November 12, 2010

"Can you imagine what little Zoes would have to endure on the playground, and even worse..."

"... when they get a little bit older and someone comes up to them in a bar and says, ‘Can I see your airbags?' or ‘Can I shine your bumper?'"

A French lawyer tries to get a court to prevent Renault from naming a new car model "Zoe." He loses, but the very idea of bringing such a suit makes you stop and wonder about France:
France is known for taking first names seriously, even going so far as to block parents from giving children ridiculous names if officials deem it detrimental to their future.
(Via Above the Law.)

60 comments:

CBCD said...

Denmark has an approved list of some 7,000 names for babies. Any name not on the list has to go through an external review.

More info here:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/07/03/mf.baby.naming.laws/index.html

traditionalguy said...

Names can be seen as questionable. Isn't zoe also the name for the life force? My wonderful daughter in law's maiden name was Doe. I wonder who believed that one. And the owner of a small clothing store in Buckhead, a Mr. Penny, named his first born son J. C.

Hagar said...

It sounds as if France - as well as Britain and other countries - is becoming infected by "the American Disease," i.e., an excessive number of lawyers.

Though Norway has had laws like that for a long time. There is a law prohibiting "foreign" names unless the name is traditional in the family, and after WWII at least, there is a law prohibiting "ridiculous" names such as "Bombardina" for a girl born during an aerial raid.


Wv: nabheeho (let's not go there!)

Revenant said...

Hagar, the French have had strict legal controls on language and name use for a very long time.

It seems weird to an English speaker, but it is what it is.

Kirby Olson said...

Finland also has laws concerning first names, and there is an approved list.

I think it probably does prevent later harassment. For parents who haven't got the brains to stay within guidelines and norms, it's good.

However, a relatively common first name for Finnish men is "Hemmo."

That would sound weird here, but over there, you'd fit right in.

I can't stand how in America you get these names with a weird vowel here or there to give some kind of individuality to the name. Whatever happened to norms?

Grammar has norms. Spelling has norms. Names should be normal, and acceptable, within a given culture. Let's keep to our traditions.

Clyde said...

Not as funny as the Audi "e-tron," an electric car whose name means "excrement" in French.

Which gives the lie to the old folk expression "you can't polish a turd." In this case, you can polish it to a nice shiny orange!

Coketown said...

Can I shine your bumper...? I thought the French were supposed to be more risque. Something like, "How many can fit inside?" seems more appropriate.

Sixty Grit said...

I have read that Germany does the same thing - no boys may have the first name "Schroeder". At least that's what I read. I guess this ties the Peanut thread to the name thread.

Dirk Hardpec, Rip Steakface, Slate Slabrock, Crud Bonemeal, Brick Hardmeat, Rip Slagcheek, Punch Sideiron, Gristle McThornbody, Slate Fistcrunch, Buff Hardback, Blast Thickneck, Crunch Buttsteak, Slab Squatthrust, Lump Beefbroth, Touch Rustrod, Beef Blastbody, Big McLargehuge, Smoke Manmuscle and Beat Punchmeat could not be reached for comment.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well, maybe France should have thought about that when the Mercedes Benz was named.

JayC said...

What if Renault named a car after your first name and your last name?

And your social security number?

And your zip code?

Wouldn't that freak you out?

Revenant said...

It is a bit silly to worry about kids making fun of a name. There is no name kids cannot rise to the challenge of mocking. Worry about a name that will get them mocked as *adults*, like "Dick Johnson" or the like.

rhhardin said...

Is it a magic e that makes the vowel say its own name, or a missing diaeresis over the e.

Naked Surfer said...

Ought to make a law that no one can be named, and no car, it’s all better anonymous, with as many names as work ...

“All I need is just one chance
And we could make a sweet romance
Do you think you could find it in your heart

To let me drive your car?”

Karnival said...

Well...at least they can still serve Happy Meals. Although they don't call them Happy Meals. They call them Jacques.

Original Mike said...

"...makes you stop and wonder about France"

I stopped wondering about the French a long time ago.

Oclarki said...

Plaes enact a similar law in the US. Those receiving government assistance would have to have their baby names approved by a civil servant.

Jamarcus?? Sorry not approved. LaQuisha?? Try again.

E.M. Davis said...

Freedom is such a precious thing ...

(of course I am talking about my daughter, Freedom Ja-Weezy Turntable Davis)



WV: Squalert - Warning! Clean up your room!!

Quaestor said...

France has had this name thing going on for a long time. Prior to 1789 it was a right of a feudal seigneur to approve the christened names of their tenants and dependents; since every day corresponded to at least one feast the customary choice was the name of the saint whose feast day matched the birthday.

After the Revolution anti-clericalism dictated that saint's names were outlawed: no more Henris, Jeans, Pierres or Francoises. Instead the committees recommended names from classical antiquity, especially names which invoked good republican values, names like Brutus, Pericles, Leonidas and Lucretia. If such a highfalutin name wasn't to the parents taste the Revolution suggested names derived from practical, everyday life. Hence the name Haricot (or Haricotte for a girl).

