THERE was sheer delight etched on his face when he figured it out: Órla is an anagram of oral (the fada is optional, but does add an extra dimension of the exotic).
At that very moment, my classmate might as well have discovered the Higgs boson.
Naturally, 16-year-old me was teased for a few days. Luckily, many teenagers have an attention span shorter than a tadpole’s trousers so they promptly forgot and we all moved on with our lives.
The birth of Amy Huberman and Brian O’Driscoll’s daughter received mass media coverage recently.
Until her name, Sadie, was released, the baby had been dubbed ‘Huberbod’ in a mangled amalgamation of her parents’ names. Rumours that this is actually her middle name have not yet been confirmed.
Sadie can breathe a sigh of relief – she could just have easily been called Aviva. Celebrities have a habit of giving their progeny bizarre monikers. The classics Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva Thin Muffin (triple props to Frank Zappa) are often name-dropped in this regard.
Other gems include Sage Moonblood (bestowed by Sylvester Stallone, of course), Pilot Inspektor (offspring of Jason Lee of ‘My Name is Earl’ fame), Moxie Crimefighter (seed of Penn Jillette), God’Iss Love Stone (daughter of Lil’ Mo’ – singer and fan of apostrophes)and Tu (which isn’t remotely funny until you find out his dad is actor Rob Morrow).
Good ol’ regular folk are by no means innocent when it comes to dodgy names. In 2007, a couple from New Zealand met official opposition when they attempted to name their son 4Real, for real.
Pat and Sheena Wheaton were told they could not register the name because it included a digit. Mr Wheaton said he came up with the novel name after seeing his son in an ultrasound scan and realising their baby was "for real". Quite.
The parents continue to use their preferred choice at home but had to give their child a different legal name. So what did they choose? Something a bit more normal? Stephen? John? Ben? No, they finally settled on Superman. At least that looks better on his birth cert – 4Real Wheaton sounds like a fibre supplement.
To be fair, an unusual name is not necessarily the baptism of fire it has been labelled. Having a common forename can present an equal number of problems, albeit slightly more boring ‘Which Mary do you mean?’ kind of scenarios. Originality must meet practicality half way.
Even with the best intentions in the world, parents can lumber their child with a terrible burden from day one. A name is not just for Christening, it’s for life. What may seem like a sweet, unique idea in infancy can become prime ammunition for bullies a few years down the line.
Yes, the Toy Story trilogy is a childhood classic but calling your kid Woody borders on child abuse. At least make bullies do some of the work themselves – it’ll improve their vocabulary if nothing else.
Naming your child after the celebrity du jour on a whim is extremely short-sighted. Psy Callaghan is not particularly likely to stand the test of months, let alone years. And as bootylicious as your baby is, Beyoncé O’Regan just doesn’t sit well.
Names are, obviously, quite subjective – one person’s Apple is another’s mouldy peach. A moniker doesn’t even have to be outwardly odd to become a bone of contention.
A 15-year-old Icelandic girl recently made headlines for suing her native State for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother: Blær (which translates as ‘light breeze’). Authorities deemed the name unsuitable as they didn’t think it wasfeminine enough.
Iceland, and other countries including Denmark and Germany, has strict lawson names - they must fit official grammar and pronunciation rules. The Icelandic Personal Names Register is a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that parents can choose from. Officials maintain the list protects children from embarrassment.
Potential teasing isn’t the only aspect of forward thinking one must factor in when legally labelling a human. What if that child grows up and falls in love with someone whose name is difficult to merge with their own?
Where would we be without Brangelina or Kimye or our very own first couple, Mabina? These abbreviations save us precious seconds and make us sound like pompous assholes – two popular contemporary pursuits.
Of course, an adult can legally change their name if they so wish – just ask Snoop Sheep or whatever he’s calling himself these days. If you can’t be bothered going through this process – why not experiment with a nickname?
I’ve been trying to convince people to call me KitKat because I’m prone to breaking things and went out of fashion several years ago. It hasn’t caught on yet, but – taking inspiration from the Wheatons – I plan to persevere.