Explain it to a convert: Naming your kids crazy stuff

November 16, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 10:48 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

I can’t get my head around it. Why do Mormons name their kids crazy gibberish words? Or if they go with a normal name, they have to spell it in some insane way that makes no sense? What is up with that? There’s at least one in every ward I’ve ever been in. Is it Cree-L’s fault?

No wonder missionaries all go by Elder and Sister. No one would listen to a guy named Bucket.

48 Comments »

  1. This could be playing into countless stereotypes and mythic history, but perhaps it originates in an earlier day when there were many more children and communities were much more social. Perhaps you didn’t want to call for your daughter or son in the evening to come inside from the group and accidentally call over three kids who might have the same name? “Hey John! Get over here!” might draw more Johns that you wanted and so the practice started: “Hey Cree-L! Get over here!” and it just kinda snowballed past its original purpose.

    Or we’re still a bit hickish and isolationist as a culture when it comes to names.

    Comment by NoCoolName_Tom — November 17, 2009 @ 8:05 am

  2. NCN_Tom: That would make sense except for the cases where phonetically the name is normal, but we spell it insanely (Examples: Paijue, Mathue, Vyquetoriya)

    I mean, seriously, Vyquetoriya? That is child abuse.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 17, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  3. We are hardly the only group that gives crazy names to our children.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 17, 2009 @ 9:37 am

  4. Oh, and is there a reason your stuf isn’t showing up at the MA the last couple of days?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 17, 2009 @ 9:38 am

  5. There is something wrong with our RSS feed right now. We are trying to figure out what it is.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 17, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  6. Answer: people are stupid.

    Comment by Steve Evans — November 17, 2009 @ 10:57 am

  7. Embarrassing, isn’t it? Parents should name their kids nice, normal, common, everyday names (like “Ardis”) and half the world’s problems would evaporate.

    One of my niece’s friends showed up yesterday spelling her name Brytni. If I were saddling a daughter with a geographic name, I’d at least French fry it and call her “Bretagne.”

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — November 17, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  8. Why do Mormons name their kids crazy gibberish words?

    Well I think the explanation is that crazy people do crazy crap. With 13+ million Mormons is the world there are bound to be some crazy Mormons.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 17, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  9. Further to 7: Or maybe I’d call her “EnglishPatella” and tell people that was pronounced “Brytni.”

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — November 17, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  10. I can’t even figure out what Paijue is supposed to be.

    Comment by Ben — November 17, 2009 @ 11:07 am

  11. I think there is an element of western US culture at work, too. Sarah Palin’s kids are named things like Truck and Trig or something.

    Comment by ABH — November 17, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  12. We certainly are not the only group as stated in #3. The African-American group sure are trying to Africanize their names. Now think of the names coming from an African-American Utahan (sp). With the different spellings of names, products, etc, no wonder our kids are getting confused with spelling.

    Comment by Mex — November 17, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  13. Well nothing too crazy in our names. We tried to keep them normal or at least of family origin.

    There was only three debates.

    1. My first boy my wife wanted to name after her grandfather Alma. I felt that it would be hard on him to deal with the non LDS version of the name (being feminine). So we settled on it as a middle name.

    2. My third son is Owain spelt the Welsh way, born in Wales and with ancestors who were Owen (Angicized spelling) so it made sense. Plus one of my historical heroes is Owain Glyndwr.

    3. Our last boy we flirted with using Tecwyn as his first name but we were out of Wales by then so we went with Matthew and Tecwyn as a middle name.

    Not very edgey I will grant you but we did not want to get odd.

    Oh and their are lots of crazy naming in other places believe me. Dave and Victoria Beckhams decision to call a child Brooklyn because that was where the child was conceived comes to mind.

    Comment by JonW — November 17, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  14. of course one of my inlaws named their child after a character in a Dungeons and Dragons novel… so what do you do.

    Comment by JonW — November 17, 2009 @ 11:27 am

  15. I mean, seriously, Vyquetoriya? That is child abuse.

    Absolutely. I was just telling my kids the other day they better not do this to my grandchildren. But honestly, I don’t see this as an LDS problem any more than society at large. I see as many abuses on the rooster at school as I do on the ward list.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 17, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  16. Why do Mormons name their kids crazy gibberish words? Steve Evans said “people are stupid.” That, and many of the moms and dads in Utah/Eastern Idaho are young and immature. So, I would alter Steve’s response and say, “some people are stupid and immature.”

