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Naming our kids like products and our products like kids
December 15, 2011 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Laura Wattenberg of The Baby Name Wizard has announced 2011's Name of the Year. And the winner is... Siri.
Whereas in the past, names were typically chosen with an eye toward personal significance (a baby was named after a grandparent, say), today’s parents increasingly focus on the public image projected by the name. Now, as companies introduce technologies that function like people—Siri being the most extreme example to date—they suddenly find themselves with the same kinds of naming challenges as today’s parents-to-be. They have to consider the complex web of cultural meanings that each name carries. They have to ask, as parents do, "What kind of person are we creating, and what name represents that?" It’s no coincidence, then, that brand names and baby names have begun to converge, as in the case of the Sienna minivan and baby Siennas. Both corporate parents and real parents are trying to launch their offspring with the best possible positioning.
Previous winners: Shiloh (2006), Barack (2007), Joe (2008), Renesmee (2009), and The Situation (2010). [previously]
posted by Anyamatopoeia (57 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's stupid.
posted by pompomtom at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Remember when you were Time Magazine's Person of the Year?
posted by munchingzombie at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


widespread adoption of the name Siri will render the application useless and/or lead to lots of confusion at lunchtime.
posted by The Whelk at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Renesmee is a name only fit for creatures unable to die laughing.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I have a friend named Siri who, last I checked, was rather fond of her iPhone. I wonder if this is weird for her.

I kind of hope so.
posted by griphus at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll never forgive the world for stealing Edward from me. Plan B, naming my child Dracula.

Or maybe A Dracula in deference to 2010's winner.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:11 PM on December 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'll never forgive the world for stealing Edward from me.

I think you're safe enough with Edward. It's not a rare enough name to be inextricably linked with sparkly vampires.
posted by yoink at 2:14 PM on December 15, 2011


For a cheery pro-baby website this shit is pretty grim. When did this flip from a jaunty guide for new parents to a bleak index of our social universe?
posted by grobstein at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


TF?
posted by facetious at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2011


Both corporate parents and real parents are trying to launch their offspring with the best possible positioning.

A short, simple sentence that makes you cringe like that has got to be some form of poetry.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:21 PM on December 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


But can vodka-bottle style and human-name style really point in the same cultural direction? you ask

Do I now? Is that what I ask?
posted by pompomtom at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"? Shouldn't a portmanteau join two words at the point of a syllable they have in common?
posted by grobstein at 2:23 PM on December 15, 2011


It's never Bob.
posted by Abiezer at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2011


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

"Jennifer"
posted by griphus at 2:26 PM on December 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


From the names I hear christened upon newborn babes of friends, the going trend seems to be "Something old fashion / might also belong to the Greatest Generation's parents." Not really jives with "brand my kid for success!"
posted by Atreides at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2011


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

Make it sound like your mouth is full of pudding. Start with a 'reh' noise and garble until you shout MEEEEEEEEEEE at the top of your lungs.

That is how you pronounce Renesmee.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'll never forgive the world for stealing Edward from me."

The solution is simple, name the poor thing Eddard
posted by Blasdelb at 2:29 PM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dr. Lexus! Tylenol Jones! Not Sure!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2011


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

I vote ray-nays-may.

It's no uglier than ruh-NEZ-mee.

Or REN-iz-mee.

Plus, people won't think you have pudding-mouth.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:32 PM on December 15, 2011


We no someone who called their kid Syringa and nobody could convince them that wasn't a good idea. I mean, it;s a classic, sure, it's a flower name, people like those. SYRINGA - just no.

They weren't even punks or smackheads or anything.

Anyway, I'd take their recommendations for baby names over The Baby Name Wizard .
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on December 15, 2011


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

Break it down into its parts.

So. Re-nesm-ee. Obviously the name means someone who has been nesmed more than once... the first time you're just a nesmee, but after that you've been renesmed by your renesmer. Making you a renesmee.

Still seems a bit weird and passive to me, like naming your son Huntee.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


No, ROU, you're the one being renesm-ed, making you the renensm-ee to the renesm-er.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:40 PM on December 15, 2011


The looks they give her in the movie when she tells them the name she is considering are priceless. Say the name of Stimpy's partner and then add Esme. If you don't know how to say Esme, it rhymes with "Pez may".
posted by soelo at 2:40 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I'd take their recommendations for baby names over The Baby Name Wizard.

