Columnist begs parents to Quit it with Odd Spellings of Common Baby Names

paul name

Are you one of those parents who, when deciding on a name for your baby before he or she was born, wanted something very unique?

So even though you liked “Madison” as a name, you decided to help her stand out by spelling it “Madicyn” or like “Madyson” or “Madisyn”

Or are you that parent who skipped on the tradition spelling of Brittney and opted for “Brittny”, “Brittneigh”, “Brit’nee”, “Britany” or “Bryttney”?

Maybe, Chase was too blah so you opted for “Chace” or “Chayce”?

Caden too? Boring. How about “Kaden” or “Kaeden”, “Caidyn” or “Cayden”?

Turn a simple biblical name like Isaiah on its head and you’ve got” Isah”, “Isaieh”, “Isaah” or “Izaiah”

A couple of the Kardashians are named Khloe instead of Chloe and Kourtney instead of Courtney because their parents wanted all the first names to start with the first letter of their last name.

khloe and kourt host

Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian

It’s cute, but did you take it one step further and turned Chloe into “Kloey”?

Flip Jacqueline around and you’ve got “Jaq’leen”.

Speaking of parenthesis and hyphens.

One New York City teacher listed the most unique names she had ever come across on her roster: 

Somaily (Sa miley), Dimmamelle (Dimel), Joedan (Jordan), Sha-Niyhah (Shania), Jerleek,  Shaqueena and Marqwell. She called them HR nightmare names. Pity that is coming from a teacher though.

These are the unique names that author and New York Times columnist Paul Schmidtberger complained about in a May 7, 2010 piece.

In it he writes that “parents shouldn’t impose cryptic, incoherent or foolish spellings on their own children, nor on society as a whole.”

Schmidtberger goes on to say parents will “condemn their children to a lifetime of bleakly repeating that, no, the name in question is spelled “Shaiyahne” not “Cheyenne.”


Sounds a bit curmudgeonly to me.  But I say this as a person with an African name Jeneba that I always have had  to repeat, carefully spell and correct people’s punctuation of, most of my life. My husband who is named Dave and not David has to constantly tell people that no he wasn’t just giving them a nickname when he told them his name.

Yet, our first kid, who we named Caleb, is not pronounced like the traditional way but slightly different. You’d think we had learned a lesson from what we went thru growing up always correcting folks. ha!

We just liked the name but didn’t care for going with Caleb with a K because we just didn’t want to. Really it was right after 9/11 and didn’t want him to accidentally end up on a no-fly list.

But what’s it to anyone, really?

However, does Schmidtberger have a point? Should parents stick with the traditional spelling of names?

“Misspelling a child’s name won’t make Junior special, creative or unique,” the New Jersey native writes.” 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.”

Does he have a point or is just being a male Debbie Downer? Sound off in the comment section below.

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