English | History | Citizenship | PSHE

What to call baby? 1,500 dollars please!

Do names matter? For a fee, Taylor Humphrey, a professional baby namer, will create a bespoke list weighing up the options from Isla to Calliope and Ansel to Balthazar. The woman was in a panic. She had just given birth to a daughter – but what was she to call her? She was partly French and partly Lebanese, but living in the US. How could she possibly find a name that people from all three countries would be OK with? There was only one thing for it: she must hire a baby namer. Fortunately, Taylor Humphrey was able to help. She emailed 50 suggestions. The top one was perfect. The baby became Chloe. Last year Taylor helped name over 100 children. Basic suggestions cost $1,500, but for $10,000 she will come up with a name to go with a parent’s business. Taylor collects names from film credits and street signs. She advises against names associated with terrible events, such as Katrina and Isis. Ten years ago, four-letter names like Ruby were very popular. But Taylor believes that lockdown, which slowed the pace of life, has given people the patience to deal with longer ones such as Theodore. Writers have always recognised the importance of names. The philosopher Roger Scruton gives TS Eliot’s great poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock as an example. The speaker in it is presented as an absurd figure, so his ridiculous name suits him perfectly. Charles Dickens was brilliant at inventing names. His choice of Ebenezer Scrooge for the main character in A Christmas Carol was so inspired that Scrooge has become another word for miser. The problem with names, Scruton explains, is that every human being is different – so each of us should have a unique name, rather than one shared with thousands of others. Unfortunately, people with unusual names tend to get teased. You need a strong character to live with one, as Johnny Cash pointed out in his song A Boy Named Sue. Do names matter? Blaming names Yes: The fact that so many actors adopt stage names is proof that they do. Some people believe in nominative determinism, meaning that someone called Jim Wood is quite likely to become a carpenter.    No: Names cannot possibly express what people are actually like. What matters is personality: a brilliant person with an odd name will always be associated with their name – and give it respectability. Or... Nobody needs to be stuck with a name that they dislike. You can ask your friends to call you by a different one – Roger Scruton was originally called Vernon – or legally change it. KeywordsHumphrey - The name means peaceful warrior.

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