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Naming The Baby

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

IT would seem as though almost every conceivable reason had influenced parents in naming their children except consideration for the child's feelings after it had grown old enough to realize what a trick had been played upon it. A name is a label which must be carried all through life, and remembered afterward. It should be as distinctive as may be, yet not so conspicuous as to cause wonder, or smiles, or, worst of all, constant punning. Some names are a needless torture to sensitive owners, while, on the other hand, an agreeable name is not only a source of satisfaction but may be a real advantage. Edward Everett Hale once met a young author of some reputation with the greeting: "I am glad to meet you, and make sure your name is your own; it is so good I have thought it might be a pen-name." Why should a person who wishes to attract favorable, or at least avoid unfavorable, attention in a business way, so often feel compelled to invent a new and more pleasing name? Usually because his mother failed to look ahead when he was the subject of the household query: " What shall we name the baby?"

There ought to be given at least one Christian name well fitted by sound and sense to go with the surname. Such names as Sydney Smith, Robert Burns, Florence Nightingale, gain much from their euphony in combination. How harsh would have been Ellen Nightingale, and how fun-provoking Virginia Nightingale! Appropriateness is often laughably violated, as when an infant, dark-skinned as an Indian, and likely to follow her family in growing up short and stout, is named Lily; or her tall, blonde cousin, Violet. Smoothness of sound; ease of pronunciation, and of being shortened into a good "nickname"; appropriateness; and such distinction as can be gained, ought to be considered when the choice is made. If this were done newspapers would not rejoice in items poking fun at queer names, whose owners have shed bitter tears, no doubt, over the unwisdom of those who first inflicted them upon innocent victims.

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