RE: Children's names

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 13:31:12 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Children's names
    Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 13:31:12 +0100 
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    >> Religion, ethnicity and nationalism have a role in name choice
    also, I
    >> expect. Very interesting to hear that Danes often give their
    kids English
    >> names. Of course, there's been a trend in the US for
    African-Americans to
    >> develop variations, and new names to avoid their slave names. In
    >> some like to make a point of spelling their names the gaelic way
    (even when
    >> it's not a gaelic name in the first place), and so on. Pagans
    try and avoid
    >> biblical names, and so on.

            <Do you have any examples of non-gaelic names spelt gaelic-style?>

            Nothing absolutely for certain, so I probably mis-spoke. One that
    springs to mind is my surname, Campbell, often put as Caimbuel (I'm not sure
    of the spelling) meaning crooked-mouth in gaelic. The origins of Campbell
    are very murkey, although the best evidence certainly points to a non-gaelic
    origin, possible even Roman (Campo-Bello is one I've heard). There was a
    news report the other day that suggested that St.Ninian was a mis-spelling,
    but I didn't see the full report, so what it was a mis-spelling of, I don't

            I have some Scots friends who are pretty nationalistic, and they're
    always going on about gaelic names, and the anglicisation (is that a word?)
    of them. For example, the Mac of MacRobert etc., actually means 'son of
    Robert', and daughters should be NicRobert (there may be a 'h' there as
    well). Anyway, one of my friends complained that because of English rule
    this Scots tradition had been suppressed. I pointed out that the tradition
    of naming kids as son of or daughter of whoever, actually stems from the
    Scandanavians who occupied much of Northern Scotland for long periods
    (Icelanders still use 'dottir' and 'son', for example), such that there
    wasn't much uniquely Scottish about that practice. That went down well, as
    you can imagine!

    >> Like you say, possible memetic subject there. Perhaps studying
    the trend
    >> for new names amongst African-Americans would be a good way in to
    >> their origins, rates of spreading, and mutation on the way. I
    bet someone's
    >> done this somewhere.

            <Probably. It seems rather an obvious research topic (though so do
    > in retrospect). But I wonder what, specifically, a memetic perspective
    > would add to any study of naming trends?>
            Well, I still like to hope that memetics might answer the question
    of why name X spread and name Y didn't. Perhaps memetics isn't needed to do
    that, perhaps memetics can't answer such a question, I don't know at this


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