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Thread: Shanequa, LaQuanda, etc: Strange Names among African Americans

  1. #1
    Mourning in America madanthonywayne's Avatar
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    Shanequa, LaQuanda, etc: Strange Names among African Americans

    If you meet an African American in their forties or above, they'll have names like Kyle, Henry, George, etc. But at some point in the last few decades, black people began coming up with names like Shaniqua, Laquanda, Precious, Anfernee, or Mercedes. What is the origin of this trend?

  2. #2
    media culture spreading across Africa

  3. #3
    Registered Senior Member tim840's Avatar
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    i have no idea. im not sure whether those names are real african names, or if they're made up by American blacks. Actually, I know at least one that is not authentically African: LaPrecious. A girl at school has got that name, and i think shes from somewhere in the south. Things like Shaniqua though, i dont know. Oh and I have a friend named Kleshie, her parents are immigrants from Africa, and her name is really African.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    . . . . or Mercedes.
    Mercedes is an established female name. It means "graces" in Spanish. Mercedes Sosa is one of the top singers in Argentina. Mercedes Ruehl, the American actress (best known for her role in "The Fisher King") was born in 1948.

    In 1900 Emil Jellinech ordered a car from Gottfried Daimler, built to specifications he supplied. He also stipulated that the type of engine he designed would be named the Daimler-Mercedes, after his daughter Mercedes Jellinech. Mercedes was registered as a trade name in 1902 and soon became the name for the entire line of cars made by the company that was eventually renamed Daimler-Benz.

    Jellinech wanted a sports car that was not just for today or tomorrow, but for "the day after tomorrow." His advanced features included a long wheelbase, wide track, chassis-mounted engine, low center of gravity and electric ignition.

  5. #5
    Mourning in America madanthonywayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker View Post
    Mercedes is an established female name. It means "graces" in Spanish. Mercedes Sosa is one of the top singers in Argentina. Mercedes Ruehl, the American actress (best known for her role in "The Fisher King") was born in 1948.

    In 1900 Emil Jellinech ordered a car from Gottfried Daimler, built to specifications he supplied. He also stipulated that the type of engine he designed would be named the Daimler-Mercedes, after his daughter Mercedes Jellinech. Mercedes was registered as a trade name in 1902 and soon became the name for the entire line of cars made by the company that was eventually renamed Daimler-Benz.

    Jellinech wanted a sports car that was not just for today or tomorrow, but for "the day after tomorrow." His advanced features included a long wheelbase, wide track, chassis-mounted engine, low center of gravity and electric ignition.
    Ok, Mercedes was a bad example. How about Shaniqua?

  6. #6
    Valued Senior Member
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    Precious is another one not so strange. I've had white neighbors with daughters Faith, Hope, and Charity. Eastern Seaboard upper class whites are famous for goofy sobriquets used as names - Scooter Libby, four thousand Missys and Buffys.

    The goofiest black name I know of is George - for six sons of the same father.

  7. #7
    Bloodthirsty Barbarian
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    Go read Freakanomics if you really want to know the answer to this question, and aren't just looking for an outlet for "gosh, black people are so funny" type of sentiments.

    Notice that this same phenomenon occurred in pretty much every other racial category in the United States, at the same time. You won't meet many Ethans in the 40+ white population (especially if you exclude Jews), but it's currently among the top 10 most popular names for newborn gentile boys.

    This kind of thing gets REALLY extreme in more class-bound societies (like, say Britain), where there is a constant effort by the upper classes to come up with weird names to distinguish their offspring from everyone else, which then trickles down.

    This also happens in the United States, of course. For example, witness the decline of names like "Brittney" or "Kiesha:" once respectable, even classy names, which are now synonymous with trailer trash.

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    The reason for this was the re-emergence of a strong African identity among many African-Americans in the 1960's. They gave up their "slave names", in favor of those reminiscent of African ones (although I'm not sure if they are truly African).

