Apparently a money making business…
Sean and Dawn Mistretta from Charlotte, N.C., tossed around possibilities for five months before they hired a pair of consultants — baby-name book authors who draw up lists of suggestions for $50. During a 30-minute conference call with Mrs. Mistretta, 34, a lawyer, and Mr. Mistretta, 35, a securities trader, the consultants discussed names based on their phonetic elements, popularity, and ethnic and linguistic origins — then sent a 15-page list of possibilities. When their daughter was born in April, the Mistrettas settled on one of the consultants’ suggestions — Ava — but only after taking one final straw poll of doctors and nurses at the hospital. While her family complimented the choice, Mrs. Mistretta says, “they think we’re a little neurotic.”
Hell, I can draw up a list of names for $50. In fact, how about $25. Not to mention, it was a 15 PAGE LIST OF NAMES. Mrs. Mistretta, 34, a lawyer, and Mr. Mistretta, 35, a securities trader, will probably also seek out a diaper consultant, a first birthday party planner and private tutor to get their Ava into only the best, out of 15 pages of day care providers in the community. Nyah, on second thought…making $50 for speaking to a couple like this for 30 minutes, seems hardly enough.
And the growing brand consciousness among consumers has made parents more aware of how names can shape perceptions. The result: a child’s name has become an emblem of individual taste more than a reflection of family traditions or cultural values. “We live in a marketing-oriented society,” says Bruce Lansky, a former advertising executive and author of eight books on baby names, including “100,000 + Baby Names.” “People who understand branding know that when you pick the right name, you’re giving your child a head start.”
Shut the fuck up “we live in a marketing-oriented society.” (Sorry, trying to improve my G rating!) Parents were naming their children without the help of his eight baby books oh, since the beginning of time, and somehow managed. And wait, if a name is “an emblem of individual taste” why the hell would the individual outsource this task to someone else?
Madeline Dziallo, 36, a beautician and mother of two in LaGrange, Ill., turned to a consultant when naming both of her children, Ross, 3, and Natalie, eight months. That consultant, Maryanna Korwitts, a self-described nameologist based in Downers Grove, Ill., charges up to $350 for a package including three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing the name’s history, linguistic origins and personality traits. “She was an objective person for me to obsess about it with rather than driving my husband crazy,” says Mrs. Dziallo. Despite all of her planning, Mrs. Dziallo began to panic about the name Natalie two weeks before her due date. “I thought, ‘I’m going to be calling her from the delivery room’,” she says.
Madeline? Do you not have any friends? I thought that was what friends were for. Paying $350 for a pretty popular, common name like Nicole seems crazy to me. How can she not figure that one out on her own? I don’t get it…what else are mother-to be’s supposed to do while not able to sleep because baby is resting on the sciatic nerve? Think about baby names, duh!
Even parents who are professional name consultants say the decision can be wrenching. As one of the founders of Catchword, a corporate naming firm with offices in New York and Oakland, Calif., Burt Alper says he and his wife, Jennifer, who also works in marketing, felt “tons of pressure” to come up with something grabby.
Although Mr. Alper typically gives clients a list of 2,000 names to mull over, he says he kept the list of baby names to 500, for simplicity. In the end, they named their daughter Sheridan, a family name Mr. Alper liked because of its “nice crisp syllables.” They chose Beckett for their six-month-old son, a name the Alpers thought sounded reliable and stable.
“That C-K sound is very well regarded in corporate circles,” Mr. Alper says, giving Kodak and Coca-Cola as examples. “The hard stop forces you to accentuate the syllable in a way that draws attention to it.”
“Tons of pressure?” Please. “Something grabby.” Huh? “KODAK AND COCA-COLA?” Ugh. I hate these people. It’s your child, not a step up the corporate ladder for your next promotion! (Although I do like the names they chose. Thank GOD they were professionals!)
In some countries, name choices are regulated by the government. France passed a law in the early 1800s that prohibited all names except those on a preapproved list; the last of these laws was repealed in 1993. In Germany, the government still bans invented names and names that don’t clearly designate a child’s sex. Sweden and Denmark forbid names that officials think might subject a child to ridicule. Swedish authorities have rejected such names as Veranda, Ikea and Metallica.
Wow. Really? I had no idea. God Bless America. The land where you can name your child Nevaeh and people just think your a freak.
Last fall, John Bentham, 36, a Las Vegas theater producer, and his wife, Shannon, 29, who runs a nonprofit foundation, says they felt “enormous pressure” to find a strong-sounding boy name. “I wanted a name that would look good on a marquee or a political banner,” Mrs. Bentham says. Though they had agreed on the letter “j,” none of the names they came up with — Jude, Julian, Jake, Jason, or John Jr. — seemed original enough. They hired Ms. Walker and Mr. Reyes, who produced an 11-page list of possibilities, including Jackson. In March, the Benthams welcomed little Jackson Dean into the world.
Ya know what? This sounds like my friend Jen and her husband. But for the whole over-kill expectations of the name being on the marquee or political banner part, I just meant knowing they didn’t want “J” and they knew they wanted John for a middle name. Ok, nothing like my friends at all. So anyway…Jen and her husband asked their FRIENDS and FAMILY for ideas and bounced names around, they didn’t pay someone to come up with an 11 page list. (Jen, how about Jackson? Free name! Nyah, I love the name you already have.)
Mrs. Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” has carved out another niche in the business: Parents who like statistics. While searching for a name for her second child in 2001, the only reference guides she could find were dictionaries. So Mrs. Wattenberg, a software designer, created a database of thousands of names using Social Security data. She hand-coded each one to reflect its cultural associations and linguistic origins, noting how often a name appeared in the Bible, soap operas or in the wedding or birth announcement sections of Ivy League alumni magazines.
Can you imagine? (Listen up John Edwards!) The families that look to soap operas for names vs. Ivy League Alumni information.The real two Americas.