Life in the Fast Lane


A Not-At-All Serious Guide to Naming Your Baby

By 11:19 AM , , , , ,

Disclaimer: The author of this post isn't a parent, and with this comes absolutely no right to name any child, or to even think of baby names. However, since it is a brand new year and there will, for sure, be another round of babies being born, said author wanted to take a crack at writing this guide. If you are a parent, however, do not feel compelled to take her seriously or to follow her advice, since her only naming credentials are dogs and products or brands.

In advertising, one of my tasks as a copy-based Creative is to come up with name studies. These are usually suggestions of names for brands or products that I present to clients, and each name study always comes with a rationale behind why I chose or came up with that name. Each and every name study must be able to make the brand or product stand out, and they must have a certain longevity; one can't come up with a name study, for example, based on a pop culture phenomenon or trend that won't be remembered five years down the road.

I guess the same principle applies to naming babies. I feel that there must always be a rationale behind the naming of each child (as opposed to coming up with one on a whim, which the child will carry with him/her for the rest of her life).

Therefore, I present to you "Tina's Guide to Coming Up with Baby's Name Studies: A Not-at-All Serious Edition".

Rule No. 1: Think of a Name That Will Suit the Child From Childhood 'Til Adulthood

Certain names are cute now, but what about when that baby grows up into a teenager? A thirty-year-old? A sixty-year-old with a grandchild?

Imagine that, someday, a title will be attached to his/her name: Doctor *insert name here*, Attorney *insert name here*, or even Uncle/Tito *insert name here* or Aunt/Tita *insert name here*. Thankfully, Judge Judy seems to work.

Rule No. 2: If You Plan to Come Up with a Portmanteau, Make Sure That Name Works

Some people like combining names: usually the baby's parents', or grandparents' names. But there are some that go overboard to the point of the resulting combined name sounding really forced (or in Filipino, pinilit talaga).

There are combinations in life that work, like peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and liver paté, however, absolutely do not. So think long and hard before combining names like Stan and Danielle (Stanielle sounds more like a love team pairing) or Tirso and Brenda (Tinda... might as well put up a sari-sari store business).

Rule No. 3: Make Sure That the Name Suits the Surname

We Filipinos are extraordinary in the sense that we carry a hodgepodge of surnames, since our ancestors hailed from different parts of the globe. We have distinctly Filipino surnames, like Macalintal or Bayani. Some are even tribal or regional, like Lumaad or Tauli. Then we have remnants of the years of Spanish colonization in the form of Spanish surnames like Saavedra, Nieto, and Buendia. And of course, how can we forget our Filipino-Chinese brethren? We have a range of Chinese surnames in this country, from Ang to Yap.

Some names are better suited to our Filipino/localized surnames; some (especially Spanish and Italian names) sound better with Spanish surnames; others go well with Chinese surnames (usually the very English or Anglo-Saxon-sounding ones). Ideally, one should not mix and match the two, i.e. a very Filipino first name with a very Chinese-sounding surname, like Diwata Go — unless Diwata Go, in the future, marries a Filipino with a Filipino surname and becomes Diwata Magpantay.

Rule No. 4: If You Plan on Naming Your Baby After Somebody, Think Long Term

The Kardashians are all the rage these days, as are the likes of Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and other pop culture icons. But in thirty years, these people may or may not still be popular, and what they are known for now may or may not stick. If you plan on naming your baby Kendall, Niall, or Sheeran, you better commit to what those names will stand for in the long run; after all, it's your baby who will have to explain to his/her teachers and classmates where his/her name came from.

My nephew's first name is Joakim, and my brother named him after the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah. Thankfully, he seems to be living up to his namesake and is already showing signs of being interested in basketball.

Rule No. 5: If You Want to Give Your Baby a Unique Name, Do So, But with Caution

Some choose to change the spelling of their baby's name, so it sounds traditional but spelled with a complicated set of Z's instead of S's, and Y's instead of I's. You might, for example, decide that Cristina (which is my name, for instance) sounds cooler if spelled as Kryztyna. This works for some, but not for others. Think about how this name will appear in the future on your child's driver's license. Will it look good? Then go ahead. Will it look strange on your child's college application forms? Then think of another name, or perhaps tone down on the number of Z's and Y's.

Others give their babies names that aren't exactly names, but are more of adjectives or nouns. Going this route means that you are fully aware of the responsibility your baby has to live up to its meaning. If you name your baby Hawk, he better end up as a rockstar someday. If you go for a soft-sounding name like Harmony, I sure hope that she becomes a cellist in an orchestra. Or as a member of a duo that auditions on The Voice in 2035.

My nephew, Mateo (left), at birth, October 2014.
Babies are love!

Of course there are other things to consider, such as the real meaning of each name, and if you should give your baby a Biblical one (personally, I love Bible-based ones) or not, but the ones listed here are my top-of-mind suggestions based on current baby naming trends (and, like I said, no prior experience, whatsoever, other than naming dogs or brands/products).

If you're due to give birth to a bundle of joy within the year, congratulations in advance! I pray for a speedy delivery and a healthy baby boy or girl when the time comes.

Happy baby-naming!

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  1. I choked on my drink at "Stanielle." Totally lost it at "Diwata Go." Haha! Diwata Go aside, (bahahaha!) these are good rules for parents/future parents to follow. I also think your experience in advertising qualifies you as an expert in this area, no need for disclaimers, which was funny too by the way!

    1. Hahaha! I just needed to give a disclaimer in case people, especially parents-to-be, need some sort of reassurance that they don't need to follow any of these rules. :D

      There are more rules percolating in my brain, but these may require a separate post someday!

    2. I got one: never, ever, under any circumstance, give a boy a girl's name.

    3. So I guess there will no (boy) Daisy in the near future?

  2. Nope! Daisy is right up there with Lily, Rose, Petunia, Lavender, Poppy, and Pansy.

  3. Haha! Yep! Then there are gender-neutral names like Taylor and Blake. I can think of one masculine sounding name that may be appropriate for a baby girl: Tyler.

  4. I was listening to Johnny Cash this morning, and his song, "A Boy Named Sue" came on, and all of sudden I remembered this entry. I can't believe its been a year. Time sure does fly.

    Check out that song. Happy New Year!


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