A couple weeks ago, Stephen posted an article with a really funny video about names. This morning as we walked to the SkyTrain en route to work, we stopped for coffee and had another humorous name-related experience that got me to thinking about how parents name their children and also the way that many foreign names translate into english.

I think naming a child would be challenge enough just trying to consider your own native language & culture, let alone trying to think about what that name might mean in forgein languages, etc…- and I’ve got to tell you that sometimes I think parents just fail miserably in this. Here are a few funny name stories that I’ve come across in my life & travels- some due to absent-minded parents and others due to cultural differences:

  • Richard Dick.
    • I was about 13 years old, sitting in church and reading the program of who was speaking and saw that we had a guest from another ward named Richard Dick, who was going to sing us a song. I can’t imagine what his parents were thinking when they named him Richard. Dick Dick? Why? I mean, I like Dick as much as anyone but that’s a bit of overkill in my opinion.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to India and the Philippines a number of times for work and encountered some very interesting names. Now, let me be clear that I’m not talking about “interesting” in the sense that they aren’t part of the english language- I think cultural names are fantastic (sincerely). The ones I find interesting are the ones that have been taken from the english language or that inadvertently have an english connotation:

  • Anal
    • Now, when WE read that word, we read it as anal… like the sex. In India, however, it reads “Ah-nal”. That’s all well and good, except that this person was an agent sending emails out in response to customer questions in the US- and his emails were signed “Anal”. That email better be packed with good news if it’s going to be signed “Sincerely, Anal.”
  • Perpetual
    • Not nearly as funny as “Anal”- but I thought it was worth mentioning. I asked about this name and was told that it’s not uncommon for parents to come in contact with some sort of english document, movie, etc… and hear a word they like and use it to name their child. I have no idea if that’s true or not- but it would explain why their daughter was named Perpetual.
  • Rong
    • This is the name that Stephen and I encountered at Starbucks this morning. Now, clearly not spelled “wrong”, but it’s still kind of the same thing. What a negative name to have to carry around with you everywhere you go. “Wrong! You made my coffee wrong again, Rong!”- I dunno, maybe I’m wrong, but Rong seems like the wrong choice for a name if you want them to grow up feeling right.
  • Ass
    • This was a last name that I encountered while in the Philippines- and to prove it, here’s a picture of me outside their store. I asked the locals what it was all about and they said “‘Ass’ is their last name…”- I couldn’t help but laugh. Picture me riding down the streets of Cebu and passing that store- I totally freaked. “OMG- STOP THE CAR!” A gay man standing in front of The Ass Store. Really? I mean, REALLY?
The Ass Store in Cebu, Philippines

At any rate, names can be tricky things at best. It seems people are always talking about how to find a name that’s tease-proof for their kids… even though everybody knows that’s basically impossible. Still- try and give your kids a bit of a head start by not making it TOO easy.