Re: Children's names

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Tue Jun 05 2001 - 15:05:38 BST

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    Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 15:05:38 +0100
    Subject: Re: Children's names
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    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Tue, Jun 05, 2001 at 01:31:12PM +0100, Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > 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!

    Either you don't know when your leg is being pulled, or you have some
    rather stupid friends.

    > >> Like you say, possible memetic subject there. Perhaps studying
    > the trend
    > >> for new names amongst African-Americans would be a good way in to
    > finding
    > >> 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
    > many,
    > > 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
    > time.

    The short answer as to why name X is more popular is "because more people
    like it". To dig any deeper than that surely would be for psychology and
    allied trades. As I've said before, I don't see why memetics should ever
    be able to explain any such specific issue better than disciplines such
    as psychology. It can't offer new reasons, because it is nothing but
    a repackaging of existing reasons. That repackaging is philosophically
    interesting, but can't possibly be of any empirical significance.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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