Lu Lu is no stranger to a language gap. Even her name is a constant source of confusion in America. “They ask me my first name. I say ‘Lu.’ Then they ask me for my last name, and I say ‘Lu.’ They think I misunderstood them.” In Chinese, the characters, while pronounced the same, are written differently. In English, though, Lu Lu’s first and last name are identical. She laughs, being frank, “My name in Chinese is ordinary, but when I came to the US, people think it is interesting.”
While waiting at the cash register, I picked up a pair of argyle wool socks from a nearby wicker basket and asked, “Are your socks local?” The salesman self-consciously said no. I returned the socks like an organic farmer who has learned that a friend has named her child Monsanto.
From Momo Fali’s about page:
When my son was an infant I created an on-line account with the user name “momofali” (read: Mom of Ali) and when my best friend saw the site, she sent me an e-mail asking, “Who’s Momo Fali?” I’ve been Momo ever since. As a matter of fact, most people have trouble calling me Diane anymore.
Looking to the future, a resurgence in the popularity of traditional Scottish forenames in recent years is likely to combat Anglicisation, said Hough.
“Far more Gaelic and Celtic-derived personal names are being chosen by parents in Scotland, which can be a way of affirming national identity,” she says. “Gaelic-derived forenames that are in the top 100 names in Scotland at the moment include Aiden, Callum and Finlay. Cameron is originally a clan name, and Lewis, Evan and Isla are all place names.”
Frank Dixon, statistician for the National Records of Scotland, which compiles the top 100 baby names, says that whilst Jack and Sophie are the most popular forenames, middle names are increasingly being used to showcase a sense of national identity.
From the Allmusic.com profile of Blues/R&B pianist Ivory Joe Hunter (b. 1914):
An accomplished tunesmith, he played around the Gulf Coast region, hosting his own radio program for a time in Beaumont before migrating to California in 1942. It was a wise move since Hunter — whose real name was Ivory Joe, incidentally (perhaps his folks were psychic!) — found plenty of work pounding out blues and ballads in wartime California.
What’s your favorite movie, period?
True Romance is one of my favorites. There is an intensity of passion. It showed the extent people will go for those they love, blurred the lines between right and wrong, and had some great lines as well. I wanted to name our first child Alabama after the main character, but my wife vetoed it.
From a letter to the editor in the Casper Star-Tribune:
OK, once again I had to laugh at Tuesday’s paper.
The biggest front page news article, sporting a full banner headline in the place of honor just below the masthead was: “Liam and Emma Most Popular Names for Babies in Wyoming in 2012”
Baby names beat out the meteor sighting and the loss of a popular airline route.
Baby names beat out coverage of Israel’s air strikes on Syria.
Baby names beat out the passage of the Internet sales tax bill, sponsored by Wyoming’s Sen. Mike Enzi. That piece of news didn’t even make the front page.
Now, if the Casper Star-Tribune were a supermarket tabloid or a neighborhood weekly I wouldn’t say a thing. Is that what Wyoming’s only statewide newspaper is trying to be? I thought that the Casper Star Tribune was a real newspaper. Real newspapers carry news on the front page and publish baby name surveys in the home-and-family section.
From a post at Appellation Mountain:
Despite that data, here’s my theory: part of the increasing volatility in baby names is due to conversations like this one. The parents agree on Olive for their daughter’s name, but they’re seriously considering using something else for fear that Olive is going to become too popular. I think Anna gives her excellent advice, and some low-key encouragement to use Olive anyhow. But if we’re thinking this way, that means that we’re discarding names as “too popular” before they’re even popular. All of this crystal-ball gazing pushes us towards more and more unusual names, and growing diversity in given names.
And three in a row from an article in The Atlatnic about the names of NPR reporters. 1st:
But perhaps no reporter’s name is more beloved than Sylvia Poggioli, NPR’s Italian correspondent. Sylvia has had a cow in Cambodia named after her, and a restaurant in Salem, Oregon. “Every time Sylvia says her name,” the restaurateur said, “I envision Italy, I see and smell good food.”
Neda Ulaby’s first name means “dew” and is fairly common in Syria. (“It’s also the name of the heroine of an opera called Pagliacci who is literally killed by a clown,” she told me over email.)
A few years ago, a pair of hardcore NPR listeners invited Neda Ulaby to their wedding, sending along a picture of their car’s license plate, which reads “OOLABEE.” “Apparently they’d developed the creepy habit of referring to each other as ‘my little Ulaby.’ So I became a mating call,” she explained.
Robert Smith of Planet Money told me by email that the only reason to change his name “would be so that I could be more famous. You would remember it better if I ended by reports with, ‘I’m Mobius Tutti.'” But at the same time, he says, “I’m in this business to tell other people’s stories, and not to promote myself or my own name. Being a Robert Smith is always a good reminder that you aren’t that different than the people you cover.”