than proposing an actual policy -- and certainly, I don't think he was trying to dictate to others.  More that he was trying to give a perspective that perhaps some future parent may not have considered.  

      Yours is the opposite perspective, and equally valid and valuable.  Thanks (from the peanut gallery) for sharing it.

      "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

      by stormicats on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:13:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  An interesting part of your diary... (6+ / 0-)

    You say this:

    And all this to satisfy some strange masculine pride in one’s own name!
    But also this:
    With the addition of a single “-y,”, I was not only rendered a small version of my father, but was also feminized at the same time.
    I'm with you on a lot of the diary, but wanted to point this out for your further consideration.
  •  If only Tuesday Weld had married (28+ / 0-)

    Frederic March II, she would have become Tuesday March the Second.

    Scisne me e terra ea naso tolere posse?

    by penguins4peace on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:39:45 PM PDT

  •  I didn't think I'd ever have occasion (9+ / 0-)

    to write this here, but my family has some experience in this realm.  My dad and his oldest brother did NOT get along.  That's the gentlest way to put it.  

    My uncle and his wife both had the same first and middle initials, J.A., so they thought it would be cute to name all their kids with those initials, too.  Of course, first son was junior and first daughter was named for her mother.  As the family grew, the names got to be weirder, especially since the total came to nine.  

    The best part, though is that my dad and his brother looked so much alike that they were often mistaken for each other.  When people would inevitably make the error, he'd say, as serious as a heart attack, "No, you're thinking of the Jack A$$ [Smiths]."  

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 05:43:05 PM PDT

  •  how quaint... (4+ / 0-)
    children belong more to women than they do to men.
    Sounds like you're stuck in the 20th century.

    Mitt Romney = Draco Malfoy

    by ubertar on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:02:58 PM PDT

  •  Actually the "Judy Jr." thing (5+ / 0-)

    has occasionally been known to happen.

    In fiction:  There's a girl junior in "Brokeback Mountain" (the daughter of Heath Ledger's character.)

    In real life:  One of the girls involved in the Salem witch trials was Ann Putnam, Jr.

    In my own mother's case, she was named after her mother, but Mom was always called by her middle name to avoid confusion.  There wasn't any "junior" involved.

    Too Informed to Vote Republican

    by disastertothewench on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:11:43 PM PDT

  •  Don't care for your name? (7+ / 0-)

    Remember, it could have been worse:

  •  One part of my (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JKTownsend, kyril, Aunt Pat

    family used to do that.

    Little Bill, Billy, Bill. They did it over generations.

    The women did it as well though.  There were like 5 Doris's.

    Unimaginative, or vain. You pick.
    Used to make me wonder what the hell was going on.

    All my kids have their own names, only two have familial middle names.

    They can change them later if they like, but at least they are original.

    Fuddle Duddle--- Pierre Trudeau.... Canadian politics at......A Creative Revolution

    by pale cold on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:11:43 PM PDT

  •  Great essay! And fun reading the comments ... (9+ / 0-)

    So here's my pet peeve about names ... it's time women STOP changing their names when they marry.

    Other countries do not have this custom and it's well past time we stopped it here although I'm not so naive to think that's actually going to happen.

    To settle my mother's estate after she died we had to get a court order testifying to all the various names she used in her lifetime.

    Born in 1921, Mom was an upper middle class white woman. Throughout her long life she used various names. She began with her given name plus a middle name and her father's surname. In her 20s she went by 2 different shortened version of her first name. After she married she dropped her original first and middle names, added the shortened version of her first name, inserted her maiden name and added my father's name.

    After my father died, she remarried at 78. At her new husband's instance she dropped her father's surname, took my fathers surname as her middle name and added her new husband's surname. After he died she reverted to my father's surname.

    In the end it got so complicated that she couldn't remember which name she should use when. After she died we found legal documents using ALL of her different names, hence the court order testifying that all were one and the same person.

    Indiana's recent voter ID laws would have denied my 90 yr old mother the right to vote without that court order.

    So, DisinterestedSpectator ... about that Jr. and II ... watch out that you don't get disenfranchised by the new voter ID dragnet!

    "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

    by annan on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:24:20 PM PDT

    •  I beg your pardon, but I'll change my name (3+ / 0-)

      when I please.

      One of the wonderful freedoms Americans enjoy is the right to be known by the name of your choice. I come from a country where this freedom is limited, and I don't take it for granted.

      •  Mom would agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        Mom changed her name several times and enjoyed being known by the first name of her choice.

        I would argue however, that this freedom is proscribed by social norms in America and Mom felt the weight of that. She didn't perceive her surname as a choice.

