Should you give your baby a unique name?

I have a “classic” name that is not only in the Bible, but has two common spellings - and a plethora of uncommon spellings. It never fails to amaze me how people can bungle it.

When I was in college, I wrote a letter to People magazine that they printed - and they spelled both my first and last names wrong! That’s why I didn’t, like, tell everyone I knew about it, and buy 10 copies for my mother at the same time.

I have an uncommon first name. It’s uncommon enough that if you Google my full name, you find me, and not much else, even though my last name is extremely common. That has advantages and disadvantages.

I get really pissed by review sites that want to list me by first-name-last-initial. I would prefer being able to leave a semi-anonymous review. I mean, if they made everyone give a recognizable name, maybe I’d be okay with it, but i really hate being the only person in the site who is required to publish a completely recognizable name.

On the other hand, if an old friend ever wants to get back in touch with me, they’ll succeed.

My first name gives baristas enough trouble that i always use my last name. (Which is common and easy.)

Probably because a lot of people don’t bother trying.

I used to have a work colleague named Jacques, sounds a bit like Shark. It was embarrassing the number of people who just refused to pronounce it correctly when they new damn well how to pronounce it. “Jacks”, “Jackees”, “Sharkes” etc. IMO it is the most basic level of courtesy to at least attempt to say someone’s name correctly.

Inevitably people who do try but fail may get mistaken for those who don’t bother trying.

Worse is when people don’t spell your name correctly when the correct spelling is right there in the email signature. My name isn’t unusual but there are two different “standard” spellings plus a bunch of non-standard spellings. I once had to write a letter to HR because somehow the incorrect spelling of my name had made it into the HR system and it was taking over, like a virus.

I have to spell my surname because it is unusual. I would like to be asked how to spell my first name, but no one does because they think they know how to spell it. Ironically when I spell it out for them, they look at me and say, that’s an unusual spelling. No it isn’t fucktard, you just don’t know how to spell a common name and you don’t even know you don’t know how to spell it, so you don’t bother checking or asking.

I say good wild, but always have an easily pronounced and spelled nickname on standby.

I had a coworker once whose surname was Stoeckeniusillspellthatforyou.
I heard him identify himself on the phone that way many many times. He always introduced himself as Stoeckeniusillspellthatforyou.

Eh, my name is hard to pronounce, i just correct people. Unless you get it wrong several times you won’t offend me. Life’s too short.

Ironically, my name was easy to spell until spell-check. If you make the obvious guess you are right. But since my name isn’t in the dictionary, software routinely “corrects” it to something that is. I just keep changing it in correspondence until they get it right. I almost never bother to say anything.

Right—leaving aside the intricacies of making up a completely unique name from scratch, if people cannot be bothered to try to spell or pronounce a bog-standard Arabic or Irish or Chinese or Spanish name, that is firmly their fault. If I am not sure how to spell or say someone’s name, I will politely ask them.

As for making up names from scratch, there should be more of an art to it than concatenating syllables randomly. If you do it, IMO do it well.

The discussion about naming our child was long and complicated. We wanted to give her a name that:

  • Was an actual human name
  • Reflected our family heritage, but
  • Wasn’t a name anyone else in the family had
  • Was easy to spell/pronounce
  • Wasn’t an immediate class identifier (i.e. didn’t automatically peg her as posh, working class, etc)

Quite happy with the result, although I’ve since discovered that it’s a name that has gone out of fashion in the Old Country (as it were). There’s a Famous Person with that name (we didn’t name her after the FP - I mean, they seem nice but I’m not specifically naming my child after a celebrity) and we’ve encountered a few others, but it’s pretty rare.

You are wildly overestimating the intelligence and education level of the average person.

I’m on the extreme end of language facility and I struggle with Irish names every time, since they are not spelled with the slightest concession to English pronunciation conventions. How they get neeve out of Niamh, or seersha out of Saoirse remains mysterious to me. They are, to me, only possible to remember by not looking at the spelling at all, but memorizing the sound.

I have a friend whose name is “Kirsten”. It’s pronounced “Shasteen”. Apparently this is a thing.

Look what Raymond Luxury-Yacht goes through.

My name is Swedish/Finnish. Marita. My parents gave it to me because they heard it while visiting her friends in Finland, where she grew up. They meant for the Finnish pronunciation - MAR-ih-tah, more or less. They gave up and went with Mah-REE-tah fairly early on.

It’s phonetic but I get told “oh, it’s too hard to pronounce”. " It’s too hard to remember “. " I’ll just call you Rita; it’s easier”. And no. You can learn my name, you lazy ass.

Back in the 60’s I grew up with two kids name Tiger and Beaver. Tiger was a cool and unusual name back then for a boy, a strong name. It was cruel to name his sister Beaver as she received much inappropriate sexual innuendo about her name from an early age. She eventually married a guy named Catfish.

Like I said, I have had to ask people to repeat their names. I do not think it was too awkward. I definitely do not know every conceivable language nor am sure to parse the name correctly the first time they introduce themselves or I see it written down. I do not see it as a matter of high or low education level; in my case I honestly do not want to mispronounce the person’s name (it’s pretty embarrassing when that happens!)

ETA as for Irish, I think the Scottish names seem to be less spelling-reformed, so you get your Leagsaidh, Bhioctoria, Buaidheach, etc.

You can simplify this by saying that Gaelic names do not conform to English spelling or pronunciation.

Whether Irish or Scots Gaelic.

I also think it’s not reasonable to expect someone to use the foreign language pronunciation in the country language. My last name has a Polish pronunciation. We decided to go with an English pronunciation (there are various that are possible) before I was born. Pronouncing it in Polish sounds a bit out-of-place in the middle of an English sentence. Honestly, to me it sounds wrong pronouncing my Polish name in Polish when speaking English, but I guess that’s also to do with what I’m used to. So we go with whatever attempt the person makes at our last name, though we’ll give our particular Anglicization the first time. I don’t particularly care if the first syllable comes out as “POE” or “PAW” or “PAH”. It does sometime irk me when an “L” gets put into the pronunciatoin or spelling, because, for the life of me, I don’t know where that comes from , but it’s common enough. I guess they want to make the first syllable “Paul,” but they’ll spell it “Pawl”, so they’re mostly right and just throwing in an intrusive “l.”

But, yeah, I know most people do care, but I don’t give a shit how you say my name as long as it’s in the ballpark. My names takes interesting forms abroad, as well, and it don’t bother me none.

I’m also in the “it’s ridiculous to expect random strangers to understand how to pronounce your name” category.

Yes, if someone i regularly interact with doesn’t make an effort, that would offend me. And i agree that it’s completely unreasonable to make up a nickname for someone else because you can’t be arsed to say three syllable. But if someone who doesn’t know me guesses my name wrong, i just correct them and move on.

The uniqueness of unique names is considerably diminished when just about everyone has them.

Unique can be OK, but don’t spell it like you’re illiterate or throw in random apostrophes.