David Mitchell's take on unique names

http://www.youtube.com/user/davidmitchellsoapbox#p/u/1/Xblh12XgQ4o

It might be contrary to the nameberry way in places – I think some of the most loved berry choices would be frowned upon by Mr. [name]Mitchell[/name] – but I thought it made two interesting points that I do agree with. One, choosing a name simply because it is unique, and neglecting how it sounds or works on a person or what it means to you or what cultural connotations it might have in the country you are living in, is a bit daft and pointless. I say this as a person whose favourite names have not been used in my province in at least ten years, and probably ever – but they aren’t my favourites because of that, which I think makes a difference. I should say that I interpret the unique name trend to include unique spellings of conventional names, which I know most of us don’t like.

Two – though names do seem to impact peoples lives (in terms of how they are perceived by others, getting jobs, etc), as long as it is a name that isn’t embarrassingly clunky, it’ll do just fine, and if it doesn’t, people can come up with new spins on anything. ([name]Richard[/name] -> [name]Ringo[/name], for example). I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t strive to find a name we love for our children, far-off future children, or characters, because if you can find a perfect name, why not look? I just think it can be important to remember that [name]John[/name], [name]Paul[/name], and [name]George[/name] got on in life just fine as well, especially when expectant parents are overstressing themselves about things. I totally understand stressing, but it might do us all well to remember that little [name]Violet[/name] will probably be just as happy as little [name]Mabel[/name].

What do you think? I really don’t expect everyone to agree with me OR [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name], but I did think it was an interesting starting point for a discussion, at the very least.

First off… I really like [name]Basil[/name], which was on the cot next to him!
He must have a good point as ‘[name]David[/name]’ is one of the most normal names I could think of. If it doesn’t bother him then maybe it won’t bother anyone else, though I expect I would get annoyed with having loads of other people having the same name as me.
My parents went down the original and quirky route when trying to think of names for me and my two sisters ([name]Iona[/name] [name]Kai[/name] and Sorsha), and although I hate having my name, being constantly scared about what admissions tutors of universities will think of such a name, none of us have actually come accross any problems from having unusual names either. But let’s just say I’m glad none of us were boys. My mum rather liked [name]Merlin[/name] for me, though she and Dad settled on [name]Rohan[/name] ([name]Lord[/name] of the Rings reference) in the end, and the choices for [name]Iona[/name] and Sorsha were [name]Thorin[/name] and Aragorn (more Tolkein!).
I think the thing with classic, maybe boring, names is that there are so many people with those names that people can’t form real preconceptions, rather like [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name] says. My name was still quite new when it was chosen but now it has connotations, and the [name]Lord[/name] of the Rings was nowhere near as popular as it is now, so people would now have a knowledge of the characters. Unusual names seem much more subject to cultural changes.
Good topic!

He makes some good points, but I have to say that even the top ten names have their own connotations. My extremely popular name says I am a late twenties or early 30’s woman from a middle class suburb. ( and I am pretty, but otherwise unremarkable) [name]Will[/name] [name]Isabella[/name] go from being a regal, royal name to a girl next door name?

I have no idea who this guy is, or why what he thinks should make a difference to anyone. He seems to be a glorified troll. Are his rants supposed to be funny? I think I’ll take the advice of someone who owns more than one shirt.

He’s a British comedian.

He’s a comedian. It’s basically what he does :lol: If you were to watch any TV show he’s been a guest on, I can guarantee you that he will break out in a little rant :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the actual rant. I found it to be quite funny, actually. He also seemed to make sense. A child can be very unique, without a name that point’s it out. He’s also right about people getting used to names! I’m so used to my name, it’s like white noise! I never even think about it anymore. But, I disagree, names are important. If names aren’t important, why have we got names?

I do agree to NEVER name your child [name]Sunshine[/name] or Snowflake :lol:

I thought it was pretty funny… “Space Vixen”… :D. And I do pretty much agree with what he’s saying. While I, like many other people on nameberry, am often attracted to more whimsical name choices, I think there is often a sense of self-consciousness behind choosing an unusual name. Not to offend anyone, but I do sort of cringe when I read people on here who will purposely avoid anything in the top 100 (or even top 1000), and if/when the time comes that I have the opportunity to name a child, I will look at my choices and think, “do I like this because it’s actually a good, likable name, or do I like it because I know I’ll be the only one around to consider it?”

