The spelling of a name is really important. Sometimes you can give the name an air of importance or an
exotic touch by just changing one or two letters. You can adjust a name according to your own wishes:
Cindy becomes Cindie or Cyndi, Wendy is turned into Wendi and John becomes Johnn. Some parents
prefer a phonetic spelling: Clair (Claire) or Deric (Derrick). However, you can also maim a good name in
The American psychologists Mehrabian and Piercy posed the question: Do unconventionally spelled first names provoke the same responses as their traditional counterparts? (see: Mehrabian, A. & Piercy, M. (1993).
Positive or negative connotations of unconventionally and conventionally spelled names. Journal of Social
Psychology, 133, 445-451). They gave a group of test subjects a list with traditionally and unconventionally spelled names (Linda and Lynda, for instance) and asked them to indicate what personal traits fit the
various names. The subjects had to imagine to what degree a person with that name would be successful. Would he or she be a person of principle, popular, warm, cheerful, masculine of feminine? What was
the result? People whose names were spelled in an unconventional way were considered to be less successful,
to have less principles and to be less popular, warm and cheerful than those with a name that was
traditionally spelled. They were seen as less masculine or feminine also.
Some names are so long and complicated that children have trouble spelling their own name. If a girl’s name is Wilhelmina, for instance, her siblings might have a hard time saying her name. It’s not unlikely that this will soon turn into ‘Meen’ or ‘Mean’ and that can’t be what the goal was in choosing it in the first place.
It’s very common for brothers and sisters to come up with nicknames that might remain in use
within the family for years and years. So, pick a name that’s easy to pronounce for the other kids.
Also, see if the combination of the names of your children sounds good. For example, brothers named Tate and Todd might be referred to as “Tate or Todd”, and teased about “Tater Tots”, which is a popular potato fast-food product. Soon, brothers named in this manner may lose their identity and be consistently teased by children shouting: “Here comes our favorite side dish!!”
A name that’s difficult to spell can also cause problems when it comes to issuing documents.
That’s what happened to a boy from Alabama who wanted to emigrate to Australia. In the end everything turned out all right, but as a result of problems surrounding the spelling of his first name it took a lot of time
and effort. What happened in this instance?
The Australian authorities didn’t accept his
emigration documents because his first name
was misspelled. The American embassy had put
‘Lafaet’ as his first name instead of ‘Lafayette’,
(a reference to his mother’s former French
life partner.) After a year of waiting and researching
he finally managed to find out what was wrong and
he was able to fulfill his dream after all. If only his
name had been Jim...
When it comes to a complicated and hard-to-spell name, it isn’t easy for a child to explain how
it should be spelled all the time. It can be agonizing to see each new teacher struggling to write
the name on the blackboard. In short: find a name for your child that you can actually spell if
you hear it. That causes a lot less confusion when it comes to paperwork, too.
If you’re not sure whether a name is easy enough to spell, read out a list of names to your
family or friends and ask them to spell the names. By giving them more than one name to
spell, you won’t have to give away what name you’re thinking of if you don’t want to.
“When I was pregnant, I read a newspaper article concerning a young African woman who was struggling
to change the plight of homeless children in her country. Her name was Bariya. The story touched me
deeply and in her honor I have named my daughter, who was born shortly afterwards, Bariya.
I don’t regret it one bit but realize that her name might give her trouble later when she goes to school.”
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