Emomali Rahmon, who’s been the leader of Tajikistan since 1992, has some strong opinions about names:
“I pay close attention to surnames and names when I appoint anyone to a leading post in the government,” Mr Rahmon told a group of children in speech televised on national TV.
“Sometimes, reading surnames can make one shudder,” he said.
“For example, Gurgakov comes from the word ‘wolf’. Janjoliyev derives from the word ‘conflict’,” said Mr Rahmon, the father of seven daughters and two sons.
Names must be beautiful because they play an important role in determining a person’s destiny from birth, he said.
“How can you name a person after a wolf?”
Currently, Rahmon is trying to get his country to adopt regulations that would greatly restrict birth names.
The proposed amendments to Tajikistan’s civil-registry law would make it illegal to “register names that are incorrect or alien to the local culture, including names denoting objects, flora and fauna, as well as names of Arabic origin.”
In fact, some registrars have already begun rejecting these types of names.
The part about banning Arabic-origin names has gotten a lot of attention because Tajikistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, and most of the popular baby names in the country right now are of Arabic origin: Sumayah, Asiya, Aisha, Muhammad, Yusuf, Abubakr, etc. (Rahmon’s own name would’t have passed muster under the new law — Emomali is derived from “Imam Ali.”)
Ultimately, Rahmon is interested in promoting (forcing?) the usage of “pure Tajik” names, including those from classical Persian literature. Examples of this type of name include Dilafruz, Firdaus, Firuz, Rustam and Tahmina.
Hopefully the ethnic Uzbeks that make up 15% of Tajikistan’s population won’t be forced to use Tajik names as well…
P.S. The woman who would have been Rahmon’s most serious opposition candidate in the 2013 election (if she’d been allowed to run) has a very interesting first name: Oinihol (also spelled Oynihol). Anybody know anything about it?
Both names had been mentioned in the April 1980 issue of Ebony in an article called “Sex and the Single Parent.” Kimario was the 4-year-old son of Aisha Nanji of Atlanta, and Nykeba was the 3-year-old daughter of Vicki Newsum of Memphis.
The name had been mentioned in two issues of Ebony — the March 1985 issue and the August 1986 issue. The first time, it was in an article about teenage parenthood. “Fifteen-year-old Lisa Robinson of Chicago cuddles her 10-month-old daughter, Cushena, while trying to concentrate on her homework.” (This quote goes with the image above.) The second time, it was in an article about black children.
The name had been mentioned in the January 1994 issue of Ebony, in an article about first-time mothers. “Joy of motherhood radiates from first-time mom DiAnna Toliver Muhammad of San Diego as she cuddles her 10-month-old daughter Ziyadah Iman.”
I’m sure there are more Ebony– and Jet-inspired baby names out there. If you own any old issues of either magazine, and one of your issues contains an uncommon name, please leave a comment with the name (and the month/year) so I can check it out!
Edelman, Marian Wright. “Save the Children.” Ebony Aug. 1986.
“First-Time Moms.” Ebony Jan. 1994.
Harris, Ron. “Sex and the Single Parent.” Ebony Apr. 1980.
Height, Dorothy I. “What Must Be Done About Children Having Children.” Ebony Mar. 1985.
Horton, Luci. “The Mystery of Crib Death.” Ebony July 1973.
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.
“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.”
“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
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.
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.