My mother’s name was Joy Melba but she changed Melba to Elaine as she did not like it. My parents wanted to name me Jane but were afraid that I would be teased and called ‘Plain Jane’ which was an insult back then. So they called me Janet Joy. I have never liked the name Janet. It has always sounded harsh to me. My South African family and friends all call me Jan, which I like.
When I moved to Sweden I carried on using the name Jan but it’s a male name here and pronounced differently, so when I turned up to teach there was always a lot of confusion. I considered changing to Joy, but have just kept my birth name, even though I have never stopped disliking it. My confirmation name is Francis, after St Francis of Assisi.
For a while, the now-insult of being a ‘Karen’ (middle-aged privileged white woman who always wants to speak to a manager) was also Brenda and Janet. I am rather glad that Janet didn’t gain traction but I do feel really sorry for people who are named Karen.
It’s also strange to me (although perfectly natural)how naming trends go in cycles. My granny’s sisters and cousins were Georgina, Iris, Gertrude, Edna, Violet, Daphne, Phyllis and Marjory. My bonus mom is called Molly. When we were younger those names were seriously unfashionable, but now I know several babies called Iris. For some reason there are also loads of dogs with old-fashioned names.
Sweden has a naming law, and you cannot take any name you want. Your name has to be approved by the Tax Agency, and there are lists every year of rejected names. Sweden has approved Google but blocked:
- Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin)
- Money Penny