To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

~ Bertrand Russell ~

Careful What You Call Your Kids

October 14th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 18 secs

What did they call him?

No use fretting about what people call you. What’s done is done. But we should at least spare a thought for our kids and call them something safe.

I mean if your family name is Ruff, you wouldn’t go calling your baby boy “Dan”, would you? And if your surname were “Bottoms”, you’d want to skip “Patricia”, lest it get shortened to “Pat”.

Actually, I worked with a woman called Pat Bottoms once. In a sense, she was an exception. Despite her title, she didn’t have a habit of patting anyone’s bottom (at least, not while I was around).

So, when people ask, “What’s in a name?” I say, “Plenty!” It seems names have a way of guiding us toward even the vaguest of suggested meanings. So, a fellow called Vic Wood is, predictably, a wood turner from Victoria. And the spokesman for a wood chipping association is not surprisingly called Barry Chipman.

This remarkable matching of name to behavior is given the grand title of nominative determinism, which presumably is meant to sound impressive (that’s if you can get you tongue around it). Which begs the question, “How does being called something affect your behavior so much?”

Well with a name like Christian, it’s inevitable that I would become one, rather than a Zoastrian. So perhaps it’s the constant mental tap tap of being called something meaningful that goes down deep into the psyche.

Mind you, what you get called can make for some funny interpretations. Take these real life Doctors for starters. There’s: Dr De’Ath, Dr Bone, Dr Bury, and Dr Scarr – all of whom practiced in Tasmania. And, although not especially medical by name, I still rather like the nuance of Dr Bleach sharing a medical practice with Dr Whyte. They sure seem like they’d work together well.

But then, what about Law Power who is an Officer of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police? Then there’s Amy Freeze, a meteorologist working for WABC in New York. Or, take Dr Scott Pett, a vet in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Not to mention Usain Bolt, the Olympic champion sprinter? It seems what we call people can make a difference.

Yet, while the fact that Ann and Frank Web started the British Tarantula Society merely reinforces the point, it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of people with names like Cooper who don’t make barrels, And what about folk called Smith who have never forged a thing. That means what we call our babies only works sometimes, and least of all, when we’d plan it to.

So, while it’s a bit ambiguous, it definitely makes sense to call kids sensible names that don’t mean anything rude or farcical. Then, just relax about the rest. Sandra Bullock, after all, has managed to achieve in her chosen Hollywood career without changing her name. Nor, to my knowledge, has she had much to do with cattle.

The meanings behind a person’s name may well matter, but how much is something determined by each person. Meaning the local colonic irrigation specialist called Dr Plummer, must have had a hand in it somewhere… But whatever he is called, perhaps that’s just too much information.

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