We American's tend to believe that the state should have no role in how we name our children, and I am in agreement generally with this attitude. However, we all know of at least one couple who out of some devotion to a "higher cause" or whatever inflict some really stupid names on their kids.

Naked Surfer said...

... scratch that prior post, Renault’s too weak and too lame under any name to play boombox for Steppenwolf, “Get your motor running .... like a true nature's child ..," not in any Renault, not in the backseat, not in the front seat, not in any Renault under any name, just not safe at any speed ... sorry Renault owners (and all Zoe's), but as disgusting as it is, and was, in the Onion, I’d rather see Biden half-naked washing his Pontiac Trans Am in the White House driveway than to read this lame lawsuit ... what's in a name? -- hell with ‘em if they can’t take a joke ...

Sixty Grit said...

Le-a approves.

Belkys said...

In the USA , some family lost custody because their son was called Hitler,
In Norway or Sweden the problem was for a family with a daughter called talula dance the hula

Gabriel Hanna said...

Of course I don't approve of government lists of approved names, nonetheless people today are giving their kids dumb names.

Was out camping this year, three kids run by. Their mom follows, yelling

"Jayden! Misty! River!"

My kids are getting names from the Bible.

In "The Forgotten Man", Amity Shlaes recounts that some of Father Divine's followers were not allowed to register to vote (IIRC) because of their "ridiculous" names.

Kids are endlessly inventive in taunting each other and there is no name that cannot be made fun of--not even Bjaardker, despite what Mr. and Mrs. Johnson thought.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The Johnsons' efforts to find an untauntable name are documented here:

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/92/92ababynames.phtml

bgates said...

Jamarcus?? Sorry not approved.

Just saw a story last night about a college basketball player named P'Shon. There's also a D'Brickashaw in the NFL, and a Craphonso.

D'Brickashaw was apparently named after the character Father de Bricassart in The Thorn Birds.

He avoids being picked on by being a black belt in karate, and also 6'6", 310 lbs.

deborah said...

lol SG.

Shanna said...

Most new babies in China are now basically required to be named based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on national identification cards.

Creepy!!!!

I see no reason to change our tradition of naming children any thing you please, even if we do end up with a few lemonjello's and ima and ura hoggs...That's why you can legally change your name!

The Crack Emcee said...

Original Mike,

I stopped wondering about the French a long time ago.

Yea, Ann is showing her liberal roots again, flaunting this stupid fetish once more. Let it go, dear, the frogs ain't interesting in the least.

Now pull up to the bumper, baby.

Quaestor said...

The worst name I've ever encountered was fittingly attached to a badge which was attached in turn to a girl behind the drive-up window at Wendy's. It was "LaToyletta." Jesus Christ on a cracker, there are some stupid folks out there. Well, at least she was working.

The second worst name I've had a brush with belonged to one of those "I'm the only authority on how my own is name is spelt" wackos. Her name was Gennaphur.

former law student said...

We are perhaps the most spasmodic society as far as baby names go.

Love Story set off a wave of boys named Ryan (for Ryan O'Neal) and girls named Jennifer (for the character; Ali did not appeal). The TV series Dynasty made Fallon popular for a while.

peter hoh said...

OMG! That's a perfect name!

I'm going to name my next kid Renault!

MadisonMan said...

Such a fragile flower are the French.

peter hoh said...

Finesse Mitchell had a great guest spot on SNL's Weekend Update about baby names.

Looking for it, I found this stand up clip instead.

former law student said...

I'm going to name my next kid Renault!

Already been done. Renault Robinson was born in 1942, so I'm not sure where the name came from.

http://www.idvl.org/thehistorymakers/
images/Portrait/269.png

Quaestor said...

If you've thoroughly digested your lunch you might visit babynamer.com and read up on some of the affluence offered as names on that site, especially the associated "meanings" on file.

For example, name ranked 2313th in popularity for females is Latrina, derived from the Greek Aikaterine. Yeah, right.

They do admit that the name a girl named Latrina might be teased by the word latrine.

wv: quatigr - a predator at least four times as dangerous as a lion

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Shana:

The Chinese requirement is not so creepy, put in context.

First,the Social Security administration does this routinely--people's names have to use the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet without diacritics. One of my professors had to change the spelling of her name on this account.

Secondly, Chinese of course is not written in letters, but in symbols which can stand for words or for sounds, depending. There are more than 10,000, and some of them are archaic or obscure. It is entirely possible, in China, to see someone's name written and have no idea how to pronounce it. You can also have many people with identically pronounced names but each uses different characters to write it.

Irene said...

Now the French are worried about bullying?

Crimso said...

There was a great SNL skit with Nicholas Cage where his character and his wife were trying to come up with a name for their baby. Every suggestion she offered was unacceptable to Cage, as he would immediately begin pointing out to her the different ways the child would be taunted. In the end, he gets a delivery addressed to something like "Mr. Asswipe Johnson," thus explaining his insistence that the name be untauntable. He says "How many times do I have to tell people: it's pronounced Oz-weep-ay."

