Morpheus on… Pretentious Names

Black Americans are the worst offenders.

They take mundane names and mispronounce them, thinking they will sound “exotic” – like Colin Powell, who likes his name to be mispronounced “coe-lyn” – or misspell them, often using apostrophes – like Sooz’n, for Susan.

Even more absurd are the names which are just made up.Will Smith married Jada Pinkett, whose name is a corruption of Jade. That was already bad enough (the name Jada – not their marriage – I am sure they are very happy together) but then they compounded the sin by naming one of their kids Jaden.

Jaden is a cute little boy – who is already showing promise as a child actor – but his first day in school must have been tough.

In My Day, it would have gone thusly:

“Hi. What’s your name?”

“Jaden.”

“Aiden?”

“No – Jaden. I was named after my mother.”

“Oh. Your mother’s name is Jade.”

“No. Jada.”

“BEAT HIM!!!”

Footnote: following on from the previous piece – for the benefit of any reader to whom it is not obvious, this was written as a COMEDIC piece. Observational in nature, it highlighted an anomaly common to a particular slice of our modern World’s society and contrasted it with attitudes prevalent in Sixties Britain – in SCHOOLS.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. I have felt the same way as you on this. But, given my automatic impulse to jump to the defence, aka see the other side of a case, I feel there is some good in the weird phenomenon which has exasperated us both.

    Maybe it aint a bad thing to enrich social intercourse and introduction by introducing this complication. At least it highlights that a little dude or darlin’ is an individual, and unique. One of the less-bad offenders is us pink people. (How the Asians, North or South, do I have no idea.)

    Names such Patrick, Frederick, and William spring to mind. The registrar does not refuse to enter Pat, Fred, or Bill on the birth certificiate. And when the Mum cannot spell… I can think of no example at the moment, much actual improvement is often made that way.

    The late Yehoshua of Nazareth was put down as Jesus by Jim number 6 of Scotland (first of England). J and Y are pronounced differently in various languages. Haim is a pronunciation of James, I believe, so… on it goes.

    Ug must have been pleased when writing was invented. He could insist that his name was spelt Nigel. Oi-you got himself put down as Dominic. Shit-face became Sydney…

    Yorz cyncereleigh, Sigh

    PS: As for my pen-name, there are many going by Cy, few by Cyrus.

  2. PPS: Who, after all, would want to be called Rastus? Or Adolf? Or Judas? Ivan still does terribly well, though. Dare I risk starting on examples of the flip resulting when names in one script are translated into another? Or when phonetic distortion enters the field? Yusef came Joseph apparently. Yacov Jacob, etc.

  3. Posted by Vincent on July 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    The names piece was just a throwaway article – highlighting a particular, pretentious characteristic, prevalent in a particular slice of our humanity.

    I am all for individuality. If everyone just chose a UNIQUE name – like Zhadenblue – or Zindopline – that would be fine. But when people try to sex mundane names UP – by misspelling or mispronouncing them – that’s just SILLY.

    But my calling out a STEREOTYPICAL quality of a people – then receiving a half-baked accusation of RACISM for it, by IDENTIFYING the SECTOR of society most responsible for the silly affectation…

    The thing is – all we are really talking about here is stereotypical behaviour. Not racism.

    As I’ve stated before – we all have our “funny ways” – like Jewish people tend to be good at business – Ethiopians tend to be tall – etc. But some people wildly over-react when you call a group out on a stereotypical quality that is NEGATIVE. Like – white South Africans and Australians do not take jokes directed against themselves well.

    But of course, these are STEREOTYPICAL qualities. They are not true of everybody. Going back to the piece that STARTED this: I have a long-time friend in AMERICA – and she is BLACK – and her name is SARA. Middle name Joy. Now since we are only “pen-pals”, I have no idea whether she pronounces Sara as “Sair-er” or “Sahr-er” – but I’m sure it’s ONE of the two. And these are conventional pronunciations. I doubt she pronounces it “exotically”.

    Thus my throwaway piece was a GENERALISATION. An observation, regarding stereotypical behaviour.

    Of course, as a boy who grew up in a school with 550 pupils – where you could have counted the number of non-white kids on the fingers of a clumsy saw-mill operator – it could be said that I have no idea of what it FEELS like to be abused because of a factor of my make-up, over which I have no control (like being black, short, foreign – or even FEMALE).

    And that would be true.