Another thing I liked is how he said that of COURSE your child is unique, everyone is. While your baby will surely grow to be a special person, you can only hope the best for him and not assume that he’s set to become a billionaire music prodigy or something, which is why you should seriously consider whether your child is likely to live up to the connotations the name has.

Yeah, [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name] appears quite frequently on British panel shows and sit coms, etc, so it is kind of his job to be cross and ranty at people.

@bootsie: that’s one of the main things I think almost all parents need to be reminded of, that your child is unique regardless of whether they’re [name]Paul[/name] or Pomeline or whatever. It isn’t a competition, lol. And I know what you mean about cringing when people have the sole requirement of not being in the top 1000 (not that I am saying other people can’t do as they wish). Actually all I can ever think in those circumstances is “what if that name is used in a book that’s published tomorrow and then everyone uses it, like [name]Isabella[/name]?” Life isn’t that predictable – personally I’d rather choose a name I loved that was wearable in real life than just try to beat the trends.

@woodensandles: I agree that even the top ten names have their connotations – particularily “this person is an 80s middle class baby” and things like that – but I suspect they aren’t quite as strong or perhaps as inclined to be terrible. Like I saw someone considering the name [name]Dahlia[/name] and a lot of people were reminded of The [name]Black[/name] [name]Dahlia[/name] since that’s the only time they’ve heard it, whereas if I think of [name]Jennifer[/name] it’s just “that person is probably in their thirties.” I guess that’s sort of like what amber94 was saying about her and her brother’s names.

@cnk-tdcc I think names are important, but that they aren’t a determining factor in a person’s life. A name is basically just a word, after all. Like we call a particular kind of red/green/yellow fruit that grows on trees an apple, but it would still be the same thing if it were called an orange instead. Although in some cases I think the name can influence the person, especially if other people have a bad perception of the name (like most of us, however unintentionally, might take an [name]Elizabeth[/name] more seriously than a Tyffanii). But that’s sort of like the thing [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name] mentions about people called [name]Tarquin[/name].

Thanks for explaining who he is. It makes a bit more sense now that I know he’s trying to be funny, but I didn’t think he was very funny, on the name video or the other one I watched.

Anyway, I think his assumption of people wanting unique names to show how unique their children are is wrong. I want a unique name because my last name is very common, and I want to avoid identity issues. I have a co-worker with an extremely common first and last name, and he told me a story about how he was once detained by police at a traffic stop because there was a man wanted for a serious crime who shared his exact name! I also do genealogy, and I know from that how hard it is to research certain people due to their common names. If I still had my Lithuanian name that I didn’t share with more than a dozen people in the U.S., I’d probably be looking for a common name to balance that out, but since I now share my last name with a large number of people, I’m looking for something more unusual. My first name is not very common (it wasn’t in the top 1000 when I was born, and is only in the 600s now), but with my new common last name, my friends have told me how hard it was to find me on facebook because there are over 80 people on there who share my name (and that’s not counting the spelling variations!).

I’ve never been much of a [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name] fan, but he does make some valid points, as pp’s have mentioned.

The going out of your way to give your child a unique name is counterproductive in my opinion. Although, as bootsie mentioned, I too am more attracted to whimsical names–but I agree with [name]Mitchell[/name] that there should be a healthy level of ‘will this be burdensome’ when you’re considering the hundreds of thousands of introductions your child will have in their lifetime.

Generally though, I wouldn’t say that a girl name [name]Lavender[/name] is going to have more difficulty in life than a girl named [name]Sarah[/name]. I think the key to unique names is that they’re unique, not youneek.

I’ve never been much of a [name]David[/name] [name]Mitchell[/name] fan, but he does make some valid points, as pp’s have mentioned.

The going out of your way to give your child a unique name is counterproductive in my opinion. Although, as bootsie mentioned, I too am more attracted to whimsical names–but I agree with [name]Mitchell[/name] that there should be a healthy level of ‘will this be burdensome’ when you’re considering the hundreds of thousands of introductions your child will have in their lifetime.

Generally though, I wouldn’t say that a girl name [name]Lavender[/name] is going to have more difficulty in life than a girl named [name]Sarah[/name]. I think the key to unique names is that they’re unique, not youneek.