Ledasha, legends and race: part two

Oct 10th 2009

Reader advisory: sensitive topics/vocabulary

In the first post on Ledasha, I suggested that many familiar "urban legend" names serve as proxies for talking about race. Names are the perfect vehicle for this because they carry so many subtle cultural signals. Even fake names can have real ethnic identities. Take another read of the Ledasha tale, then try  this one for comparison:

A college student comes home for the summer and her shocked parents see that she's obviously pregnant.  She tells them that she's determined to finish school on time and that all of her sorority sisters have promised to help her with the baby. Sure enough, come September she's back on campus with her baby son in her arms: little Kegger, named for the place he was conceived.

You've never heard that one before, have you? I thought not, because I made it up. But if you heard it in a different context, I'll bet that you'd follow the social and linguistic cues that point to the family as upper middle-class white people. I chose the name Kegger not just for its meaning, but because it follows stylistic conventions of distinctly white names like Kyler, Bridger and Cooper.

Real name tall-tales aren't about folks like that. They're consistently packed with cues pointing to a non-white underclass, and it all starts with the names. Consider one of the longtime kings of urban legend names: shuh-THEED, spelled S-H-I-T-H-E-A-D. When you hear the name shuh-THEED you know without a shred of context that you're not talking about a white boy.

The standard length for an American boy's name is two syllables. By my calculations three-fifths of all boys are now given two-syllable names, and the percentage of white boys is even higher.  Yet among all those hundreds of two-syllable white names from Aaron to Zander you won't find a single name with stress on the second syllable. That rhythm is common enough among contemporary black names, as well as in other languages like Arabic. Some more traditional English men's names have second-syllable stress too, but if you think of one chances are you'll find it has dropped out of use among whites while maintaining some currency in black families. Try Jerome, Maurice and Bernard. (That's maw-REECE and ber-NAHRD. As the front-stressed MOHR-iss and BERN-erd, they're solidly white.)

This brings us back around to Ledasha. It's a hair's breadth from the popular black name Latasha, and echoes a whole generation of Leshondas, Lakishas and more. Check out the NameVoyager graph of LAT- names for a snapshot. Not only does the name Ledasha identify the mom as black, but it works a sly bit of guilt by association. It positions its silliness right in the middle of a standard black naming style -- in fact, one version of the story claims La-a is "one of the most popular names in Detroit." The story is designed to be "all too plausible," playing off what we already believe. The implication is that the whole style of names is equally suspect. That's a common technique of derision, as we'll see in part 3...


October 10, 2009 9:37 AM

Laura-Love the Kegger story. Honestly I think that the girl could be from any race.
I love your posts and the thought that goes in to them. Kegger seems like a name that is stylistically poised to become the next great boys name-if it weren't for the unfortunate meaning.

Btw, I've always interpreted the name S-H-I-T-H-E-A-D to be a girls name. the way it was told to me, it was pronounced Shuh-TAY-uh.

By Tracy (not verified)
October 10, 2009 10:30 AM

Very interesting. One of my son's is named Ciaran with fadda over the 2nd a, pronounced Kir-awn. We got a few barely disguised eyerolls from members of hospital staff when asked his name, I am assuming because they thought it was a name like Keyshawn, as names ending in "awn" and "ron" sounds are more popular in the black community. We are a white and Asian couple.

What's funny is it's pronounced with a slight stress on the Kir part, but it seems like Americans have a really hard time with that an pronounce it with a heavy stress on the Awn part (and half the time pronounce that more like Kuh RON). Doesn't matter the race, it takes a while for folks not familiar with Ciaran to pronounce it KIR awn.

Makes me half wish we'd named him Kieran which was my original plan.

By CGDH (not verified)
October 10, 2009 10:41 AM

Thank you for posting this, Laura. As ever, your analysis is first-rate.

By Anna (not verified)
October 10, 2009 11:02 AM

The first time I read the Kegger story, I thought "black". When I went back to re-read it I realised it was the pre-story introducing sentence that set my mind up for another "black" legend. But it was my own fault entirely, I read it too fast and simply picked up "here's another Ledasha story". This probably reflects on my own language skills more than anything else. Then I failed to pick up on the 'college student' clue, and this is probably telling of the "monochromatic" society I live in with a relatively small socio-economic splitting and free universities. Finally, when the name 'Kegger' was revealed, this was the 'jump the shark' moment for me (as in the part where I begin to doubt the legitimacy of the story). The fact that I missed the point (or the point missed me) is something that has absolutely nothing to do with names, and everything to do with background. (Intriguing, in its own right).

