Do odd names make boys go bad?
Sentinel Staff Writer
July 2, 2009
Last updated 7/14/09
Boys growing up with popular names such as Michael, Joshua and Christopher have a good chance of leading law-abiding lives.
But young men named Kareem, Walter or Ivan could run afoul of the law.
That's according to a recent study that claims the more unpopular, uncommon or feminine a boy's first name, the greater the chance he will end up behind bars.
While Shippensburg (Pa.) University professor David Kalist's report in Social Science Quarterly shows that "unpopular names are likely not the cause of crime," he explains that factors often associated with those names can "increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency."
Boys with unpopular, girlish or uncommon names often are ridiculed by peers, come from families of low socioeconomic status and face discrimination in the workforce based on a preconceived bias about their names, according to the study, which analyzed more than 15,000 names.
Jay Corzine, chairman of the University of Central Florida's sociology department, said he finds the study "fascinating." He said family tradition often plays a part in naming a child and that the environment could affect a boy's upbringing.
"Some kids could have a name that leads to teasing and being picked on and, in return, that child could become aggressive with others," he added.
While academics are intrigued, others are skeptical.
"That's ridiculous, but I do remember a kid in high school named Ezekiel, and we would call him 'Zeke the Geek,'" said Cynthia Bezeer of Orlando. "He wasn't so little and would always get in fights with other kids in the hallways. Maybe the teasing over the name really got to him."
10 Strangest Names EVAR!
This Bizarro comic inspired me to look for bad (but real) names on the Web - and boy was I floored with the result that Google returned for the search terms "bad names" (6 million results!) and "worst names" (499,000 results). It seems that some parents are either cruel or mad when they name their kids.
Here are a few that are particularly strange:
• Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K. Yes, that's right: a baby named after the illicit drug ketamine. Oh, and that's pronounced "Your Highness," by the way.
Urhiness Kendall was born on Saturday, February 15, 2003, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces. The baby shared birthdays with another guy with a weird name: Galileo Glilei, who went on to become a famous mathematician and astronomer.
• GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman. In 2005, the Internet casino GoldenPalace.com paid $15,000 to name a baby after itself and got more than it paid for in media attention. Sure most people condemned this sort of outrageous publicity stunt - some even calling it a form of child abuse - but the good news was that GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman was born healthy at 7 pounds, 10 ounces on May 19, 2005.
Actually, baby Silverman wasn't the only human in the world named after the casino: In the same year, a 33-year-old mother of five named Terri Ilagan auctioned off the right to her name on eBay, which the casino won for a mere $15,199. The re-branded Mrs. GoldenPalace.com said: "To my kids and to my husband, I will always be Terri. My husband is real supportive. He thinks it's funny. As long as they get to call me Mom, they don't care. They are already starting to tease me and call me Goldie."
These two will join a GoldenPalace's branding of a Glaswegian woman's cleavage and their purchase of a decade-old "Virgin Mary" grilled cheese in the annals of the company's publicity stunts
• Joker Arroyo. Don't laugh: Mr. Arroyo is a Senator in the Philippines
His name "Joker" is derived from his father's fondness for playing cards. His brother is named "Jack." No words if there are any other siblings named Queen or King.
Update 5/29/08: Joker has a daughter whose name is also Joker Arroyo! Thanks Gabor Debreczeni!
Unusual names are pretty common in the Philippines: Bing, Bong, Ping, Ting, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, Nirvana, Jejomar (yes, a combination of Jesus, Joseph and Mary) and Hitler Manila, whose sons are named Himmler and Hess. And no, Hitler Manila is a peaceful guy who doesn't share his namesake's Nazi ideology.
• Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (Pronounced "albin"). In 1991, Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding wanted to protest the naming law of Sweden, which states that the court can diapprove of names that "for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name." They were fined 5,000 kronor (about $680 at the time).
The parents claimed that the 43-character name as "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation." The court didn't buy it and upheld the fine. Then the parents tried to resubmit the name as "A" (yes, one letter - also pronounced "albin"). The court didn't buy that either, saying that one letter names are prohibited.
The baby finally went with "Albin Hallin" though in his passport his name was given as "Icke namngivet gossebarn" meaning "unnamed little boy."
• KentuckyFriedCruelty.com. Well, technically, this is not his parents' fault but what Christopher Garnett did was pretty strange so we'll include him on this list.
In 2005, Christopher, a youth outreach worker for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) agreed to change his name legally to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com to protest animal abuse by the food chain KFC. (Yes, and he's got a driver's license to prove it).
He did promise his mom that he'd change his name back when PETA's campaign against KFC was over in 2006. Throughout all this time, his parents continued to call him Chris (how unsupportive!
• Nicholas Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-ed Barbon (1640 - 1698). Nicholas' shall we say "unique" name apparently ran in the family: his father was Praise-God Barbon. No, I'm not kidding - Nicholas was a real guy. He was an English economist, physician and financial speculator. He took part in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666 and even founded the city's first fire insurance company. By all accounts, he went by Nicholas throughout his life.
• God Shammgod. God plays professional basketball, currently for the Portland Chinooks of the International Basketball League. He played in the NBA for one season (with the Washington Wizards in 1997).
He even invented a streetball move, called The Shammgoduseful for creating space between you and your defender. And yes, God is on MySpace. (Photo: Hoops Addict)
• Batman Bin Suparman. This young Javanese man is blessed with being named after not just one, but two superheroes: Batman and Superman. And he's got an identity card to prove it ...
• Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right. Dick is a gas station owner in Saskatchewan, Canada, whose name made him a minor celebrity when David Letterman found him in 1995. Dick pronounced his German lastname as "uzman," but we all know better...
Photo: Frame enlargement of the short film, "Saskatchewan Part 2 (That's My Wonderful Town) by Brian Stockton
• @. And finally, let's go full circle to "@," pronounced "ai ta" or "love him" by an unidentified Chinese couple:
The unidentified couple and the attempted naming were cited Thursday by a Chinese government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language.
"The father said 'the whole world uses it to write emails and translated into Chinese it means'love him'," Li Yuming, the vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.
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