Friday, May 28, 2010

You Give Twins a Bad Name

Every year, when the Social Security Administration releases their list of most popular baby names, there's a flurry of coverage.  What flies under the radar, however, is the annual list of most popular twin names.  They confirm my worst suspicions about my fellow Americans.  I may be on shaky ground here...I know that choosing names can be a difficult and personal choice...but I'd like to highlight the two worst sins I see on this list.

#1.  Names that sound too much alike.  Using names that start with the same letter (Jacob and Joshua) is a warning flag.  So is using rhyming names (Gabriella and Isabella).  Those, however, raise the "overly cutesy" warning flag -- people find twins "precious" enough without being given an extra reason.  What seems really problematic is when the names are so close that nobody's ever sure who you're talking to.  "Come over here, Taylor!  No, stay there, Tyler, I said 'Tyler'...no I mean, Taylor.  Which one are you again?" We were recently looking at the child development section in Raising Twins: What Parents Want to Know (and What Twins Want to Tell Them). Apparently learning to respond to their own name is an important developmental milestone -- why would you want to make that harder for your twins?  Some of the worst offenders:
  • At #42 on the girl/girl names, Haylee and Kaylee.
  • At #20 on the boy/boy names, Christian and Christopher.  "Chris, stop hitting Chris!"
  • The worst ones seem to be the boy/girl names.  Maybe people think there will be less confusion.  The top 3 name pairs are Madison and Mason, Taylor and Tyler, and Addison and Aiden, which all are problematic, but not as much as #36, Landon and London.
#2.  Names that are overly-themed in an obvious way.  I have no problem with more subtle themes -- #19 on the boy/boy list is Gabriel and Michael, which I assume arises from an angel theme.   Themes that only make sense if you know the twins' family tree are also good choices.  But Summer and Autumn?  (From the 2008 list, and thankfully not on the 2009 list.)  You're naming children, not pugs.  And unless you plan on separating them at birth, you open the possibility of a childhood full of teasing as soon as their schoolmates are old enough to get the "joke".  Worst offenders.
  • Here, girl/girl names are the most likely to go wrong.  At #2 is Faith and Hope, and #14 is Faith and Grace.
  • At #7, we have Heaven and Nevaeh.  I was appalled that people would do this just to create palindromes.  I was even more shocked to discover that Nevaeh has been in the top 40 for singletons for the past 3 years!  Also surprising -- Neveah has cracked the top 1000 lately.  I'll give a pass to Aidan and Nadia (#10 on the boy/girl list) because it's slightly more subtle.
  • At #18, London and Paris.  I realize Paris isn't "Adolf", but do you really want to start your daughter down that path?  Also, I missed the memo on when London was no longer a boy's name.