        The patriarchal naming customs in the US force women to comply with social customs that define women by the men in their lives, so that was the point of my comment.

        "Let us not look back to the past with anger, nor towards the future with fear, but look around with awareness." James Thurber

        by annan on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:40:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave (11+ / 0-)
    Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
    Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?

    Well, she did. And that wasn't a smart thing to do.
    You see, when she wants one, and calls out "Yoo-Hoo!
    Come into the house, Dave!" she doesn't get one.
    All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

    This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves'
    As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
    And often she wishes that, when they were born,
    She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
    And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
    And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
    Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
    Another one Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face.
    And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate...

    But she didn't do it. And now it's too late.
    -Dr. Seuss

  •  I guess it's a cultural thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Aunt Pat

    In Asia it common to nickname people "little" this or that, usually applied to surname or 3rd (middle) name.

    And I always thought "Junior" was kind of cool.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:03:15 PM PDT

  •  George Foreman (8+ / 0-)

    11 kids, 5 boys, all named George.

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:08:03 PM PDT

  •  My dad was a II, named after his (7+ / 0-)

    Grandfather, and reminded all the time that he had a big name to live up to, because his grandpa was a nationally known figure. He hated it, but used humor. When a group restored his grandpa's house as a historical site, he'd ask them, "So, how's work coming along on my house?"

    Agree strongly with you about women keeping their own names, and a matrilineal naming system. I sometimes think it is a protective measure for offspring of uncertain origin to have the husband's name. And a bit of a joke, since, without a DNA test, one is never quite sure of paternity.

    I am one of the few women who kept her name. And none of this hyphenation shit, either. I knew from knee high that to change my name in any way was fundamentally unfair and a show of a submission I have never felt.

    However, I did honor my husband's wish for our son to bear his last name. No biggie. My last name is his middle name--a fine old tradition.

    Must say, when I read the title, I thought you would go off on a tear about naming kids things like Destiny and Jaegermeister.

    Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig

    by rhubarb on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 10:38:40 PM PDT

  •  Naming conventions are interesting (7+ / 0-)

    In my family, I’m the oldest son so my name starts with a T. My father’s name started with a T and he was a “junior,” named after his father, who was a “senior,” My great grandfather was Thor (born in Norway). My father didn’t like being a junior and certainly didn’t want me to be a “third” or “III.” Also, my dad’s middle name was his mother’s maiden name, and when he was a child, he was embarrassed to have a weird middle name.

    I’ve done quite a lot of work on my family tree. Back in Norway, before about 1900, nobody had a last name – at least not in the way that modern Americans do. People had a given name (usually, but not always, the first son and daughter were named after the father’s parents and the second son and daughter got the name of the mother’s parents). Everyone also had a patronymic. Thorson meant “son of Thor,” but if the father (Thor) had a father named Jens, then he was known as Thor Jensen (son of Jens). And if Jens had a father named Olaf, he was Jens Olafsson. (And the daughters of Olaf might be called Olafsdatter, which means daughter of Olaf). The spellings varied a lot. Usually someone else was spelling the name (a preacher or a census taker or a government official, so Olaf might appear as “Oluf” or “Olav” in official records).

    They also added farm names (gaardnamen). So Jens Olafsen might be living at Ytterboe, so he’s called Jens Olafsen Ytterboe. But if he moved to the Hagen farm, he’d be known as Jens Olafsen Hagen. If a man married a woman and moved to her farm, he would change his farm name to hers (because that’s where he was living) .If two people had the same given name and the same patronymic, one of them might be called Jens Olafsen Hagen “the red” (because of red hair) or Jens Olafsen Hagen “the schoolteacher” or whatever.

    There’s my two cents about names.

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 11:50:42 PM PDT

    •  They still do that in Iceland (6+ / 0-)

      And in Iraq for that matter.  E.G. Saddam Hussein, was the son of Hussein - so you can imagine how confusing the Western habit of referring to people by their second name is ... To be more precise the third name would be that of the grandfather and so on to the extent that anyone remembered or felt it necessary to distinguish.  (Some Iraqis use tribal names as well - and the same individual might be referred to by very different names in different contexts.)

      Bangladeshi Muslims don't have standard naming practices: Most Bangladeshis have two (or more) names - in some cases the first name is that of a parent, in some cases the last name is that of a parent, in some cases the name is entirely different.

  •  I changed my name, but thanks to 9/11 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, Aunt Pat, marykk

    will probably have to do it over.  I changed my name when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I knew what I wanted to name her, first and last name, so I changed my last name to match hers.  In CA, at the time, it was just a matter of going to the DMV and filling out some paperwork.  Now, it looks like I will have to get a Court Order to get a passport.  

