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May 25, 2004



I think you're probably right. Look at rock stars' kids' names. The only outrageous ones I can think of for boys are Zowie Bowie, Rolan Bolan and Dweezil Zappa (and the last two aren't so outrageous, sounding fairly close to Roland and Denzil respectively). Whereas we have Apple Martin, the Geldof daughters (Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom or whatever), Moon Unit Zappa...Also, girl's names often come in series, e.g. abstract nouns (Hope, Joy, Felicity...), flowers or precious stones. When you have Ruby and Jade, it's not such a stretch to come up with Sapphire or Topaz. Any name that ends in an 'a' sounds plausibly feminine too.

However, because many surnames are derived from masculine forenames, boys can fall victim to the opposite extreme: underimaginative parents. I'm thinking of the "Humbert Humbert" type of moniker. There was a kid in our year at school called Steven Stevens, for instance. David Davis, Sirhan Sirhan (sp?), what were their parents thinking of?

Frank McGahon

There's an Irish architect who was studying at Bolton Street while I was at UCD in the late 1980s called Brian O'Brien.

I think that parents aren't wholly rational when choosing names, sometimes the euphoria, or at least fluctuating moods, can have contrasting effects. One is the choice of fantastical names, the other is that everything, even the most prosaicly dull unimaginative name acquires some sort of ersatz beauty, at least to the doting parent.

Frank McGahon

Also: Even Zowie is less crazy than it looks, apparently he goes by the similarly sounding "Joe" now.

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