About A (Not-So-Bad) Name: Ryker

January 9, 2013 § 7 Comments

Star Trek: TNG's Commander Riker is one of few modern references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Star Trek: TNG‘s Commander Riker is one of few pop culture references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Following my last post regarding name negativity, I’ve decided to take things a step further by going out of my way to highlight the positives in the names singled out in the aforementioned Deadspin article as evidence that American baby names are “getting even worse.”

The Not-So-Bad series of posts will no doubt feature names you’ve probably balked at before, but let’s keep one thing in mind, here. These aren’t hypothetical names, names from books, or lists of interesting choices – these are names that people out there actually wear. Real people. With feelings.

The first one I’ll cover is a name that’s actually been gaining massively in popularity, and isn’t just a unique selection by one adventurous parent. Ryker is, as far as I’m concerned, a true name of the future with a long Low Country heritage. It’s already nearly inside the US Top 300, after beginning it’s climb from 1000 in just 2003. The name Ryan is commonplace and has been for decades. Tucker, Parker, etc. had their biggest moments in the late-90s and early 2000s, and from those trends modern usage of Ryker was born.

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The Politics of Naming Rights

January 5, 2013 § 6 Comments

(c) AP - Blaer Bjarkardottir, 15, is trying to change name laws in her native Iceland.

(c) AP – Blaer Bjarkardottir, 15, (pictured with her mother, Bjork) is trying to change name laws in her native Iceland, and is willing to take her case to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Forgive me, but it’s about to get a little opinionated in here. Much has been discussed online over baby name laws the past few days, and I can’t help but weigh in, of course.

Lou at Mer de Noms led me to this fascinating article about a 15-year-old Icelandic girl named Blaer Bjarkardottir. But, since Blaer isn’t on the list of 1,853 accepted names for girls in her native country, all her government forms list her official name as ‘Sturka’ – which means, simply, “girl.” Her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, picked Icelandic Blaer, which means “light breeze,” inspired by a female Blaer she knew in Iceland in the early 1970s – back when the name had been reportedly acceptable. The priest who baptised Blaer even thought the name acceptable enough, but had to admit his mistake after the fact, negating the legality of the name. Now, Blaer and her mother are suing the Icelandic state for the right to use a name that has a masculine article and was denied by the panel of judges who approve or reject every baby name, or adult name change, in the country. Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, China, and other countries have similar processes, a response to parents who have selected names ranging from Anus to Devil and Number 9 Bus Stop to the @ symbol.

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About A Name: Wynn

January 2, 2013 § 6 Comments

(c) Randy Risling/Toronto Star, January 1, 2013: Casey Laforet and girlfriend Jane Maggs with their son Wynn, whose timeliness, and baby name, are especially notable.

(c) Randy Risling/Toronto Star, Jan. 1, 2013: Casey Laforet and girlfriend Jane Maggs with their son Wynn, whose punctuality, and baby name, are especially notable.

There always has to be a ‘first baby,’ born in every city and celebrated for their timeliness every New Year’s Day. This year, the first baby born in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, was a bit of a celebrity bub (well, I certainly enjoy his father’s music, it’s my thing). Not only was he the first baby born in Toronto, but his timing was so impeccable that he arrived at midnight, to the second.

Casey Laforet is one-third of Ontario-based alt-country indie rock band Elliott Brood (pronounced broad), and his girlfriend, screenwriter Jane Maggs, delivered their son, Wynn Christopher Laforet, at the exact moment the great big ball dropped in New York’s Times Square (yes, even Canadians know it’s a new year when the ball drops. We even watch it on time delay on the west coast). Laforet had to cancel his band’s annual New Year’s Eve gig to get Maggs to the hospital.

The couple chose the name from a book of “Rock N Roll Baby Names” that they received as a gift from Maggs’ sister. And while Wynn isn’t the most obvious rock n’ roll name I’ve ever heard, it certainly fits for the musically inclined. Wynn Stewart, born Winford (his mother, Cleo’s, maiden name), was a 20th Century country music singer-songwriter of the ’50s and ’60s, an early influence on country music legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and alt-country stars from Dwight Yoakum to k.d. lang. Raised primarily in California, Stewart initially balked at the growth of rock n’ roll and his fellow country artists earning crossover success, though by the late-1950s he had stopped fighting the future and released a series of rockabilly singles. But despite making music until his death in 1985, he never achieved mainstream success.

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My Favourite Names of 2012

January 1, 2013 § 10 Comments


I may have failed myself with blogging this year (so many real life changes!) but it’s one of my resolutions for 2013 to be better. Much better. I owe it to myself, because I truly enjoy maintaining this blog. Of little credit to me, my blog’s popularity grew this year with many thanks to the lovely ladies at Nameberry for hosting my political names guest post in the spring, with great appreciation to Abby at Appellation Mountain for highlighting my post on Malala this fall, which proved to be my biggest post of the year, and with ongoing affection for Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda, whose site continues to be my most consistent referral source, links wise, and she is far and away my top commenter. And of course, I’m grateful to each and every one of you who reads, comments, and shares the posts you love. You guys inspire me, full on, and your support is not taken for granted.

