Name Quotes 87: Kamala, Simon, Genghis

From a recent CNN article about how to pronounce Sen. Kamala Harris’s name:

Harris wrote in the preface of her 2019 memoir, “The Truths We Hold,” “First, my name is pronounced ‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark. It means ‘lotus flower,’ which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.

From a 1982 Washington Post article about actors Lucie Arnaz and Laurence Luckinbill:

Lucie Arnaz, whose illustrious pedigree is evident in her name, and actor Laurence Luckinbill were Simonized several years ago.

He was on Broadway doing Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two.” She was on Broadway doing Neil Simon’s “They’re Playing Our Song.” They met at Joe Allan’s, the famous Broadway restaurant, and started seeing each other entr’acte.

[…]

Twenty months ago, they had a son, whom they named…Simon.

From a 2015 Indian Express article in which Rebel Wilson talks about her name:

A little girl named Rebel sang at my parents’ wedding. My mum is really big on theme names like that – my sisters are called Liberty and Annachi, and my brother is Ryot. I did pretty well in comparison. I love it.

You can’t be a shrinking violet if you have a name like Rebel. It gives me an edge and helps me not give in to my fears. I try to live that way.

From a 1998 BBC article about All Saint singer Melanie Blatt:

Melanie and her boyfriend, musician Stuart Zender [of Jamiroquai], revealed in a magazine interview that they intend to name their daughter Lily Ella [sic]: Lily after the first flowers he bought her during their courtship and Ella after the music legend Ella Fitzgerald.

(Technically, her name is Lilyella.)

From a case study (pdf) of Amtrak’s automated customer service representative, “Julie,” launched in 2001:

Julie became popular with callers and even garnered national acclaim through blogs, YouTube videos, and as an answer on the TV quiz game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Her persona was even featured on Saturday Night Live. “I’ve been surprised about how attached people have gotten to Amtrak Julie,” says the woman who provides the voice of Julie, Julie Stinneford. “I find it funny. Because they’re not really talking to me. They’re talking to a computer.”

From a 2019 NPR interview with musical duo (and identical twins) Tegan and Sara, who originally called themselves “Sara and Tegan”:

We changed the name only because we had a manager [who] gave us one good piece of advice during that time. He said, “When people say ‘Sara and Tegan,’ it all blends together into one word and they don’t know what you’re saying. But if you say ‘Tegan and Sara,’ you have to enunciate. So I think you should switch your names around.” So we did.

From a recent Crunchyroll article about parents who named their son Asta after the anime character (Black Clover):

We came up with that name early on but had other names we considered like Natsu, Sora, Roxas, and Yuki.

From a 2007 Times Colonist [Victoria, British Columbia] article about unusual baby names:

The time was when naming a baby Conan or Calamity could doom a kid to years of schoolyard drubbings, but if Genghis Charm Usher’s experience is any indication, the times are changing.

Genghis, 13, can’t recall any friction caused by his unusual name, pointing out “that you don’t have to have a weird name to get teased.”

[…]

“I love my name. Once they get my name, they don’t forget it,” he says.

Name Quotes 86: Sena, Fennis, LeBron

Time for the monthly quote-post!

From the speech “How Everything Turns Away” by children’s book author Lois Lowry (b. 1937):

My first photograph…or the first photograph of me…was taken, by my father, when I was 36 hours old. My name was different then. They had named me Sena, for my Norwegian grandmother, and that was my name until she was notified; then she sent a telegram insisting that they give me an American name, and so I was renamed Lois Ann for my father’s two sisters.

From an article about baby-naming in Armenia:

Armenia does not have a censorship for names, while its neighbor Azerbaijan has. There are three categories of names in Azerbaijan: “allowed,” “undesirable,” and “prohibited.” No comment is necessary for the first group. The second group includes funny and bizarre names. The third group refers to Armenian names.

On the names of spirit guides, from the book Journey of Souls (1994) by LBL hypnotherapist Dr. Michael Newton:

The personal names my clients attach to their guides range from ordinary, whimsical, or quaint-sounding words, to the bizarre. Frequently, these names can be traced back to a specific past life a teacher spent with a student. Some clients are unable to verbalize their guide’s name because the sound cannot be duplicated, even when they see them clearly while under hypnosis. I tell these people it is much more important that they understand the purpose of why certain guides are assigned to them, rather than possessing their names. A subject may simply use a general designation for their guide such as: director, advisor, instructor, or just “my friend.”

