Wots in a name, then

Fellow blogger, Redcap, has categorised some of the modern wierdo spellings of children’s names as “SBG” names.

SBG means Shallow Bush Grave – the idea being that people with names like “Penzy Mae”, or “Shaniquwaah” seem to end up in the news, after being found buried in a Shallow Bush Grave.

Go over HERE and read all about it.

Well… somebody took exception, emailed her, and she’s had a suitable reply.

Strange though this might seem, I’ve just finished reading a fascinating book: “Freakonomics”, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The sub-title, appropriately enough is “A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything”.

The book covers a few topics, including school teachers who cheat in standardised tests (and how they were caught using statistical analysis), and “why is it that if drug dealers make so much money, so many live at home with their parents?”.

But the topic that really caught my attention was a rather long chapter on children’s names and their long term prospects and educational outcomes.

The study group is large, and comparisons are made in the changes over time to conventional, as well as unconventional, names.

The important conclusions from this are:

- children with strange names – be that odd spellings (JassMyn for Jasmin), or just unconventional (DeShawn) tend to be indicators for parents with low levels of education.

- children with strange names tend to have poorer outcomes.

- you can’t determine causality:

In some cases, the name IS USED to judge a person when applying for jobs and so on. If you can’t in the high door because of a strange name, you only get the low-door opportunities.

But in some cases, the poor outcomes for children are simply reflecting the poor outcomes their parents had, which is correlated with the level of the parents education.

(Which came first? Strange name caused a setback? Or a poor choice of parents caused a setback AND a strange name?)

So Redcap might not like the strange names. And some parents will get terribly defensive about their choice of strange names. In spite of the difficulties of causality, if a parent wants their children to do well in life there are some things that can help:

- don’t give a strange name with weird pronunciation or spelling. It just makes the kid have a life of unneeded torment.

- encourage as much education as possible.

- and if you are well educated as well, even better.


Why would anyone bother with a shitty comment. No point at all. I stuck with the simple . .it didn’t really matter. Adam has become Ads, AB or Abe . . Clare is Clarence or Baino . . can’t win! I have a feeling that Nicole Kidman must be a bit dim . . .Sunday Rose indeed . . poor kid would get ‘Roast’ out here.

Comment by Baino | January 15th, 2009 7:42 am | Permalink

Yep, regular names get abbreviated (Peter -> Pete), extended (Mike -> Mikey), Australianized (Darryl -> Dazza).

Two otherwise smart people I know (both lawyers) called their son Loy. Cannot be shortened, extended (Try saying “Loyie”) or otherwise messed with – or so they thought.

Plain sailing all through kindy and pre-school. Then at the end of Day 1 of Grade 1, little Loy came home and announced “All the kids are calling me Savvy”.

Comment by MikeFitz | January 15th, 2009 10:27 pm | Permalink

As I work in a couple of schools, I see plenty of these names. Allocating them usernames for email and computer logins is interesting.
All our usernames are the first and last name of the student including the space. Students with commas, hyphens and other odd characters get my version of their name.. Some parents are not happy but there is only so much that Windoze will accept.
Students are required to use their username to use a computer from day one, so those with simple names have another educational advantage.

Comment by pphilbro | January 17th, 2009 3:23 pm | Permalink

Ha! Hard evidence! :)

Comment by redcap | January 18th, 2009 1:39 pm | Permalink

Sure there are ghastly bogan names out there, and there is no way in the world I would call my child Khylihea or the like (for my own reasons of personal taste) but do we want to discriminate against people for it? You (and Redcap) seem to be advocating the casting of aspertions on people’s intelligence, background and comptetence based on the name given to them, regardless of the reason. Do you think only traditional, biblical names should allowed, like John, Mark, Sarah and Amy? Lets go back to the 1950’s shall we? The good ole days, when people gave their kids “normal” names, like Bruce and Mavis. Well times have changed and thank god for that. There’s no accounting for personal taste and your disdain of “strange names” is tantamount to snobbery! My wife has what you would call a “strange” name, and despite what your books would have you believe, she is a very successful career woman with a Masters degree and a good income, not some scrubber in a shallow bush grave.

Comment by Wyn | January 23rd, 2009 10:44 am | Permalink

No Wyn, I’m not suggesting anything of the kind.

Don’t read more into the post than what I wrote.

Indicators and tendancies are just that – there will always be exceptions (thats the whole point of indicators and tendancies… you get a gist of a trend, not a predictor of outcome for every individual).

Comment by Wally | January 24th, 2009 9:01 am | Permalink

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