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baby names

Dec 30 2008

What’s In A Name?

by Jnai W

Ahhh…it’s the last week of December; the time for reflecting upon the passing year and anticipating the one to come. This time of year is also a writer or a blogger’s dream as we compile those wonderful, snarky and slightly judgmental End-Of-Year lists. You know the ones–the Best and Worst Albums, Movies or Political Moments of 2008, etc. I love reading those things!

One list that I’ve found is one that ranks the worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2008. I know, I know–it’s silly. But this intrigued me for a couple of reasons. Reason 1: I love names. As someone with an unusual name I’ve developed a fascination for all things name-related. Where do our names originate? What do they mean? How do they strike the ear or roll off of the tongue? It’s something to think about. Reason 2: Rampant Celebrity Baby-Naming produced some, um, colorful choices.  To be fair, it’s not my place to judge what some rock star names her kid. But I think someone’s gonna owe poor little Bronx Mowgli Wentz an explanation…and a hefty trust fund as consolation. This whole thing has me considering a move to Hollywood to become a professional Celebrity Baby-Namer. It’ll be the easiest money I’ll ever make! Here’s a list of name-related books that I’d take with me:

Classic Biblical Baby Names: Timeless Names For Modern Parents by Judith Tropea (Bantam): For those of us who’d rather stick to tried-and-true (read: good ol’ fashioned sensible) this is a great reminder that the classics never die. Most of us know a Mary or a David or a Michael but this is also a good source for namers with a yen for more exotic monikers like, say, Delaiah or Cozbi.

A Book About Names by Milton Meltzer (Thomas Y. Crowell):  Author Meltzer provides great insight into the history and cultural significance of names throughout the world. This little book also examines the impact of naming on American culture. Does your family still bear the same surname that your Great-Great Granddad left The Old Country with? If not, this book gives a concise explanation to this and other surname-related queries. This is juvenile non-fiction, which means it’s very reader-friendly…and it has illustrations.

The Best Baby Names In The World From Around The World (Facts on File, Inc.): Here’s a great example of your standard, expansive dictionary of names. As a kid I liked to refer to big baby names books like these when christening my baby dolls.  This one is pretty good as it classifies names by gender and nationality while also providing meanings and derivation. One minor quip: I searched that book from cover to cover and found no J’nai (or Jenay or Jenee…)

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