THE NAME OF THE GAME

Baby on the way? The nam­ing­day clock is tick­ing

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

One of the first things you'll be asked by coo­ing friends is, “Have you cho­sen a name?” Even though you may say some­thing heroic about wait­ing to meet the baby first, chances are, names have crossed your mind. Whether you’ve come up with a list or just had a fleet­ing thought that you don’t want to name your child af­ter that kid at school, you’ve recog­nised the name you give your child is ex­cep­tion­ally im­por­tant. This was demon­strated by a re­cent, no­table birth. When the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge an­nounced their third child, a boy, would be called Louis there were a few raised eye­brows. Pro­nounced ‘Lu-ee’, mean­ing ‘renowned war­rior’, it has been sug­gested the choice is a trib­ute to Prince Phillip’s Grand­fa­ther, Prince Louis Alexan­der of Bat­ten­berg, and a nod to Earl Louis Mount­bat­ten. The name is also French – at a time when Bri­tain is poised to break from the Eu­ro­pean Union. Bri­tish TV pre­sen­ter Piers Morgan was one of the first to tweet that the Royal cou­ple were show­ing de­fi­ance to­ward Brexit, and the French Em­bassy in Lon­don con­grat­u­lated the Roy­als on choos­ing a tra­di­tional French name. Whether a po­lit­i­cal poke or an ac­ci­den­tal agenda, it brings to light the fact that baby names should be care­fully con­sid­ered.

KNOW THE RULES

In 1995, leg­is­la­tion was laid down to help pro­tect chil­dren from hav­ing a trou­ble­some name, and to pro­tect cer­tain sta­tus la­bels, such as 'King' or 'Con­sta­ble' be­ing mis­used. The rules state a name should not be too long, cause of­fence or re­sem­ble an of­fi­cial ti­tle. No Duke, Prince or Sir in New Zealand. And be­fore you get wor­ried about the med­dling state, a quick look at the list of names re­jected by the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs over the last 20 years demon­strates that some peo­ple need a lit­tle bit of help to get it right. Names ap­pear­ing on the banned list in­clude 'Sex Fruit', 'Fish and Chips' (for twins), V8, .89, the use of brack­ets, any­thing writ­ten in ro­man nu­mer­als and any­thing with a back­slash. While I think it’s a bit of a shame that 'Rogue' is on the list, I don’t un­der­stand why any­one would want to call their child 'Fear'. In 2008, the par­ents of nine-year-old ‘Lula Does The Hula In Hawaii’ lost cus­tody of her af­ter she re­vealed to the court she felt em­bar­rassed by her name and wished to change it. Fam­ily court judge, Rob Muf­fit said, “The court is pro­foundly con­cerned about the very poor judg­ment that this child’s par­ents have shown in choos­ing this name. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a so­cial dis­abil­ity and hand­i­cap, un­nec­es­sar­ily.”

“Jacinda Ardern may have been gifted the name Waru for her baby by the Ra-tana move­ment but pulling out a Hindi or Chi­nese name when you’ve never even vis­ited the coun­try might cause of­fence to some”

The quest for unique

That said, names don’t have to be bor­ing or com­mon. Do you re­ally want to call your child in the play­ground and have ten other kids come run­ning as well? “I didn't want names that ap­pear in the top ten list every year,” says Michelle, mum to Holly, 9, Eli, 6, and Rosie, 2. “I don't have any­thing against those names, I just didn't want my kids to be in a class with sev­eral kids with the same name.” This was so im­por­tant that Michelle and hus­band Si­mon changed their baby name plans for Rosie. “When I was preg­nant with Eli his ‘girl's’ name was Lucy, but by the time we had an­other girl we knew so many lit­tle Lucys that we opted for Rosie in­stead.” In the quest to have a truly unique name you might turn to mythol­ogy, folk­lore or old re­li­gious text – but make sure you’ve done your re­search. “I wanted a fun and un­usual name for my son,” says Em­mie, mum to Lu­cas, six. “We set­tled on Loki, the Norse god of mis­chief. We thought it was cheeky, but when he was just a few weeks old a friend told us Loki was a nasty char­ac­ter, re­spon­si­ble for the death of a god in mythol­ogy. We qui­etly changed his name to Lu­cas.” Anna and Nathaniel were liv­ing in Ja­pan when they had their third son, Boaz, 3. “We wanted some­thing that would work in Ja­panese as well as English,” says Anna. “For ex­am­ple, I quite liked the bi­b­li­cal name One­siu­mus, but the short­en­ing ‘Oni’ means de­mon in Ja­panese!” Hav­ing had a tricky preg­nancy, they chose Boaz which means ‘strength’, which works in Ja­panese and is also quite unique. “Boaz in the Bi­ble also has char­ac­ter­is­tics we’d like our son to em­u­late – he’s hon­ourable, gen­er­ous, proac­tive and protective.”