From a 1987 Sports Illustrated interview with basketball player Fennis Dembo:

With apologies to World B. Free, Shaquille O’Neal and, yes, even God Shammgod, when it comes to staking a claim to basketball’s alltime name, Fennis Dembo enjoys Jordanlike distance from the pretenders. “I’m always a bit stunned that people still remember me,” says Fennis, whose mother, Clarissa, selected his name, along with that of his twin sister, Fenise, as a declaration that after 11 children, her childbearing days were finis. “I tried to set up an E-mail account, but two other guys–basketball fans, I guess–were already using my name in their address.”

From a 2018 interview with basketball player LeBron James [vid]:

I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name […] When I was younger, obviously, I didn’t have a dad. So, my whole thing was, like, whenever I have a kid, not only is he gonna be a junior, but I’m gonna do everything that this man didn’t do. They’re gonna experience things that I didn’t experience, and the only thing I can do is give them the blueprint, and it’s up to them to take their own course.

(LeBron, Jr., is nicknamed “Bronny” — no doubt to differentiate son from father, but perhaps also to take some of the pressure off. Here’s a post about how LeBron James has affected baby names over the years.)

From a 2016 Maxim interview with movie director Ron Howard:

Q: Is it true that your kids’ middle names come from the locations where they were conceived?

A: David Letterman got that out of me, and my kids will never let me forget it. My daughter, Bryce [Dallas Howard], was conceived in Dallas, and our twins [Jocelyn Carlyle Howard and Paige Carlyle Howard] were conceived while we were doing a publicity tour at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. For the last one [Reed Cross Howard], we were on Lower Cross Road, so we decided to go with Cross. “Volvo” wouldn’t be such a good middle name.

From a review of the memoir The Kennedy Chronicles by former MTV veejay Kennedy (full name: Lisa Kennedy Montgomery):

According to Kennedy, her secret dalliance with the then-married lead singer and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls led to one of the group’s most well-known songs, the 1995 mega-hit “Name.” To Kennedy, the lyrics hit a little to close to home: “Did you lose yourself somewhere out there? Did you get to be a star?” And then “You could hide beside me/ Maybe for a while. And I won’t tell no one your name.”

She writes: “When I asked him about it he indeed admitted the inspiration and told me there was no way all we’d shared wasn’t going to show up in his writing.”

Here’s the song:

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes 85: Karen, Blane, Friedemann

pretty in pink, duckie, blane, movie, 1980s, quote,

From the 1986 movie Pretty in Pink, Duckie’s reaction to learning that Andie is dating a guy named Blane:

Blane? His name is Blane? That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!

From sociolinguist Robin Queen, an explanation of how ‘Karen’ went from a popular baby name to a stand-in for white entitlement:

By tracing the origins of Karen up until the Central Park incident, you can see how two separate threads of meaning converged to make Karen the label for an officious, entitled, white woman.

The first comes from African American communities, where certain generic first names have long been a shorthand for “a white woman to be wary of because she won’t hesitate to wield privilege at the expense of others.” Around 2018, people started posting pictures of white women calling the police on the mundane activities of black people. These individuals got labeled with hashtags like #bbqbecky, #permitpatti, #golfcartgail and #cornerstonecaroline.

[…]

The second thread emerges from stand-up comedy and Reddit. In 2005, Dane Cook performed a sketch comedy piece in which Karen is “that friend nobody likes.” In the sketch, she’s described as “always a douche.” This portrayal of a “Karen” is less about her racism and contains more gender-based critiques, which might be why some continue to call the Karen meme sexist.

New Jersey police officer Brian Porter — who delivered two babies during the first half of 2002 — regarding his success so far in having a baby named after him:

0-2.

(In the case of the second baby, the baby’s father and brother were both already named Bryan.)

From the “pejorative names” section of a 2019 academic article called From Enslavement to Emancipation: Naming Practices in the Danish West Indies:

“[I]njurious” names [were] intended to mark slaves out by drawing upon naming forms not used by the dominant class. For instance, some are not personal names, but refer instead to places (London, Madrid, Dublin), animals (Zebra, Fox), or qualities (Amor). Another popular category includes names of classical figures (Cicero, Ancilla, Cupido). Such names functioned as cruel jokes: for instance, Scipio, a common male slave name, referred to the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, whose agnomen, Africanus, meant “the African,” in praise of his triumphs in battle in North Africa. Names of Greek and Roman heroes, philosophers, and orators were popular choices for male slaves, underlining their degradation and emasculation via their juxtaposition with these great men. Meanwhile, as Saidiya Hartman has noted, names like “Venus” for female slaves reflected and licensed the lasciviousness of European slave-owners toward African women, making such behaviors “sound agreeable.”