    Comment by Hunter — November 17, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  17. Hey, wait… my brother goes by “Bucket.” It’s not at all the name his parents gave him, but apparently quite a few people do listen to him at lectures on communal living, including at the 2007 John Whitmer Historical Association annual meeting. So I think you need to pick a different example (lol).

    Comment by Coffinberry — November 17, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  18. Dave and Victoria Beckhams decision to call a child Brooklyn because that was where the child was conceived comes to mind.

    Anyone for Upper Darby Lemming?

    Comment by Last Lemming — November 17, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  19. LL, Yea, if people used that naming convention we’d also have more kids named Mustang and Camaro.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 17, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  20. Not all of us have a choice. My son’s name is AlexZander but his birth mother chose us because we let her choose the name. We tried to convince her otherwise but if that was her only stipulation to choosing us as the adoptive couple, we can live with it.

    Comment by Hans — November 17, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  21. Would you prefer that parents get the permission of the government to name their child (as some must in several countries)?

    Strange names = freedom

    Comment by ed42 — November 17, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

  22. ed42, yes, but with great power comes great responsibility.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 17, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  23. Alternate spellings led this guy I know to have his 1st daughter with 7 letters in her preferred name; 2nd daughter had 5 letters; 3rd daughter had 3 letters.

    Comment by mondo cool — November 17, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

  24. I wonder if the crazy names and crazy spellings are a way of giving a unique identity to children who are coming into families full of children and communities full of children. Or perhaps it is just because people are “stupid and immature.”

    It is funny to see this discussion coming from people who go by names like “L-d Sus”, “mondo cool” and worst of all, “Steve Evans.”

    Comment by L-d Sus — November 17, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

  25. Its not just Mormons, dude. Look around you. Society at large does it, too. Its the “every child is a special snowflake” syndrome.

    Comment by anon — November 17, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  26. BTW Matt — I’m sure you’ve heard but not everyone in Utah is Mormon so it is a bit unfair to pin that site on us Mormons. Maybe you could have said “Why do Utahns name their kids crazy gibberish words?” But of course similar lists could be found in every state so even that is a bit unfair. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 17, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

  27. Geoff: The website was just an easy example. As I said in the OP, this odd naming has been a staple of every ward I’ve been in, probably representing at least 5% of those wards. Granted It beats naming all your kids Jennifer, but just don’t be offended when I ask your son E-man where E-ra princess of power is. I think Ben wins out with this being some westerly trend and Steve pegged a food origin for much of it.

    Ardis, sorry my wife said no and our youngest was not named after you. I did try.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 17, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  28. Whose definition of crazy? We’ve got some crazy kids names in the nonmormon population around here. The Mormon ones seem normal to me.

    Comment by jks — November 17, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  29. Thank you for calling attention to this horrible problem! People, please. Please! Do not name your children stupid names. Do not name them normal names with stupid spellings. If you have chosen a really unique, special name for your child, it is almost certainly a stupid name. Don’t do it!

    Comment by E — November 17, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  30. My name is Deb. My brothers married Debbie and Debra. Really—do you think I could do that to the next generation?!

    My sons, with different-but-pronouncable names, each married a woman with a common name, seriously misspelled, and carried that onto their kids. Daughter is seriously dating a boy with an ordinary first name, but he goes by his quite unique middle name.

    It’s not just me.

    Comment by deb — November 17, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  31. Very much a western thing and you guys pegged it at trying to be unique.

    As for African-Americans, I do think the movement away from European names is pretty understandable. Would you name your kids after your oppressors?

    I had a friend who adopted a baby like AlexZander’s; I say, a baby for a name is a pretty good trade. And he can always go by Alex.

    Comment by ESO — November 17, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  32. When I was a student, I had a friend, also a student who worked a surgical tech in a local hospital. One day he came by the apartment and told me someone named their kid Meconium.

    Comment by WVS — November 17, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  33. True story. My wife once delivered a baby whose mother named her Shi’Thead. Fancy getting that one hung around you neck for at least the first 18 years of your life.

