Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's a family name!

I think that the tradition of "family names" is odd at best, and possibly more sinister than that on occasion. Why, you may ask? Why do you have such disdain for this fine, time-honored tradition? Well, here's a list of reasons.

1. Confusion. If one person in your family is named, say, Chester, why would you want to call someone else the same name? It just seems to be unnecessarily confusing. "Oh, Chester, please come in here and give me a hand with this." So three Chesters show up? It's just cumbersome. We already carry down surnames; the least you can come up with is a different first name. It's a cop-out, if you ask me. Show some creativity, mom and dad!
2. Irrelevance. Many family names sound really stupid to today's ear. The name Mildred was a fine name in our grandparents' generation, but today, not so much.  In two or three generations, Ashley and Jayden will sound like old people names. It's best for them to stay put where they were invented in time.
3. Bad precedent. It seems to me that naming a child after someone else is like a way of honoring the person you're naming her after. It is possible, however, for a child to be named after someone who later goes on to commit some atrocious act, and who wants to be responsible for that? I'm sure most of the men post-1945 who were named Adolf were mortified to be saddled with the poisonous moniker.

My name is sort of a bastardized family name. My name is Gina Louise. My grandmothers were Jean and Louisa. My mom hated both of those names, so she changed them to Gina Louise.  She told me once that the only other Gina she had ever known was a woman she didn't really care for. But in her mind at the time, it seemed like a logical thing. I really don't know why they felt compelled to name us after our grandparents, but my brother was named Charles Arthur, after my grandfathers, who were named (care to guess??) Charles and Arthur. My parents really skipped the whole naming discussion, didn't they? Had he been a girl, my brother, funnily enough, would have been named Melanie or Melissa.
Following their logic, if my husband and I had a girl she would be named Margaret Juanita, or Juanita Margaret, and if we had a boy he would be named Charles Eufemiano, or Eufemiano Charles. Yikes! Thank goodness there are no children in our future.


  1. In my dad's family, Richard was a repeated name. I think my grandpa was called after his middle name, Paul, and then my Uncle Richard was called "Rick". Then my great-uncle was called, "Dick" (or "Duncle Ick" by my disrespectful father when he was growing up). (Although, Duncle Ick married into the family, so the same name was coincidental.) So, with our family, there were two things illustrated: The confusion thing- because everyone had to be called by nicknames or middle names (ironically, no one went by Richard) and also, the dumb name thing, because truly, no one wants to be called "Dick" these days. So I would never have called my son Richard.

    That said, I like your name, and I would be happy to be honorary auntie to a Juanita Margaret or Charles Eufemiano, if you should suddenly become entirely different people, have a child, and name them after your parents!

  2. In my mom's family, nearly all the men are named John. Or Michael. John Joseph, John Joseph Jr., Michael John, Jacob John. My cousin married a Michael. Her brother is also a Michael. My mom married a John Frederick. A lot of the women are named Mary too. Mary Ann, Mary Bernice. Dad's parents were Mary Margaret and Joseph Earl. Yep. Those Catholic families are a creative lot, aren't they?

  3. My father wanted to make me Leonard Robert III.