Misspelling and Punctuation in Names 

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

The New York Times recently had an amusingly curmudgeonly piece by Paul Schmidtberger, decrying the trend of intentionally misspelling names given to babies. For example, the list of bastardizations of the name “Brittany” include:

  • Brittney

  • Brittny

  • Brittneigh

  • Brit’nee

  • Brittani

  • Bryttney

Oh, the horror. Schmidtberger went on to issue some advice:

Misspelling a child’s name won’t make Junior special, creative or unique. Y’s and I’s are not interchangeable, and apostrophes are not some sort of newfangled confetti to be sprinkled liberally throughout groups of letters.

Reading this passage, I was reminded of a classmate I had in high school by the name of “Ya’ir”. At the time, I’d never seen such a name. I decided that if he could have punctuation in his name, I was entitled to my own as well. Thus, for the rest of the year, I was “Paul!“. It’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think? The exclamation mark really gives it some zazz.

As Schmidtberger notes, governments in other countries (such as New Zealand) have the option to reject names. Perhaps it’s time America considered the same.


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