I find it interesting that the "black" version of names with different "black"/"white" pronunciation (Maurice and Bernard) is close to the French pronunciation; mo-REESE, ber-NAHR. Or is this just coincidental with these two names? I thought (certain) French names were seen as sophisticated in the upper crust white circles, in much the same way as stiffy old British names?

By Sarada (not verified)
October 10, 2009 12:08 PM

My SIL works in a hospital lab and is always telling the shi-THEED story at family gatherings. She sees it ALL THE TIME on lab orders. Chuckle chuckle at those stupid black people and their crazy names.

I have been unable to make her admit that she has not personally seen this, and the inherent racism drives me crazy.

Can you pull up Social Security records somewhere so I can officially prove that this name doesn't exist? Of course, that might not do a lot for family harmony . . .

By AmyElizabeth (not verified)
October 10, 2009 12:12 PM

Kegger definitely read as a "white" baby name to me. I am biracial, and I've never been to any parties with guests that were predominately minorities that involved a keg.

Tracy, I had a friend who named her son Declan. I think it's a name many people aren't aware how to pronounce correctly. When my friend announced the name, she also received negative feedback -- Apparently the "De" beginning looks too "black" to some people.

Thanks Laura for these insightful posts from the last few days. I visit another baby naming board where a few of the moms to be (usually teachers) enjoy making fun of baby names they see around them and there's often negative racial undertones to the jokes.

October 10, 2009 12:13 PM

I heard the Le-a story as Ja-a (Jedasha) as a friend's cousin substitute teaching in New Orleans. He even mentioned the racial undertones, as if I couldn't figure out what he was saying. I read "white" on the Kegger story, and now am thinking of other names that I think of as being a certain race. I was actually discussing this with my mom last night who finds it hilarious that I go to school with an Asian Angus and an Asian Leslie (who's a boy by the way, for whoever was wondering about Noah Leslie... but then again, his last name is L!, so it's a little odd) whereas I would assume an Angus or Leslie was Asian if they were my age, just because in my experience most 'old-fashioned' names are (I know 3 Asian Cindy's)

I do love these posts Laura, like Linnaeus said, a chance to broaden my horizons!

I also love Soren, and on Rohan, I say it like in LOTR (not because of LOTR, but because I knew someone who's name was Rohan pron. that way in elementary school.

On another note, yesterday at the supermarket I met a cashier who's name was Will Ferrell. My mom and I asked about it and it's actually Will Ferrell Jr. which I thought was sort of funny.

By Birgitte (not verified)
October 10, 2009 1:03 PM

Awesome article! I am always excited when your name pops up on my list of feeds, but this time it was even better than usual. I love articles that make me think, so keep 'em coming!

By Tyson (not verified)
October 10, 2009 1:09 PM

Such an interesting topic....

My name is Tyson, which most people assume would belong to a black male....but I am a white female. I have never had a problem with my name, and I enjoy that it's so unique for a white female. I think the trouble comes in when people assume that names must follow certain cultural, ethnic, or racial trends. We need to approach names like we should anything else, and not place judgment on people based on that alone.

Also, I am a teacher, and I've spent several years teaching inner-city children and my most recent years teaching in a more suburban area. The names are unique in both settings, but the urban legends do find their roots in reality...whether the trends are based on socioeconomic differences or race/culture would be another interesting topic to consider...

By OrangeXW (not verified)
October 10, 2009 2:08 PM

I read a Filipino-American blogger who says that the "stand around and drink" party (keggers, cocktail parties) is largely a white phenomenon.

Glad you're writing about this, Laura. Will you have a link to parts 2 and 3 (or beyond?) at the end of part 1? It'll be great to have a one-stop shopping link to pass on the next time I encounter one of these racially tinged name stories.

By Birgitte (not verified)
October 10, 2009 2:31 PM

Just a random thought, does any of you suspect that the anger at Obama for winning the Nobel Peace Price is rooted in racism?

October 10, 2009 2:45 PM

i do not suspect this, but i confess to not knowing much about it.

By Anna (not verified)
October 10, 2009 3:37 PM

Birgitte, I suspect it has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with names. Laura has previously asked us not to discuss politics here, so perhaps it is more appropriate to take this topic to another forum?

October 10, 2009 3:50 PM

Interesting, Laura. Does this mean we can change the "target race" of the story around if instead of La-a, the name is -iell, -en, or -eigh?

