Name Quotes #50: Rocket, Lenore, Heloise

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Clueless character Cher on the similarity between her name and that of her best friend Dionne:

We were both named after great singers of the past who now do infomercials.

(Dionne’s name comes from Dionne Warwick.)

From a 2007 interview in People with film director Robert Rodriguez (whose kids are named Rocket, Racer, Rebel, Rogue, and Rhiannon):

Asked about his children’s unusual names, Robert attributes them to side effects he sustained from his college years when he subjected himself to medical tests to make extra money.

“Rocket is the first one. And once you name your first kid Rocket, you can’t name your next kid Marty. Racer, Rebel, Rogue…I’m just gonna blame this on the medical experiments. But they do have regular middle names in case they don’t want to start their own wrestling team.”

(An Australian celebrity named Lara Bingle has two sons named Rocket and Racer…perhaps in homage to Robert Rodriguez?)

From Incomplete birth certificates create a bureaucratic morass by Andrew Ryan in the Boston Globe:

A generation ago — when more families had six or more children — babies without official first names were surprisingly common. Overwhelmed new parents would leave the hospital without completing birth certificate paperwork.

But what once seemed like a quaint oddity becomes a serious inconvenience in a world of identity theft and terrorism. Today, governments demand birth certificates.

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement age, vital statistics offices — including at Boston City Hall — continue to receive a trickle of people whose birth certificates carry no first name. Boston officials estimated that in the 1950s, roughly 1 of every 25 birth certificates lacked a first name.

From the 1970 obituary of actress Lenore Ulric in the New York Times:

Born in the little town of New Ulm, Minn., in 1892, the daughter of Franz Xavier Ulrich, an Army hospital steward, Miss Ulric (she dropped the H from her last name) used to say that she was predestined for the stage. Her father gave her the name of Lenore because of his fondness for Poe’s poem, “The Raven,” and her childhood was devoted to theatrical yearnings.

(She played Wetona on stage in 1916.)

Name expert Kunio Makino, as quoted in What to call baby? by Tomoko Otake in The Japan Times:

“I think people who come up with bizarre names for their children tend to feel that they couldn’t live the life they wanted to, and they feel that they have been hindered by many rules and restrictions. The only freedom they have at their disposal, they think, is the right to name their child.”

From Hi, My Name Is Héloïse by Héloïse Chung (formerly Kathy Bryant):

I leaned toward names made of calm, feminine sounds that never sounded like someone was yelling at you. The harsh K in Kathy conjured up my mother’s words for me: kigibe, keoji, shikkeuro. Korean for girl, beggar, and shut up. But I still wasn’t ready. I switched from Kathy to “Kate,” which felt like a small step, but not one nearly big enough.

[…]

Once the universe gave me the OK, a little space seemed to open up for the name to find me. And so it was that Héloïse fluttered into my head one day, devastatingly perfect. I’m not sure exactly where it came from. Perhaps some derivation of Luisita (a friend) or Elio (a boy I used to babysit). I guess I have a thing for L names. I honed it, trying it with and without the H and with and without the diacritics. I didn’t want them to be an affectation. Is it gauche to use French spelling if you don’t even speak French? Eff it, I went with the French.

From Why and how Ontarians change their names in the 21st century by Eric Andrew-Gee in The Globe and Mail:

Some change their names by truncation, some by hyphenation, others by amalgamation, others by invention. Some changes are banal, done for everyday reasons – a divorce, a marriage, a mistransliteration (an imprecise conversion from one alphabet to another) – while others are poignant, playful, even poetic.

When I asked people about their choice while reporting this story, virtually no one was glib. Many would go on and on, grateful to talk about a decision that cuts to the marrow of who they are. Others became tearful and, in some cases, shuddered audibly at the sound of their birth names. Some even declined to discuss the subject.

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


Name Quotes #49: Stan, Alessia, Nanu

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From “Dido: My Son Is Not Named After My Hit Song” at People‘s Celebrity Babies blog:

Dido’s duet with Eminem…”Stan,” [was] a collaboration which she never imagined fans would connect to her son’s moniker.

“Stanley was actually our favorite name, coincidentally both of our favorite names. He could never have been called anything else to be honest,” Dido shares. “I’m so stupid, I didn’t think anyone would make the connection.”

