On the naming of Children
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4148335.stm
Today (Or rather, as I'm up quite late, yesterday) the list of the most popular names given to new-born babies was released. The big noise was that the UK has a Muslim population significant enough to get Mohammed into the top 20. But this is not what I want to talk about.
The top boys' name is Jack, as it has been for several years. Among the top 10 for girls is Katie.
I think names are very important. They give a first impression. There are certain names that might be considered "lower class", and thus if you heard that name you would expect the bearer to be from that stratum of society. Similarly, there are "upper class" or "posh" names.
Names can be more subtle, and some names have a variety of shortenings. Each of these, and their spellings give different effects. For example, a former girlfriend of mine was called Nicola. She went by the name Nicky, but not Nikki. It is therefore quite useful to have name which can be shortened, as you can then use your name in different ways to give a different impression. Many people know me as Andy, but if I generally call myself Andrew, and certainly would do for say, a job application.
However, the thousands of people called Jack and Katie don't have this option, and are stuck with one name. I reckon this is largely because people these days don't realise "Jack" is a diminutive of "John". I say give your children a full name. They can become a Jack later if they wish.
The BBC has a picture series of famous Jacks. The first, Jack Nicholson, was born John. Jack Charlton was originally Jackie. Jack Straw's first two names are Jack John, which is a little unusual, but he could get away with being John if he wanted. Jack Kerouac's real name was Jean-Louis. Jack Lemmon's given name was John. Jack White is really a John. Jack Black's real name is, apparently, Thomas. That's at least 7/10 (Not including Mr Straw, and I couldn't find out about Jack Dee) who aren't actually Jack. You see my point – all these new Jacks can never be John. The same goes for Katie – and Katherine is such a beautiful name, too.
Diminutives aside, counting Jack as John, 7 from the top 10 male names are biblical (If anyone knows a bibilical Oliver or William, let me know). That's pretty good going for traditional names. So if all these biblical names are good enough, what's wrong with John? And whatever happened to Andrew, anyway?
One last musing – Nathan has survived as a name, Solomon less so admittedly, but even so – where are all the Zadoks?!