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The Wright Opinion - What's in a name?
Seth Wright.jpg

A question I've been asked a lot lately is, "How are you liking your promotion?" It's a question I invariably answer with some form of - well, it was a little overwhelming for the first few weeks but Bethany, Taylor, Nikki and Jeff have been a tremendous help and I think I'm settling into it. I like it.

That being said, who doesn't like a little extra money? So, I, like many other people have entertained occasional side gigs over the years where I used my art and graphic design skills to do commissioned art work or design logos. It's always fun when I'm making my way through the county and see someone wearing a T-shirt with one of my designs or to see a logo I made on a school gym or sign or at a restaurant or flower shop or downtown monument.

There is one other side gig, however, that I've only half-jokingly talked about for a long time. Having worked at a newspaper for over a quarter of a century, I have come into contact with countless names across multiple generations. From baby show contestants to Fairest of the Fair hopefuls, 25 years worth of high school graduation tabs and court dockets, school award pictures and any other kinds of stories, I've seen a LOT of names.

And, more often than you'd think, I come across names that make me think, "I'm not sure the parents totally thought this through." 

So my idea is a simple one. I could provide a service called "Wright Name Baby Naming Consultations."  As expectant parents, you come to me with a list of 10 possible names and I will tell you every way I can think of that the name can be made fun of or misspelled. 

I won't list any specific names here. I'm here to protect people from public shame, not to cause it. But, recently I saw a name that rekindled this naming service idea I've had for so long. It's a name that's fine when you hear it, but the way the parents chose to spell it is the problem. Whether out of ignorance of how the name is conventionally spelled or perhaps born out of a misguided attempt to be unique, I would wage no person could ever spell this child's name correctly based on just hearing it spoken. There are three syllables in this name and each of them is spelled in a very different way than you'd expect.

I just think about how much time in this child's life is going to be taken up by them constantly explaining to people how to spell their name. An unusual spelling sounds fun in the moment but it's not as much fun for the person who will spend the rest of their lives constantly seeing their names misspelled in classrooms, newspapers or anywhere else they may appear in print.

As someone who has won multiple state awards for headline writing (many of them pun-based), I feel I'm uniquely qualified both to consult about spellings and to know how the name could be used in an unflattering manner.

For a modest fee, I'd happily provide a comprehensive review which the client is under no obligation to use. But they can't say they weren't warned if their child's name is constantly misspelled, mispronounced or mocked.

Standard Managing Editor Seth Wright can be reached at (931) 473-2191