Don’t be clever 11/24/12

‘not Clyde’ (random Internet St. Bernard)
‘not Clyde’ (random Internet St. Bernard)

When I was in high school, we had a St. Bernard. Clyde was a good dog, a gentle giant, friendly to a fault (unless you were trying to come over the fence into his yard, then not so much). Summers must have been brutal for him here in Visalia, and standing too close to him could result in a slobber shower if you weren’t careful. He was an AKC registered pure-bred, so on his paperwork he needed to have a unique name. Whoever named him didn’t bother with the sometimes pretentious names picked by breeders, like (taken from random off the Internet) “Roscoe’s Wrangler Banjo” and “Cands Queen Of Diamons”. They simply named him Clyde the Eighteenth. Simple and at the same time unique.

In my job, I spend a lot of time typing names. From the names of callers requesting assistance of various kinds, to Deputies and Officers running driver license or warrant checks on people, I’ve run across some really odd spellings. More often than I care to contemplate sometimes, a name will pop up that defies logic. You have to wonder “what the heck were this person’s parent’s thinking??” It’s not that the name is all that weird, certainly I’ve never had to run anything like “Moon Unit Zappa”, but I have ran “Summer”, “Flower”, and “Sunshine”. Those are unusual, but not all that difficult.

The things that make me wonder about people is when they give their child a really off-the-wall spelling of an otherwise common name. They’ll slip in an extra “y” in James, or replace an “i” with a “y”, as in “Kymberly”. Sometimes they’ll spell “Keith” “Keiath” or “Jasmine” as “Yazmmin”. (My own parents were guilty of this: I am forever typing ‘Kristeen’ instead of ‘Christine’. Thanks, Mom and Dad!) There are plenty of other examples, and I suppose they’ll look spectacular done up in Gothic fonts on some graduation document someday, but they’ve got to be a pain for the poor kid.

When I see these oddly spelled names come across my screen, my first thought is “were their parents illiterate, or did they do this on purpose?” It creates a life-time of spelling errors and identification issues for the child. At the very least, they will be correcting the spelling of their names on documents for decades to come. At the worst, imagine the headaches if the common spelling gets onto an official document, say a passport or military ID, and everything else is documented with the “correct” spelling.

You’re not doing your child any favors giving them an unusual spelling of their name. Too many hassles can evolve from an attempt to be clever. Don’t do it. Your child isn’t a St. Bernard.

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