Shanequa, LaQuanda, etc: Strange Names among African Americans

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by madanthonywayne, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. ili Registered Member

    The black community in America feel they are outside of the main culture so they reflect that by naming their children with non-American names and also referring themselves as as subculture by classifying themselves as African-Americans.

    Celebrities also name their kids stupid names:
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  3. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    Some of those are ridiculous...a few though...

    Is "Corde" really such a bad name? Certainly not common, but it is a proper English (girl's) name as a shortening of "Cordelia." Given the three little girls I know with traditional boys names (Taylor, Madison and Casey) I have to side with Snoop Dog on that one.

    A few are not that bad. "Magnus Paulin Ferrel?" "Magnus" is a traditional Scandinavian and Scottish name (and the other two are the parents surnames) derived from Latin.

    "Sosie", "Coco", "Brawley," "Maddox Chivan" (noting that Maddox is a normal Gaelic baby name and Chivan just a phonetic respelling of the Gaelic "Siobhan")...I don't see those as so bad.

    "Aurelius Cy" is a little pretentious, but if a child as a built in reason to read Meditations by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he could do worse. How many kids over the past decade do we expect received a name that their parents lifted out of Harry Potter? [Edit: OMG, at least one source has it that the name "Harry" was on the outs because it was an "old fogey" name...but recently it is "very cool, hip" because of its association with Harry Potter.]
    Last edited: May 23, 2009
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    No, it's perfectly okay. Remember, Chinese doesn't have any "words" that are specifically "names." Every morpheme has a meaning. Every established combination of two or more has a meaning that is somewhere on the spectrum between the syntactically obvious (fan ting = food room = "dining room") and the lost logic of an ancient generation (dong xi = east west = "thing").

    And every Chinese name is a combination of morphemes that have perfectly serviceable meanings. The second name is the generation name, chosen by a distant ancestor and recorded in a book that every (patrilineal) branch of the family has a copy of. All members of a generation have the same generation name. The third name is the parents' choice. My friend's father was sufficiently high in the Nationalist chain of command that it was not a violation of Confucian tradition for him to create a new generation name that had meaning in the context of modern Chinese history.

    But getting back to words for a moment, if you make up a combination that is not established it had better be grammatically obvious or no one will understand it. Wan an is not the way to say "good evening," but since it literally means "evening peace" no one ever failed to understand me and I even got a few respectful winks for understanding the spirit of Chinese, if not the dictionary.

    And I do mean obvious, because since there are only 1,600 phonetically possible syllables in Mandarin, every morpheme has an average of three homonyms--just using the minimal vocabulary of 5,000 han zi they're supposed to learn to write in high school. When you put two together the listener has nine possible combinations to sort through.

    So when it comes to names, there are no rules except Confucian tradition about making it possible for members of the same generation to recognize each other by name. Most names are relatively illogical combinations of morphemes like "east west," whose meaning becomes established as that particular person's name. When my friend's father named her "remember" plus "first syllable of province name"--which itself is a morpheme with its own meaning, drafted into service to form a name that's only recognizable when joined to the other half--no one could possibly divine his intention without being told; it lurks beneath two layers of codebreaking. Her name is no more odd than (Mao) Ze-Dong or (Deng) Xiao-Ping.

    You wouldn't name your pet "Remember the Alamo," but I'll bet there are quite a few dogs in Texas who answer to just plain "Alamo."

    Many if not all Hebrew names are built that way. "Yisra-El" means "wrestles with God."
    Last edited: May 23, 2009
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  7. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for explaining Fraggle !

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    I have one question though.
    Who decides on the generation name ? If two brother get kids around the same time which one gets to decide ? I mean, there's only one generation name allowed..
  8. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    Of course a name is just a name. Even if your name is Buttface, it maybe be weird sounding at first, but after a short time that's just your name and people rarely think about the meaning.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The generation names are chosen about five generations in advance. Maybe longer if your family is prominent. If you were born in 1980 your generation name was selected by somebody who died in 1890.

    There is no problem with two brothers having kids at the same time. They BOTH use the generation name. Even two cousins having kids at the same time. Even two second cousins having kids at the same time! All of your siblings, first, second, third and fourth cousins will have that same generation name. There might be two hundred of you.

    If you run into someone who has the same surname and generation name as you do, you know that they are members of your family and your generation, even if you've never met them and don't know where their home is. Your relationship might be only in having the same great-great-great grandparents--the ones who picked that name for all of you.