  •  Not to sound unsympathetic... (0+ / 0-)

    but this "reform" is about #9,782 on my list of priorities, and I would consider the matter promptly dealt with if we got around to it by the year 15,000.

    "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

    by Troubadour on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 01:54:29 AM PDT

    •  work somewhere that involves names (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and you may think differently.  I personally think there ought to be a category for "naming abuse" in the child abuse statutes.

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:01:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Almost exactly my case. (3+ / 0-)

    The difference with me however, is that I have a middle name and my father does not. Thus I have always used my middle name or initial in signatures and forms. When people called me junior I corrected them every time. And I never tired of correcting them because by God, I was RIGHT and they were WRONG.

    Family members did the same "little" thing and as I grew older I would patiently ask them just to call me by my first name. By now I have won over most of them.

    To this day I'm not sure why I was given the same name. My dad is kind of conflict averse while my mother is the fighter (as I know very well having fought with her in epic struggles from the age of 11 until I left home for school) and in this matter I believe my mother was bound and determined to follow some custom of my father's family that my father didn't even care about and name me the same thing. She's like that.

    Anyhow I don't really care if women change their names or not. I left it completely up to my wife and in fact when she decided to take my last name I informed her I was a little disappointed. That said, it did move her up about about 17 spaces in the Alphabet which was a huge plus for her, and since she had a super-boring generic last name before it makes her stand out a bit. But it was her choice.

    In cases where the woman and man have the same last name, the kids should probably be named that too. It just leads to confusion otherwise. In cases where there are two different last names, well they should pick whatever they want. I don't have a problem with what you want, I just have a problem that you want to make it mandatory.

  •  My parents were determined to avoid (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    family names and gave my siblings and myself names not found anywhere else in our extended family.

    However (as far as I know purely by chance) my name and my father's first name are both five letters long and have the same first two letters (his is one syllable and mine is two so they don't really sound similar).  So I was called junior every now and then by adults with poor memories.

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:34:56 AM PDT

  •  Sigh, tis would never have happened (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    if you came from Europe where many countries have approved lists of names for children.

  •  In high school (4+ / 0-)

    I loved Geography so much, and the person who taught it, Shirley Reddick, that I decided to name my daughter Rushia(pronounced Russia). For the first 12 years of her life she didn't like it, but once it became a conversation piece, she had become quite proud of her name. Now, she says stuff like, Hi, my name is Rushia, I'm American and I was born in Scotland. She thinks that's the coolest thing:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    "May today be as great as yesterday, and tomorrow be greater than both!" Author, Sharon B.

    by secret38b on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:43:19 AM PDT

  •  Big Lou, Little Lou; Big Larry, Little Larry; (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Catte Nappe

    Big Dan, Little Dan; Big Ken, Little Ken; Big John, Little John; Big Howie, Little Howie; Big Ron, Little Ron; Big Roy, Little Roy.

    One the maternal side of my family, every aunt/uncle named their first boy after the dad.  

    An amusing story in the family is with an in-law whose middle name is "Junior"  because his mom did not pick a middle name specifically and accidentally put Junior as the middle name...and that is how it shows up on the birth certificate.

    I also had a great-grandmother that stowed away on a ship during the potato famine and made her way to the US through Canada at the age of 14.  The story goes that she traveled to St. Louis (or maybe it was Kansas City) because there had been a fire at some town hall (and all its records) had burned down.  She went to a local grave yard, picked out the name of a young woman that had died that was about her age, and assumed that name.  

    My dad picked my name.  It came from a song.  I have threatened on and off to change it, but just have not been able to bring myself to do it.

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:53:49 AM PDT

  •  My name is unusual for its time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, marykk

    but now it is not so unusual for a girl to be named as such. But, I had my first beginnings in Oklahoma and Georgia. I was constantly told I had a "boy's" name and treated like I chose it.

    Now I wouldn't change my name for anything in the world. It is who I am, and it describes me to a T.

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West

    by COwoman on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:25:27 AM PDT

  •  I was tagged.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    ...not with "Jr." but as Edward the III.

    It's been an embarassment my entire life -- what am I, the king of England?

    Yikes!  I thought we had a revolution to get rid of this sort of thing, establishing a republic of equality at birth.  Ever since, we have been enamoured of all things aristocratic from across the Atlantic.  One would think the Queen and her brood, perversely idolized over here is our monarch too.

