Speshul Names

The New Zealand government has released their revised list of banned baby names.

This isn’t necessarily new news, as they’ve rejected questionable names before. Numerous countries around the world have similar regulations, requiring approval of baby names before any can be made official. The BBC had an interesting article earlier this year that looked a little more globally at countries and their responses to strange baby names.

Domineering-and-overtly-regulatory government rhetoric aside, I can understand banning some of these. Seriously: who names their child Lucifer?

But it did get me thinking about the writing side of things. It bothers me when an author respells a common name just to make it interesting.  But the outright making-up of a name can be just as bad. No one wants a Mary Sue, but you can’t avoid the stereotype just by calling her Renesmee. A memorable (often weird) name should never be a substitute for good backstory. On the other hand, you might have a decent character, but you can detract or subvert that well-roundedness by saddling him/her with some over-the-top moniker.

What’s the worst/most bizarre name you’ve seen in fiction? On the non fiction side of things, do you know of a worse name than this one

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2 comments on “Speshul Names

  1. Colin says:

    I can’t think if the most bizarre name I’ve seen in fiction, but I don’t appreciate it when fantasy/sci-fi writers give their characters unpronounceable names that might look cool and other-worldly, but are in fact a huge distraction from the story, because every time you see it you’re spending a minute trying to read it, then in the end giving up and never being able to connect with that character because you can’t ever remember his name!

    My wife once heard about someone who had the misfortune to be called Asshole, pronounced “Asholay.” I don’t think real life names get much worse than that! :\

    • Rae says:

      So I’m not the only reader who tends to skip over the complicated names? For the really hard ones, I tend to identify them by the first letter of their name, but that fails as soon as the same one comes along.
      And what a terrible real-life name!!! I think that takes the cake and the entire factory for the worst name I’ve ever heard. And the alternate pronunciation does nothing for it. You can’t even get a decent nickname from it! *shudder*

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