From the funny April Fools’ Day video Pronouncing Friedemann Findeisen like a Bad-Ass German by songwriter Friedemann Findeisen [FREE-day-mahn FIND-ei-zen]:

Welcome to this German tutorial on how to pronounce my name, Friedemann Findeisen. In the past, many of you have wondered why I have such an unusual name, and why it sounds so German. Well, I am German. You just can’t tell because my lederhosen aren’t in the shot.

From the National Geographic article “Who’s the First Person in history whose name we know?“:

[T]o my great surprise—the first name in recorded history isn’t a king. Nor a warrior. Or a poet. He was, it turns out…an accountant. In his new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari goes back 33 centuries before Christ to a 5,000-year-old clay tablet found in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).

[…]

It’s a receipt for multiple shipments of barley. The tablet says, very simply:

29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim

(But we don’t know for sure that Kushim was a human name; it may have been a job title.)

A second theory, from the same article:

Dated to around 3100 B.C.—about a generation or two after Kushim—the tablet’s heading is, “Two slaves held by Gal-Sal.” Gal-Sal is the owner. Next come the slaves, “En-pap X and Sukkalgir.” So now we’ve got four names: an accountant, a slave owner, and two slaves.

(Some scholars are Team Kushim, other scholars are Team Gal-Sal.)

Name Quotes 84: Al, Gene, Sonatine

Welcome to the monthly quote post! There are a lot of celebrities in this one, so let’s start with…

Actor Emilio Estevez — who pronounces his surname ESS-teh-vez, instead of the Spanish way, ess-TEH-vezdiscussing his name [vid] on Talk Soup with Nessa in 2019:

So I was born on 203rd Street in South Bronx. And, at the time, my father had this very Hispanic-sounding last name. […] A lot people, a lot of these agents, and folks said, if you wanna work in this business, you gotta have a more Anglo-sounding name. Of course times have changed, but there was that moment where he was finally on Broadway — 1965, ’66 — and his father came from Dayton (he was from Spain, of course) and looked up on the marquee, and saw the three names that were starring in the play, and one of them was “Martin Sheen” and not his real name, Ramón Estévez. And my grandfather just looked up, and he just shook his head, and he was so disappointed. And my father saw that. And so when I began to get into this business, we had that conversation. And he said, don’t make the same mistake I did.

…A few sentences later, Estevez added:

I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me on the street and said, you know, just seeing your name on a poster, just seeing your name on screen, meant so much to me, you have no idea.

(Martin Sheen’s stage name was created from the names of CBS casting director Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.)

Singer Billy Idol, born William Broad, discussing his stage name [vid] with Karyn Hay on the New Zealand TV show Radio with Pictures in 1984:

Q: Why did you choose the name Billy Idol, especially in a time when [there’s] Johnny Rotten, Ret Scabies, you know?

A: Exactly, I mean that’s the point. That’s exactly the point. […] I thought, first of all, of course, of I-D-L-E, you know, idle. Cause this chemistry teacher when I was at school — I got 8 out of 100 for chemistry, I hated chemistry — so he wrote, “William is idle,” right? And I thought that was great to get 8 out of 10 [sic] for chemistry, cause I hated the hell out of it. So I thought that was respectable, so I thought it was worthwhile being called I-D-O-L, idol. Also, it’s good fun making fun of show business. I’m not into show business, I’m into rock ‘n’ roll.

Composer Bear McCreary’s baby name announcement from mid-2014:

Raya and I are proud to announce our greatest collaboration is finally here. 

Sonatine Yarbrough McCreary was born 6/2/14 and is filling our lives with joy, music… and poop.

(The musical term sonatina means “small sonata” in Italian. A sonata refers to a piece that is played — as opposed to a cantata, a piece that is sung.)

From an article about Amy Schumer legally changing her son’s name:

The I Feel Pretty star revealed her decision to change her 11-month-old son’s name on the newest episode of her podcast 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Tuesday. Schumer and her husband Chris Fischer named their first child Gene Attell Fischer, born May 5, with his middle name serving as a tribute to their good friend comic Dave Attell.

“Do you guys know that Gene, our baby’s name, is officially changed? It’s now Gene David Fischer. It was Gene Attell Fischer, but we realized that we, by accident, named our son ‘genital,'” Schumer told cohosts Rachel Feinstein, Bridget Everett, and Keith Robinson.

…More to the point, from Amy’s Instagram:

Oh, like you never named your kid Genital fissure!!!!!!!

Three quotes from a fantastic article in the NYT about Weird Al Yankovic (discovered via Nancy Friedman).

