Self Naming: A Plan

In many cultures throughout the world, a child when born is given a name by his or her parents.The child has no say in this name choice, obviously.Later the child comes know that X is his or her name.The child and much later, the adult may not particularly like their given name.I happen to be one of them.I imagine there are many others like me.So, what Iíve begun to consider is a new way to name a child.What I am proposing is a method that would allow the child to eventually name him or herself.Yes, you read it right, Iím advocating self-naming.When I think of all the names that I would like to have been named, it makes me full of regret, I was stuck with this one.Letís see how this could work.

First, letís examine how itís done now.Thatís quite simple the expectant parents discuss between themselves and with others the name they are going to give the coming infant.They may ask their parents on both sides what they think, or their mutual friends and relatives or even consult books on the subject.Whatever is the case, they never ask themselves or others: What would this baby like to be known as when it matures to the point to understand it has a personal noun called a name?This may sound odd, it is quite within reason to consider what a child would like to be called in life.And believe it or not, it can be done.Here is how.

American culture (any culture) could be modified to incorporate a way to have the child name him or herself by first assigning a temporary name when the child is born.This process could be done by a ritualized event whereby, all those related to the child are assembled and the parents announce the child is to be named X, and will be known as X until such time that X can understand what names are.At that point, letís say age 5, another ceremony will held to allow the child to formally change his or her name.Prior to this event, the child will have been told from his or her earliest years the name X is only temporary and at some point he or she will be asked to change it.It will be a momentous occasion in the childís life.Like graduating from high school, his or her first steps or spoken words the child will be prepared for the event.The community in its turn will do everything to make the child understand that this event is to allow the child to choose what he or she really likes as a personal name.During the years leading up the event, the child will be encouraged to think of a name he or she finds appealing and expressive of him or herself. This itself could lead to a wondrous creative process. The child come to know things and images or even occurrences that express their ideas of themselves and incorporate this into an idea of a name which might express this in their respective languages. This is getting so good to me, I gotta write a government official with this idea.

Finally, the day comes and the child is given full license with some exceptions to choose a name.Some exceptions would be:

        No profane names

        No cross-sex names like boyís names for girls and vice versa

        No verbs as names

        No names that express offensive ideas like: Hatred, Beat-you-up, Killer, etc.

        No nonsensical names like XY12mZ2


All of the resources to find a name would be at the childís disposal.At this event, again which would be a ritualized ceremony, perhaps a respected member of the community would officiate.He or she explains that the child with temporary name X, will now name him or herself Y and this will be the childís permanent name and any all references to X will be abandoned henceforth.

Now, wouldnít that be beautiful!I mean think of it, you get to name yourself what you want to be called and all those of importance in the childís life to that point will actually call the kid that!Moreover, the legal system could be modified to accommodate the cultural change.The birth certificate would list name X followed by in parentheses temporary.In an age of amazing computer technology this new process of self-naming would easily fit.A huge database like the Social Security system could be modified by a SQL script to change the name of the number assigned to the child in 5 years when the name change is made and reported. The same thing can be done in the Census Bureauís birth certificate database.

Much of human culture is based on the imposition of conformance.Cultures impose upon its subjects a wide variety of acceptable behaviors.Here for once a culture can give a member a chance to make a choice.This process could be refined and codified to contend with errors or mistakes.For instance, what about a child that canít choose?Then, the child can name someone else to choose.Or a child that is overwhelmed by the event and all those people watching and waiting to hear what he or she will say. He or she can choose a name prior to the event.We already have a system in place to do this legally in this country.Name changing happens all time in courts of the land.So why not let it start from the beginning?


Ken Wais 3/13/11