Fun_People Archive
9 Oct
The Nine Billion Names of Jack

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon,  9 Oct 100 15:09:30 -0700
To: Fun_People
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Subject: The Nine Billion Names of Jack

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-

[This is a follow-on to a long discussion started by a possibly apocryphal
 story about a hospital nurse holding up the birth of Frank Zappa's son
 Dweezil until the parents chose a "real" name.  -psl]

From: "Joshua W. Burton"

Vicki Rosenzweig writes:
> A couple of random points.  One is that the nurses have some
> reason for saying "I'm not writing that down"--otherwise you
> get kids named "Mazola" because there was a commercial on
> while the mother was in labor, and in a drug-befuddled state
> she thought "Mazola sounds nice."  On the other hand, you can
> always say "we haven't decided yet" and have the form filled
> out for "Baby Boy Zappa" and amend it later.  That gets around
> nurses who you think are being unfair, and by then you'll
> hopefully be back to your normal self.

A friend of mine delivered one on the floor of a busy inner-city emergency
room, and had to keep a straight face while talking the mother out of her
firm intent to name the girl "Linoleum Jackson".  I waffle between endorsing
his action (on the "Mazola" theory), and feeling that he was guilty of rank
cultural imperialism.  (There were a lot of kids in our homeroom with names
in the same vaguely euphonious mode as "Linoleum", after all, and at least
two kids named "Jesus" as well.)

> [There are naming *laws* in many European countries.  Iceland,
> and I think other nations, limit you to a fixed set of
> "approved" first names. ---pozzo]

It's worse than that.  About five years ago, a judge agreed with the French
administrative agency charged with this patriotic task, that a French
citizen could be barred from naming her daughter Blanche simply because
mother and daughter happen to be black, and eh quoi, c'est a dit, cela ne
se fait pas en France.  There was about a page and a half of Napoleonic
legal reasoning, but that was the gist.

A few years ago Israel's Yediot_Aharonot noticed that there are precisely
zero instances on that country's tax rolls of the commonest Israeli male
personal name paired with the commonest Israeli surname.  A moment of
reflection will identify both, and explain the paradox.

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