Wednesday, June 17, 2015

what's in a name?

Naming children is fun. And hard. And stressful. And fun. I love baby naming sites ( being my favorite, if you wanted to know.) I love all of the options and the combinations and the meanings. I love imagining saying names over and over calling out to my present and future children, listening to all the names and seeing which ones sound like they belong in a family unit.

It also takes me a LONG time to settle on a name. For months before Leonie was born, people were asking if we were sharing her name, and though we had decided to keep it a secret until her birth, I was still being quite honest in my response of “we are still working on it.” People who choose their baby’s names before the twenty week ultrasound shock and astound me. I need all forty weeks to hem and haw and research and debate and think about this most important of decisions! NO WAY am I going to waste four and a half months of intense deliberation by being rational and decisive.

But seriously, I love names. Ever since Bronwyn was born, I’ve kept a running list of names on my phone so that I wouldn’t feel so rushed in thinking of all the perfect names for all of the subsequent children. How to choose, OH HOW TO CHOOSE!?!?!

In accordance with my severe love of names, I’ve also compiled a rather meaty list of Zambian names. These are both the never before heard of in America names or the maybe I could pull that off if I were a celebrity names.

Social conventions in Zambia allow for a slightly broader category of naming possibilities than one would find in mainstream America. Pretty much anything goes. No matter how random a kid's name seems, I have never heard a child mocked because of his English name – and it would appear that the sky really is the limit. I know there are some crazy names floating around this country too, but I don’t actually know any of these people, so somehow I don't think that counts .

To demonstrate the prevalence of the “less than typical” English names in Zambia, I thought I’d compile a list of people WHO I ACTUALLY KNOW just so you can see how common the “uncommon” names are. You will have to admit that some of these are simply masterful in their creative design.

Not all of them have obvious meanings and intentions:

This is Friday. He is a twin, but his brother's name is neither Thursday nor Saturday, so...


I think the "well" names are the Zam equivalent of the American Haiden, Caden, Aiden, Jaden trend. Hey, why not?

We honestly picked our girls' names more based on sound than meaning so I do understand this group fairly well.

Furthermore, Exploit is rather a generous young man, and Jester is not at all a clown which stills the fear that names are definite predictors of character or personality.

There’s also a whole host of beautiful names whose meanings are more obvious and also AMAZING:

naming this sweet girl Beauty remains one of the greatest honors of my life


(We all know Prominent is going to be an alpha child.)


(Fidelis and Given are legit my favs, and if Jeremy ever joins me in that... watch out for two more babies.)


We could have a child named Confidence Colvin. Are you kidding  me? That's amazing.

… Don’t forget the less than common Biblical names…Of course we have plenty of Johns and Mathews and Daniels, but I dare you to find (without google) the Biblical reference for each of these:

This is Precious. (I mean, isn't she though? Totally presh.) She is also the younger sister to Queen.

Just imagine hollering at little Deodatus to come in for dinner. YES. 

Sadly, I've noticed that all the Hoseas I know are girls which tells me that the parents haven't exactly read the book.  

Oh well, I appreciate the honorable mention. 

Sometimes our friends find naming inspiration from "special"places: this is me and little "Bethany" I kind of melted when I first met her:

mini me = too cute
We’ve mainstreamed names like Faith, Joy and Hope, why not names like these? For baby number two, I lobbied hard for a more Zambia-esque name and  eventually succumbed to the perceived social pressure (and my husband's pretty adamant veto) to not roam too far out in left field.

There’s still something in me that says, a few bold people long ago named their children Faith Hope and Joy and made those beautiful words into beautiful names. I’m still trying to convince Jeremy that we too can change the course of baby naming history and that in 200 years when (fill in the blank name) hits the top 100 on the social security administration lists, somebody will write us a thank you note for introducing some of these Zamtastic names to society. Maybe with the next babe I'll convince the hubs. Until then, I'll continue to grow my lists.

And you? Any less than common favorites?