They're not recommending names. They're commenting on trends in names / names in the news.

The Baby Name Voyager at the Baby Name Wizard site is an absolutely delightful tool--a great way to waste an afternoon. "I wonder when people stopped being christened Ethel?" "I wonder why names beginning with vowels have such a pronounced trend profile across the century (a lopsided U)" etc. It's really fun--and would be a great resource for someone writing a novel set a few decades back.
posted by yoink at 2:42 PM on December 15, 2011


The name of the year isn’t necessarily the most popular name of the year. (Those leaders, like Jacob and Isabella, tend to be traditional, familiar, and slow-changing.) Instead, I look for a one-word time capsule, a name that will later tell a larger story about what was going on in the culture that year. Past name selections have run the gamut from real (Barack) to fictional (Renesmee) to symbolic (Joe, as in Joe Six-pack and Joe the Plumber), to self-invented (The Situation.)

So this is much ado about less than nothing.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:44 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


On a personal level, I'm glad to see that we have finally past Peak Nick. Only one for miles around, for ages, and then there was this flood of Nicks, all these mothers calling out to Nicks who were not me. I had Top Secret all to myself, and then not. I bore so many rhyming dick jokes all on my lonesome, and then the jokes vanished entirely -- the young ones know not the true burden of being a Nick. Nicks, get off my lawn.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:45 PM on December 15, 2011


Only one for miles around, for ages, and then there was this flood of Nicks,

dude, i know.

I was the only Tyler for ages. Then around the late 80s and early 90s everyone and their dog was named Tyler. I guess I don't feel your pain on the dick jokes. I did get called Styler sometimes!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:49 PM on December 15, 2011


On a personal level, I'm glad to see that we have finally past Peak Nick.

We seem to have passed Peak Alexander, too, to Elder Monster's relief. There were FOUR in his Culinary program besides him. Out of 17 kids. Oy. Fortunately for Younger Monster, the only other person he knows with his name is his grandfather. Family gatherings are funny, someone hollers "Ernie", and they both answer, then crack up.
posted by MissySedai at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2011


I never, ever met another kid named Roger. In fact, I would say that at any of my K-12 schools, I was the only Roger in them. I suspect it's still not that common, but I've met a number of adults with the name, of course, but it's still unusual.
posted by maxwelton at 2:54 PM on December 15, 2011


I'm going to name my kid "Firmware".
posted by Burhanistan at 3:01 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ima name my kid IE6 like it's going out of fashion.
posted by Think_Long at 3:07 PM on December 15, 2011


we have finally past Peak Nick

So I'm guessing you were born in the mid to late 70s? According to the Baby Name Voyager, Peak Nick was 1980: it pretty much came out of nowhere and then dropped like a stone.
posted by yoink at 3:08 PM on December 15, 2011


I never, ever met another kid named Roger

Not a lot of demand for cabin boys these days.
posted by yoink at 3:09 PM on December 15, 2011


8264 women in Norway are named Siri. The man who sold Siri to Apple is Norwegian. The best known Siri in Norway (Google translation).
posted by iviken at 3:20 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


widespread adoption of the name Siri will render the application useless

No iPhone in your house, I guess?

You don't actually address Siri as "Siri", or anything. I started out doing it by habit, since that's how previous (Mac based) voice rec worked, but Siri doesn't work that way.

He/she has a button.
posted by rokusan at 3:43 PM on December 15, 2011


She has a button. He has a knob.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:19 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a lot of demand for cabin boys these days.

Looking at my 2011 receipts, I think you can probably underline that twice.
posted by maxwelton at 4:21 PM on December 15, 2011


And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

If you are in the movie theater I was in, you pronounce it "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HOLY SHIT THAT'S DUMB".
posted by Errant at 4:47 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Imagine you are Siri Keeton ...

On second thoughts, it's probably better not to.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:36 PM on December 15, 2011


On thinking about it, calling your kid Siri (aside from it being a nice-sounding name) isn't a bad method of human steganographic privacy: making your name so ubiquitious in Google that it becomes inordinately difficult to Google you. I met someone called Cooper Black the other day - same principle applies. I wonder if he has a sister name of Arial ...
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2011


@aeschenkarnos: That is a nice feature of having a really common name. Then there is the fear of when I finally get papers out no one will be able to tell which ones are mine.
posted by Canageek at 6:51 PM on December 15, 2011


>And how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce "Renesmee"?