Honestly, I think La-a is kind of inspiring. The idea of using punctuation as a fully pronounced name element is original and opens up possibilities, like the boy named @. Even if it's NMS, it grows the ways we think about our identities, and I love that sort of thing.

By Anna (not verified)
October 10, 2009 4:10 PM

Sarada - maybe this approach will work with your racist in-law: 1. Get right back at her with an answer so surprising that she stops talking. 2. Present the facts while she's still scratching her head. 3. Out her 'story' as an urban legend. 4. Sprinkle with more facts. 5. Don't accuse her of lying at any point the conversation, let her own words speak for themselves.

RIL: And guess what, I saw *another* Shithead last week and yada yada yada...
Sarada: Did you know that nowadays 60 percent of all boys names are two-syllabic?!
RIL: ??
Sarada: Yeah, and all of the like 200 most common ones are stressed on the first syllable
RIL: ??????
Sarada: That's why Shithead works so well in the urban legend, the stress on the second syllable immediately gives it away as a black name!
Sarada: You should totally see this great article by Laura Wattenberg about the urban legend. Have you also heard about Le-a? It's another legend yada yada yada...

And if she's really persistent:

RIL: You saying I'm lying?! It's totally true!
Sarada: Can you get a copy of those records? You should totally do that because no one has been able to prove this story before. I know this great name researcher who would totally love to see proof of this...

In case 'totally' doesn't have such a prominent place in your vocabulary, feel free to substitute ;-)

By Birgitte (not verified)
October 10, 2009 4:19 PM

I'm sorry, I didn't realize that.
Laura's article just made me think of it, is all.

October 10, 2009 4:41 PM

I just want to point out that it's more than the name Ledasha that indicates that the mom is black. In Laura's telling of the story (which I first heard from my dad a few months ago, so it's definitely a phenomenon), the mother explains the name, saying: "It's Ledasha. The dash don't be silent."

"The dash don't be silent" is a clear use of AAVE. If the mother said, "Zee name, eet ees Ledasha. Zee dash is - how you say? - not silent," the story would sound very different, would it not?

By Demetria (not verified)
October 10, 2009 4:43 PM

OrangeXW, I wouldn't say cocktail parties are a white phenomenon, but yes keg parties do scream white frat boys/sorority girls.

October 10, 2009 5:00 PM

Sarada-The best place I could think to check (being a genealogist) is the Rootsweb.com database or Ancestry (though I don't subscribe)for death records. You are able to check through records using only the first name in these. Other sites, such as newspapers, you would need a last name to look for an obituary or other record. I found no record of any S**D in these sites. So my conclusion is that A) none exists or B)they do but haven't died yet. However, of all the baby name announcements I peruse, I've never seen and announcement of said name. I don't believe there is a way to check SSA birth registrations other than the top 1000 lists we all check every year.

October 10, 2009 6:00 PM

Interesting about the Rowan/Rohan pronunciation a few of you mentioned. When I said I preferred the Rohan spelling I didn't realise some people use a different pronunciation for Rohan. I am not a LOTR fan and wasn't aware of the connection. I've known a few Rohan's (more than Rowan's actually) and they use the standard Rowan pronunciation. I guess I've learnt something today!

I also didn't read Maurice and Bernard as black names, more European with the second syllable emphasised. I actually love Bernard as a name, and Gerard. I guess not living in the US I don't automatically see all names as black or white.

October 10, 2009 7:30 PM

Love the analysis of the syllabic stresses in boys' names...I never would have thought of it, but now it seems so obvious!

And to the mother of Astrid: you're probably already aware of this, but I've recently started watching Fringe, and I love the running joke about Astrid Farnsworth's name on that show...another character can never remember her name, and is constantly calling her things like Astro and Asterisk, and all the other characters keep telling him, "ASTRID!"

And now I need an opinion from all of you:

Vaughn Douglas or Graham Douglas?


October 10, 2009 7:52 PM

Anne with an E-Have they said Astroid yet? Sorry but the name is too close in sound for me.

One vote for Vaughn!

And does anyone know if Maurche is pronounced more like Mar-SHA or Mar-SHAY? Saw it in a local birth announcement.

By cileag (not verified)
October 10, 2009 9:20 PM

The LOTR reference is what keeps me from trying an alternative spelling of Rowan--I've seen Rohan and Roan as the two main other options but I really like the tree connection, and I think it will be the most common way of spelling it as well, so for simplicity I'd stick to Rowan. My big problem is the growing number of girls named Rowan that are popping up. I'm really not a fan of androgynous names and I can't deny that girl Rowans are climbing rapidly.