    * All of this is strictly patrilineal, of course. Maternal lineage doesn't count for much. You can't marry someone with the same surname because you're "related" back at some point in the gene pool's distant past. But you could probably marry your mother's niece--your first cousin--because she has a different surname so that relationship is nearly irrelevant.
  10. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I think it has to do with popularity, also Shaniqua sounds exotic, and I guess that being exotic is nice if you are an African American girl. Movies also have great influence in this I think, nice looking (and popular) girls in movies named Shaniqua will definitely create a trend. If I've seen a movie featuring African Americans there's often popular and nice looking girls that have exotic sounding names.
  11. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

    It's people trying to be cute or fancy. Kinda like if parents name their child Jeremy, but spell it "Jaeramee".
  12. Cowboy My Aim Is True Valued Senior Member

    Can you look me in the eye and honestly say that you could EVER forget the meaning of a name like "Buttface"?

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  13. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    If I liked Buttface then yeah I could forget, if I didn't like Buttface then that would just be a source of ammunition for insulting them just like any other name I could find insult in. I had a counselor in middle school named Mrs. Bitchenshitz, but she was cool so by the second semester we could all say her name without giggling.

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  14. mikenostic Stop pretending you're smart! Registered Senior Member

    What's up with the PC??? They're black.
    Or mad, if you want to go by that logic, all white people are now to be referred to as European-Americans.
    What about black people in Europe? Are they European-Africans?
    We're fuckin Americans. Not African/Asian/Mexian/European-Americans.

    I work with and know quite a few black people. NONE of them really want to be referred to as African-Americans.
  15. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    I think Teresa Heinz, John Kerry's wife is African American.
  16. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    Do you start this up wherever you go? If some people feel more comfortable using politically correct language then they should. If someone told me to refer to them as white trash, I couldn't oblige them to their face. I wouldn't feel comfortable with or without their permission. So I stick with what I feel comfortable with and so should everyone else. African American may not be my favorite term for my race but it's better than some other less than tasteful ones.
  17. FreshHat Registered Senior Member

    I actually hear that term used a lot, amongst non-US residents, moreso during the Bush II years

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    For the record, if I wanted an African name for a newborn daughter, I'd call her Violet.
  18. grimace Banned Banned

    my next child i would like to call 'little baby' and then when it gets to around a year or two then decide on a name.
  19. takandjive Killer Queen Registered Senior Member

    A baby knows his or her name at a few weeks old. It's the equiv. of giving an adopted older child a totally new name. It isn't advisable.
  20. grimace Banned Banned

    i would prefer to call him or her 'little baby' because that is what i would use all the time. its only a problem when you have more than one kid at the same time running around.
  21. takandjive Killer Queen Registered Senior Member

    That's good for having someone form a strong personal identity at an early age.

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  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Names with meaning

    A couple of notes. Lewis Black, in his Carnegie Hall performance, tells of a friend who was a social worker who handled an odd case. Apparently, the parents of one young girl wanted a rhythmic name for their child, and chose what works out to shi-THAY-uh. And her middle name was something normal, like Denise or Danielle. But the problem was the cruelty of the name. The social worker's file on the child read, Smith, Shithea D.

    It's one of those jokes I'm hesitant to call true, except it's so well within the bounds of possibility. To the other, my grandfather once attended a preacher named Rev. Perry Winkle.

    When my former partner was pregnant with our daughter, she assigned me to pick a name. I came up with five, wanting the names to be unique, aesthetic, and in some way meaningful. They were:

    • Najam Nadira ("rare star", "precious star")
    • Amala Levana ("hopeful moon")
    • Ceres Ananda ("fertile bliss", "growing bliss")
    • Tifareth Viridis ("beautiful green", "balanced green")
    • Grace Katharine (okay, no special meaning here, but a longstanding preference from the first time I ever answered the question, "What would you name your child?" A son, by that reckoning, would have been Shaw LaRocque, named after members of King Diamond's band.)​

    Grace Katharine was rejected because my partner felt it had too much association to a former girlfriend, my high school sweetheart. I suppose that's fair. Or, rather, I can see how that works.

    But the others were rejected on the grounds that they were too unusual. Our daughter would be teased and beaten for having an Arabic-sounding name, or for having a hippie name, or whatever. So my partner proposed the name "Emma Claire", which was altogether too common for me. (Indeed, "Emma" was among the top ten names for girls in 2002, as it turns out.) I suggested a compromise: Emma Grace as the first name, and de Cleyre as the middle. My partner agreed to the name, allegedly as a stand-by in case I didn't come up with anything else. I tried, but within a few days I discovered that "stand-by" was the code word for "the name we're going with come hell or high water". So that's how it worked out.