Proud of her choice, Dido jokes the name game in her family is always a fun affair. “It’s fine,” she says of her final decision. “I was named after a crazy queen who threw herself on a fire.”

(Here’s more on Dido’s name.)

From “An Open Letter to Anyone Considering a Unique Name For Their Baby” by Alessia Santoro at PopSugar:

I’m 26 years old and I can probably count on two hands the number of times a person has gotten the pronunciation of my name right on the first go — a surprising minority, considering it has the word “less” right in it. Whenever someone does get it right, my jaw drops, because these moments are few and very far between — I often consider hugging the person for making me feel so normal. But the other 99 percent of the time, people get my name wrong.

From the Kent City Council’s online timeline of the First World War:

Raida Margaret Fanny Collins…was born on the night of an air raid over Newington in September.

Her christening on 4th November 1917 is recorded in the diary of Florence Fitch Palmer, organist at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Newington.

From the chapter about Clara Louise Burnham in the 1918 book The Women who Make Our Novels by Grant Martin Overton:

The beginning of this capital story [The Opened Shutters] was not with Tide Mill, however, but with the name Thinkright Johnson. Like certain persons whose appearance before Mrs. Burnham’s mind’s eye has compelled her to write about them, this New Englandish appellation gave birth to a book. Thinkright Johnson–Thinkright Johnson; the name haunted Mrs. Burnham for days and weeks, “till I knew that the only way I could have any peace was to write something about him.”

From “A Puppy Called Marvin” by Julie Lasky in the New York Times:

Clara is my 2-year-old Wheaten terrier and one of several dogs in my neighborhood with a name that sounds as if it came from a shuffleboard tournament on a golden-years cruise. Among her pals, Fern is red-nose pit bull, Alfie is (mostly) a black lab and Eleanor is a mix of Bernese mountain dog and poodle.

This pack has led me to conclude that whereas we look back to remote centuries when giving children trendy names like Emma, Sebastian, Julian or Charlotte, we name our dogs after our grandparents.

[…]

This means that future generations of dogs should be prepared to be called the mom-and-dad names of today. Names like Kimberly, Jason and Heather.

From “If it’s forbidden to call a baby Cyanide, should Chardonnay be allowed?” by Charles Moore in The Spectator:

The country nowadays is full of children burdened with grotesque names. Are we to ban them? If you forbid Cyanide, should you permit Chardonnay? A further complication is that the little girl is a twin, and her mother wanted to call her twin brother Preacher. This too Lady Justice King forbade because, although Preacher ‘might not be an objectionable name’, ‘there was considerable benefit for the boy twin to be in the same position as his sister’ and for both to be named, as was proposed, by their half-siblings. We are not told what names the half-siblings want. I do hope it is something kind and simple, like Jack and Jill.

From “France names row: Politician hits back over criticism of daughter’s name” at the BBC:

Rachida Dati reacted angrily after journalist Eric Zemmour criticised her choice of name for seven-year-old daughter Zohra.

He said it was unpatriotic because it did not come from an official list of French Christian names.

[…]

He added: “I consider that by giving Muslim first names, you are refusing to accept the history of France.”

[…]

“Do you find it scandalous to give your mother’s name to your children?” [Rachita Dati] asked, in a vigorous defence of her choice of name.

“I loved my mother. I have a little girl, and I called her after my mother. Like millions of French people do every day.”

From the 2013 book The Lahu Minority in Southwest China: A Response to Ethnic Marginalization on the Frontier by Jianxiong Ma:

When a baby is born, his or her name is decided by the birthday tiled by the twelve zodiac days together with gender, so he or she will normally be named Za Birthday for male or Na Birthday for female. For example, if two babies were born on the rat day (fa ni) and the ox day (nu ni) respectively, if they are boys, their names should be Zafa and Zanu, but if they are girls, their names should be Nafa and Nanu, and so on. […] In general, there are about 45 names that can be used in the village for individual persons, even though the very basic names total 24, twelve days for both male and female members.

(The extra baby names used by the Lahu are essentially replacement names used in case of childhood sickness. These replacement names also follow specific formulas.)

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

Name Quotes #48 – Tasha, Tiberius, Mi Mi

Time for more name-related quotes!

