Weird Names

When it gets announced that a celebrity has given their child a weird name or when you see in the news that a kid has a weird name most of us grown in sympathy. What’s life going to be like for Pilot Inspektor Lee, Jason Lee’s son? What about the little girl on the news recently who was made fun of by the person associated with Southwest Airlines, Abcde? And then there are the Jello twins who used to live in my city. Orangejello and Limonjello, their mother doesn’t pronounce it Orange Jello and Lemon Jello, but when you see the names written before spoken…

People always think this is a new thing. Unfortunately, it’s not. To understand 20th century Europe, you have to understand Victorian Europe. The Victorian British came up with some astounding names. England entered into a period of temperance before the US or the European Continent. They were outlawing many drugs that were freely distributed everywhere else in the 1940s, things that wouldn’t be outlawed in the US until the 1910s or on the continent until the late 1890s.

Oddly, the weird names are associated with temperance sentiments. Names like Teetotaler Timothy Greenvale actually paved the way for names like Leicester Railway Harburton who was indeed born at Leicester Station. I don’t know what Mr. Harburton grew up to be, but I imagine he probably used a nickname. Just as I’m sure Time of Day Bar also went by a nickname, he was lucky enough to get the middle name Thomas.

The real difference between One Too Many Balls (Balls was the last name, One Too Many is the first) and Limonjello is that the internet hadn’t been created to allow the flaunting of such an extravagantly strange name. And the distinction between classes existed, titled peers tended to name their children family names “George” because there had been 8 other Georges going back to the time of Elizabeth I as opposed to Register.

With the lower classes (essentially the masses) of Victorian England, naming had turned into a free for all. Any word that struck Mum and Dad’s fancy ran the risk of becoming a child’s name: Register, Farting, Ticket, Zebra, and Banana all went from being ordinary English words to exotic Victorian English names.

The trend didn’t really die out until the early 1900s. By which time several generations of children had been given strange names.

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