By MIA FREEDMAN
Dear Parents, stop it. Enough with the tricky spellings. Stop confusing your baby’s birth certificate with a game of Scrabble. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and it’s not fair. And also? Your children will resent you as soon as they’re old enough to explain “No, it’s Ambah – A-M-B-A-H”.
How to tell if the name you’ve picked for your child is a burden? If you have to add the words “pronounced” or “spelled” after writing or saying it. Yes, I’m talking to you, parents of Mykal, Krystyn, Annii, Kaetlan, Emmalie, Emilee, Emmalee, Emileigh, Jennipher, Jessyka, Allisenne, Grayss, Breighanna, Eion, Sophya, Taelor, Jaxxson, Ellivia, Kloe, Aaden, Ayden, Aydan, Aadanne, Kyly, Rubii, Jaydin, Eathan, Destyneigh, Morgyn, Zakkary, Ayvah, Aeva, Avah, Aevaeh, Ayva and Aiva.
And yes, these are all actual names of actual people. Poor, poor people.
Can we also agree on this: no child’s name needs an apostrophe in it. Under the terrifying heading “Apostrophe Creativity”, one baby naming website urges parents to, “Revamp a classic name with a little punctuational flair!”. Let’s all take a moment to send our very best wishes to M’shell, L’oegan, Brook’Lynn, D’estiny, L’Wren, Cam’ron, Aa’Niyah, Sha’lee, Ky’Lee, Jo’Elle, Rach’Elle, O’Livia, Ma’Kayla, Ka’Ren, A’Driannah, Myr’Acle, A’Driannah and D’Shawn.
As Dadspin blogger Drew Magary argues, “The abuse of apostrophes in names has to end. A reasonable person should be able to know, by looking at a name, when one syllable ends and another begins. But no, these parents have to be like “I’ll name him Raw’Bert.” You stop that. Give me some credit for being able to read even if you can’t.”
This has been a tough column to research. Don’t ever Google “unique baby names” because your eyes will start bleeding when you learn about ‘alphabet soup’ names such as ABC and XYZ. There are names with Roman numerals like K-VIII-lin (Caitlin). There are names with dashes like Sta-c. And names where the dashes are pronounced ‘dash’ like L-Sha (La-dash-a). I also discovered some alarming ways to spell my own simple name including Meah, Meigha and Meayah.
But WHY? Fear of common appears to be the biggest motivator. “My parents did it to be ‘interesting’ apparently”, a woman named Krystyne told me. “No reasons of heritage or tribute. ‘Christine’ was too boring, according to them.” And this: “My parents named me E’Van. They realised the error of tricky names and called my younger brother Alan.”
Let’s be crystal (Krystyl?) clear: on the spectrum of bad things parents can do, tricky spelling is a mere trifle and must never be confused with ACTUAL harm. But where does this creeping trend come from?