29 October 2010

Why Your Name Book Sucks

One of my favorite name websites is Name Nerds, owned, operated, maintained and otherwise controlled by Norah Burch. And while I don't find it particularly easy to navigate, I enjoy many of the articles they publish. My current favorite is regarding the all-powerful baby name book. I have two myself...one cheap one from the grocery store, and one more expensive and in-depth one from Borders. And guess what...they both have inaccuracies. While the adage, don't trust everything you read on the Internet is true, so is should be with anything in print...especially since many name books don't cite their sources.

So why DOES your name book suck? I'll let Name Nerds do what they do best...

Every day I get a bunch of emails saying, "My name is ____. It means 'cute little fairy princess' [or something like that], my name books said so, and your site has it wrong!"

I've got news for you. Your baby name book is probably wrong.

How can I make such a giant, all-encompassing statement? Who died and made *me* the Name Goddess, you ask? Well, nobody. It's just common sense. Think about it-- the first thing people do when they go to pick out a baby name book is look up their own name. This usually gives them a feeling about their own name--positive or negative. Who wants to see that their name means something unflattering (as the name Cameron means "crooked nose") or vague ("meaning unknown")? People are more likely to buy a book if they feel good about a name. Thus name books either do what people have been doing for centuries, and making things up based on a semi-educated guess, or just "bend the definition" a little bit. I mentioned that the name Cameron comes from Scottish Gaelic words meaning "crooked nose"-- I have seen it listed in baby name books as meaning "one with distinguishing facial features," and "having a defining nose." Sure, one whose nose is crooked could have their nose be "distinguishing"... but this purely an interpretation!....

Read more HERE

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