How Many Names is Too Many?

December 2, 2012 § 4 Comments

Uma Thurman's daughter is earning the distinction as 2012's 'worst celeb baby name.'

Uma Thurman’s nearly six-month-old daughter is earning the distinction as 2012’s ‘worst celeb baby name.’

And is there such a thing?

Perhaps the biggest celebrity trend in baby naming this year has been the predisposition NOT to announce baby’s name at all, but over at Fox News, Uma Thurman’s baby daughter’s mouthful of a name is far and away leading a poll for 2012’s Dumbest Celebrity Baby Name. (For the record, I voted for Moroccan Scott Cannon based solely on his inclusion in a 2012 year-end list, when he was born in April of 2011.) Thurman’s daughter, born July 15th of this year to the actress and her Swiss financier boyfriend Arpad Busson – father to Elle MacPherson’s sons Arpad (Flynn) and Aurelius (Cy) – Uma’s third child was named Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson, called Luna.

Whoa. Perhaps it’s not just the seven names (eight, with the use of the nickname); it’s also the complex name choices that have people kinda freaking out. And sure, it seems like a lot for one kid to handle and will likely take her some time to learn to spell. But Luna’s father is a Swiss man named Arpad (Arkadina, Altalune), and her mother a US-born Buddhist named Uma (Arusha). These names, though they pointedly chose not to share what, all have meaning to the couple. And sometimes, if you only intend to have one child, you load the birth certificate (if so, this would be Busson’s only girl and he might have a lot of family he wants to honour), knowing that the kid will rarely, if ever, use every single name at once.

Sure, filling out government paperwork is going to be rough (they don’t have near enough room on the forms for names this long), and teachers might always wonder how one gets Luna from Rosalind when going over the class list every September – but a name this long isn’t hurting anyone, in the end.

When William and Kate have their first child, we can likely expect a handful of names. Four given names to honour family, the Prince or Princess of Cambridge designation in the front and back, plus a handful of other selections to honour the principalities, duchys, and extensive family heritage of the British royal family. Everyone in their family is named in much the same way. Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, also known as William Windsor, William Wales, Prince William of Great Britain and the Commonwealth – it’s hard to keep track. Yet we call him Prince William. We can barely bring ourselves to call the Duchess Catherine over shorter, simpler, more familiar Kate.

Ironically, the use of two middle names is a bit of a growing trend (perhaps in direct correlation with the steadily lowering birth rate in developed countries – less kids means less opportunities to use names you like or wish to use in honour of family and friends). It’s something I’ve considered I’ll likely do when I have kids of my own, but more from a brokerage standpoint with future hubby, so we’d both have a chance to put names on the birth certificate without worrying about compromise apart from the all-important first name (or name the kid will be known as). I don’t plan on having more than two, unless I’m financially able (and emotionally prepared) to adopt and have a full house, so I will also be looking for ways to honour as many people as possible while still trying to keep the name within the limits of government forms.

Alternately, there are plenty of people out there who eschew the middle name entirely. For some, it’s cultural, for others it’s based on simplicity, and for some, like Mariah (no middle name) Carey and her daughter Monroe (no middle name) Cannon, it’s family tradition.

Personally, I don’t think it matters how many names you use, but what do you think? Did Uma go overboard? Where do you stand on name volume?

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§ 4 Responses to How Many Names is Too Many?

  • I voted for Moroccan Cannon as well, for the same reason you did!

    People can have as many as they want, but as forms rarely give you space for more than one middle name, anything after that starts to look slightly redundant.

    Two middle names is a fairly long tradition in Australia – at least for men. The idea usually is that the person will go by one of their middle names rather than the first one, which is usually after dad or granddad or something.

    I’ve heard several Australian men state quite firmly that every single name on the birth certificate MUST be something credible that the child can use as their official name – they are quite against the trend to throw in something whimsical like Rainbow or Lark or Seven into the mix.

    The Australian method is to go for something like Robert Walter Charles, so that the child can be Robert, Walter or Charles as he pleases (or as the parents please), with nickname options for each of the names, so he can also be Robbie, Bobby, Bob, Walt, Wally, Charlie or Chaz.

    At least one of the three names will be honouring a relative, usually a grandparent.

    • I would say that holds somewhat true here, too – in a lot of ways, the whole point of loading a birth certificate with a bunch of names is so you can honour family/friends.

      Otherwise I’d have to wonder what the point is – attention? In the end, the kid is known by one name (generally) anyway, so all those extra names are just filler if they don’t mean something…but I am and always will be a huge supporter of picking a name that means something to the parents :)

      • I guess besides honouring people (although I imagine the more names you stick in, the less honour it is for the honouree) it’s to give more naming options.

        But if the extra names are just random cool things you happen to think of, then it does seem a bit pointless.

  • jiinxsay says:

    I have a somewhat unpopular view on this subject. Although all my 6 children have only one middle name, I am i the midst of changing MY name, something I’ve been wanting to do for over 30 years. As I work on my new name, I find myself having to pare down the middles…yes, there are much to many!! I agree, and yet I’m having the most difficult time trying to choose which ones can be left behind.
    So I agree with all of you gals, I’m just commenting on my adult self and the quandry I am in. I hope that no one judges me for it.

    I also have a question as to how to “Join” wordpress sites. I hit “follow”, put in my email, then I never get an email. I have joined many of the well known sites, the ones that y’all put on Blogrolls. I just want to join. please help.

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