Thank you for this super article about “What’s in a name?” Super for the richness of the examples and the solidity of the science behind the key insights. It is most interesting, and sometimes humorous, to read of the bizarre names that parents have given to their children, especially in the USA.
I believe that a name has a great impact on a child’s self-image. My great-aunt Kathleen used to address me as “Peter, the rock!” with a pleased smile and so as a 7-year-old I felt I was strong like a rock, trustworthy, tough, etc. This stood me in good stead when at school I was often physically smaller than the other boys. I was amazed when as a seasoned World Bank official working in Malawi at the age of 43 I was greeted by my IMF counterpart with the words, “You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build…” This time I smiled; so, you’ve read me correctly, I thought.
In France in the 19th century there were tight restrictions on naming. Essentially one had to use biblical names or the names of French royalty. Hence the common double-barreled names such as Jean-Francois, in the strive for variety.
Inappropriate names that cause children distress are often given by parents thoughtlessly or with deliberate cruelty. I would support New Zealand’s approach of outlawing names that would harm a child’s emotional well-being and social development.
Thank you for a fine piece about naming.
Peter_G_Moll - 2022 03 26