Thursday, 29 March 2012

I have a have a friend who is a unicorn,

at least that is what I understand her to be. She lives over on Katherine Roberts'  blog, "The Reclusive Muse" - mind you that is a bit of misnomber. She is really not terribly reclusive because she gallops around in the moonlight collecting authors and interviewing them for "fairytale reflections". No, wait a moment, the "fairytale reflections" bit belongs to a friend of hers although she does sprinkle unicorn dust around to help out. It is all rather exhausting work - or so she tells me.  Her human would like to know her name. We have been debating whether it would be wise to let her know this. Humans can do strange things with names and, of course, if you let your name be known to a human it gives them some power over you.  The unicorn and I need to consider this. Will it be safe for her?
Names came up in discussion the other day. We have another new member of the clan - my brother has a grandson. His second name is one that has been in the family for many generations. We can trace it back to at least the 16thC. It has always had the same spelling, a very standard spelling that has not changed in all that time. It is not a name that is going to cause the child any embarrassment. If he grows to understand why he was given it and has any pride in his family then he will probably be proud of his name too. His first name is also unexceptional and, to my way of thinking, an improvement on what they first considered.  His sister also has an unexceptional name, pleasant and sensible. It is also spelt in an unexceptional way.
When we were discussing these names someone mentioned that they did not like the current fashion of giving a child an unexceptional name but spelling it in an exceptional fashion in order to try and make it different. I know what they mean. There was a recent case of a "John" being spelt "Johnn" - yes with not one but two "n"s. Why? It will only make difficulty for the child. I have also seen "Dayvid",  "Hellen" and "Graice" - presumably "David", "Helen" and "Grace" if the unfortunate children's second names were an indication of their sex and background.
It seems to me that, if you want a child to be known by something unusual then it is better for them to be known by an unusual name rather than an unusual spelling.  It is better for people to be able to say, "That's pretty" or "That's interesting" and "How do you spell that?"  I have no doubt at all that young "Johnn" is going to go through life with problems. People will assume they know how to spell his name. He will be accused of not being able to spell his own name.  It is not a kind thing to do to a child.


Katherine Roberts said...

Oh, that's my unicorn! Though he can't take credit for the Fairytale Reflections, which are the creation of another unicorn-friend, Katherine Langrish, over at Seven Miles of Steel Thistles (a brilliant blog if you haven't seen it!)

The unicorn rounds up authors at the point of his horn for Muse Mondays - and the cat would be most welcome to visit and tell upover about her purring muse sometime! Just email me (contact link on blog).

catdownunder said...

What? You don't help over there dear unicorn? I thought you did! (And do we ever have her fooled - "he" indeed!)

jeanfromcornwall said...

I am with you on the name business - be fanciful if you like, but keep to the standard spelling. There was a minor news item a year or so ago involving a little girl called "Chevonne". It was several days before it suddenly struck me that the parents must have thought it was the easy way to spell Siobhan. They would have done better to call her Susan, and say it with an Irish accent!

catdownunder said...

Yes, I have seen that spelling too Jean - and Shevaun and Shevorn - poor kids.