CUL­TURAL CAP­I­TAL

You may con­sider a name in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage, es­pe­cially if you are from an­other cul­tural back­ground. But be pre­pared for that name to be tricky to pro­nounce. “My name is an old Per­sian name, un­usual even in Iran,” says Pun­teha, jour­nal­ist and mother to 20-month-old Amelia. “Leg­end has it, Pun­teha was a fe­male gen­eral, leader of the ‘Eter­nal Army’ of men. As a child I was al­ways called Punta, and I felt an­gry that my school forcibly changed the pro­nun­ci­a­tion be­cause they didn’t want to say it prop­erly.” Te Rawhina wanted to give her chil­dren Maori names but hav­ing a hard-to-say name her­self, she de­cided on names that were sim­pler. “We have Kiwa, Ata­mai and Aleki, but even they cause prob­lems,” she ex­plains. “Kiwa is of­ten called Kiwi, and once, Quinoa! Aleki is the Ton­gan form of Alex, but Maori peo­ple of­ten hear it as the Maori name Ariki, which can take some ex­plain­ing.” If you choose a cul­tural name, do it sen­si­tively. Jacinda Ardern may have been gifted the name Waru for her baby by the Ra-tana move­ment, but pulling out a Hindi or Chi­nese name when you’ve never vis­ited the coun­try might cause of­fense to some. Gen­er­a­tion gap Con­sider whether your trendy name will be un­der­stood by your gran. “Our four-year-old is called Lyra, which of­ten draws a blank with peo­ple, es­pe­cially the older gen­er­a­tion,” says Tif­fany. “She in­tro­duces her­self proudly to peo­ple who just stare blankly and then look at me for a ‘trans­la­tion’. I have to ex­plain it’s from a book. Her mid­dle name is Rae in honour of her grand­fa­ther Ray­mond, but I worry peo­ple think she’s named af­ter Rey in Star Wars!” Par­ent­ing com­men­ta­tor Emily Writes changed her name as an adult to some­thing short, easy to say and spell. When nam­ing her boys, she stuck to the same rule. “They're called Ed­die and Ron­nie, bo­gan names that peo­ple con­sider to be nick­names,” says Emily. “They’re named af­ter Iron Maiden and Ron­nie James Dio.” Emily says the boys are Ngati Mu­tunga Wharekauri so also have Maori names, Ed­die James Te Hoia and Ron­nie James Te Wai, af­ter their un­cle and great-grand­fa­ther. “I think it’s a beau­ti­ful trib­ute to pay to some­one,” says Emily. “You hope they’ll in­herit the traits of the per­son you love. It hon­ours and re­mem­bers them.” Hon­our­ing a fam­ily mem­ber is all very well, but you have to be prag­matic. If you want to pay trib­ute to Grandpa Dick, per­haps opt for Richard in­stead. If an­other fam­ily mem­ber has al­ready jumped in to use that pre­cious fam­ily name, con­sider us­ing it as a mid­dle name to keep the peace. “My sis­ter used the name Jack and I loved that name,” says Emily. “I was re­ally pissed off ini­tially when she used it, but I was way off be­ing preg­nant so she got in there first. I wouldn't have two cousins named Jack and in the end, my two are very much an Ed­die and a Ron­nie.” What­ever name you de­cide upon, re­mem­ber your child will live with it for­ever.

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