    Comment by PaulM — November 17, 2009 @ 9:57 pm

  34. No way PaulM. I’ve heard that story from several sources for years — are you saying your wife was really the nurse in that story?? (How many Shi’Theads could there be out there?)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 17, 2009 @ 10:28 pm

  35. My favorite is a girl I met in college named Ja5ne.

    What is up with that? Of course the “5″ is silent, but really?

    Comment by Paul — November 17, 2009 @ 11:22 pm

  36. At dinner one night, my teenage son announced that he hated his name. I calmly replied that he could chose a name for himself and we would go to the courthouse and make it legal. At first he was stunned, “You can do that?” No only can we, but you didn’t have a say in what you name would be so you can change it now if you’d like. So, his sisters statred giving suggestions.

    “How ’bout after Grandpa: Odin, Frankford, or Archibald.” Death threats ensued.

    More suggestions.
    “Jared”
    “No way. There are like a dozen Jareds at school.”

    “So, you want a unique name?”
    “Yeah”

    “How many kids named Bill are there at school?”
    “Ummm, none.”
    “So you have a unique name. When people at school say ‘Bill’ everyone knows who they mean.”
    “I guess I’ll keep Bill. It’s an OK name.”

    Go ahead, buck the trend. Name your kid something normal. I’ll be unique.

    P.S. I am so thankful that I wasn’t named Frandford after dad.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — November 18, 2009 @ 3:33 am

  37. How ’bout after Grandpa: Odin

    Odin? That’s pretty cool. Around my neck of the woods the conservative types tend to go for old Germanic names like Adelgund and Hildegard.

    Comment by Peter LLC — November 18, 2009 @ 5:51 am

  38. Our children have unique names in that they are Irish (Sinéad, Regan, Aisling, Aoibheann). Trust me, there are very few children with Irish first names and German last names. I am confident, ours is the only Sinéad Siever on the planet despite Sinéad being one of the most popular names in Ireland.

    Comment by Kim Siever — November 18, 2009 @ 6:26 am

  39. Geoff:

    yes, my wife was the delivery nurse and she filled out the application for the birth certificate asking the mother three different times how she wanted to spell the name. My wife suggested dropping the “I” in the spelling but was angrilly rebuffed. She was working at St. John’s Medical Center in STL at the time.

    Comment by PaulM — November 18, 2009 @ 9:18 am

  40. WCA:

    More than once my wife has put Placenta on an application for a birth certificate.

    Comment by PaulM — November 18, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  41. PaulM,

    Awesome. My dad will be thrilled to learn that you are related to the actual nurse in that story. He’s told that story many times over the years.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 18, 2009 @ 9:33 am

  42. My second son is named Shem. The name stuck out to me when I was teaching Old Testament in Institute (otherwise a complete disaster). My wife was not big on it. When I told my sister the name that I had in mind, she said “You cannot name him that, he will get beat up at reccess.” Well, upon hearing that my sister disliked it, my wife became a fan of it real quick.

    He has not gotten beaten up at recess (helps that he is the biggest kid in his class). The University of Utah sweatshirt that he wears to school (in Provo) causes a lot more playground trouble than his name.

    Comment by Chris H. — November 18, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  43. Chris H, does he go by Melchizedek as a nick-name?

    Comment by Jacob J — November 18, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  44. Jacob J, no we do not use Melchizedek, but the section in the institute manual on Shem as Melchizedek is why I liked the name.

    Comment by Chris H. — November 18, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

  45. As a Utahn, my family members names (all boys) go accordingly:

    Riley, Parker, Trey, Seaver (aka “The Beav”).

    Although my wife is fighting me like crazy, I want to name my children “old people names” so that by the time they are in Jr. high all the said old people will be gone and the names will be new again. Example: Frank, Henry, George, Hennessey

    PS – Chris H, your son is a stud.

    Comment by Riley — November 18, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  46. Thanks, Riley. I will let him know of your support.

    Comment by Chris H. — November 18, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

  47. Riley,

    I almost named my kids George, Henry AND/OR Frank. Fight the brave fight, your kids will thank you. But instead my boys are Tom (Henry as middle name) and Walter. But I’m from southern california an since we’re not as righteous as Utahns (sp) perhaps I’ll change their names if we ever move to Utah.

    Comment by riggy — November 24, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

  48. My wife worked in a school where two kids had the names Lil’eddie & Ger’Kyle.

    Comment by Lee — January 11, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

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