…On his Alfred-ness:

Although Alfred’s grades were perfect, and he could solve any math problem you threw at him, his social life was agonizing. Imagine every nerd cliche: He was scrawny, pale, unathletic, nearsighted, awkward with girls — and his name was Alfred. And that’s all before you even factor in the accordion.

…On how his surname turned him into an accordion player:

[The accordion] came from a door-to-door salesman. The man was offering the gift of music, and he gave the Yankovics a simple choice: accordion or guitar. This was 1966, the golden age of rock, the year of the Beatles’ “Revolver” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde.” A guitar was like a magic amulet spraying sexual psychedelic magic all over the world. So Yankovic’s mother chose the accordion. This was at least partly because of coincidence: Frankie Yankovic, a world-famous polka player, happened to share the family’s last name. No relation. Just a wonderful coincidence that would help to define Alfred’s entire life.

…On his Alfred-ness again:

The nickname “Weird Al” started as an insult. It happened during his first year of college. This was a fresh start for Alfred — a chance to reinvent himself for a whole new set of people. He had no reputation to live down, no epic humiliations. And so he decided to implement a rebrand: He introduced himself to everyone not as Alfred but as “Al.” Alfred sounded like the kind of kid who might invent his own math problems for fun. Al sounded like the opposite of that: a guy who would hang out with the dudes, eating pizza, casually noodling on an electric guitar, tossing off jokes so unexpectedly hilarious they would send streams of light beer rocketing out of everyone’s noses.

The problem was that, even at college, even under the alias of Al, Yankovic was still himself. He was still, fundamentally, an Alfred.

Comedian Kevin Hart on choosing baby names:

I wish I could say that I am the main guru, [but] I am awful when it comes to the names. That is not my expertise. […] I say the same thing every time. It’s either Kevin or Kevina. I got two names. That’s it. So if you never go with either one of those then I’m no good to you.

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes 83: Bek, Frankie, Monarch

monarch, bear, california, flag,

From article in which musician Beck talks about his first name:

He was born on July 8, 1970, as Bek David Campbell. He and his brother later took their mother’s maiden name, Hansen, and Beck added the “c” to his first name, with the hope that it might help people pronounce it properly. “I still got Brock, Breck, Beak,” he said. “I remember leaving a meeting with some record executives, and one said, ‘Very nice to meet you, Bic.'”

From Orlando Bloom’s Instagram post about fixing the Morse Code spelling of his son’s name (Flynn) in his forearm tattoo:

••-••-••-•—•-• finally dot it right! How do you make a mistake like that?

From an article about the naming of lesbian and bisexual characters:

The nice thing about having an internal database of LGBTQ+ women and non-binary television characters is that you can get really, truly obsessive about various patterns in the data. Like, for example, what queer characters are often named.

[According to the article, some of the top names for queer female TV characters are Nicole/Nikki/Nico, Franky/Frankie, Alex, and Susan. “Some minor abundances: Debs, Deborahs and Debbies. Quite a few more-than-expected Ginas, Naomis and, most oddly, Ruby.” “We are, however, suspiciously low on Marys.”]

Speaking of Frankie…from an article about the popularity of the name Frankie in Australia:

Obviously, there’s a lot of love for Frankie right now. But the interesting thing is that Australian parents love Frankie a lot more than anyone else. Frankie has been among the top 50 girls’ names in Australia for the past couple of years, while not even making the top 100 in either the UK or the US.

From a video in which Emma Thompson talks about “posh” English slang [vid]:

“Pip pip” is “bye-bye.” […] Like, for instance, when I was born, yonks ago, on the BBC, on the world service, there would be the pip, pip, pip. So that’s the “pips.” And you say pip, pip. And I was known as “pip Emma” because I was born as the pips were sounding.

[The pips were used to mark the start of each hour. “Pip Emma” is also the way to say “p.m.” in RFC WWI signalese. I’m not sure if Emma Thompson was likewise born in the afternoon/evening, though.]

From an article about the bear on the California state flag:

[William Randolph] Hearst put the bear on display [in 1889] in Golden Gate Park and named him Monarch. At more than 1,200 pounds, Monarch was the largest bear ever held captive.

[…]

Taking a cue from the Sonoma revolt in 1846 [after which a flag featuring a bear was created to represent the captured region], the state again decided to make the California Grizzly the flag’s focal point. Only this time they wanted a bear that actually looked like a bear.

Illustrators used the recently deceased Monarch as the model for the bear on our state flag.

[Newspaper magnate Hearst took the name “Monarch” from the tagline of the San Francisco Examiner, the “Monarch of the Dailies.”]

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.