  9. #9
    Mourning in America madanthonywayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    The reason for this was the re-emergence of a strong African identity among many African-Americans in the 1960's. They gave up their "slave names", in favor of those reminiscent of African ones (although I'm not sure if they are truly African).
    Yes, but it seems they're going out of their way to not assimilate. I remember doing an exam on this black kid with a really wierd name, but he wanted everyone to call him "Sean". This would piss his mom off, she complained that girls were always calling the house asking for Sean rather than the ridiculous name she'd saddled the kid with. Even Baraq Obama used to go by "Barry". Don't parents consider the effect they're having on their children when they give them some ridiculous name?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    Yes, but it seems they're going out of their way to not assimilate. I remember doing an exam on this black kid with a really wierd name, but he wanted everyone to call him "Sean". ....
    Yep, I worked with a woman who's parents named her Princess. She said her name was Judy.
    Growing up I knew a Bambi and a Bunny. Those are stripper names for crying out loud!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    Yes, but it seems they're going out of their way to not assimilate. I remember doing an exam on this black kid with a really wierd name, but he wanted everyone to call him "Sean". This would piss his mom off, she complained that girls were always calling the house asking for Sean rather than the ridiculous name she'd saddled the kid with. Even Baraq Obama used to go by "Barry". Don't parents consider the effect they're having on their children when they give them some ridiculous name?
    They call that pride. I think it can backfire on the kids though.

  12. #12
    Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke MacGyver1968's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spidergoat View Post
    The reason for this was the re-emergence of a strong African identity among many African-Americans in the 1960's. They gave up their "slave names", in favor of those reminiscent of African ones (although I'm not sure if they are truly African).
    That makes total sense to me. During that time there was a movement for African Americans to get back to their African roots..and through the 60's and the 70's for "socially conscient" African American's to wear traditional African clothes. It only makes sense that mothers would start giving their kids more African sounding names.

    Different cultures have different traditions about naming babies. It seems to me that atleast some of the African American culture has a fondness to give their child a "unique" or different name. My father's name is Zifton..we know no others. As he said: "A name is to distinguish you from everyone else..and how distinguished can you be?" Some of those names listed in the OP probably started with an African origin..and as mothers heard a name and liked it...they changed it up a little to give it "uniqueness".

  13. #13
    Valued Senior Member Pandaemoni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    Yes, but it seems they're going out of their way to not assimilate. I remember doing an exam on this black kid with a really wierd name, but he wanted everyone to call him "Sean". This would piss his mom off, she complained that girls were always calling the house asking for Sean rather than the ridiculous name she'd saddled the kid with. Even Baraq Obama used to go by "Barry". Don't parents consider the effect they're having on their children when they give them some ridiculous name?
    Are am not sure that first names should be the hallmark of assimilation. Names and spellings change all the time. It is pretty difficult for kids named Eugene, Quincy, Marvin, or Orville too, and even some presidential first names are tough sells, Chester, Calvin, Millard, Rutherford, Ronald, Franklin, Lyndon, but I would not take "Marvin" or "Millard" as a sign of non-assimilation.

    To me, in fact, I'd be surprised to hear the name Shanequa on anyone *but* an American. On the other hand, my first name is German in origin and most of "traditional" names that people think of like Robert, Bill, Henry, Nick, James, Fred, Alex, etc, come from languages like French, German and Greek, etc. The purely "English" names like Ethelred, Egbert, Aelfric, Cerdic, Osbourne (as a first name) and Godwin you pretty much never hear outside of a history book (though you do hear a very limited handful, some more than others, like Dunstan, Alfred and Edward (Eadweard)).

    Names are subject to fads, I myself knew two kids name "Lance," four named "Taylor," three "Briannas" and two "Brielles." Those names don't hearken back to anything American, whereas Shanequa was basically invented here.

    Even the now common "Anthony," "Patrick," "Andrea," "Donna," "Brandon," "Vincent," "Ryan," were "ethnic" names not so long ago, brought here by the supposedly ape-like Italians and dirty Irish. I do not see that the use of those traditional, and ultimately foreign, names impeded the assimilation of those groups, despite the nasty discrimination those with those names faced. Then again, I think it can be asked, is the proper response to discrimination against a child to cave in and let the bigots have their way?