And Chimu, we're thinking of Soren James after some family members. Otherwise we'd go with
Graham Rowan
or Neil Rowan

But Soren Rowan just doesn't work.

And Anne with an E, I prefer Graham obviously since we're strongly considering it. ;)

By Demetria (not verified)
October 10, 2009 9:22 PM

Re Rohan: I think of Rohan Marley (Bob Marley's son), I believe he pronounces it Ro-Hahn.

By Demetria (not verified)
October 10, 2009 9:23 PM

cileag, the number of female Rowan's fell last year, I think it's still safe as a boy's name.

October 10, 2009 9:49 PM

jayel40 wrote:

"I just want to point out that it's more than the name Ledasha that indicates that the mom is black...'The dash don't be silent' is a clear use of AAVE."

Yep, absolutely. Just wait for Part 3. ;-)

October 10, 2009 10:00 PM

cileag- I vote for Neil!

October 10, 2009 10:19 PM

The Rowan topic and Laura's post made me think a bit about assumptions. Now of course I preface my question with my post on the last thread that simply stated it isn't always the greatest idea to make assumptions-if you're not sure ASK. However,-

Don't we make assumptions every day about names in general that don't cause any flags to go up and are mostly necessary to assimilating to our environment and the way things are these days. With regard to names, most of us will assume that Robert, Michael, and Christopher are boys names until told otherwise. Kaitlyn, Olivia, and Isabelle are girls. Is it wrong that we assume that? I don't think so. Everything in the world must fall in to some sort of a category for us to understand it. A robin is a bird. We learn what a bird is and accept that if we see another thing like it then it is a bird unless we are told otherwise (because all things that fly are not birds). If we meet a Robin who is female we will understand that it can be used as a girls name UNTIL we meet a boy with that name. So, I think all names can be both boy and girl. They can be used by any race who wants. It is only when we try to "fit in" and choose names that have previously been chosen in our gender or race that we start to become victims of the bias. I am just as "guilty" as anyone and don't have any answers to correcting the situation. Just thought I'd ramble to the board though. Thanks for listening.

October 10, 2009 10:54 PM

When Elisabeth Hasselbeck's son was born I read comments from people saying that Isaiah was a "black" name and they couldn't believe she would use it for her child. I was just floored when I read that...I honestly couldn't believe that people would think such a thing. I really liked the name Deacon when I was pg with my son and so many people said it was a "black" name because of the guy on King of Queens. It really annoyed me. People can be so obtuse about names...it really irritates me.

By P. Gardiner (not verified)
October 10, 2009 11:12 PM

I've heard the S**thead story as well. I did go to school with Thai brother & sister named Tirdsak & Poupee (poo-PAY). I still have the yearbook, although Poupee is on FB. She totally owned the name though, she was a great girl.

October 11, 2009 12:20 AM

I think that it's the very fact that there really are actual people "out there" with very unusual names or foreign names that have "funny" pronunciations in English that makes these legends believable to many people. It's the details of the story that make it either objectionable or not. Regarding the Le-a legend, the part where the mom says, "the dash don't be silent" as jayel40 said earlier, is the part that makes it clear that the story is making fun of "those dumb black people". I agree that it doesn't matter if there really are real little girls out there named Ledasha or Le-a or not. That's not the point of the story. The point is supposed to be that "they" are stupid and that "you" are superior. Without the mom's line the story seems to me to be poking fun at crazy kre8tiv spellings. After all, is Le-a really that different from Mahdyssyn or Erykkah or McKaelah or even Nevaeh and Ily? It's just a bit more extreme. Sorry if I'm just repeating what others have already said, it's really late for me and I'm having some trouble focusing on my point...

By Esme (not verified)
October 11, 2009 12:27 AM

Laura, you are awesome. Thanks for these posts. by the way, my brother in law (white) told us the story about the baby named Female over a decade ago when he was a clerk at a Kaiser.

By valvh (not verified)
October 11, 2009 1:07 AM

As for the la- naming trend, I once knew an Older white lady named Lafawn. I think she came from Utah, which has its own baby naming trends.

October 11, 2009 2:22 AM

Laura - Great posts, and well articulated!

zoerhenne - I fully agree with you on the assumptions/categories. For me, the only issue is if you aren't cool with shifting your categories to allow things that don't fall into them when they occur.

