Name calling


“Top baby name” lists invariably annoy me because both my daughters’ names always feature.

Yesterday, Kidspot released Australia’s Most Popular Baby Names for 2014 and yep, they both made the Top 10. Damn it.

I swear, when I chose a name for my eldest … a decade before she was born … no one called their kid that. No one. It was my great-grandmother’s name and not at all fashionable. Kinda like calling your kid Mavis or Gladys.

When the youngest came along I was leaning towards calling her Audrey (although even Audrey came in at No. 47 in the Kidspot story, go figure) and I kinda wish I had, because somehow I’d failed to notice every second kid already had the name I chose. Neighbours, friends, movie star offspring …

Alana, on the other hand, is never likely to climb to the top of any baby name lists. And that’s both a blessing and a curse.

Having an unusual name can be exhausting sometimes.  For example, I’ve resorted to saying “Anna” to the person behind the counter when I order hot beverages or burgers. It makes life sooooo much easier than having to repeat myself three times, then spell it. No one ever screws Anna up.

“Alana” gives them all sorts of trouble, despite it just being Anna with an L. Yep, folks, that’s how you pronounce it, just in case you’d been saying it wrong all this time …

Not Alarna, not Alan-uh, not Alaina.

I used to be really pernickety about people getting my name wrong, but I’ve mellowed over the years. I can remember it being a badge of honour among my friends to know the right way to pronounce it, kinda like a secret password into the Alana Club.

Nowadays, I rarely bother to correct people.

And then there’s the whole “A House” thing. That’s always been a bit of a bore.

As I noted in a blog called My Name Is Moo (and I’m an ugly cow):

Being called A. House has its challenges. At school, being redheaded, I was nicknamed “House on fire” (not exactly an A. House reference, but distressing nonetheless). There were also lots of jolly japes along the lines of “If you’re A. House, where are your doors and windows?”

I distinctly remember a year 8 teacher giggling as she read out my “A. House” entry on her roll call. You’d think you could count on your teacher to keep a lid on the bullying, not inspire it.

When Husband first met me, he called directory assistance seeking my phone number. They hung up on him when he requested the number for “A. House in Paddington”.

My grandmother had a letter returned to her once that she’d addressed to A. House in Petersham.

Oh, wait, there was supposed to be a “blessing” bit … I’ve grown quite fond of my name’s uniqueness, after hating it in my teens and dreaming of marrying some nice bloke with the surname “Green” (my favourite colour at the time).

When I finally married in my 30s, I decided to stay Alana House. It’s my career name, it’s memorable, and I find it a bit odd that you’re expected to take your husband’s name like you’re property.

I can’t believe I just said that.

The decision has turned out to be quite fortuitous post-separation. It’s cut down on soooooo much paperwork.

And, going around in circles, I was a little surprised by some of the names that made the Aussie Top 50 for 2014 for girls: No. 27 was Willow; No. 32 was Evelyn; No. 39 was Aria; and No. 49 was Summer … just to name a few. Maybe Alana will make it onto the the list one day …

Have you ever wished you had a different name? 

Song of the day: Elton John “Your Song”







15 thoughts on “Name calling

  1. When you are a high school teacher trying to name each child becomes very problematic. Our children have 6 years total between them all and naming each one became harder as my teaching career continued. I only new one Corey at the time 15 years ago and he wasn’t that bad. I didn’t know a Taylah at all when number one daughter was born and there was only one Alana I knew. Funny how we choose our kids names.

  2. Because my ex husband had a particularly difficult name to pronounce I gave all mine very simple names. Old school names that no one would muck up. I think the way you pronounce you name is the best. It sounds much prettier than the alternatives. I don’t care about my name either way because I don’t feel like it’s my name. I’m Mum.
    I love that story about asking for A. House in Paddington. Hilarious 🙂

  3. I think you and I spent most of high school telling people how to say our names properly. I STILL have to do it, and then some people have the gall to correct me. And I love your girls’ names. Ignore the list. It just shows who is copying you 😉

  4. I’m pretty sure I pronounced your name wrong Alana… I’m sorry. I’ll remember it now. I never liked my name as a child. It’s Alexandra but I was always called Alex or Al. I just thought it was too much of a boy’s name. I tried to call myself Lexy for a while at high school but copped a bit of flak for that. Now I don’t care. I like my full name but think Alexandra is too much of a mouthful and too formal. I do get annoyed when letters are addressed to Alexander or Alexandria. As for the baby names, we had an Audrey and an Ida in my mother’s group back in 2008. Then Audrey had a little sister called Edith! I do love the older names.

  5. I beg to differ Alana, I’ve no end of confusion growing up an “Anna” – people seem to ignore the last letter and presume they’ve heard “Ann”, even at appointments where they are reading my name on a list they will call me Ann. I just give up, usually they notice after a while that they are wrong and correct themselves. Only ever had one other Anna at school with me, but there are a few more around these days. My cousin called his daughter Lois which raised a few eyebrows at the time but she’s 18 now and has grown into it, quite a woman’s name I think rather than a little girl. I don’t think she had many namesakes at school either!
    I’m sure we’ll meet one day and now I will know how to pronounce your name properly.
    Anna x

  6. There’s always been an issue with Geoffrey vs Jeffrey but it’s my last name that really causes confusion, so like Pinky, my son got a strong and simple “Michael” (and NEVER Mick!).
    Dare I suggest, whatever my name is, “just don’t call me late for dinner!”.
    Boom, tish!
    PS. Have you seen a Doctor yet?!

  7. I’ve always hated my name. My mother was in her French phase when she had me and thought it was exotic. Turns out it’s just bogan – not that there’s anything wrong with being a bogan. I always though I was more of a Rachel or a Meg than a Charmaine.

    • Oh, I always thought you were Charlotte for some reason. Funny, huh? I have no idea why my parents called me Alana … maybe my mum was going through an Irish phase. I really should ask.

  8. I don’t know what name I would like to be called but I know I have never really liked my name – Linda – apparently my Mom read it in a book and didn’t know anyone called Linda !!! It must have been a really popular book because at school – in a call of 10 – there were 6 Lindas !!!!!!!! My husband never calls me Linda which is good – I’m normally Love – I can deal with that.
    We chose our daughter’s name because I had read it in a book – I just changed the spelling slightly. Sometimes I think we should have chosen a different name altogether except she looks so much like her name I don’t know what else we could have called her and despite not having some dodgy spelling, my MIL still doesn’t manage to spell it right – K is turning 23 next week !!!!!!

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