    The social mores, the chintz, the horses, the London/ New York financial axis, and all that go with it are a pox on our freedom.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:37:47 AM PDT

  •  I named my son after... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    my dad, so he was II (I wasn't "Jr.").

    The naming trends we go through in this country are awful - Caitlin in the 90s and Olivia and Sophia now.

  •  married a third (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    His grandfather, his father, and he are Leslie.  I do not know the reason of this since I would never accuse his father or grandfather of vanity.  

    I broke a couple of rules when I married him.  I chose never to take his last name because I despised that custom.  When I made that refusal, I thought I was breaking ground until I later met many others who did the same.  It put me under scrutiny by, of all people, the women of his family, not the men, who thought it scandalous that I did so and maybe a bit disrespectful.  

    They asked me about a Leslie IV.  But I was very clear to all who knew us that I had no interest in ever squeezing out a baby.  Most women I knew who had a baby carried around a handicap to their lives.  I had no interest in living any life but my own.

    Here is my sin:  I married a man because we love each other and we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  We didn't want me to forsake my family for his.  We didn't want to ruin the perfect equation with a third,fourth or fifth.  We just wanted to formalize our love.


    I promote fear of me because I am a coward; I promote equality because I know there's nothing to fear.

    by bristlecone77 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:27:02 AM PDT

  •  Since we'd expected a boy, (3+ / 0-)

    we had not carefully considered girls names, so when our daughter arrived we quickly snatched the name of a sister. I've regretted that, since we always have to identify which member of the family we're talking about - your Aunt M, little M, doctor M, and so forth.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:04:40 AM PDT

  •  My old man wanted "Mary Ellen" for me, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    the firstborn, two goddess names btw, which I would have been totally cool with -- until my old lady found out it was the name of one of his former girlfriends.
    So I was shallowly named after Patricia Neal and Bette Davis. Patricia Bette, Patty Bette, P. Bette. I never use Patricia because it's the diminutive of Patrick. Supposed to mean "noble." Meh.

    rMoney: Just another jerk, lookin' for work.

    Where have you gone, 50-state strategy?
    Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:27:28 AM PDT

  •  An exception (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My great-aunt was Gladys and so was her daughter, who was referred to (though not, as I recall, addressed) as Little Gladys. Of course, she's now in her late 80s and the name has long since largely dropped away.

    •  And of course, there's Big Edie and Little Edie (0+ / 0-)

      Beale, of Grey Gardens fame.

      The last time the Republicans were this radical, they were working to elect former slaves to Congress. What a difference a century and a half makes!

      by jayjaybear on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 02:08:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I emplathise with you...... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Catte Nappe

    I am a Mary.  I am the middle sister of two other sisters, ALL of us named "Mary".  (As in "Mary Lorraine, Mary Teresa, and Mary Kaleen").

    Now, obviously, NONE of us go by "Mary".  However, NONE of us go by our middle names, either.  Our parents made nicknames of our middle names, and that is what we have all always been called (Lori, Teri, and Kali, respectively).

    Confusion in school?  Check.  Confusion in doctors offices?  Check.  Heck, I don't even identify the name "Mary" as my own, even though it's what is written on every legal document.  I will be sitting in a doctors office and they come out asking for "Mary".... takes me a minute to realize they are talking to me.  And when you have to fill our those things that ask for every name ever used?  I have about 6 names to put in there.

    So, I agree.  Parents, please put a little more thought into what you are going to be putting your kid through when you name them.  (Although, on the plus side, if someone calls the house asking for "Mary" now, I know it's a salesperson and they are promptly dismissed :-)

  •  I liked taking my husband's name (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bruised toes

    when I married. The fact that I didn't like my maiden name probably had something to do with that. It never came up in the lead up to our marriage, but had I liked my last name I would not have had a problem with him changing his name to mine. Mostly though, I liked the traditional element of the last name signifying that one is a member of the same family. I felt no loss of truth, I felt more. What drew us together from beginning to end was the knowledge that the two of us alone...separate from all others....were family.

  •  Go through life with a name like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Spike.  For real.  Not many of us Spike's out there.  But if you ever see me you would instantly know that the name fits.  I'm a huge biker guy.  I have to explain all the time that it is real because of the stigma that goes with such a name.

    But it beats my middle name which is unpronounceable to most people and my last name is so commonly mispronounced that I have to correct the pronounciation every time someone tries to say it for the first time.  All because of a silent T at the beginning.

    Anymore the people I hang with call me Wolfman since I have enough fur to be a wolf...and I am a wolf activist working towards saving the wolf from extinction.