    Edit: As for "Barack," the President is named directly after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. I suppose that answers the "what were they thinking?" question.
    Last edited by Pandaemoni; 01-26-09 at 08:10 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    If you meet an African American in their forties or above, they'll have names like Kyle, Henry, George, etc. But at some point in the last few decades, black people began coming up with names like Shaniqua, Laquanda, Precious, Anfernee, or Mercedes. What is the origin of this trend?
    This thread is hilarious...It's the epitome of ignorance on the african american culture. How can you not know that those names have origins from Africa. Have you guys not met any real BLACK PEOPLE or what...

    The computer is a remarkable device but you can't experience....EVERYTHING through it. You have 8,000 post! Get off that computer and go somewhere before the world ends.

  15. #15
    Registered Senior Member Tyler's Avatar
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    Actually, according to the interwebs Shaniqua has no African origins at all. It is a purely American name with no apparent meaning.

    My personal guess is someone wanted to name their kid something African-sounding, but didn't actually know anything abut African names.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saquist View Post
    This thread is hilarious...It's the epitome of ignorance on the african american culture. How can you not know that those names have origins from Africa. Have you guys not met any real BLACK PEOPLE or what...
    Have to agree with Tyler on this one. I know a number of genuinly african people in my university department, and they all say they're never heard anything like most of the names that african americans make up for their kids. So far as I can tell, most of the names are simply made up to sound nice. Which I guess is as good a way as any, but it's got to suck for the kids when everyone else in class is named Judy or Susan, and they're named Shaquifa or something.

  17. #17
    Mourning in America madanthonywayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandaemoni View Post
    Edit: As for "Barack," the President is named directly after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. I suppose that answers the "what were they thinking?" question.
    I'm aware of that. I simply brought up the "Barry" thing to point out how kids often respond to having unusual names.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saquist View Post
    This thread is hilarious...It's the epitome of ignorance on the african american culture. How can you not know that those names have origins from Africa. Have you guys not met any real BLACK PEOPLE or what...
    As has been pointed out above, most of the names in question are completely made up and were never used in Africa.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saquist View Post
    The computer is a remarkable device but you can't experience....EVERYTHING through it. You have 8,000 post! Get off that computer and go somewhere before the world ends.
    Dude, you post 3.5 posts per day and I post 4.9. I've simply been a member longer. Or is 1.4 posts per day the difference between spending too much time on the computer and the exact right amount of time?
    Last edited by madanthonywayne; 01-26-09 at 11:46 PM.

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    Even though these names don't actually exist. It was my understanding that these names are Americanized derivitives of African names. I know alot of African individuals from a number of countries but they are usually males. Frank's real name I couldn't hope to pronouce.

    Thus it still begs the question, why don't you ask?

  19. #19
    If you trace any name back far enough, it's made up. Daniel is one of the most ancient and respectable names in Western society, but Dan-i-El is Hebrew for "judged by God," and was coined as a name by the Jewish tribes in the Biblical era. Eugene is Greek Eu-Genes, "well-born," i.e. noble. Alfred is Anglo-Saxon Elf-Read, "Counseled by Elves," i.e. wise. Maximilian (the full name of which Max is the nickname) is Latin for "the Greatest." Perhaps Mohammed Ali the boxer would have liked to be so named.

    You're all probably thinking, "But those are at least real words. They mean something. Who wants a name that was made up of random syllables and doesn't mean anything?"

    Well then ponder the lives of some of the people who were recently given names that mean something: Moon Unit Zappa, Chastity Bono, China Slick. Or go back further to the famous Puritan ministers who figure in American history: Increase Mather and his father Cotton Mather.

    Texas Governor Big Jim Hogg named his daughter Ima Hogg. She grew up to be a renowned philanthropist and one of the most respected ladies in 20th-century Texas, and struggled to downplay that name throughout her life, going by her initials and scrawling her signature illegibly. (Rumors that she had a sister named Ura are apocryphal.)

    Somehow I think she would rather have been named Laquonda.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Saquist View Post
    This thread is hilarious...It's the epitome of ignorance on the african american culture. How can you not know that those names have origins from Africa. Have you guys not met any real BLACK PEOPLE or what...

    The computer is a remarkable device but you can't experience....EVERYTHING through it. You have 8,000 post! Get off that computer and go somewhere before the world ends.
    They are probably not African, but there are many African-inspired African-American names. What it means is that segregation and Jim Crow laws created a parallel culture, with it's own customs, names, and holidays (Kwanzaa).

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