Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I get press releases, Volume 13: Name that... name

The folks at Random House have sent along a press release for a semi-new book that sounds intriguing:

A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby

by Laura Wattenberg

Does it seem as though every little girl on your block is named Olivia? What kind of names would sound good with a brother named Dylan? Is George too old fashioned? Why is Brianna more popular than Mary, Karen, and Margaret – combined? Where does the name Marley originate?

All good questions. When my wife and I were expecting our daughter last year, we owned roughly 73,000 baby name books, each purporting to feature 100,000 names, so long as you count "Kaden", "Kayden", "Caden", and "Caidynne" as four separate names. of course, we had pretty much already settled on a name, so we bought the books essentially to confirm that there were no famous axe murderers, or characters on UPN sitcoms with that name.

However, I'm not sure what we would have done if we had this information at our disposal:

Laura Wattenberg is the first expert guide structured to direct you along your own personal path to the perfect name for your child. THE BABY NAME WIZARD gives you real-world facts and analysis. It uses groundbreaking computer research to identify trends, general ideas, and explain each name’s image. And, like any good wizard, it uses special powers to guide you to the choice that's perfect for your family's unique tastes. [Mitch's comment: Yeah, that's how Harry Potter named his kids...] Wattenberg offers this must-have guide as an alternative to the traditional and dull dictionary naming books. This is an enchanting and practical guide to name fashions, history and style that lets you start with one name you like and end up with a list of ideas tailored to your tastes. Each name has an entertaining buyer’s guide-style entry to answer these, and many more questions:

 How popular is it? Each name is accompanied by a popularity graph so you can see where the name ranks among all boys’ or girls’ names and track its use over the last century.
 What else might I like? Look up any name and get a list of others with a matching style, including suggestions for boys and girls – ideal for sibling naming.

That would avoid the embarrasing situation where you name your first child, say, "Josh", and your second child "Seghen", which you're no doubt aware means "ostrich" in several east African dialects.

The book also purports to answer other questions, including:
 Where does it fit in? Learn about a name’s distinctive style, from “Antique Charm” and “Old Testament” to “Brisk and Breezy” and “Nickname Proof.”

This really would be useful, as I (and anyone else named "Mitch") can attest, especially when it comes to being "nickname proof". Though I've always felt that I possessed antique charm. One does wonder which names earn the 'brisk and breezy' distinction. "Windy" would be my guess. (I mean, hey, everyone knows it's windy.)

The news release does not note, however, whether the book tells prospective parents which names sound best when read over a PA system at a sporting event. (Playing goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, Number 63, Seghen Teich...!"

The book does also have a pretty interesting website associated with it, where we learn the name "Mitchell" was the 89th ranked boy's name during the 1990s.

"Jane" has reportedly fallen to the #432 spot among girls' names. Even so, that didn't stop the folks at Pampers from sending me the following piece of e-mail with the subject line "Pampers Technical Error" (and what parent of a young child hasn't had one of those):

Dear Mitch,

We're sorry for a technical error that appeared in our Pampers e-mail to you on Friday, April 29. The message addressed to "Jane" should have been personalized with your name. We're sorry for any confusion or inconvenience caused by our mistake.

Fortunately, the original e-mail caused me neither confusion nor inconvenience, mainly because I hadn't read it until they sent me the correction. But it did shock me - and crush my faith in the Pampers marketing department. I had imagined a whole team of disposable diaper e-mail experts, sitting by their computers, and banging out relevant and helpful e-mails about my own personal diaper situation. But no more.

It was so shocking, in fact, that I nearly had a Hanes Technical Error.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

I got that Pampers email, too! Jane is probably so publicly humiliated now she might have grounds for a lawsuit.