Required Baby Names

How do parents choose their new baby’s name?

Socially conservative parents may borrow one of their own names or relative’s name. They may use creative mixes of relatives’ names. Or they may use a standard religious name or famous person name or celebrity name. Or they may chose from the top 100 most popular names at that time. Creative parents, on the other hand, may add a new spelling to a common name, or choose a name from another language, or create a name from scratch.

The explanations of parents for their naming choice can vary from “I don’t want my kid to stand out.” to the opposite: “I want my child to be unique.”

The USA has very few limits on names, and even then it varies by states. See here. Some countries have stricter rules on naming your children including: Denmark, Hungary, Japan and Iceland.

In this Japan Times article, a Japanese researcher found a new growth of Japanese unique names and shows how it is probably a sign of Japanese people gradually embracing individualism. From the article:

[The] Hofstede Individualism Score, … was developed in the 1980s by Dutch social scientist Geert Hofstede to measure how much people in a society are expected to look after just themselves and their families. Unique baby names, it turned out, correlated positively with countries that scored as highly individualistic.

Their research shows similar trends toward individualism in China, Germany, France and the U.S, of course. Likewise, with immigration and people mixing, unique names flourish also.

Questions to readers: How did you or would you name your children and why? What do you feel are the down-sides of individualism?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

4 responses to “Required Baby Names

  1. Ah, a lot to unpack on the names of my children. I worked very hard on getting them right, considering they would be saddled with an awful name for a long time if I did a bad job. They needed names that would be respectable adult names, not just something cute to name a kid.

    My oldest has a very traditional first name that has often been used on my husband’s side of the family, but that no one was using as a stand-alone name now. And the middle name came from my father’s side of the family, also much used. Both families were delighted by our choice. And I have a child where everybody can spell their name, but it’s not shared by too many classmates. (I once had a class with four “Johns” and I didn’t want that problem for my kid.)

    My youngest has a traditional first name that has often been used on both sides of the family, but not by anyone currently. My mother’s side of the family has the tradition of middle names being old family surnames, and so we used that tradition for my youngest.

    My father had no sons, so both middle names begin with his last initial as a hat tip to him. And, as a Renaissance buff, I also managed to work this so that both names sound very historical, which is a bonus.

  2. Hello Ubi:
    So, took the largely conservative option:
    (a) respectable
    (b) Family name
    (c) unique on
    And added:
    (d) keep family proud
    (e) Renaissance flavor (your creative addition)
    Nice !

  3. My first son’s name is a variation on his dad’s name, but it wasn’t my first choice. I realized the first choice was a combination of two unusual names, one of which was one of my older relatives. Unfortunately those two names were a bad combination with the last name and so was discarded. His first name can be used in 3 forms, where the first for when he was a baby, the 2nd form he uses as a young adult, and perhaps he’ll use the 3rd form when he becomes more mature. Also, his first name is a name where I’ve liked every person I met who had it and is connected some good songs.

    My younger son, we hadn’t thought of any names ahead of time, and couldn’t agree on names in the hospital after he was born. They said we couldn’t leave the hospital without him having a name so we picked one.

    Where do you stand on it?

  4. @ MS: Where do I stand on what? Using various names? All fine with me.

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