What’s in a name? (HLD 136)

5 Aug 2020

I read recently an article in the paper – there was a long story about the family bereavements and unborn child etc but apart from the sad story the thing that stood out for me is that the unborn female child when it was born was named Duste.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggested it is pronounced Dusty, not Dust. (Maybe Dustay??? Who knows?) There was a reason given in the article for the name of the child – all very significant and poignant. But I suggest is not something the child is going to recite to everyone over the next 20 years or so as people query her name.

Popular names for children often follow what’s fashionable, or who is in the news for whatever reason. There are of course some people in the news you wouldn’t name your child after.

And there’s always people who like to name their children a normal sounding name but with a different spelling. Many many years ago I worked as an assistant at a kindergarten in Karratha. In one year we had a Benjamin, a Benjiman, and a Benjamen. Fortunately they were all pronounced the same way and if we had to write something down about them I’m sure we just wrote Ben.

Even my sister is a Bethenie, when the world is full of Bethany’s and Bethanie’s. Luckily I have never met anyone with an alternate spelling of Heather.

There’s phases that we seem to go through also with “old fashioned” names regaining popularity. Living next door to a daycare, I often listen for what names are being called out to stop doing whatever to whomever. Your Elizabeth’s, Margaret’s and Esther’s seem to be as likely to get into trouble as your Cassiopeia’s , Bexley’s and Revel’s. Actually – I’m not convinced Bexley is a girl, now that I think of it. I’ll eavesdrop a bit more and get back to you in that one.

Some peoples’ names, however, become a matter for broad public discussion.

I would like to sincerely apologise on behalf of the Australian people to anyone who goes by the name of Karen.

Your name has been appropriated to use as a generic term to describe anyone who is liable to annoy everyone else. According to social media, “A Karen” is a woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others.

I make a very strong distinction between A Karen, and anyone who happens to be named Karen. I know many nice Karen’s, and I haven’t seen any of them bleating about their civil or constitutional – nay – HUMAN rights when asked to wear a face mask in a hardware store, for example.

I live in fear that someone will find out the most common actual name of these Karen’s, and find out they’re all Heather’s. I will then have to come up with an alias at the coffee shop. Hector, maybe.

So if you’re a Karen by birth, do you give a different name when ordering a coffee at the moment? So that every head in the shop doesn’t turn and stare at you when the barista calls to let you know your half strength oatmilk cappuccino with low fat chocolate sprinkles is ready????

(Hang on – I’d turn and look if I heard that order called out anyway!)

Maybe my friends could also suggest some other names to avoid using at the moment?

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