Tuesday, 7 January 2014

What’s in a Name?

As a former teacher, I was occasionally amused by some of the names that parents inflicted on their offspring. Sadly some well-meaning adults chose names for their children which inevitably led to incidents of name-calling and bullying in school. I recall one child with a German sounding name who having been subjected to some name related abuse took matters into his own hands. He told his primary head teacher that he was changing his name and would only answer to the English name which he had chosen. Now an adult, that person is still known by the name which he chose!

National Records of Scotland recently announced that Jack and Sophie were again the most popular Scottish baby names in 2013. Sophie has been the top female name for the past nine years, while Jack has been the top male name for the last six years.

Apparently, out of the 26,700 boys and 25,200 girls registered, parents chose more than 7,400 different first names. Thankfully, none of the top one hundred boys or girls names are unusual to the point of having the potential to cause their owners difficulties in later life.

In the USA, things are different. In a country where a high percentage of the population claims to be Christian, Biblical names such as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are popular. Less conventional Old Testament names such as Benjamin, Caleb, Levi and Shiloh are also common.

I was however ‘gobsmacked’ to find that some Americans have started using 'Messiah' as a name for their children. The mind boggles at the difficulties a ‘Messiah MacDougall’ might have in a Scottish secondary school.

According to the US Social Security Administration, Messiah was the 387th most popular boys name in the US in 2012, and it is increasing in popularity!

Opinion pollsters, LifeWay research has confirmed the increasing use of Messiah as a child’s name. Surveys consistently show that most Americans agree that parents should be free to give their child religious names including Messiah.

While some Scots parents do choose really daft names for their offspring, they don’t go to the extremes of America.

After all, there’s only one Messiah!
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