what’s in a name?

First: A couple names I found on some “Crazy-Ass Names with which Celebrities Have Cursed Their Offspring” list that I actually (kinda-sorta) like.
Harlow. Saffron. Sailor. Story.

I think they’re all girls, but I could be very, very wrong… which brings me to my next point:

Sometimes I wonder why people begin to associate certain names with one gender or another, especially names that (seem to be) created by stringing together a few pleasant-sounding* syllables. Say I told you that I had a friend named Jayleen. You’d probably say something like “Oh, how do you know her?” without giving it a second thought. The suffix -leen is, in my particular cultural circle, traditionally feminine. If I corrected you and said, “Actually, he and I share a parole officer,” you’d be taken aback. For several reasons.

But it’s not always so clear. There seems to be some sort of Naming Trend lately involving the suffix -den. Right now, I know children named Jayden, Jaden, Caden, Kayden, Hayden, Aiden, Braeden and Raden (see also: Future Names For My Sextuplets).**
Pop quiz: how many of these are boy-children? How many are little girls?
Could go either way, right? I mean, technically. Connotatively, we know people with these names and we automatically make assumptions: Duh!  A Jaden/Jayden is a boy, because that’s the name two of my friends have given their sons. But if my friends had  little girls named Jayden, would my Duh! would be different? I’m not sure.

Then there’s that whole thing about names that used to be for one gender, but have been appropriated by the other. A boy named Ashley nowadays? It must be a) a family name or b) the result of his mother’s displaced anger.

I almost typed “These are just my observations, I don’t have an opinion – good or bad.” But what if little Saffron from my opening paragraph turns out to be a little boy, after I assumed he was a she? I guess that’s some sort of opinion, right?

Even if that opinion is “Your mama is cray-cray, son.”

*Sometimes pleasant. Sometimes.

**Okay, I don’t know a Hayden personally; I know one who is a friend-of-a-friend. Oh! And Hayden Pannettenette–whatever. That girl. The cheerleader.


One thought on “what’s in a name?

  1. Carynn says:

    I would like to second every thing in this article.

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