Monday, 7 November 2011

Are We in a Bubble?

 http://www.abfar.co.uk/gh_imgs/gh.jpg

Usually I would be doing a Name in the Spotlight post right now, but a question I was asked yesterday changed my posting schedule slightly.

So, a while back, I decided I was bored (I had just finished my degree and was still in lazy student mode) and started dabbling with youtube. I uploaded a few videos on names before I decided that youtube didn't lend itself well to my opinionated nature. I saw no reason to take the videos down, but youtube is a funny place with wonderfuly strange people.

Someone left a comment asking me if the names I had listed were 'baby names or just names?'. I was confused. Aren't names primarily used to name babies? Were they making a joke, or criticising the names? Did I just completely misunderstand this person's question?

I thought about it for a while, trying to see every side. Finally, I decided it had to be the names that posed the problem. After all, another youtuber had left a comment, on the same video, that if someone gave a certain name to their child, they should be shot and burned (a rather dramatic reaction, in my opinion).

Perhaps I should go back a step and give some more background information. The names I chose to use for that particular video had been taken from the books of Georgette Heyer. Heyer started writing historical romances, most set in the Regency Era, during the 1920s. As a lover of all things Regency, I adore both her books and the names she gave her characters. I didn't think they were too 'out there'; I actually thought they were pretty tame. I've included the names in question below.

Adela
Almeria
Amabel
Annis
Arabella
Aurelia
Cassandra
Cecilia
Charis
Charity
Corisande
Cressy
Deborah
Elinor
Frederica
Gussie
Harriet
Hero
Juana
Leonie
Letitia
Lucilla
Lydia
Kitty
Marianne
Minerva
Penelope
Selina
Valeria
Venetia

Surely the names are not so outrageous. I've lost count of how many Deborahs I've met. I went to school with a Harriet and with a Penelope. Adela is only one letter away from Adele, the name of the singer topping the charts all over the world. Ivanka Trump named her daughter Arabella and Myleene Klass named her daughter Hero. Currently, there is a Kitty on the British X Factor. I could go on...

I do understand that Gussie or Cressy are not usually heard around the playground, but are they so different that people would be taken back by them? They are quirky choices for sure, but not ones that would make me cringe. Then again, I know a child called Honey Buzz, so nothing seems so bad anymore. But there may be more at play here.

On my journey to work, I alternate between reading the news and reading various name blogs. I try to do a post a day, I do research for said posts, and in general seem to spend far too much time thinking about names. Has all this exposure made me less able to distinguish a good name from a bad one? Would someone who was not part of the name blog world like Elowen, or Hypatia, or Etienne, or Peregrine? Are we just too fascinated by the weird and wonderful names we read about to notice that they have no place in the real world? We all have our tastes, but have they been dramatically changed by what we read in name blogs?

I would like to think that my tastes have remained very much the same, but I can't be certain. A few years ago I might have thought me crazy that two of my favourite boy names are Hart and Bertram. I'm starting to think that youtuber was on to something... whatever that may have been.

Image: Photograph of Georgette Heyer.