OK, that’s it, enough’s enough. I can’t take it in anymore, and if I don’t speak out, I think I might explode. Something’s been bothering me for a long time, and it’s high time I voiced my opinion on a critical and controversial issue.
People have waaaay too much freedom when it comes to first names.
One of the hardest things I had to deal with when I moved here a year ago was learning an entirely new set of first names, many of which I didn’t even know existed. Ledgen, Colton, Aiden, Braiden, Hayden, Daylon, Caden, Kabyn, Bacon (OK, I made that one up), etc., etc.
I have no idea where these kinds of names come from, but back home I had friends of Irish descent, and their relatives still in Ireland had similar sounding names. Because of that, I sometimes (mostly to myself) call these kinds of names “Gaelic Cowboy” names.
Now, please understand, I’m not saying any of these names are bad names. I’d wager the first person named “David” took a lot of grief from his friends whose less-modern parents named them “Julius” or “Thaddeus” or whatever parents named their kids 2,000 years ago.
The names aren’t the problem — the variations in spelling are. The name “Kolton” alone has four different spellings that I’ve seen: with a “C” or a “K” as the first letter, and an “O” or an “E” for the second vowel.
To someone not naturally familiar with these kinds of names — and to a journalist with a university-born neurosis about spelling names wrong — that’s really, really confusing.
I’d guess the thinking behind the spelling differences is, “Well, we know four families who picked the same first name, let’s change the spelling to make our kid unique.” I get that argument, but in the group I went to Israel with when I was 17, there were seven kids named Dave and five named Matt.
If anything we felt closer to each other because we had the same first name, not like we were undercutting each others’ individuality,
Let me repeat: no names are inherently bad or good. But at this point I’d almost support a government-funded names database to keep everything straight. It’d be a simple process: you tell the officials what you want to name your child, the organization assigns the proper spelling and then issues you a birth certificate/social security card accordingly.
You can call your kid whatever you want after that, but for all legal — and thus journalistic — purposes, the spelling on the certificate is the one that counts. If you want to use a foreign-language name, all requests must be made before the start of the third trimester.
Politicians don’t seem interested in solving our nation’s big problems, so instead let’s deal with a ridiculously small one. Make my life a little easier, Representative So-and-so, and you’ll have my vote for life.
Here’s what I wrote last week.