    I also know a guy whose name is Snake and another named Thumper.  On their driver's license!  We thugs are very creative!

    O-ne-i-nis-to - Oh-no-mis-ta [Lakota]


    Howlin' at the World from the Left Side of the Planet

    by WolfmanSpike on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:47:34 AM PDT

  •  There oughta be a law... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that no one is allowed to give their child a name that they will spend the rest of their life telling people how to spell it or pronounce it.  Sweden and Denmark have so-called naming laws that restrict the freedom of parents to name their children whatever they feel like.  

  •  I see what you're trying to do here, and (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Catte Nappe, howabout, MeToo, mayim

    I have to disagree for now.

    Naming conventions vary wildly from culture to culture.

    There are a lot of people who are proud of silly things like lineage, and they're not going to agree with changing naming conventions. Ever.

    That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to name your child whatever you wish, but so should they. And any adult should be allowed, legally, to change their name to whatever they wish.

    When you write:

    In particular, it is time to abolish the custom of allowing a man to name his son after himself.  And while we are at it, it is time to abolish the custom of having the wife change her last name to match her husband’s.
    It seems to imply that these practices should be made illegal: abolished.

    The reason that I disagree with this, and the reason that you're going to get staunch opposition from may groups, is that there are some cultures and ethnic groups which have a significant attachment to their names because we're barely hanging on to what's left of our culture as it is.

    There are plenty of us who don't really care about lineage or genetics, or any of those things, but whose names are, right now, a significant part of our culture.

    You're going to get resistance to this idea from Scottish and Irish (and other) folks because of the attachments we have to our names. The response from some will probably be raw and emotional, because while you're trying to do something rather feminist here, it will be seen by some of us as typical of anglo assimilationism, a cultural force which has been trying to rob us celtic folks of our culture and languages for a few centuries now.

    This is totally unfair: you probably don't care about cultural assimilation, but for those of us dealing with that issue, you're not going to find a very receptive audience.

    I know this because I've watched those arguments happen.

    We had this argument in college in a class about sexism. The response from one of the scots-irish folks in the room was:

    "You've destroyed our language and our culture, and now you're coming after our names, too?"

    For many of us, our names are all we have left.

    So we won't be able to agree on this issue until another kind of patriarchy, that of cultural assimilationism, is gotten rid of. Until our cultures are able to reestablish themselves to a significant degree here in the US, and elsewhere where there are various diasporas.

    And it's not just Celtic cultures that I'm talking about. Most nations and cultural groups have names which are unique to them. A Polish surname is different from a Danish one, or an Irish one. There are groups like the Hmong which have a significant diaspora in the united states.

    Like us Gaels, Hmong surnames are typically clan surnames, and as a people who don't have a nation of their own, their culture is very much in danger of extinction. While I'm not Hmong, I doubt that they'd agree with interference in naming conventions any more than we do.

    I'll confess that I know very little about Native American Indian naming conventions, but I really doubt that they'd appreciate such interference either.

    Again, assimilationism is a patriarchal system, a desire for people to become english speakers with a cultural identity indistinguishable from white Anglos.

    When we've gotten rid of Anglocentrism and when our cultures are on firmer footing, we might be more receptive to discussions about naming conventions.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:00:46 AM PDT

  •  My mother had the same 1st & middle names (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    as her mother.  She married my dad who had the same first name as his father. They decided to not re-use any of those names for their firstborn (me). And I am grateful.  

    To avoid confusion growing up, my dad was referred to by his middle name (a neat solution I mistakenly thought most people used). After entering the military and settling into a new town and meeting my mom, he started using his full legal name.  But the result is that my mom always calls him by the name of his youth, while nobody where he has lived now for many years knows that name, causing slight confusion.

    And if anyone has read this far in this, thanks.

  •  Not Taking A Husband's Last Name (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    would have prevented Patti Wild from becoming Patti Wild Pigg.

    And, no, I'm not making this up.

  •  Identical twins came into our clinic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    one named Maria Guadalupe and the other Maria de Lourdes, with the same DOB and last name, and had the same tests done the same day.

    Then the lab reported two test results out, both with the name Maria Guadalupe.  It was a terrible headache for everyone.  We knew that we had drawn blood on each child, and labeled them correctly, so it was the lab error....but I pity those girls going through life with almost identical names.

    We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

    by bruised toes on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:37:37 AM PDT

  •  Tombstones (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    Spectator, after your father's death, you will be promoted: the Jr. gets dropped.

    That's my interpretation, anyway.

    When my brother and I were working on the headstone for my father, my brother's first thought was that it should have "Jr." I refused to go along with that.

