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Monday, September 08, 2008

Soon They'll be Naming Them Featherstonhaugh and Cholmondeley

There is a specter haunting America, the specter of young and upwardly mobile Americans bestowing upon their offspring pretentious and silly names. While the trend was recently brought to the fore with the nomination of Sarah Palin for Republican VP, bringing attention to her and her husband's peculiarly named kids Track, Willow, Bristol, Piper and Trig, the problem, of course, has been with us for some time; it now seems to be spreading unchecked.

Being a boomer myself, I long ago became inured to and can take or leave hippy-dippy names like those the otherwise admirable Palins gave their children, not to mention those given by the late, great Frank Zappa to his progeny.* Of far greater concern is the alarming movement to dub kids with names that seem just plain stuffy, an attempt, I imagine, by at least some parents to move themselves and their youngins up a rung or two on the ol' social ladder.

Only a couple of months ago while enjoying a fine afternoon in Madison Square Park, in the heart of one of Manhattan's toniest and most expensive new neighborhoods, I witnessed over a very short time buff young mommies haling their precious ones, using bloated first names like Reilly, Hunter, Campbell and Parker. I even know of parents who named their kids Walker and Hudson. Fellow Americans, we have here a serious problem.

The good news is at last the alarm is being sounded. Found on the blogs the Feast of Nemesis and Debbie Schlussel are informative essays describing in detail the explosive growth of absurd appellations foisted upon American youth. I commend them both. The authors have taken the first steps toward conquering this malaise: identifying and educating the citizenry of it and warning of its peril.

*Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

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