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Txt Spk baby names? Oh dear God in heaven...

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pregnantbelly.jpgThere's no doubt that there's been an increase in the number of unusually spelled children's names. My friend Sam's sister deliberately chose the spelling "Jaicub" for her lovely new young, er, cub, but now a study carried out by a social analyst is leading some to suggest that there has been a sharp increase in reworked names caused by lazy spelling and grammar in texts and emails. Mark McCrindle checked out Australian births in 2007 and found no fewer than 12 spellings for Jayden, nine for Aidan and eight each for Amelia and Tahlia (which I would spell Talia).

So, are email and nauseating txt spk contributing to a generation of kids with random capitals, commas and indeed vowels in their names? Even if they are, does it matter?

Personally I think it makes life easier for all concerned when the spelling is more traditional but then I get letters addressed to Ms Rhoumbus, so I would say that. My lovely future m-i-l, with her fairly common Jewish surname, gets letters to Mrs. Goatsteam (seriously) and Mrs. Goudsceu. You can guess for yourselves what her real name is. If you already have a surname that trips people up, why would you want to give yourself over to the mercy of people's assumptions about your first name? Challenge them if you will - you're still going to get misspelled and badly addressed post and emails. Just ask Dollymix's Cate Sevilla, who's been Katherine so frequently she almost doesn't bother to point out that it's Caitlin. Yeah, with a C and two "i"s, thanks for asking.

I'm not sure we can blame technology for bad spelling though. The shortening of words into txt spk or substituting words for the most common ones found in the predictive text menu - these are both annoying and unnecessary, but, while I choose not to, I could do these things and still generally be able to spell. Surely, however, spelling and grammar checkers should at least make email a more readable format. If we're looking at the reasons for bizarre baby names we should probably look at celebrities (Geldof, I'm talking to you); surely getting inventive with the spelling of a traditional name - or making up a name altogether like Jordan's Princess Tiaamii - is just another form of pop culture-led self-expression.

I still think it's ridiculous though. Soz.

Alexandra Roumbas is Deputy Editor of Shiny Shiny. She is not now considering baby names for future children. No way. Not her.

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  • Thanatos?! That's hilarious. My cousin once said he wouldn't call a child of his Bethany because it sounds like "pethane" (he / she died) in Greek, but Thanatos is class. That's gone to the top of the list. Along with Clytemnestra. Spelled K'laetemnystrah, of course.

  • mongoose

    I'm a copyeditor and EFL teacher so I too get quite rabid about this subject; I also have a name that was virtually unknown (if otherwise perfectly normal) in the part of the US in which I spent several hellish years.

    I think it's far better to give a child a fairly ordinary name, and let him or her rename him/herself ljsysstrataa, Khjmme, or Thanatos when they hit their teens and feel their own need to express themselves. Then, when they realise they need a job/to be taken seriously, the can go back to Julia or Colin.

    People frequently don't even research their choices: I once met a girl whose parents did not know how 'Chloe' was pronounced, but nevertheless decided to give their daughter what they believed to be a novelty spelling of it: 'Klo'. This provided entertainment (for others), as well as both anger and humiliation (for the girl) when she went to Germany.

    And I can assure you that I met various people of both genders named with the names of various toxic plants ('crunchy', but not very well-informed parents).

    Besides, if your kid is boring, calling him or her 'Attillettathon' won't change that.

  • francois

    Apparently studies have been done on this. People assume that people with madeup spellings of names are a bit stupid or lower class. I'm not sure thats something I'd want to saddle a child with!

  • Jen

    Ah, the joys of having a common name...

    It's the problem with English, I think. You can spell a thing 5 different ways and it still sounds the same, argh! No wonder people get confused. And with all this "global village" thing, more and more foreign names appear to further confuse everyone.

    (My real name isn't Jen, but I've never been able to explain to an English-speaker (in writing) how it's pronounced, so I'm sticking with this simpler version for the time being. I'd rather have a nickname that a name that gets mispronounced and spelled wrong everytime.)

  • Mere_Apostrophina

    Warning: I'm a proofreader, and thus totally irrational on this subject.

    But what people don't seem to understand is that the marvelous "individuality" of spelling names any way you want does not come with psychic powers for the rest of us, who foolishly assume phonics works the same way in your baby name's little universe. And it seems a shame when YOU get to exercise your creativity, but some poor KID has to take the consequences of correcting everyone they ever meet.

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