    If my grandfather wasn't comfortable with the idea of my father having his name, no Jr., after my grandfather died, then he shouldn't have given him the same name.

    If genealogists should see this headstone and my grandfather's, and can't figure out who was the father and who was the son just from the dates alone, they should go back for remedial genealogy classes.

  •  Worse, they are feminized?! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Freakinout daily

    God forbid anything should be tainted with femininity. Grr.

  •  Shrug. You don't like your name, just (0+ / 0-)

    change it when you're allowed to.  If your parents are 'hip', they'll probably support you doing it as a juvenile, otherwise you wait til 18.

  •  I kept my surname when I married. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    It's Polish. Long, full of consonents, difficult to pronounce. Once, when I was spelling it for someone on the phone, she commented that I must really love my husband to let him saddle me with a name like that.

    I explained no, it was my name.  My husband's name is Smith.

  •  I'm with you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Freakinout daily

    It creates confusion, for sure.

    Women changing their name, as though they have no family ties and they become another person, is something I have always thought was silly. At the very least, both should take on each others names.

    There is also the problem of trying to find a woman after years of no contact, where the last name can be useless if she has married.

    It really used to be horrible when they said Mrs. whatever-the-man's-name-is, as though she is his arm or something and has no identity separate from her husband.

    All of that is designed to make women feel as though they have signed their lives away when they marry, while the men keep their sense of identity.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:45:29 AM PDT

  •  Actually, we do have... (0+ / 0-)

    ...a Little Judy in my family.  My mom is Judy and her youngest first cousin is also Judy, and so was Little Judy to the family for years and years.

    So funny that you used that example.

    In our (East European Jewish) tradition, you only name babies after relatives who have already died.  So no Juniors.

    “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

    by SolarMom on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 12:07:56 PM PDT

  •  If your name is considered normative and (0+ / 0-)

    acceptible, then cool.

    I wasn't named after anyone. But then when entering into elementary school, other girls had the same name, so it was Suzy Q1, Suzy Q 2, and SuzyQ 3.

    Oh, how the kids loved all the fun things you can do with Number 1, number 2, and number 3.

    It sucked! I would like to find that teacher and kick her in her butt for being an insensitive idiot incapable of forward thinking.

    When I found out we were in a family way, I knew what the names would be. But I took the time to make sure that they did not rhyme with any known word for excrement or a genital or something equally gross that small children will immediately latch onto.

    I also made sure that they didn't sound like stage names for strippers.

    I sometimes wonder though, when parents give their kid a space cadet name, if this isn't some sign that they resent the child ultimately. Because it sets the child up for torment and I cannot imagine that the parents don't know it.

    Shades of A Boy Named Sue.

    I can understand wanting a name that stands out just a bit, but some names should be left in dusty books.


    Your dad was bullied and this was the lever used to make him hate something essential about himself by the bully.

    I doubt the bully's father loved him enough to name his mini-me after himself.

    The use of Roman Numerals speaks to tradition, an unbroken chain. It'a Chapter Marker for the next stage in the story, the introduction to a whole new character.

    I wonder who imagined that the Roman Numerals would ever be confused with 2nd place. That's just silly. Only people looking for a way to deflect scrutiny of their own silly names and habits would point that out.

  •  My family's solution... (0+ / 0-)

    In my family, for generations, the first born son recieves the father's first name as his second. The first name can then be either unique or the first name of some male progenitor previous to the father.

    The whole premise of being Republican is the awful thought that somewhere, some poor person has a dollar that some rich person actually deserves. - Olbermann, at Cornell, 3/31/2011

    by TC MITS on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 12:53:55 PM PDT

  •  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (0+ / 0-)

    but maybe not have the bagggage that goes with inheriting/sharing a name.

    I was named for one of my father's former (knowing him, maybe current) girlfriends ... that was not a nice thing to know about my name.

    When my children were born I insisted that they have their own names and that the names could be pronounced in both English and Spanish.  His family was/is big on family names and did not agree with me ... but I got to fill out the birth certificate information sheet, not them.

    I think there is a lot of power in a name and in how you say the name. It can be a source of pride or humilitation (for instance Ima Hogg).  

    In other countries, you rarely encounter Jr or numerals.  In Spanish the first/second/third names are followed by the father's last name and then the mother's last name ... and if you know the full anmes of the parents, then you have the geneology for three generations.

    It is true, you can change your name when you grow up, but you are stuck the history of those who bore the name before you until you turn the legal age.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:12:01 PM PDT

  •  I vote for bilineal family names (0+ / 0-)

    Sons get the paternal surname. Daughters get the maternal surname. Anyone who is interested in group/clan names can take those as middle names

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:37:20 PM PDT

  •  For a moment there (0+ / 0-)

    My parents toyed with the idea of saddling me with my dad's name.