Break it down into its parts.<

I was really hoping you were going Nightshift with this.
posted by bongo_x at 6:54 PM on December 15, 2011


Not a lot of demand for cabin boys these days

It's still amazing to me how hard this meme is to kill, despite its utter falsehood. The cabin boy was named Tom. And it was Master Mates too, and Seaman Staines just didn't exist.

There was a character called Willy though...
posted by benzo8 at 10:19 PM on December 15, 2011


Siri, for some reason, reminds me of this guy whenever I hear it.
posted by mippy at 4:51 AM on December 16, 2011


At least Siri is an actual name (a diminutive of Sigrid, for what it's worth), unlike fucking Renesmee.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:54 AM on December 16, 2011


Is your definition of "actual name" that non-fictional people have it as a name? The article says "Real-life Renesmee sightings are increasing all the time," so I think it is an actual name now. When you get down to it, all names are made up, even the non-stupid ones. The minute someone names a kid anything, it becomes a real name. One might argue the same is true once the name of a fictional character is published.
posted by soelo at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2011


Renesmee actually makes sense with reference to the author ...it's a classic Utah name.
posted by Wylla at 7:42 AM on December 16, 2011


"The name of the year isn’t necessarily the most popular name of the year. (Those leaders, like Jacob and Isabella, tend to be traditional, familiar, and slow-changing.) "

Actually, while Isabella is indeed an old standby, recent spikes in popularity for Isabella and Bella both seem to come from the same source as good old Renesmee. Compare the years with the publication dates for the Twilight books.
posted by Wylla at 8:00 AM on December 16, 2011


Every time I meet a Joshua it seems he was born in the 80's. And there are a ton of them.

There certainly were when my own son was a baby.

And I am still a bit ticked that one of my daughter's middle names was rarerarerare UNTIL Airwolf was on the tv.....now there are only a million bajillion caitlins and katelyns and etc. Gee stinking thanks.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:07 AM on December 16, 2011


You should have just named her Airwolf.
posted by Zozo at 9:38 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's still amazing to me how hard this meme is to kill, despite its utter falsehood.

Because the joke is utterly independent of whether or not the writers of one particular British children's show happened to use it?
posted by yoink at 10:07 AM on December 16, 2011


yoink: "Because the joke is utterly independent of whether or not the writers of one particular British children's show happened to use it?"

Because every occurance of the meme (save the one above, granted) has reference Captain Pugwash.

The joke isn't "Ooh, matron, there's a double-entendre in the phrase 'Roger The Cabin Boy'." The joke has always been that people believed the writers/producers of Captain Pugwash were clever enough to get such filth past the censors for a children's show. There was even a libel case about it.

So, if you're trying to claim that now, referencing Seaman Staines, or Roger, or Master Bates isn't a reference to Captain Pugwash, I'm suggesting that even if you yourself were not aware of the link, that doesn't mean it isn't there.
posted by benzo8 at 10:47 AM on December 16, 2011


The joke isn't "Ooh, matron, there's a double-entendre in the phrase 'Roger The Cabin Boy'."

Um, yes, that is exactly the joke. It's a joke that has been tied to one famous instance of a cabin boy on a kid's TV show, yes, because that adds an extra layer to the joke (rude pun accurred on children's show). But the pun is there in the name and the job description, regardless of the mythic attribution.
posted by yoink at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2011


Oh, and if you Google "Roger the cabin boy" -Pugwash you get almost half a million hits.
posted by yoink at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2011


> I never, ever met another kid named Roger

I've been fully immersed in kid-world this past decade, and as far as I recall I've met only one child named David.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:02 PM on December 17, 2011


I think you're safe enough with Edward. It's not a rare enough name to be inextricably linked with sparkly vampires.


You could spell it Eadweard, just to be safe.
posted by acb at 5:34 AM on December 18, 2011


Oh, and if you Google "Roger the cabin boy" -Pugwash you get almost half a million hits.


...which will mainly be nostalgia fora.

I always wondered whether naming Stan's dad in South Park 'Randy' was deliberate, even if 'randy' doesn't mean in the US what it does in Britain.
posted by mippy at 2:33 PM on December 18, 2011


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