Jacqueline Oud - Culture

What is in a name?

It’s all in the name

We all have our name and this as from our birth. Whether we were given the name like Maria, John, Karin, Sven or Jacqueline or many of the other many possibilities, it will stick with us for the rest of our lives. As some say, it is all in a name, but finding the right name is not always easy.

A name is cultural and a kind of heritage. It is also a reflexion of fashion and social standing. Being called Jean-Charles or Bill is not "reflecting the same type of person" whether we like it or not. Unfortunately a name is often influenced by fashion and has made us see quite some: Brandon, Dylan [1], Rose [2], and probably soon "Britney".

Fashion in names

But this is all still quite normal. How about the following information I read on the latest trends in the names of the newborns in the United States: the names of companies are en-vogue. It appears that Microsoft, Chanel and Renault are trendy names for newborn babies. Choosing these names seems to be legal too: a trademark cannot be protected when applied on a person, so said my source.

I don’t have a full proof whether this is really happening but I wouldn’t like to have a name which is a company name. Well, maybe it is a sign of the times and we can no longer dream of names like Scheherazade or Alexander. Anyway it might be a burden to carry, what if there is a stock exchange krach or if any strikes start in the company?

Looking for sameness, even in names

We can notice the contrary too. According to an article in the New York Times recently, in Denmark there is no way of choosing a too original name for your newborn. The government calls it its duty to avoid a special burden to a child due to a name. The Danes favour rather the more common names as it corresponds with their culture of "sameness" and are, unlike the Latin part of Europe, less attracted by "frivolousness". People will have to choose a name out from an official list. Should anyone prefer a different name, it should be proposed to the local parish church but has a large chance of being rejected.

It is all based on a rather old law that aimed to avoid problems. Nevertheless, today the Danes have to face a list of about 11.000 "authorised" names. Besides, in a country of which most of us think that everything is possible, it seems that only recently some more Islamic names have been added in the register.

Choose where you want to live

According to the type of name you would like to give to your future newborns, it might be wise to verify in your country if all is possible and what are the local rules. For people from a different culture it may become a tough life in Denmark. Think about the Asian names that are far from easy to Europeans.

The Danes might not accept Scheherazade, and probably don’t even think about Chanel. And... I didn’t even mention the fact that is often a tradition to give about 2 or 3 names .... should the land of dreams and of possibilities be the United States after all?

More info:
Access the full article on the New York Times

[1as a result of the series Beverly Hills 90210

[2we are coming back to the more natural style

[13 October 2004]


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