Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Perspective — A Rose By Any Other Name ...

By Rodney Hays

This week as I was perusing the Internet -- The Source of All Truth -- for porn ... er ... I mean news, I ran into a story about baby names.

According to the article I read (or had my assistant read aloud to me), there are eight countries that have pretty strict naming laws when it comes to children. I thought this was very interesting coming from a country where naming laws are pretty much non-existent, especially in Hollywood and the NFL.

In Germany you have to be able to determine the gender of a baby from the name. That means names like Carrie, Jackie, Jordan, Morgan, Alex and Sue.

Okay, so most of the time Sue is a girl's name, but if Johnny Cash can write a song about a Boy Named Sue, then it is possible.

Also in Germany, the office of vital statistics, the Standesanmt, has the final say on whether a name will work or not. You can appeal their decision, but each appeal comes with a fee. And if you continue to lose on appeal, the state names your child Joe Bob.

In 1982, Sweden passed a law to keep regular folks from giving their children noble names.

The story said several changes have been made to the law since then. But "the part of the law referencing first names reads: 'First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name.'"

This is a good rule that we here in America should probably embrace, names that cause offense or discomfort happens far too often here in the United States. A good law like that would prevent children from being named Apple and Onyx and Dick Cheney.

In Japan, one given name and one surname are chosen for babies, except for the imperial family, who only receive given names. This is another good rule for keeping names short and allowing kids to learn to spell their own full names sometime before their 17th birthday.

Denmark has a nice pre-approved list for people to choose from. Parents can choose from a list of only 7,000 pre-approved names, some for girls, some for boys.

"If you want to name your child something that isn't on the list, you have to get special permission from your local church, and the name is then reviewed by governmental officials," the article said.

Your church has to approve the name. Huh? That must be why names like Anus, Pluto and Monkey have all been rejected as names in Denmark.

New Zealand is also on the list of being picky with names.

The article said New Zealand's Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act of 1995 restricts names that "might cause offence to a reasonable person; or [...] is unreasonably long; or without adequate justification, [...] is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank."

Some names have been rejected, of course. A few of those names are: Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Fish and Chips, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy, Sex Fruit, Satan, and Adolf Hitler.

Adolf Hitler is not a name you see much anymore at all. I would venture a guess that most people with the last name Hitler, if there are any, steer clear of Adolf for a first name. I don't think I know anybody with the first name Adolf, unless you count the Coors guy, and I don't know him personally. I also don't know anybody with the last name Hitler, which would be odd with any first name, even Michaelangelo.

The good folks of New Zealand have allowed a few crazy names like Benson and Hedges (for a set of twins), Midnight Chardonnay, Number 16 Bus Shelter and Violence.

China makes choosing a baby name very simple, the name is based on the "ability of computer scanners to read those names on a national identification card," the story said. The government asks parents to use names that are easy to read.

Parents can also not use characters that cannot be represented on the computer keyboard. There are more than 70,000 Chinese characters but only 13,000 can be typed from a computer keyboard.

Okay, how big must Chinese keyboards be to type 13,000 characters? They must take up entire desks in China. Your computer desktop is literally your computer desktop over there.

I like names like former Dallas Maverick great Wang XuXu, current Houston Rocket Yao Ming and Chinese gymnast Dong Fangxiao.

Actually Chinese parents are very good at naming their children. They just aren't very good at keeping up with their ages when it comes time for the Olympics.

I realize that Americans would struggle with laws for naming children. With stringent laws we would never have really cool names for rappers -- Lil' Wayne, Lil' Kim, Gucci Mane, Chingy, Flo Rida and Puff Daddy.

If we had these laws, we wouldn't have cool football player names like Ocho Cinco, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Amani Toomer, Dick Butkis and Peyton Manning.

And don't even get me started on the NBA (I'm looking at you Nene).

But I am glad I live in the greatest country on earth where children's names are only limited by the imagination of their parents and number of keys on the keyboard.

If you are looking for creative names for your child, you might think about Rabbit, Kei$ha, Jack Bauer and Adolf Coors.

Might want to check on the legality on some of those.

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