Brian said...

@Qaestor:
The worst name I've ever encountered was fittingly attached to a badge which was attached in turn to a girl behind the drive-up window at Wendy's. It was "LaToyletta." Jesus Christ on a cracker, there are some stupid folks out there. Well, at least she was working.

I knew a young lady years ago, a teacher, and she swears that one of her students (a girl) was named Clitoria.

I think that beats your story.

@Gabriel:
My kids are getting names from the Bible.

Well, I'll go ahead and wish your daughter Bilhah, and your son Jabez, long and happy lives.

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

The Scandinavian languages have three extra vowels in their alphabet, and the U.S. Gov't does not understand about that either.

And Peter and fls, I am shocked, shocked! that you do not know where the name Renault came from in 1942.

E.M. Davis said...

Snopes here it is.

Shanna said...

Snopes here it is.

Ima Hogg and Lemonjello = TRUTH according to snoops. Sadly, Ura Hogg is apparently a myth.

Freeman Hunt said...

Those French are sensitive.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Brian:

Well, I'll go ahead and wish your daughter Bilhah, and your son Jabez, long and happy lives.

I was thinking more along the lines of Hephzibah and Jehu.

edutcher said...

I wonder if they've outlawed Adolf?

Certainly, France hasn't shown any moxie since Verdun, so something like this, a move Michael Bloomberg would applaud, pretty much figures.

Brian said...
@Qaestor:
The worst name I've ever encountered was fittingly attached to a badge which was attached in turn to a girl behind the drive-up window at Wendy's. It was "LaToyletta." Jesus Christ on a cracker, there are some stupid folks out there. Well, at least she was working.

I knew a young lady years ago, a teacher, and she swears that one of her students (a girl) was named Clitoria.

I think that beats your story.

@Gabriel:
My kids are getting names from the Bible.

Well, I'll go ahead and wish your daughter Bilhah, and your son Jabez, long and happy lives.


They can call him Jabe, similar to Jake, and the girl Billie - shouldn't be that big an issue, although The Blonde once encountered a patient who wanted to name her upcoming daughter, Placenta.

PS Ima Hogg was a Texas socialite, the daughter, I think, of Texas governor and oil tycoon, James Hogg.

Well, somebody got a laugh.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Many many years ago I was a 'directory assistance' operator at night while going to college in the day time.

International and out of State requests. We had actual paper books that we would flip through to get the names and phone numbers. It was a very boring job, with the exception of the local calling area calls (The Tenderloin in SF) which were pretty interesting at 3:00 am when the drunks and cheap perverts would call in.

Anyhooo. We would spend time looking for funny names. Some that I remember. Some real and I'm sure some that were made up.

Harry Bahlz
Peter Rabbit
Irma Sidebottom
Ima Dick
Peter Dick
Olly Hurlbutt

The Crack Emcee said...

Freeman Hunt,

Those French are sensitive.

No, those French are crazy - and, oh, so preciouuuus!

I used to crack up because, while they're all concerned about bullying over names, they don't put any safety gear around their playgrounds, so the kids are constantly cracking their heads open. The same thing at home (no carpeting and few rugs) so the sound of a watermelon splitting - followed by "WAAAAA! AAAH-WAAAAA!" - became music to my ears.

I swear, the French? They're idiots, really.

johnnymcguirk said...

In the movie Splash, which came out out in 1984, Tom Hanks's character asked Darryl Hannah's mermaid what her name was. She was in N.Y.C. and looked up at a Madison Ave street sign, told him her name was Madison. He said "that's not a name." Until 1984 Madison wasn't among the top 1000 names in the SSN data base. It first appeared in 1985, the year after the movie came out, peaking at #2 in 2001-2002 It currently is #7 among girls' names.

William said...

Zoe sounds like the name of a high maintenance woman. For just that reason, it's a bad name for a car.

Penny said...

"Worry about a name that will get them mocked as *adults*, like "Dick Johnson" or the like."

I knew a "Dick Johnson".

Of course I met him past prime which was a pity, for sure.

By the time we met, he was merely the nutcracker.

Belkys said...

Dj can not beat Rusty Staub, possible HOF

Palladian said...

Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer

Fred4Pres said...

I could get it if they were calling it la grenouille, but Zoe? Zoe is cute.

Fred4Pres said...

On a few Pacific Islands, kids often get named for current events (ususally US current affairs). Hence you can roughly age someone if they are named Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter.

Fred4Pres said...

la Kermit works too.

deborah said...

I have a dog named Zoe, and so does my second cousin's husband. It's a sweet name.

Penny said...

Pick your poison, deborah.

John said...

My favorite was "Millicent Tweedly."

I have always imagined her trying to thwart the plans of a character played by W.C. Fields.

billm99uk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
billm99uk said...

I knew a "Dick Johnson"

There's a famous Australian racing driver called just that.

Mind you I did know a guy who used to name his daughter after models of cars. He had had a Carina (Toyota) and Astra (GM) when I knew him and was about to have a third.

But best name I ever knew was an Ethelstan...