    But as a Child Of The Sixties, I know it was OUR group that STARTED Political Correctness – with the BEST OF INTENTIONS (those things The Road To Hell is paved with).

    Thus I feel particularly BOILED by what successive generations have DONE to it.

    Being now a spit away from sixty – I have observed all of the facets of REAL racism…

    I was a small child in the Fifties – but can still remember the CASUAL racism of that time.

    Then came the freewheeling Sixties – when attitudes began to be RECONSTRUCTED.

    Then I lived through the Seventies – during the inevitable BACKLASH that occurred.

    Finally came the Eighties – when New Wave Comedy arrived. At which point, the “-isms” became virtually a CAPITAL OFFENCE.

    Since that time, things have relaxed a tad – but having more pressing problems to deal with, people have largely IGNORED the lessons that WERE LEARNED. Now they just raise their hackles whenever anyone says anything DEROGATORY about any SPECIFIC sector of society.

    “That arrogant Frenchman…” – RACIST! “Americans are such drama queens…” – RACIST!! Even – “Canadians are so polite…” – RACIST!!! RACIST? REALLY?? Oh, come ON!!!

  4. OK. I agree with all of that. It had, however, not been clear to me that political correctness BEGAN in the 1960s and was a good thing AT FIRST. I always understood that GENUINE political correctness HAD to a good thing.

    Similarly, sort of, the verb do-gooding and the noun do-gooder ought to refer to admirable actions. But what the users of the term ought to say is “self-perceived do-gooders” and “self-perceived do-gooding” which is what I try to do.

  5. Posted by Vincent on July 8, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Actually, you’re RIGHT! The TERM Political Correctness did not emerge until well into the Seventies – but the CONCEPT began in the Sixties.

    And yes – “do-gooders” OUGHT to be a GOOD THING!

    This whole thing has blown up over my observation of a STEREOTYPE. And because it was a RACIAL one, a troll assumed it was a racist PIECE.

    But I could JUST as easily have made an observation about a quirk in any NUMBER of stereotypes.

    In addition to race and colour – there are creed, political leanings, socio-economic background, taste in music, clothes and food – plus IQ, age, sexual orientation – and one’s occupation, hobbies, habits, ambitions – even whether a person smokes or not, puts them into a stereotype.

    And it is interesting that this list is the SAME list (apart from sexual orientation) that I assembled elsewhere, as being the factors which – once one had established that The Chemistry was present – they needed to examine before beginning a long-term RELATIONSHIP with a potential life partner. Why?

    Because, as previously stated, stereotypes define WHO WE ARE!

  6. Posted by Sara H on July 19, 2011 at 2:26 am

    I may be of African-American descent (in its most purest form…but still with a hint of Cherokee), but I truly don’t understand some of these “exotic” names either. Admittedly, some of these names don’t sound too bad, but EgAd, there are some that look and sound like they came straight out of a can of alphabet soup — an assortment of disarrangement.

    And the stereotypes don’t help either. The word itself is defined as a “fixed image/idea of a particular person or thing.” Yes, I do understand the offense people get from derogatory remarks and such, at the same time, it seems that even though we try to be politically and culturally correct, the ones that really want that right aren’t really trying correct their OWN selves.

    To get away from centuries of stereotypes, we should try our best not to ACT like those centuries of stereotypes. In time, those fixed ideas will go away. The unfortunate stereotypes of black people (mannerisms, speaking style, etc.) are still being used by the average person. Go to any Walmart to see this firsthand. We want change but no one actually changes. Sad 😦

    And also for the record…my name, with the removal of the H, is still pronounced “Sarah.” If you really want to use the H just hold it over for my last name, that way it doesn’t go to waste 🙂

  7. Posted by Vincent on July 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I think ultimately, one’s name SHOULD be individual – there were SEVERAL DAVIDS in my class! If parents just MADE UP names for their kids, that would be a GOOD thing (provided they were pronouncable!)

    The thing that STARTED this – was people mispronouncing and misspelling COMMON names, to give their kid (or THEMSELVES) an “exotic” touch. That’s just PRETENTIOUS.

    Regarding stereotypes – I believe it is INEVITABLE that they will always exist. They are the ways different people think, behave and are.

    And I don’t think we should AVOID them – rather, REVEL in them. Used with love, they enable us to enjoy each other’s differences.

    Where it all goes horribly wrong is when haters use them to IDENTIFY those they hate.

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