From the movie Bridesmaids, bridesmaid Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) being kicked out of first class by flight attendant Steve:
Annie: Whatever you say, Stove.
Steve: It’s Steve.
Annie: “Stove” — what kinda name is that?
Steve: That’s not a name. My name is Steve.
Annie: Are you an appliance?
Steve: No I’m a man, and my name is Steve.
The report [from the Central Bureau of Statistics] also noted that in 2012 only 36 boys were given the name Ovadia. However, following the death of spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 2013, 117 babies were given this name and in 2014, 209 newborns were named after the rabbi.
Basically, the katakana names given to baby girls born prior to the 1900s were a result of gender discrimination. The ability to read was not prevalent amongst the poor of that time period, so many families would pay a scholar to help them decide on a splendid name in meaningful kanji for their sons. However, that same measure was almost never taken for daughters. […] Only girls belonging to the most wealthy and noble families, such as the daughters of samurai, would be given names in kanji as an indication of their status.
But more offbeat names can pose problems. How about the Rooneys’ Kai? Kai means ‘pier’ in Estonian, ‘probably’ in Finnish, ‘ocean’ in Hawaiian and Japanese, ‘willow tree’ in the native American language of Navajo, and ‘stop it’ in Yoruba.
And Suri, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter, means ‘pickpocket’ in Japanese, ‘turned sour’ in French and ‘horse mackerels’ in Italian.
Arabic, as a spoken language and written text, is something the Western gaze is enamored by, but also terrified of. A quick Google search renders a flood of results about the popularity of Arabic in the non-Arab world. From warnings of things to keep in mind so you don’t end up with a failed Arabic tattoo to white mothers seeking out trendy Arabic baby names, there are numerous examples of how Arabic is made palatable to the white gaze. At the same time, you will find horror stories of students detained for carrying flashcards and study materials in Arabic on a plane, or of a Brooklyn father stabbed by two teenagers who overheard him speaking in Arabic while walking home with his wife and 8-year-old son.
I have a non-trendy classic name which is still reasonably popular, and not only has it failed to provide me with a magically charmed life where nothing ever went wrong, its impact has been minimal at best. Meanwhile, my peers with the trendy names of our generation, such as Jodi and Jason, don’t seem to have had their lives ruined by their names.
I am a Showa-born man, and here’s my pet peeve: This year, only three girl names ending with “ko” made the top 100 list. Back when I was a schoolboy, the mimeographed list of the names of kids in my class was full of girl names ending with “ko.”
Shigehiko Toyama, a scholar of English literature, once recalled this episode: One day, he received a letter from an American person he had never met, and the envelope was addressed to “Miss Shigehiko Toyama.” He understood the reason immediately. This American had some knowledge of things Japanese, and must have presumed Toyama was a woman because his given name ends with “ko.” An episode such as this is now part of ancient history.
From The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (2003) By Elizabeth Crawford:
Lamb, Aeta Adelaide (1886-1928) Born in Demerara, where her father was a botanist; she was named Aeta after a palm he had discovered there.
Demerara was a colony in British Guiana, and aeta (or æta) palm refers to Mauritia flexuosa, a South American palm tree.
Want to see more quotes like these? Check out the name quotes category.
Last year’s top Hebrew names were Noa and Noam, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. (Later this year, the CBS will release all 3 sets of baby name rankings: Jewish, Muslim and Christian).