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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 13:09 GMT
What's in a name?
Jack and Chloe are the most popular names in the UK for the fifth year running.
According to the Office of National Statistics, traditional names are the most common, but parents are increasingly influenced by actors, singers and politicians when deciding what to call their children.
Many babies are being named after Tony Blair's son Leo, Madonna's son Rocco and Russell Crowe's character in the film "Gladiator" - Maximus.
In many parts of the world, it is believed that a name can shape a person's character and behaviour.
In Nigeria, for example, a mother has fled from her home with her new-born son because her husband decided to name him after Osama bin Laden.
Does your name dictate your personality? How was your name chosen? What are the most exotic or unusual names you've come across?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
We chose good solid English names that had honourable antecedents - a good, gentlemanly king and a good, gentlemanly cricketer (both by repute, at least) and which could not easily be abbreviated and, finally, were neither run-of-the-mill nor gimmicky. (This was in '73 and '74.)
Result: Arthur, abbreviated to "Art", Colin to "Col" and both, particularly while at school, asking me why the we hadn't called them David or John. Or Jack. You can't win, honest.
Although Eden is a biblical name, my family is not religious - my father got my name off a building! (I was supposed to be a boy named Jason, and my parents didn't have a plan B.) While I do spend a lot of time repeating it, spelling, it, and explaining it to people who have never met me before, once they get it, they never forget me. I know there are other Edens out there, but I've never met one. I like having a unique name. I think anything that makes you stand out a little is a good thing. Why would anybody want to be the same as everybody else, and have the same name as half their friends?
Kathy Willsea, USA
My name is quite unusual for my country and though quite shy when young I always loved having a "strange" name. It took me ages to concoct a name for my daughter whom I called Andalus. This is the Arabic name for Spain when it was a Muslim country. As far as I know nobody has been called this before. If I have more kids I hope to call them all unique, but beautiful names.
I am almost universally known as Rod (or occasionally Roddy) rather than my full name. Why? Because it is spelt "Roderic" - notice the lack of a "K" at the end. If I ever give my full name I immediately have to spell it to people.
Having said that, I much prefer it to those poor unfortunate German men in their late 50's called Aldolf. Osama-philes beware!
Mike (unfortunately), Malaysia
I was reading the latest copy of the Sheffield Star when I was last at my grandparents. I saw in the birth column that there was a boy named after a sportswear company, Nike! What a ridiculous name.
My four-year-old tells me that I spell his name incorrectly. He says it should be Marc nor Mark.
I'm very proud of my name which comes from a valley in Himachal Pradesh, North India. I have since learned that it is also a common Nigerian name and the name of a village in Turkey. Some ignorant people have tried to make jokes about it over the years but I can't say it has bothered me one iota. The opinion of anyone so small minded as to try to ridicule your name is not worth worrying about.
In Nigeria a child's name is a reflection of good tidings to come, so most people in the country, do not see Osama as a terrorist but as a hero who has been able to bring the attention of the world to issues the rest of the world have ignored over the last fifty years. Therefore naming a child after such a hero is a sign that this same child will remind the rest of the world in fifty years time of issues they have ignored.
A child's name says more about the parents than the child. My girlfriend's name is Rhianna, named after the Celtic goddess of transformation and wisdom. Her parents are ex-hippies in the West Country so it makes sense.
They never sold any bedroom door stickers saying "Ewen's Room". That used to annoy me.
Darren Cox, Cambridge, UK
Having been blessed with a daughter, Molly, and with another baby on the way, names have been a talking point in our house for some time. The conclusion my wife and I came to is that trendy names are a bad idea as by their nature trends are short-lived. Molly is a pet name of Mary, my wife's twin sister who did not make it to even a week old. It was our way of remembering.
Andrew Crane, US (ex-UK)
In most south Asian countries there is an existing practice of consulting astrologists when a child is born. According to the time of the birth, letters or sounds are given to the parents on which to base a name, which would definitely then bear its personality.
I heard on the radio in 1998 that the most popular girl's name in the African-American community was Propecia. This was the name of the country's leading men's hair restorative drug so I guess people don't just get inspired by movie stars!
I was one of five girls called Nicola in a class at secondary school - a good 70s name! However much I liked the name Jack or Chloe now, I'd want my child to feel more of an individual.
Shu-Yi Huang, Taipei Taiwan
I certainly hope it does! I'm in the process of changing mine to Simon Irresistible Billionaire Watson...so I'll let you know how I get on.
I heard a story of a woman calling her daughter Ampersand. She'd heard it somewhere and thought it was nice, but didn't know what it meant.
Harry Potter, Surrey, UK
At least there are different sets of names for males and females. How would personalities be affected if we removed this distinction?
My parents wanted a name that couldn't be altered, so they called my Ian, as it's short and sweet. All my friends now call me "E".
My name is really annoying because I have a bad back.
I am getting victimised by my friends and at work after the Harry Potter film came out. They all call me Muggle, which isn't very nice, but I'm very proud of my name so I'm not going to change it.