    Dick junior.

    Junior Dick.

    "Anthony"  isn't exactly a proper Finn name, but I'll take it.

    I want a living planet, not just a living room.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 03:39:45 PM PDT

  •  im tired, i might have missed something but WTF (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "...children belong more to women than they do to men. They are the ones who do most of the child rearing, and who get custody of the children when that divorce finally arrives."

    From a single dad with full custody of his daughter who had to fight tooth and nail to get her out of an abusive and neglecting house simply b.c. people believed the above, you can take that entire mentality with you straight to hell.

    Thats all I can manage. Last thing I needed to read today.

    •  You picked up on the multiple biases... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Starting with this one (the crux of the argument):  "I think my life would have been easier if the blank on that certificate following the word “father” had been filled with the word “unknown,” allowing me a name that was all mine, with neither “jr.” nor “II” following it."

      The bias is such that most people get over the name thing by their early twenties- and if they don't they tend to do something about it- witness all the stories conveyed in the comments. The diarist seems to think that the world should be bent to his view (whatta filter!)

      These words of wisdom seem apt:
      " Wanting to reform the world without discovering one's true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes. "

      Ramana Maharshi

      RMoney wants to take this country for a ride the way he did his dog Seamus.... how do you pronounce that? Shame US... and that's exactly how he operates.

      by MeToo on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 08:48:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reminds me of a college friend named Mike Abbott. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    His parents almost named him Peter.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:39:57 PM PDT

  •  Huh (0+ / 0-)

    When I was christened, I was supposed to be Karen Elizabeth.  My father said (not my real name) "Dale Ann" to the minister, and he said the magic words.  My mother was upset, but didn't hate the name.

    Six weeks later a thank-you card came addressed to my father.  My mother opened it.  It was from Boston, and it said "Thanks - Dale and Ann."  I'm named after two whores from Boston.

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:53:07 PM PDT

  •  Because it seemed like a good idea at the time, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we named our firstborn not after his father, but after the comic book character Wolverine.  No regrets on anyone's part, and it's a story that Logan (now 17) loves to share with his friends.  

  •  I've always thought (0+ / 0-)

    it would be a good idea for children to be saddled with the names their parents gave them only as long as they were children.  I think that once a person becomes an adult they should chose a name for themselves.  Of course, I didn't do that, but if it were commonplace or, better yet, a cultural norm, I would have.

    The problem is we're arguing about the wallpaper and we haven't even got a foundation yet.

    by 84thProblem on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:52:24 PM PDT

  •  My mother doesn't mind her own nickname, (0+ / 0-)

    but she was apparently flatly determined that no daughter of hers would get stuck with one.

    My sister's name uses our grandmothers' middle names (and is neither entirely ordinary nor particularly uncommon), and my middle name is a riff on my maternal grandmother's first name.

    My first name happened because (if I remember the story correctly) a woman she didn't much like gave birth to a daughter a couple of weeks before I was born and used the name my mother had originally planned, so my mother changed one letter.

    I was 37 when people finally started taking my word for what my name is.  Now that I'm nearing 60, people are starting to act like it's disrespectful to call me by my actual first name.  I don't want to have to start carrying my birth certificate again.  Judith is a lovely name - but it is NOT mine.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:59:04 PM PDT

  •  Suffixes (that's what they're called) play hod (0+ / 0-)

    with databases. I've seen separate fields, but that is fairly rare, since only a small percentage of people have suffixes. So, if they are not dropped in input, they are added to other name fields. I've seen them show up in both first and last name fields.

    Many people drop their suffix either intentionally, or because there is no place to put it. Later, the missing suffix is bound to cause confusion and maybe, legal problems.

  •  Ugh, names (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Jim H

    I got my dad's first name as my FIRST name, then "my" name in the middle.  And that first name was a dorky cartoon character name and my own was rare, and easily misspelled, especially when spoken.

    What follows is a life of "Middle Initial + TEENSY ONE-LETTER BOX" on every single form, and confusion with credit cards, passports, retirement accounts, social security, because I choose not to use the first name or HAVE TO use it as an initial.

    Overseas, I had to register with the police while living there.  I got a threatening letter a few weeks later and went to the Official Office to resolve it.  They had no form (of which I'd made a xerox, thank god).  Finally I said, "Is it under FIRST NAME?" and then he found it.  Because, of course, my given name couldn't be a family name oh no, and my last name is always a given name there, oh yes.