From a recent E! Online interview with Jordan Peele [vid], who spoke about choosing a baby name:

We definitely want pick a name that has a certain positivity that will counter this barbaric, negative time that we’re in right now.

From the 2008 New York Times obituary of illustrator/author Tasha Tudor:

Starling Burgess, who later legally changed both her names to Tasha Tudor, was born in Boston to well-connected but not wealthy parents. Her mother, Rosamond Tudor, was a portrait painter, and her father, William Starling Burgess, was a yacht and airplane designer who collaborated with Buckminster Fuller. […] She was originally nicknamed Natasha by her father, after Tolstoy’s heroine in “War and Peace.” This was shortened to Tasha. After her parents divorced when she was 9, Ms. Tudor adopted her mother’s last name.

(Her four kids were named Seth, Bethany, Thomas, and Efner (female). One of Tudor’s books was called Edgar Allan Crow (1953).)

On the new scientific name of Australia’s “Blue Bastard” fish:

Queensland Museum scientist Jeff Johnson, who identified the species from photos taken last year by a Weipa fisherman, has formally christened it Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus – a direct Latin translation of the colloquial name anglers bestowed on a fish famously difficult to land.

Caeruleo is blue and nothus is bastard. That was the origin of the name applied by fishermen for many years and I thought, why should I argue with that? It seemed like a perfect name [to] me,” Johnson told Guardian Australia.

“I wondered what the reviewers of the paper would say about it but they both agreed it was quintessentially Australian and we should go ahead.”

From the book My Life as a List: 207 Things about My (Bronx) Childhood (1999) by Linda Rosenkrantz (of Nameberry!):

Before I was born, my mother had decided to name me either Laurel or Lydia, names that appealed to her artistic temperament. But then somehow, while under the scrim of anesthesia, she was convinced by my father’s sisters to make me a lackluster Ruth, in honor of their recently deceased mother, Rose. And so my birth certificate read Ruth Leila, a name I was never, ever called by my mother, either of my father’s sisters or anyone else.

(Here’s more in Linda’s post The Story of How I Got Hooked on Names.)

On the names of the Mordvins, an indigenous group in Russia:

While walking along some river bank, not far from the Volga line, we might encounter some pleasant people called Kvedor, Markva, Valdonya and Nekhot and not realise that in Russian they would be Fyodor, Marfa, Svetlana and Mefody aka Theodore, Martha, Svetlana and Methodius.

This sort of phenomenon happens because of the Finno-Ugric special phonetic and secret lore. Any sound which is not familiar to their native tongue will be changed and adapted to suit the native tastes.

From an article in the Tampa Bay Times about transgender name changes:

[E]arlier this year in Augusta, Ga., Superior Court Judge J. David Roper declined to change the name of a college student from Rebeccah Elizabeth to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus.

“I don’t know anybody named Elijah who’s female,” the judge said, according to a court transcript. “I’m not going to do that. I’ve never heard of that. And I know who Elijah was, one of the greatest men who ever lived.”

Months later, he ruled similarly in the case of a transgender man who wanted to legally become Andrew Baumert, the name by which he said everyone already knew him. The judge refused. “My policy has been that I will not change a name from an obviously female to an obviously male name, and vice versa,” he said.

NPR writer Lateefah Torrence on choosing a baby name:

Having grown up in a working-class world, Frank is sensitive to names that he finds “pretentious” while as the outsider black kid, I worry about names that sound “too white.” I must admit that I have mostly rolled my eyes at his unease with my never-ending list of suggestions from world mythology and literature. He suggests Molly; I counter with Aziza. He brings William to the table; I suggest Tiberius.

(Lateefah was also featured in last month’s quote post.)

From a 1958 article in The Atlantic on Burmese Names by Mi Mi Khaing:

One or more of a Burmese child’s names is almost certain to show the day on which he was born–a survival from our belief that human destiny is linked with the stars. Certain letters of the alphabet are ascribed to each day, so that a “Thursday’s child” would have one name beginning with our P, B, or M.

