In an earlier blog post, I was mumbling about the ratings received by the more ‘different’ names on Baby Names Country. There are also ratings on Baby Names World, but I couldn’t see a way to do that, so I imagine you have to register.
On Baby Names Country I was reading advice claiming that in the U.S., 85% of first names are chosen from a list of only 200 names – and other countries are more or less the same, presumably including the U.K.
That is shocking – I thought humans were supposed to be imaginative and adventurous? So many people would like to consider themselves as being apart from the crowd, but this naming convention is proof that most people prefer not to be all that different.
Of course there tend to be naming conventions within families as well – the same first name being used for the oldest son (so that you have to distinguish between ‘Carl senior’ and ‘Carl junior’ as in Snow Falling on Cedars), or the wife’s maiden name is used as the middle name of one of her children, or the mother-in-law hints she would be delighted if the first-born bore her name, and so on. Family connections are important, but when they restrict naming opportunities this way, they complicate life.
Perhaps it’s comforting to believe that there will always be a John Brown, son of John Brown, son of John Brown living in the village, and it all runs into one in your mind… you feel that life goes on forever. But sometimes you don’t want the different people to merge in that way.
There will always be bad and unfortunate names as well as good, but I wish we could have the courage to strike out a bit more; to search for a little more individuality.