by Elizabeth Beller
To name a child, you must use language, and using language means you must think and reason consciously (or semi-consciously if you already have another child who is under 2 years of age). Only humans use language to ascribe meaning beyond the practical elements of life. Well, except for apes. Koko the gorilla had the wherewithal to name her tail-less Manx kitten All Ball, and her foul-tempered parrot Devil Tooth (the beak looked like a tooth to her). Koko had it going on. We all know that we’re not that far removed from our primate cousins, and lately humans actually look bad in comparison. So let’s just say that taking great care in naming something we love is a primal rite, hearkening back to the origins of our existence.
No one knows this as much as a new parent deliberating over the endless possibilities for their child’s moniker. Since the beginning of time, couples have fought over whether to call their baby Rob or Bobby. Writer Duana Taha is composing a post-nuptial contract with her husband, replete with dictums and concordance on prospective names for their future bundle. Smart move. Families have been brought down over middle initials. Parents inevitably put some of themselves, but especially projections for what they want their little one to be, into their name. They hope all their taste and discrimination, creativity and identity go into it. They hope that neuroses and aberrancy stay out of it. Well, at least some do. Yeah, Penn Jillette , I’m talking to you. Moxie Crimefighter is cruel.
The Romans said nomen est omen — ”name is destiny.” Notwithstanding the fact that their empire fell to pieces, they offered prescient aphorisms. Names shape identity as much as identity shapes names. Psychologists call it “implicit egoism.” Carl Jung cited it in himself and his colleagues. Freud, whose name means “joy” in German, championed the pleasure principle. Adler, German for “eagle,” advanced the will to power. Jung, whose name means “young,” advocated the idea of rebirth. This is fitting, because the process of naming children can put many people on the analytical couch.
Destiny and a lifetime of self-expression. These are very high stakes.
I’ve complied a list of recent names in the public arena, trying to glean where the parents were coming from, and where the kids are likely to go. My list, like my name and especially myself, is flawed and non-comprehensive. Please add or correct in comments. Go!
**Photo credits: Dreamstime**
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