Burmese is a monosyllabic language, and each part of our names is an actual word that means something, or even several things, depending on how it is pronounced. Thus I am “Little Mother” (Mi Mi) “Branch of the Tree” (Khaing) (though “khaing” can also mean “firm”) […] [a] merchant I know was aptly named “Surmounting a Hundred Thousand,” while the Rector of Rangoon University, Dr. Htin Aung, is “Distinguished and Successful.”

Being so handsomely named is not embarrassing, however, because we become so used to our names, and those of our friends, that we only think of the person and remember their names by their sound.

Name Quotes #47 – Hiroko, Jaxon, Joule

Welcome to this month’s quote post!

From “Modern baby names have gone too far” (in the Telegraph) by Tom Ough:

Yes: Jaxon. This name is a bad name — an atrocious name. It is an elision of “Jack’s” and “son”, the join clumsily Sellotaped by an X which would find a better home in a bad action film than in a child’s name. (Young readers called Xerxes: forgive me, then promise never to watch your parents’ copy of 300.)

The babies lumbered with ‘Jaxon’ are victims of poor taste rather than sons of men called Jack: if any name is a bastardisation, this is it.

From “The untold stories of Japanese war brides” (in the Washington Post) by Kathryn Tolbert:

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

On the origin of the name “Lolo” from the Lolo National Forest website:

“Lolo” probably evolved from “Lou-Lou”, a pronunciation of “Lawrence,” a French-Canadian fur trapper killed by a grizzly bear and buried at Grave Creek.

The first written evidence of the name “Lolo” appears in 1831 when fur trader John Work refers in his journal to Lolo Creek as “Lou Lou.”

In an 1853 railroad survey and map, Lieutenant John Mullan spelled the creek and trail “Lou Lou.” However, by 1865 the name was shortened to Lolo and is currently the name of a national forest, town, creek, mountain peak, mountain pass and historic trail in west central Montana.

From an article about historical name trends in England:

The establishment of the Church of England coincided with the publication in 1535 of the first modern English translation of both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. The Protestant reform movement stressed the central importance of the Bible, and the new English translations meant that many more people could read the Bible themselves. In turn, it also meant that they had access to the large stock of names from the Old Testament – from Aaron to Zechariah, and Abigail to Zipporah. These names had the added attraction that they were much less associated with Catholicism than many New Testament names. As a result, Old Testament names became much more common during the late-16th century and 17th century, especially among girls.

NPR writer Lateefah Torrence on the name of her daughter Dalia Joule Braun-Torrence:

Post-delivery, Frank and I were still unsure of her name. In the few days before her birth, we had narrowed our girl name list down to Aziza and Dalia.

[…]

We looked into her tiny face and asked, “Dalia?” Our little girl stared at us inquisitively. I think she may have been thinking, “Obviously.” We then asked, “Aziza?” — she turned away from us, and we knew our Dalia was here.

From the book Cajun Country (1991) by Barry Jean Ancelet, Jay Dearborn Edwards, and Glen Pitre:

[A] few years ago the Lafourche Daily Comet ran an obituary for eighty-two-year-old Winnie Grabert Breaux. The article listed Winnie’s brothers and sisters, living and dead: Wiltz, Wilda, Wenise, Witnese, William, Willie, Wilfred, Wilson, Weldon, Ernest, Norris, Darris, Dave, Inez and Lena.

(According to Winnie’s Find a Grave profile, “Wiltz” is Wilson, “Witnese” is Witness and “Weldon” is Wildon. Here’s a recent post on Cajun nicknames.)

From “JFK’s legacy in Bogotá lives on 55-years later” (in The City Paper) by Andy East:

It was Dec. 17, 1961, and nearly one-third of Bogotá’s 1.5 million inhabitants had turned out on a sunny Sunday afternoon for one reason: to catch a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The massive outpouring was the largest reception the U.S. leader ever had.

[…]

The historic visit, which lasted only 14 hours, would change the lives of thousands of families and have a profound impact on the city that is still visible 55 years later.

[…]

In the immediate years after Kennedy’s visit, the most popular baby names registered at baptisms in Ciudad Kennedy were John, Fitzgerald (Kennedy’s middle name), Jacqueline and Kennedy.

(Here’s a recent post about U.S. babies named for JFK.)

