Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baby Names and Professions

What is it with people wanting to name their kids after professions or activities?  Oh sure it all started innocent enough when someone decided to name their kid “Taylor” but spell it T-A-I-L-O-R, but next thing you know you have kids named Hunter, Priest, Lawyer, Carpenter, or Judge. 

Do parents actually think naming a kid something will lead them to follow that career or be interested in that activity?  If so I imagine those people who have named their daughter Candy probably wanted her to be a confectioner... or perhaps they just gave up all hope even before she was born and assumed she would be a stripper.

Parents who have named their son Hunter probably wanted to ensure he liked the outdoors, and parents who named their kid Dusty are probably just assuming he will be dirty his entire life.  However, if parents really do put emphasis on names as professions, DeForest Kelley’s mother most likely really wanted him to be a logger... specifically a logger in Ireland.  

Of course above all else is the former NASCAR driver with the name Dick Trickle… he must have been a huge disappointment to his parents as it seems they had their sights set on him becoming either a porn star or a spokesperson for Flomax.

That said, there is actually some science behind names.  I recently was listening to a radio program where New York Times columnist David Brooks spoke about “brain sculpture”.  He spoke of studies that have shown people named Dennis are disproportionately destined to become dentists and that people named Laurence are disproportionately likely to become lawyers.

According to Brooks in some sense people have a vague sense that they like the familiar – so they gravitate to words (and concepts) that are familiar to them.  The mind seeks out familiarity, and this is just one way it presents itself.  I suppose some might call it fate, others coincidence, but if you are taking the chance on naming your child after something you hope they can strive to become, might I suggest you name your child "Doctor", "Actor" or "President"?

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