Friday, September 17, 2010

On The Naming Of Children

Let me preface this post by saying I am NOT pregnant.

Sometimes when I've got nothing better to do I think about what I might name a baby.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine named his daughter Rowan, which I think is a beautiful name for a girl. But if Seinfeld has taught us nothing else, it's that friends don't steal other friends' baby names. Anyway, this friend of mine is a botanical type guy, and named the girl after the rowan bush, not Rowan Atkinson as I had initially thought.

I quite like the idea of naming a child after a plant. Not any plant, obviously - Carrotweed, Ficus, Spider Lily and Patterson's Curse are not good baby names. And naming Bindi Irwin after a noxious weed is not something the poor girl will be grateful for when she's out spreading the conservation message as an adult.

In fact, after I had looked into it, I realised Rowan is the only good plant name out there. Flowers provide plenty of pretty girl's names (Violet, Rose, Poppy, Dogwood), but options are limited if you want to go for the whole shrub. Some have poetic scientific names, but aren't so lovely if you know their common names:

Iresene = Chicken Gizzard
Nemantanthus = Clog Plant
Schefflera = Octopus Tree
Monstera = Swiss Cheese Plant

OK, maybe Monstera isn't all that pretty. But it's a pretty plant, which highlights the fact that not all that is beautiful in nature has a lovely name. Take birds, for example. With my plant options exhausted, I wondered if there was a pretty bird name I could use.

I suppose it reveals the inclination and limitations of my imagination that I could only come up with Tit, Boobie, Thrush, Goose, Peacock and Chook. And googling only added Warbler, Screaming Piha, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Oilbird and Giant Cowbird.

What do you think of Ellen for a girl and Stuart for a boy?

Oh, right.


  1. I'm glad you started with the preface.

    I'm still not sure I believe you.

    I like Agapantha as a plant name myself.

    Just, you know, in case you needed another one.

  2. You should believe me. It takes enough of my time being a mother to Ellen, Stuart and a thesis. I'm not sure which is giving me the most grief this week.

    Agapantha is a lovely name.

  3. Theses at least grow up, go off to live in a dusty library vault and never bother you again. Ellen and Stuart on the other hand... dig up your garden. Hm.

  4. Ficafolia.

    I knew there was another name I was trying to think of!

  5. That sounds like a fungal condition.

    Pretty though.

  6. It has very pretty flowers and an entire festival named after it. What more could a small child want?


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