Mind Matters: What's in a name?

Who's having a laugh?: Elon Musk and his partner, singer Grimes. Photo: Shutterstock

Who's having a laugh?: Elon Musk and his partner, singer Grimes. Photo: Shutterstock

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare asks this immortal question: What's in a name? Elon Musk just showed us that a lot can be in a name. How would you like to go through life named X AE A-12?

Elon is not the first celebrity to give a child an imaginative name. Think of Apple (child of Gwyneth Paltrow), Blue Ivy (Beyoncé), Bronx (Ashlee Simpson), Coco (Courtney Cox), Everest (George Lucas), Honor (Jessica Alba), and Moon Unit (Frank Zappa).

Also, we have Moroccan (Mariah Carey) and Sunday (Nicole Kidman). My favourite is Huckleberry (Bear Grylls) because that is the nickname I gave my daughter. It never occurred to me to put that name on the birth certificate.

We are not talking just about celebrities. One of my friends has sibling relatives named Ederick Frederick (a male) and Donald Duck (a female).

I would not be surprised to meet someone named Hail Mary or Oh Danny Boy.

What possesses celebrities and others to give such names?

Certainly, they want to be creative. I suppose that for them procreating does not satisfy those needs.

Maybe they think they are giving the child an advantage in life with the name.

If so, these parents must have different memories of childhood from mine.

I remember kids teasing and bullying others for being different in any way.

Parental narcissism can play a role in choosing a stunning name for a child.

The common pattern of naming a child after the dad (Junior) may not be nearly enough for some parents.

Considering that some parents name their child Hitler, maybe the celebrity kids do not have it so bad.

Moon Unit Zappa, for example, has had a decent career as an actor and singer.

Some given names, such as X AE A-12 and Hitler, are too bizarre or awful for the government to allow as a legal name.

But within the family, you can call your child Judas, Hitler, or Whatever.

The psychological effects on the child might not be good though.

And you can expect a call from social services at some point.

Keep in mind that you are getting a perspective here from a person named John.

My name is so common that it is used for toilets and prostitution customers.

I have been using Zoom often enough in these days of COVID-19 that I am considering changing my name to Zoom Malouff. What do you think?

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.

This story What's in a name? Plenty, just ask X AE A-12 first appeared on The Canberra Times.