Giving a child a normal name is already a shady proposition because it is the thing which most identifies him or her as an individual and yet is attached to them before he or she is even born. Woe to the child who has the kind of self-important parents who think that a unique (read: stupid) name reflects how special they believe their child to be. Firstly, chances are the child is not special so they can be safely assigned an ordinary name. Second, as noted, the name has nothing to do with the person and so it is a reflection rather of the parents’ belief in how special they themselves are. Which is to say they are arrogant pricks. A misspelled name is a form of child abuse that ought to be punished by an 8-10 year prison term. Megyn Kelly could easily press charges against her parents or be excused for kicking them both squarely in the gonads. Megan is spelled M-E-G-A-N; M-E-G-Y-N is an ad campaign for do-it-yourself pap smears. In extreme cases, the humiliation a person suffers every day for 18 years listening to people stumble over the pronunciation of “Aimee” is grounds for execution.
Now that you have determined to give your child a standard, properly spelled name, you have to give some thought to their inevitable nickname. Avoid names like Richard, particularly if their last name is anything untoward. Dick Armey is not a person, it is the sort of thing that appears during the end credits of Superbad.
Even standard names are occasionally inappropriate because of the drift of language over time. Passing on a name like “Cummings” is a hate crime against the people of English-speaking countries. Do not make us snicker everytime we have to introduce you; get it changed like a normal person. I imagine the legal proceedings would go something as follows:
Judge: What reason do you have for changing your name?
Mr. Cummings: Because it’s “Cummings.”
Judge: Fair enough. Would you like to have your parents shot while we’re at it?
Mr. Cummings: Yes, yes I would. You’ll have to exhume my father, but I’d like him shot all the same.
It’s true that certain last names are horrid and need not be perpetuated, but no last name really need be. If children always take the last name from one of their parents, the only possibility is that the number of unique last names decreases or stays constant each generation. The common practice of children taking their father’s sir name (sire’s name) ensures that eventually every person on the planet will be Chan with a few Smiths thrown in for good measure requiring a fourth name which some parents have already begun abusing for their own ego’s sake. The children, I mean, they are abusing the children. The politically correct alternative of the hyphenated name is, let’s face it, stupid. Even for one generation it looks stupid, for 4 generations it’s a family tree hanging off the end of your name like a dingleberry. Instead, let us begin the tradition of moving the middle name to the child’s last name. That way we can get some fresh new ones aired out. Or we could bring back the tradition of naming people by their profession. Goodbye Jane Cooper, hello Jane Stripper. Okay, that’s a bad idea actually.