    The one benefit: I know when people on the phone are about to waste my time because they ask for the wrong name. ;D

  •  Don't even get me started on "ghetto" names (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H

    Just to let you know, I am African American, but I have a typical caucasian name.  Unlike many lower income African Americans with names like Shenequah, Latisha (a bastardization of Leticia), Deshawn, Lamarcus, etc.  Apparently, this phenomenon isn't just limited to lower income African Americans, though.  A lot of lower income white Americans have bastardized and misspelled names as well.  and of course you have the unlucky children who were named after popular actors, singers, TV or movie characters, or athletes at the time they were born.  So you have a lot of teenagers named Rachel, Phoebe, Mariah, Troy, Brandy, Winona, Shania, etc.

    •  Now that you mention it ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H

      You just reminded me of a performance by an African American stand-up comedian.  He walked onto the stage, and to the best of my memory, his routine went something like this:

      "Hi.  My name is Canesha.  Now, don't let that bother you.  A lot of black people have strange names.  In fact, black people have names that you would expect to see in a drugstore.  For example, 'Come on in, I want you to meet my family.  This is my brother, Advil.  And that is my sister, Binaca.  And ... Tylenol, turn down that television!  Oh, and here are the twins, Murine and Visine.'"

    •  My son is named after Eli Manning (0+ / 0-)

      ... sort of. Not because we were fans at the time (it was either his first year in the NFL or last year in college). We were looking for a good first name to go with the middle name we had picked out (my Dad's name). We were watching football and saw his name come on the screen. My wife and I looked at each other and at the same instant knew it was perfect.

      So now, because of that, we are Giants fans when they're not playing our "local" (250 miles away) team. It's been nice that Eli has turned out to be pretty successful.

  •  Loved this diary - thanks! :) nt (0+ / 0-)

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:16:11 PM PDT

  •  From a genealogist perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H

    The traditional European ways of naming children has never been strictly codified and variations are abundant.

    There are Germanic variations, too. A senior might be known as The Elder or The Great. A junior might be known as The Younger or The Lesser.

    Surnames are a relatively new tradition, BTW.

    Here is a summary of typical traditional naming conventions:

    It is very common for a father or a mother to have children named after them. Another practice is to name a child after a sibling that has died. Having two Mary Janes in the family is not necessarily an individual that is a duplicate; the first may have died before the second Mary Jane was born. When searching for an ancestor, pay attention to the oldest children in their family, his or her first name may have been given to one of the children.

        In the case where one of the grandparents was a widower or widow, the first child of the gender of the their deceased spouse might be named after that spouse.

        The two eldest boys were often named after the grandfathers and the two eldest girls were often named after the grandmothers. In some regions only deceased grandparents were named. In most regions, the paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother were names used first.

        If the first three children are all boys, sometimes a male version of the grandmother's name is given to the third boy. If enough children are born, grandmother may have a girl named after her as well. The same is true vice versa, if the first three children are all girls.

        If all the grandparents, previous spouses and deceased children were named, siblings of the parents were used, especially the ones who had died already.

    And then there are the Scandinavian and Germanic naming traditions...

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Mon Jul 02, 2012 at 07:28:13 AM PDT

  •  Fun read (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think everyone has their own "rules".

    We used family names as the middle names for our two sons and came up with fresh first names.

    As a "James" who has always gone by "Jim" (with a short stint as "Jimmy" in kindergarten), I have hated having to correct everyone all my life and basically having two names. So my number one rule was that our kids' legal name would be exactly what we intended to call them. So my son Eli's legal name is Eli, not Elijah.

    I always found my Dad's parents interesting. They were both German Russians who, probably 95% of the time, named their sons some variation of the names Johann, Heinrich, Gottfried, Friedrich, Jacob and Georg. They both immigrated to America, where they met. They broke with tradition with their first son, naming him Edward. The next two were traditional: John Frederick and John Henry. Then they broke with tradition again, naming their youngest son Leland.

    I think most genealogists would wish that women's maiden names were at least used in all documentation (census, church & civic records, etc). It would make research much easier. There are so many branches that end with a mother's first name with no clue as to where they came from.

    As for female Jr's, I actually ran into one indexing a 1940 census page. The oldest daughter's first name was the same as the mother's and had a Jr. suffix written on the form.

  •  My son is a junior. Well, not quite a "junior", (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim H

    because my husband doesn't have a middle name while my son does.

    Even though my son doesn't like his first name, that's ok by me.  He likes his middle name, and that's what his friends call him.  So he has an option.

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