Kristin - I am thinking what I think is the same as you - where something like Le-a sounds presumably black, but Mahdyssyn presumably white, but of the same sort of social grouping. (Actually, I think Le-a is a full stop ahead of Mahdyssyn but that's just me) haha, just realized the pun.

Anne with an E - I vote Graham.

Sarada/Anna - From Sarada's story, I didn't get the impression that her in-law was racist. Did I miss something?

As far as Asians using old fashioned names, I hope my crop grows up sticking with their English studies, flooding into North America and taking over the scene wearing their age appropriate names, muahahahahaha, it will be glorious.

October 11, 2009 4:29 AM

Anne with an E - I vote Vaughan but that is because it is one of my favourite names and Graham is totally a middle aged man name to me (no offense!).

Cileag - Soren James is lovely. I agree Soren Rowan doesn't work. Neil is also a middle aged man name here in Australia so not one of my favourites. I think I prefer Graham over Neil. But I'm not sure how either goes with your surname. Is Rowan out of contention for first name status? I also don't think Rowan is going to the girls. I think girls may continue to get the name for a bit but boys are by far dominating the name so it seems safe.

By Keren not signed in (not verified)
October 11, 2009 4:56 AM

The Kegger story is completely baffling to a non-American.I had no idea what a Kegger was or what the story was conveying.
Ladasha though - I picked up the racist conotations.

Cileag - love Soren or Rowan. Graham and Neil are middle-aged men to me. My son's teacher is called Rohan, he is from Australia (and has a baby daughter called Willow)

October 11, 2009 8:19 AM

This may be an offensive question, but Chimu and Keren's comments made me wonder what names would cause the equivalent urban legends to arise in Australia and the UK (or Denmark, Anna!). The offensive subtext of these legends can't be unique to the US. It makes me think that perhaps even in the age of the internet that certain urban legends don't spread beyond the confines of one culture or another simply because the nasty subtext that makes them "funny" doesn't translate.

By lunzy (not verified)
October 11, 2009 8:41 AM

Finally getting around to posting my kids' grade name lists. We live in a semi-rural area in central/western VA, near 3 colleges. Mix of white country folk, Mexican immigrants and transplants from all over who work at one of the nearby colleges/university. We also have strong Old Order Mennonite and Immigrant Russian Baptist populations, but I think they tend to homeschool or keep more to themselves. I love our area- so diverse.

DD's private preschool
3 year olds

Carter (x2)

4 year olds


My son's public Kinder class


By Guest Robin (not verified)
October 11, 2009 10:08 AM

Cileag - I posted on the last thread too, but here's another vote for Soren (esp. with James) I liked it before, but like it better now. And my husband likes it too, which is highly unusual. It sounds so solid and masculine without being macho. The strong and silent type. :)

By Anna (not verified)
October 11, 2009 10:40 AM

Elizabeth T - mighty good question!

Obviously you can make all sorts of jokes with names, but mostly they're so over the top you'd never believe them to be anything but a joke. The urban legend with Le-a works because Ledasha is plausible as a name, but I doubt it's even possible to construct similar legends in Sweden/Norway/Denmark. A hyphen is called a "bindestreck" in Swedish and it literally means a "line that binds". Unlike "dash", "bindestreck" is way too long and sounds just too unbelievable to be a syllable/fraction of a name.

One Danish joke I've heard occasionally mocks a hyphenation gone wrong in what was an attempt to create a posh name:
Frigg - one of the Norse gods (Odin's wife). I've heard this as a name myself, Nordic names are trendy right now.
Adèle - French name
The combination Frigg-Adèle looks both posh and royal, but sounds almost like "frikadelle" which means meatballs (like Swedish meatballs) so it ends up being just plain goofy. I don't think anybody would ever believe a story with a Frigg-Adèle though, because it is just way too obvious.

October 11, 2009 12:41 PM

Anna-That story was cute. I'm thinking maybe Bindestreck might be a great name nn Bindy for short. Bindi is Steve the Crocodile Hunter's dd's name.

Lunzy-did you notice the shift in the type of name given for the 5yo compared to the 3yo. You really can see the trends emerging. Thanks for posting.

October 11, 2009 3:51 PM

@ Lunzy: I thought it was sort of funny with the 5yo's because I had a Nora and a Maya in my kindergarden class.