To close out 2011, I compiled my favourite names from overall trends of the year, and though I haven’t blogged as much as I should have, I’ve paid attention in 2012. A few of these names earned posts of their own this year, but many didn’t, so bear with me. And you know the drill – please don’t leave without sharing your own favourites from the past twelve months.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and let’s all look forward to a big year of names in 2013. What traditional names will be bestowed upon the royal baby? Will baby Kimye get a K name? Will Biblical boy names make a comeback or fall even further out of favour? So many questions, so bring it on!

This year’s list of names looks nothing like last year’s (well it might, if you’ve read enough of this blog to catch on to the name biases I try not to have):

Koa. I love to travel, but this year I only made it to one place – Hawaii. So it seems fitting that the first name on my 2012 year end list is a Hawaiian name-on-fire. Simple enough to feel familiar, yet exotic enough to stand out, nature name Koa, which sounds like Biblically “unfashionable” Noah, kept trending for boys in 2012. Australian marathon swimmer Ky Hurst welcomed a son named Koa in November.

Aoife. This Irish name, pronounced EE-fah, was bestowed upon the daughter of Irish-born pop singer Una Healy of The Saturdays, and her English rugby star boyfriend Ben Foden in March. It means “beautiful,” and was suggested to the couple by Healy’s father. (Adorable Aoife’s middle name is the Latin name, Belle, which means her parents gave her a name that means “beautiful beauty.”)

I find Irish Gaelic names to be too challenging to use, personally, despite some Irish heritage in my family tree, but this one stood out this year in a crowded pack of selections more easily read by my North American sensibilities. And Healy wasn’t the only celeb to honour her Irish heritage with her baby name – How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan welcomed her second daughter in May, and named her Keeva Jane (an Americanized spelling of Caoimhe). Alternately pronounced Kev-ah, it means “gentle, beautiful beloved,” the feminine form of Kevin.

(more after the jump)

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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.

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Arrow – Name or Not?

November 30, 2012 § 23 Comments

Stephen Amell stars as Arrow on the CW's new hit show.

Stephen Amell stars as Arrow on the CW’s new hit show.

Earlier this week, Las Vegas-based rock musicians Aja Volkman and Dan Reynolds announced the August birth of their daughter, and they named her Arrow Eve. I was intrigued. Unfortunately, in the interview where Aja announced her daughter’s birth, she didn’t explain the name choice, and I wish she had. Certainly, any time a name seems to come from left field, I want to know the story.

And I want to know what you guys think – is this a name of the future, or just another inaccessible celebrity baby name?

Arrow, to be sure, is not a traditional name choice, by a wide margin. But I was struck by its similarity to trendy or traditional selections like Harlow, Arlo, even Aaron or Ari. We know that names that sound like established favourites often rise as viable alternatives to names deemed “too popular.” But perhaps Arrow is too far removed from these other trendy choices. Still, what strikes me most about Arrow is its distinct unisex qualities. While Arrow Eve is a beautiful combination, Arrow would be just as acceptable (or ultimately not) on a baby boy. Indeed, the people of the Internet appear to agree: the majority of online references to the name appear to be for boys.

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About A Name: Malala

October 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

In the past week, no name has trended more than Malala – as in 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, a young Pakistani activist for women’s rights in her native country. Specifically, Yousufzai is a vocal advocate for the rights of Muslim women in Pakistan to receive an education without fear of persecution from the Taliban. Her name began trending worldwide last week, after she was shot in the head by Taliban insurgents on her way to school in Pakistan’s picturesque Swat Valley, and it continues to trend while she fights for her life at a hospital in Birmingham, England.

Young Malala, who at twelve was penning a blog for the BBC and dreams of becoming a doctor, at a young age chose to fight, with words, the very people the world has come to know as terrorists against Judeo-Christianity and femininity. Pakistan awarded her the National Peace Prize last year, when she was just 13. But Malala never seemed like a reluctant hero though she knew the dangers sincerely. At fourteen, I was concerned with boys and boy bands, counting down the years until I could finally leave school behind! I could never, ever hope to have the courage and strength of Malala, for I have never known true struggle – I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth compared to the millions of young women born into societies where people choose not to recognize their human rights so violently.

Malala’s attempted assassination has seemingly awakened a renewed sense of anger towards the Taliban within her native country, but Malala’s story, her impact, and her influence are not yet complete. Today, we dive into a name with little to no popularity beyond the Pakistani-Afghan region west of India, but what a lovely name it is, with such strong and powerful connotations.

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