Jon Cooper, UK
Angel is not a completely unheard-of name in the US - I knew another Angel in high school, and my brother's current girlfriend is also named Angel. I got teased a lot for it in school ("Devil" was a favourite), but I got used to it as I got older. Now, in this country, I get nothing but nice comments about it and people have no trouble remembering who I am. A unique name can help to set someone apart from the crowd.
Albert P'Rayan, Indian in Rwanda
I like my name because not many people are named Connie, but when I was younger I thought it very old fashioned. But I enjoy having a name that is not common, because everyone knows me and I am not just another statistic.
Andrew, United Kingdom
My name has always been a source of inquisition and amusement to people. Any time I meet someone new, they are extremely interested as to where it came from and ask stupid questions like "Where did you get a name like that?" Well - duh - my parents! I don't really think your name has too much influence but with a name like mine it certainly gets you talking.
Mine is quite an amusing story. Because my father was so hooked on the film Gandhi and I was born virtually the same time as the film was due out, my father gave me the middle name Gandhi. I have no Indian in my blood whatsoever but am always asked the question if I attend an interview or if anyone finds out my full name!
Michael, Dublin, Ireland
My eldest daughter is called Karita and my youngest is Alana. I believe the latter to be unusual but the former to be almost non-existent. Anyone know of another Karita? (I think I heard of one, a Russian Opera singer but I'm not sure).
My middle name is John named after John Lennon as he was a rather big celebrity at the time of my birth so I thought I would return the favour to my child who was born proudly on December 15th. I called him Rudolph after Rudolph Giuliani as I think he has done a wonderful job in these difficult times in New York. Being born around the Christmas period also helped.
Parents who give their children weird names should think about why they are doing it. Having grown up with an odd name - which I have long since dumped - I would never inflict such a name on a child of mine. How do you think Rudolph will fare at school especially in December? Kids can be very cruel!
Sarah Vestey, UK
Our son was born on August first and, after much consideration we named him Matthew David. This was not for any other reason than both my wife and I really liking the names. Unfortunately his initials are MDF, my mother-in-law was the first to call him Woody - you just can't win.
My girlfriend's name is Crystal and she was named after her great grandmother's crystal ball that was always gleaming with beauty. I now dread the day if we get married. Her name would be Crystal Holmes and I personally think it sounds like a new housing estate!
My name is Christopher, and it's completely irrelevant to my personality.
My surname is Cowdery however, and years of playground mickey taking have enabled me to develop a thick skin and ability to verbally abuse and upset people at will.
I don't think your name has any bearing on your personality. It is based on other factors like genealogy, upbringing and perception.
I've just named my child Jordan, which means 'Gift from heaven/the skies'. I don't know if a name can influence a child's personality, but I think it is a nice to name a child based on how you feel they entered the world.
I think that your name definitely affects the way you behave. For example, everyone I know called Steve is quite outgoing, but all of my friends called Adrian are really timid. Do people think that your name is in any way related to you star sign, which also affects your personality?
My favourite "exotic" names are the children of the late Frank Zappa, Dweezil and Moon Unit.
Names definitely do define the type of person that you are. Think of all the Brians, Duncans or Collins you know. They will almost certainly be a bit 'divvy'. Nigels have the image of being boring. A David could be an insurance underwriter, but a Dave is a roofer. As for the new generation of Chelseas growing up - we will not have seen the like since the good old Sharon and Tracy days.
Mine seems to be an ironic statement from my staunchly atheist parents.
Danny Baker once compiled this fantastic list of exotic names via his BBC radio show: Aspro Fender ... Mal Peachy ... Jesus of Garston ... Lovett Quartez ... Pierre Pierro ... Wonder Mango ... Maria Rosa Usa-Navy Hernandez ... Poovan Sara-vana Pervana san ... Drew Blood ... Everton Council ... James George Barty-Barty Goldfinch ... Cool Peterson ... Mario Scarro Skipper Scarri Discomprer de Biffa ... Cordelia Delia Wong Chong Chang Po ... Mr. and Mrs. Booneeboompana .
A name can certainly affect the personality of a person. This is due to the fact that most personality traits are acquired during school years, and if a name sounds like, resembles of can be easily misconstrued, children will pick up on this, and use it as a tool for offence in the playground. Many taunts and jeers made at less popular pupils are based on the persons name. For example, my name Dain - taken from 'The Hobbit', was the king of the Dwarves. Being extremely short for my age did obviously not help, but also the plethora of derivatives caused much discomfort. Pain, stain, rain and drain are just a few that were used to belittle and ridicule.
Constanza Fanucchi, Argentina
My girl friend is called Elika because her mother saw a wildlife documentary about a Russian polar bear whilst heavily pregnant.
When my mother announced my name to her parents shortly after my birth in 1976, they were horrified that I had been given an "old woman's name". A few years later Laura became popular and I certainly don't feel that I have been burdened with an old-fashioned name. It's one of those cyclical names that have gone in and out of fashion for the last 100 years or so.
03 Jan 02 | Scotland
Jack and Chloe win the name game
03 Jan 02 | Africa
Osama baby craze hits Nigeria
03 Jan 02 | England
Mother leaves baby at hospital
30 Dec 01 | Scotland
Brown's baby faces long hospital stay
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