Oprah's Name Club
What do these names have in common?
Arminda, Delvan, Marolyn, Tabbetha
Stumped? I'll throw in a more famous example: Oprah.
Perhaps you've heard the story of how Oprah Winfrey got her famous name. Her mother intended the biblical name Orpah, but along the way a typo transposed the r and p and the mistake stuck. Today, that "mistake" is a one-named global media franchise.
The names in my first list may not be as recognizeable as Oprah, but their origins are strikingly similar. Here are their stories, in the words of the people who submitted the names to Namipedia:
Arminda: "was supposed to be armanda but was was missspelled by nurse filling out paperwork. Just left it that way."
Delvan: "I was named after my biological father, who was also a Delvan. He was named after his father, also a Delvan. His father was supposed to be named after the town or lake (story varies between family members) Delavan, in Wisconsin. However, the hospital misspelled the name on the birth certificate, but his parents liked it, and kept it, and so I ended up with it."
Marolyn: "This variation of Marilyn was unintentional, the nurse filling out my sister's birth certificate in 1950 spelled it wrong, based on my mother's odd accent in pronouncing it."
Tabbetha: "My name was supposed to be spelled Tabitha, but when my birth certificate returned, it was spelled Tabbetha. My mom liked it and keep it."
Individually, each of these is just a quirky name story. Together, they're an interesting challenge to the notion of a baby name as something near-sacred, a parent's inviolable choice. Each of these families accepted a chance accident as their child's lifelong identity. Is that bowing down too easily? Or is it a charming embrace of serendipity, accepting the unexpected twists and turns that color our lives?