Time for this month’s batch of name-related quotes!
From the 2008 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (which is narrated by character Katniss Everdeen):
The girl with the arrows, Glimmer I hear someone call her — ugh, the names the people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous — anyway, Glimmer scales the tree until the branches begin to crack under her feet and then has the good sense to stop.
As Catholicism’s hold has eased, American pop culture has stepped in, filling classrooms with Kevins, Jordans and Dylans. Such names, says the study, have become a class marker. They are also popular in regions which support Marine Le Pen, the populist defender of French cultural tradition. Her campaign for the upcoming European elections is headed by a 23-year-old called Jordan.
In a country that bans ethnic or religious census data, names can also serve as a proxy. The number of baby boys named Mohamed has grown sixfold since 1960. The persistence of such names, say some on the nationalist fringe, reflects an integration problem. Ms. Le Pen has argued that naturalised French citizens should adopt a name more adapted to national culture. Hapsatou Sy, a French presenter, understandably quit a TV show after a commentator told her that her name was “an insult to France”, and that her mother should have named her Corinne.
But now researchers have found that picking a distinctive monicker is becoming harder and harder with greater media access, improved global communications and rising immigration increasing people’s exposure to different names and also ensuring they become common more quickly.
“The speed with which modern name choices fall in and out of favour reflects their increased exposure and people’s ongoing desire for distinctiveness.”
Prince George Washington was really Prince Wichaichan, the son of the Second King of Siam [Pinklao, younger brother of Mongkut]. […] Wichaichan’s unusual nickname was the result of his father’s commitment to “modernize” Siam by studying and deliberately emulating Western culture. […] Pinklao wished to communicate that he was a progressive person who was drawn to modern American culture, while never abandoning his fundamental commitment to Siam’s absolute monarchy.
(The post also noted that Anna Leonowens, in her memoir The English Governess at the Siamese Court — the inspiration behind The King and I, which made a star out of Yul Brynner — claimed the prince’s nickname was given to him by an American missionary.)
These websites not only misguide with wrong meanings but also feature “Sanskrit names” that are not from Sanskrit at all.
‘Haroon’ is one such name. Websites, including the popular Prokerala.com that ranks among the top 8,000 in the world, tells us it means ‘hope’ in Sanskrit. However, ‘Haroon’ is an Arabic name. Hugely popular among Muslims, it was also the name of one of the Khalifas (Caliphs).
Similarly, these websites also erroneously trace modern names such as Kian, Rehan and Miran to Sanskrit.
From the book Becoming Something: The Story of Canada Lee (2004) by Mona Z. Smith:
Canada Lee was born in New York City on March 3, 1907, and christened with the mellifluous if somewhat daunting name of Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata.
The first time the leather-lunged [fight announcer Joe] Humphries got ready to introduce Lee, he looked down at his notes and saw a peculiar name: “Canegata, Lee.” Flummoxed by those alien syllables, Humphries tossed away the card with a snort and introduced the young fighter as “Canada Lee.”
Everybody liked the transmogrification, including Lee, and it stuck.
Dillon…was not named after a prospector named Tom Dillon who got lost in the woods, as has been a common oral tradition. Rather, the town was named after Sidney Dillon, a powerful railroad executive who became president of the Union Pacific railroad four months before the town was established. The entire point of naming the town Dillon was to somehow appeal to Sidney Dillon’s vanity and persuade him to build a railroad through the town.
But as it turned out, the railroad didn’t wind up going through Dillon or winding along the Snake River. Instead, it went through Tenmile Canyon and the town of Frisco — also named to flatter a railroad company, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co., in a bid to get them to build their next line through town.
Kaira, Shyra, Akira, Kia, Tia, Sia. Shanaya. These are Bollywood’s cool new names, broadly classified into the “ya” or “ra” nomenclature. The Poojas, Nishas, Anjalis and Nehas of the 1990s are déclassé. These new names carry an unmistakable aspiration to be global.They are unrooted to place, community or any kind of identity except class. They are almost never longer than three syllables and easy to pronounce. They float on coolness and lightness. An ex-colleague memorably christened them “First-World Yoga Names—FWYN”.
Laurette Taylor was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1884. Her birth name was Loretta Cooney. Laurette was also a character played by actress Molly Lamont in the film Scared to Death (1947).
Lavolia was a character played by actress Etta McDaniel in the film Magnificent Brute (1936).
Leatrice Joy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Louisiana in 1893. Leatrice Joy Gilbert (Leatrice Joy’s daughter) was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1924.
Leontine Dranet was an actress who appeared in 2 films in the 1910s. Leontine was also a character name in multiple films, including The Closing Net (1915) and The Shielding Shadow (serial, 1916).
Lita Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1908. Her birth name was Lillita MacMurray. Lita was also a character name in multiple films, including Bachelor Apartment (1931) and The Girl from Monterrey (1943).
Lorna Gray was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Michigan in 1917. Her birth name was Virginia Pound. Lorna was also a character name in multiple films, including Traffic in Souls (1913) and The Butterfly Girl (1921).
Luana Walters was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in California in 1912. Luana Patten was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1938. Luana was also a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film Bird of Paradise (1932).
Lucile Watson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Canada in 1879. Lucile Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Tennessee in 1907. Lucile was also a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the short film Lucile (1912).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).