From “Old people names of the future” by Sara Chodosh:

Perhaps the strongest trend in recent years hasn’t been certain names, it’s been a diversity of names. […] The plethora of names has weakened individual trends; we haven’t had a strong female name trend since the ’90s. And without a significant number of babies with a particular name, we may stop associating certain names with certain generations.

For more, check out the name quotes category.

Name Quotes #46 – Chloe, Lucille, Iowa

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From a New York Magazine article about author Toni Morrison, born Chloe Wofford, who “deeply regrets” not putting her birth name on her books:

“Wasn’t that stupid?” she says. “I feel ruined!” Here she is, fount of indelible names (Sula, Beloved, Pilate, Milkman, First Corinthians, and the star of her new novel, the Korean War veteran Frank Money), and she can’t own hers. “Oh God! It sounds like some teenager–what is that?” She wheeze-laughs, theatrically sucks her teeth. “But Chloe.” She grows expansive. “That’s a Greek name. People who call me Chloe are the people who know me best,” she says. “Chloe writes the books.” Toni Morrison does the tours, the interviews, the “legacy and all of that.”

From the Amazon bio of author Caitlin Moran:

Caitlin isn’t really her name. She was christened ‘Catherine.’ But she saw ‘Caitlin’ in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was thirteen and thought it looked exciting. That’s why she pronounces it incorrectly: ‘Catlin.’ It causes trouble for everyone.

From the book Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey:

I have been told that I was born one hour before midnight, April 3, 1924, in the Omaha Maternity Hospital. […] My mother, Dorothy Pennebaker Brando, was 27; my father, Marlon Brando Sr., was 29. I rounded out the family and made it complete: My sister Jocelyn was almost 5 when I was born, my other sister Frances almost 2. Each of us had nicknames: My mother’s was Dodie; my father’s Bowie, although he was Pop to me and Poppa to my sisters; Jocelyn was Tiddy; Frances was Frannie; and I was Bud.

(Here’s more about the name Brando.)

From Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990):

The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

From an NPR article about the naming of B. B. King’s guitar Lucille:

I used to play a place in Arkansas called Twist, Ark., and they used to have a little nightclub there that we played quite often. […] Well, it used to get quite cold in Twist, and they used to take something look like a big garbage pail and set it in the middle of the floor, half-fill it with kerosene. They would light that fuel, and that’s what we used for heat. And generally, the people would dance around it, you know, never disturb this container. But this particular night, two guys start to fight and then one of them knocked the other one over on this container, and when they did, it spilled on the floor. Now it was already burning, so when it spilled, it looked like a river of fire, and everybody ran for the front door, including yours truly. But when I got on the outside, then I realized that I’d left my guitar inside. I went back for it. The building was a wooden building, and it was burning so fast when I got my guitar, it started to collapse around me. So I almost lost my life trying to save the guitar. But the next morning, we found that these two guys who was fighting was fighting about a lady. I never did meet the lady, but I learned that her name was Lucille. So I named my guitar Lucille and reminded me not to do a thing like that again.

(B. B. King’s birth name is Riley; “B. B.” stands for “Blues Boy.”)

From an article about roller derby skate names:

Some other things we noticed: 10 percent of the list falls into the “Tech & Geek” category, which includes names inspired by Computing (“Paige Not Found,” “Syntax Terror,” “Ctrl Alt Defeat”) fonts (“Crimes New Roman,” “Give ‘Em Hell Vetica”); Chemistry (“Carmen Die Oxide,” “ChLauraform”); and Philosophy (“Blockem’s Razor”).

From an interview with David Lisson, registrar-general of Northern Territory, Australia:

“I once had parents that came in with 11 given names for their baby,” Mr Lisson said.

“We had a long talk with them to explain how difficult it would be to fill out forms.

“They had an answer for basically all of them, as they were from a diverse cultural background. Each name had a significance. After some hard bargaining, we got them down to nine.”

From a 1909 article in Hampton’s Magazine about Woman’s Relief Corps president Jennie Iowa Berry (1866-1951):

Mrs. Berry is a native of Iowa. Her father is Wilbur Riley Peet, a soldier of the Sixties, who was born in Iowa when it was still a territory, his people having been among the pioneer settlers. His love for his State is indicated by the second name of his daughter.

(The name Iowa last appeared in the SSA data in 1921.)

Want to see more? Here’s the name quotes category.