Name Quotes for the Weekend #15

betty white quote, "I love Cadillacs and name them after birds."

From an interview with Betty White in Parade Magazine:

Ask White if she still drives and she replies, “Of course!” She owns a silver Cadillac nicknamed Seagull. “I love Cadillacs and name them after birds.” Her previous ride, the pale-yellow Canary, was preceded by the green Parakeet.

From an article about how political preferences influence baby name choices in the Washington Times:

“If innovative birth names first appear as expressions of cultural capital, then liberal elites are most likely to popularize them, especially given that liberals are typically more comfortable embracing novelty and differentiation,” the study said. “Sometime afterwards, the name will diminish as a prestige symbol as lower classes begin adopting more of these names themselves thus sending liberal elites in search of ever new and obscure markers.”

When elite liberal parents do search for novelty, the authors write, they are “less likely to make up a name rather than choose a pre-existing word that is culturally esoteric (e.g., ‘Namaste,’ ‘Finnegan,’ ‘Archimedes’), because fabricating a name would diminish its cultural cachet.”

After all, they note, “the value of cultural capital comes, not from its uniqueness, but from its very obscurity.”

From an article on Chinese names in the LA Times:

In China, unusual names are viewed as a sign of literary creativity, UCLA sociology professor Cameron Campbell said.

[...]

“Picking a rare character is kind of like a marker of learning,” Campbell said, while in the United States, one-of-a-kind names are sometimes viewed as odd.

From an article about keeping your baby’s name a secret in the StarPhoenix:

“With our first we did not keep the name a secret. We told everyone. Then at 36 weeks, my cousin got a puppy which she named the same name as I had picked for our baby. When I asked why she used the name she choose she said she had heard it somewhere and really liked it but couldn’t remember where. I was devastated. Baby ended up coming at 37 weeks and we had not yet picked a new name! After that we kept the names quiet until they were born.” – Nicole Storms

From an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates (b. 1975) at Bookslut:

Last month, on the blog he writes for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explained the origin of his first name:

[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn’t just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation.

Coates’s father was a former Black Panther who raised seven children by four mothers, while running an underground Afro-centric publishing house from his basement. When Bill Cosby complained about black parents naming their children “Shaniqua, Taniqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail,” he may very well have been thinking of Paul Coates.

From a blog post about choosing a baby name by Jodi of Jodilightful! (via Abby of Appellation Mountain):

But if we learned anything from the process of naming Niko and watching him become that name, it was this: we could have called him anything we wanted to, and it would have been fine.

From an essay by Craig Salters in the Hanover Mariner:

I was watching the Little League World Series the other day and the team from New Castle, Indiana has a great bunch of kids and much to be proud of.

But, unfortunately, that wasn’t what I noticed first about them. What I noticed was the first names of their lineup card: Mason, Janson, Cayden, Hunter, Niah, Bryce, Jarred, Blake, and Bryce (again).

So no John? No Jimmy, Bobby, Richard, or Chris? There’s nothing wrong with their names — like I said, their parents should be bursting with pride — but, as an apprentice old fogey, it’s hard to get used to.

[...]

I myself was named after Craig Breedlove, a daredevil who broke all sorts of land speed records in what was pretty much a rocket on wheels. I absolutely love my name and am proud of my namesake, but I always feel I’m letting Mr. Breedlove down when I putter along Route 3 at 55 miles per hour, content to listen to sports radio and let the world pass me by.

From a tweet by Sherman Alexie (via A Mitchell):

We gave our sons names they could easily find on souvenir cups, magnets & shirts. Childhood is rough enough.

A poem, “Möwenlied” (Seagulls), by German poet Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914):

Die Möwen sehen alle aus,
als ob sie Emma hiessen.
Sie tragen einen weissen Flaus
und sind mit Schrot zu schießen.

Ich schieße keine Möwe tot,
ich laß sie lieber leben –
und füttre sie mit Roggenbrot
und rötlichen Zibeben.

O Mensch, du wirst nie nebenbei
der Möwe Flug erreichen.
Wofern du Emma heißest, sei
zufrieden, ihr zu gleichen.

…and now the translation, by Karl F. Ross:

The seagulls by their looks suggest
that Emma is their name;
they wear a white and fluffy vest
and are the hunter’s game.

I never shoot a seagull dead;
their life I do not take.
I like to feed them gingerbread
and bits of raisin cake.

O human, you will never fly
the way the seagulls do;
but if your name is Emma, why,
be glad they look like you.

Want more name quotes? Check out the name quotes category.

2 Responses to Name Quotes for the Weekend #15

  1. I’m inclined to believe peer-edited academic studies, but I’m having a hard time with the quote about liberal elites embracing novelty in names. I guess I’d have to see the research. When I think of name novelty, lots of the ones that pop into my head are names like Reince, Rush, Rand, Mitt, Tagg, Track, Trip, Bristol, etc….all conservative.

    Plus I’ve seen evidence of just the opposite conclusion in stories like this one: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/05/14/152487425/baby-names-the-latest-partisan-divide

    What do you think?

    P.S., I love the seagull poem!

  2. Thanks for the link!

    I see what you mean. I think both write-up make some good points. Though I think one big difference is the “culturally esoteric” / “culturally obscure” part:

    “Although higher status mothers of all races favor more popular birth names, high-status liberal mothers more often choose uncommon, culturally obscure birth names,” the paper said.

    In this sense, unique names like Trip and Track are pretty different from unique names like, say, Flannery and Aesop.

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