    Of course, I also came up with two absolutely hippie names—Kamea Maya and Rhythm Erthe—but neither of these did I really expect to stick. Kamea Maya was a nod to a television show, and I had already ruled out TV names. Rhythm Erthe I liked simply because it had a good sound and the second name comes from an old poem that I adore.

    The name we went with derives from two Anarchists (Emma Goldman and Voltairine de Cleyre) and my maternal grandmother (Grace).

    It's not that I resent my daughter's name in any way, but I just don't understand the idea of telling me to pick a name when my partner already had it in mind that nothing I picked was going to work. She already knew my philosophy on naming. What was the point, then?

    I've bitched about this before ... a couple times. Still, I just don't understand the need to give your kid a name like everyone else:

    I'm ready to bargain on the name "Emma", which I would not have considered for a first name until the mother suggested it, but I highly doubt that I would get my way to name a child Emma Cleyre simply because of where the name comes from.°

    But forgive me if I seek to avoid Emily, Michelle, Sydney, and so forth. The obscurity of "Tifareth" isn't so much problematic as is the fact that it would shorten to "Tif", and if there's one piece of harmony between us, it's that neither of us would wish such a moniker on a child. Were it a son, I would seek to avoid John, Bill, Ed, Mike, Mark, Jason, and other common names. Try sitting around smoking dope and drinking beer in a room where there's four of you responding to the same name ....

    .... What crushes me is that a friend just called with a vote for Ceres Ananda ... thankfully, she did not suggest any names; I can't quite describe her sense of taste, though I'm somehow not surprised that her world is filled with Amys, Sherris, Alisons, Cheryls, Jamies, and other such names of common use. It's not that I have anything against any one name per se, except that as I deal with more and more common names, I start asking myself, Why not name the child TK-421?

    (June 22, 2002)

    You see? I can be wrong, sometimes.

    I mean, my name is Brian. My best friends anywhere is John, Corrie, and Mo. My brother is named Drew. The mother of my child is named Jennifer. My parents have common names, Tigger's (Jennifer) parents have common names. Looking through the family, there are now at least three Jim's, a David, a Daniel, a Heidi, a Laurie, a Sue, a Chris (female), a Jeff ... I mean, Tigger has even suggested "Nicole", which name I object to on two grounds; (A) it's common, (B) we both, in our history together, slept with Nicole. (I mean, come on ....) A bunch of people I know have started to call each other random names in order to break the monotony: there's The Goat (a friend of a friend), Doctor Nick, Wiz, J-Love, A-B-A (Abie-ay), Dragon, Jhereg (despite my Sciforums handle, that's me), Coriander, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Alley Cat, and "Lester" (don't ask, it's a long story).

    My fantasy football league? Brian, Drew, Chris, Brandon, Abe, Scott, Trevor, Dave, Tony, Sharon. (Sharon has no funny nickname yet, I don't know if Chris has one, and Scott's pet name comes from another social circle with which I am not acquainted.)

    We even have a "Slim Shady" in our midst (Bob).

    (September 19, 2002)

    Oh, and it turns out that Chris' nickname was, and still is to this day, Spic.

    I just don't see what's so wrong about giving a child a name that actually means something. Hell, a friend of mine, a theologian, gave her two daughters four names. First name, middle name, second middle name, and family name. And it was the second middle names that caught everyone's attention, as "Bringer of Light" and "Bringer of Joy" appear on the birth certificates. Absolutely beautiful.
  23. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    For some reason, women love to do that. I don't know how many times I've had this conversation with my wife:
    Me: So, where do you want to eat tonight?
    Her: Oh, I don't care, where ever you do.
    Me: All right then, how about Red Lobster.
    Her: No. That doesn't sound good.
    Me: All right, how about Outback. They've got pretty good steak...
    Her: No. I don't think so...
    Me: Well, then where do you want to go?
    Her: Oh, I don't care, where ever.
    Me: Alright, how about chinese?
    Her: No, I'm not in the mood.
    Me: Um, Italian?
    Her: No.....
    Me: Seriously, where exactly do you want to go?
    Her: I told you, I don't care. Just pick someplace!
    It's like a game. They want you to pretend you're making the decision when, in fact, they really want you to show your skill in picking the place (or thing) they want without making them tell you.

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