To All The Jordynns I’ve Loved Before

This week, as I proofed a story involving a whole bunch of elementary-aged kids, I began to notice something rather strange. A good 75% of the kids had been bestowed with names that were either completely bizarre or had been spelled “creatively.”

An inordinate number of these names had random consonants and double vowels plopped down at their middles or ends. It almost seemed haphazard, but bulk of the names were so obviously over-conceptualized that I knew something else had to be going on. To wit, and I swear I’ve not fabricated a single one of these:

“Y” made an especially impressive, if not often inexplicable showing, usually as a clever(?) substitute for an “O” or an “I”
• Jordynn
• Camryn
• Kaycee
• Jolyon
• Jaymes
• Abbigayle
• Kyrsten
• Gryffen
• Tayvin

Other names were obviously totally made up:
• Kasten
• Nately
• Jezarel
• Karis
• Fame
• Dasher

And, interestingly, two little girls by the names of “Kyzia” and “Kysa” had ended up in the same kindergarten class.

The whole thing struck me as slightly ridiculous, and rather postmodern. As for the made-up names, well, I’ll at least give the parents cred for trying something new. But please. Let’s think through the concept of “creative name spellings” a moment: The ear cannot discern between “Katii” and “Kaydee” and “Caidi” and, well, plain old “Katie.” It’s pronounced exactly the same. So what, I ask, has a creative name spelling ever really done for anyone? It won’t allow him or her to stand out amongst counterparts, except, I suppose, if you count the lifelong chore of fielding confused looks and butcher’s blade mispronunciations these little ones have been tasked with. It’s a way to stand out, yeah, but it’s the wrong way.

And another thing: it’s completely inefficient! In 15 years’ time, it will be virtually impossible to intuit the spelling of anyone’s name. How can a person even be expected to think straight with all those rogue consonants flying all over the place? Teachers will tear their graying hairs out at the root. Credit cards will arrive bearing botched imprints. Fugitive double vowels will jump out screaming around every turn. Humans will stop addressing each other by name, too embarrassed to ask whether that mysteriously placed “Z” or “Q” is, indeed, silent. Civilizations will collapse! I’m not kidding, people! This could well be our ruin.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m all about free license, creativity. But it’s like this: when I was three, my pregnant mom promised my older sister and me that we could pick the name of the sweet third baby girl on the way. I campaigned hard for “Elmo.” Ryann was gunning for “Chili.” In the end, we settled on “Ashley.” I was on a bummer for a day or two, but I sensed then, intuitively, that it was somehow right. That the world was as it should be.

On the other hand. You know what? Screw it. When I have a little boy I’m soooo naming him “Rghyzxst.” Pronounced “Larry.” The worst of both worlds? You’d better believe it.

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