October 11, 2009 4:55 PM

re: African American and French names: I heard that after WWII when African American soldiers had spent time in France and found they were treated better there than in the US, the trend of giving French-sounding names began. This includes the Le and La names I think.

linzybindi's post about people critiquing certain names as Black also makes me think about crossover and how different kinds of crossover are valued. i'm sure there are situations where African Americans give their children certain names that are critiques as "too white," but in a celebrity case at least (to parallel Elizabeth Hasselbeck), I don't think this critique would be made. If Halle Berry, Will Smith, etc. gave their kid a name that was considered "too white." Idk, maybe I'm wrong here. Trying to think about this in terms of male/female crossover too. That is, boy names can be used on girls but not vice versa.

Elizabeth T: interesting question about Australian and UK versions and jokes translating between cultures. I've heard that humor is the hardest thing to understand when learning a new language because like you say there's all that cultural stuff that's so hard to understand. From what I've heard about UK naming here, it would seem like the urban legend there might be more about class than race?

re: Astrid: Just remembered that my classmate with this name got called Asteroid. Trying to remember at what grade level it stopped... I know it was definitely there in elementary, not sure about intermediate and high school. Definitely stopped by college... I think...

By lunzy (not verified)
October 11, 2009 5:54 PM

@zoerhenne- you're welcome. I loved looking at the lists and then seeing the kids who go with the names.

@ A Rose-how funny!

What's funny to me, or not so funny, when we were going back and forth about our dd's name (Solana) I didn't want it to be pronounced Lana as in land, it's so-lana as in law (Spanish). The girl in the K class is Lana as in land. sigh.

By Guest (not verified)
October 12, 2009 12:09 PM

If you give your child a name that is hard to pronounce, how can you blame people for having a hard time pronouncing it?

I'm sure you can go to Asia and laugh at Asians who have a hard time pronouncing "Laurence" or "Laura", but isn't that just mean?

By Guest (not verified)
October 12, 2009 12:22 PM

Racism goes two ways. I wonder how many Black foums are out there ripping up other Black people for their hatred of anything that seems "white"? None.

How many Blacks are out there saying "It's not fair to that white kid for me to get a scholarship based on my race? None.

How many White Entertainment Awards are out there? None. National Association for the Advancement of White People? Nope!

I was always taught that I should be color blind. Why is it then, that people of color are not taught the same? Oh wait, I know: they're PROUD of their heritage. And uh, there's that slave thing! Well, my ancestors weren't here when the slave thing happened, and they were treated so badly as Irish immigrants that they could not get jobs or even send their children to school. I think I want restitution! And I should name my kids "Keary" and be furious when someone doesn't recognize the correct pronunciation. Call it racism or something.

You all need to stop saying how bad white people suck. We don't. The greatest nations on earth are caucasian. That's just a fact. If that pisses off Black people, they need to look around and see how they can help out instead of blaming me for being born with white skin.

By melissar (not verified)
October 13, 2009 5:52 AM

You completely missed the point. The story wasn't about the name being pronounced wrong, but if you don't understand what Laura said, I don't think anyone can say it any better.

And FYI, my black boyfriend that spent the first 10 years of his life overseas definitely gets criticized by other black people for being "too white" "uppity" and "boujie". You made good points about the Irish but the way you come off, you're never going to make a point to anyone unless that person already agrees with you, and I don't think anyone said or implied white people suck. I'm proud to be white just like I'm proud to be a woman, but I really don't think we would be the "greatest nation" without all that free labor we got during slavery.

By OrangeXW (not verified)
October 13, 2009 1:43 PM

Gotta love a cowardly racist who can't even make up a pseudonym better than "Guest."

By Sassy Cupcakes (not verified)
October 13, 2009 10:01 PM

I live in Australia and my sister teaches a little boy called Shithead. His family are very recent immigrants and were very upset when they learned what his name translates as. The teachers at the school all talked to their students about different names and different cultures and so far the kids seem to be good with it, but I'd imagine high school isn't going to be much fun.

For what it's worth they pronounce it shi-teed, named him after an uncle, are Muslim and are refugees from Afghanistan.

By Alex (not verified)
October 14, 2009 7:47 AM

Your comment about bisyllabic boys' name reminded me of a long ago story which might be of interest: The boat on which I arrived in America was full of Canadians and Americans, and although I couldn't speak English at the time, I soon noticed that everyone aboard seemed to have a one or two syllable name. Not far into the trip, I developed a solid crush on an eighteen-year-old American girl. I was thirteen at the time, and love was fated not to be. However, at one point, she (I don't remember her name after sixty years) asked me for my name, and I still remember my profound embarrassment when I had to admit to her that it was A-lex-an-der, a name which seemed interminable at the time!