Friday, August 28, 2009

What's in a Name?

Today's post is brought to you by Tone Hoeft. As he writes in his bio, "Tone Hoeft is pursuing his Master’s degree in communications from Eastern Washington University. To find out more about him or his thoughts, visit www.inproximity.org."

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Sure, you may think that Juliet but don’t tell that to Ludwig Wittgenstein.

There’s no better way to start off a guest post then to alienate your audience, and what better way than by making a Shakespeare reference and linguistic philosophy reference in the first two lines? If you’ve already had the gall to keep reading, then I thank you for not tuning me out already. I promise this post won’t be riddled with content this esoteric, but they happened to be the two things that came to mind when I thought about the topic at hand.

Naming a child can be a taxing process. You want to pick a name that has meaning, that is powerful, but yet at the same time is unique and interesting. It seems everyone is trying to jump onto this bandwagon. The top baby names in 2008 for boys were Aiden, Jayden, and Caden (seriously, is this some type of nursery rhyme?). The top names for girls were Sophia, Addison, and Haley. Everyone wants to be unique.

I whole heartedly support unique and interesting names for kids. Not only does it always make for good small talk, but it also helps add to the unique personality of the child. For instance, my name is Tone (pronounced like the musical tone). My whole life I’ve had people comment on how unique and interesting my name is. It also means that I never have to worry about people butchering my last name, because let’s be honest, how many other people named Tone will be in the same place?

I understand then the need for Christians who want to name their children strong biblical names. Not only does it have spiritual reverence, but it contributes to the unique factor as well. However, there comes to be a point where it crosses the line. I recently met a couple who decided to name their child Kohath. Why Kohath? Because it was a unique Bible name. Honestly people, if we are going to choose names from the Bible for our children, then at least let’s make them names we can say. Is it Ko-hath, Koh-ath, K-oh-ath, or Ko-ha-th? The possibilities are unless.

What’s wrong with Josiah? Josiah is a name that is unique, but also has fantastic biblical meaning. You might as well name your kid Nebuchadnezzar. Not only will it guarantee that your child will have no friends, but that he will also get beat up every day at school. Plus what are you going to call the kid for a nickname? Koh? Hathy?

So I must ask, why do people do this? Your child is not the only person affected here. When you do something like that, you make the rest of the Christians in the world look like backwater hicks. It also makes us sound like we have completely lost our minds, which to be honest, if you are naming your kid Kohath, you have no sense of sanity to begin with.

Look, I’ll even leave the Wikipedia link to a full list of names in the Bible here for you. If you insist on naming your kid a biblical name, at least do yourself a favor and look through the list and find one that doesn’t make you sound nuts. I guess this means I can never name my child Obed-edom Upharsin Hoeft. Dang, and it had such a nice ring to it.

I leave you with a limerick based on the top boy names of 2008:

She asked, what kind of name is Jayden?
Why not something more common like Aiden?
You’ll either be lame
Or have massive fame
At least you can make pals with Caden.

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