How Not to Name Your Child

My parents had no idea I would convert to Orthodox Judaism when they named me “Luke Carey Ford.” They feared the other kids at school would call me “Elsie” (LC), but that never happened.

I think Luke Ford is an awesome name. I could not have come up with a better one. I had to move to LA and become a blogger with that name.

A name shapes your life.

I would have had a different life with a different name, perhaps stayed a Seventh-Day Adventist and become a pastor.

“Melvin Ford” does not inspire.

Would Donald Trump be just as Trumpian with a different name?

When I converted to Judaism, I chose “Levi Ben Avraham” because “Levi” is close to “Luke” and “Ben Avraham” means child of Abraham. I quickly learned that “Luke” marked you out in Orthodox Jewish life so I quickly adopted “Levi,” but whenever my rabbi was mad at me, he would call me “Luke.” When Orthodox Jews like me, they usually call me “Levi,” but when they don’t accept my conversion as real, they call me “Luke.”

According to the Talmud, “Luke” is one of the names that marks someone as a goy.

I never correct anyone between “Luke” and “Levi.” If Orthodox Jews push me, I say I have a preference for “Levi,” but with my goyisha punim (gentile face) and goyisha mannerisms, I’m obviously a ger (convert).

by Phoenicia Hebebe Dobson-Mouawad

How not to name your child – five golden rules

Thinking of giving your baby an unusual name? Think about the effect it will have on their life, says Phoenicia Hebebe Dobson-Mouawad

My name is Phoenicia Hebebe Dobson-Mouawad. No, I’m not kidding. This is the name my parents chose for me 19 years ago and it is the reason I don’t go to Starbucks. Choosing a name for your baby can seem like a way to determine what type of parents you will become – many aim for trendy rather than traditional. However, faced with the resentment of your grownup offspring, who have endured a childhood of being embarrassed by their unusual name, you may wish you could turn back time.

My experience of living with an unusual name has been, to put it lightly, difficult. There has not been one occasion when making a new acquaintance has not resulted in a remark about it, or some degree of confusion.

… Have you heard the name before? If not, no one else will have.

Can you pronounce it without having to look it up? Because if you need to look it up, I can tell you firsthand that you will be the only person your child ever meets who has taken the time to do so.

Avoid hyphens unless both names are easily pronounceable. Dobson – that’s fine. Mouawad – more than enough effort on its own. Dobson-Mouawad – no comment.

Can a child of primary school age say it? If they look confused and say, “What?”, take that as a strong no.

Remember that your child’s name is for their happiness alone and not to prove to the world how cool and creative you are. That’s what Instagram is for. Take it from someone who knows or in 19 years’ time your child will be as fed up as I am.

Comments at Steve Sailer:

* I use Steve Sailer mostly because it’s easier for other people to spell than Steven Sailer.

There are other writers with almost identical names: I co-wrote a National Review article in 1997 with an academic named Stephen Seiler. And there’s a novelist named Steven Saylor who writes detective stories starring a gay detective in Ancient Rome.

* According to David Hackett Fischer, onomastic creativity in America comes from the (real) Scots-Irish, the blacks learned it from them.

* Another consideration that is increasingly relevant in the Internet age is making your name unique enough that you can track it on the Internet.

This is especially important if your surname is common.

I know a journalist who changed the spelling of his first name because one of the most famous journalists in his country already shared both his name and surname, so “making a name” for himself with that name would have been very hard to impossible.

Do not however be overly autistic and/or ideological about it. That gender-denying SJW with whom Sailer engaged with on that question reminds one, in his attitudes, of the 1920s Bolshevik freaks who gave their children names like “Iskra” and “Barrikada.” Won’t do his child any good under the Trumpenreich! 😉

If I had to summarize, keep it: Short, simple, unusual, timeless.

* If someone is named Hiram, dad was probably a Mason and hoped the son would be too.

The best research tool for this is Wolfram Alpha. It will give a graph of popularity of most any male or female given name.

It’s also worth mentioning that adults have no excuse for being too upset with a given name because they can change it. Or use a middle name. Or, if Catholic, their confirmation name. On and on.

* I’m actually happy that there are a number of people called exactly the same as I am, so that it’s a little bit more difficult to track me down. Not that it makes a big difference to intelligence services etc., but it might protect me somewhat from some lone nuts.

* Working with large numbers of Black people as I do, I have encountered some real creativity in first names: Sitting Bull (for a black Hispanic man), two Geronimos, and Lexis…my absolute favorite was Twatia (pronounced “Twasha”).

* Parents don’t name their daughters with male names to be feminist or push “gender equality” or whatever. They do it because it sounds hot. A beautiful woman with a man’s name is like a beautiful woman in a man’s shirt; the contrast of femininity is amplified. The problem is these parents who are secretly trying to create a gorgeous popular girl with their word choices, have far less influence than biology. Nobody ever leaves room for the possibility that their daughter won’t be a beauty.

So James King, when she still went by that name, was extra hot with that name. But if someone who looked like Rosie O’Donnell was named James, it would be extra pathetic. Once James King started going by Jamie King, everyone began to notice she was actually kind of average looking and had pound puppy fangs.

People should be careful trying to pick the name which they think at the time sounds most like a head cheerleader, because you can overshoot it. A hot name won’t fix ugly, but if you are pretty it might give you that extra psychological push to choose a life of stripping. I knew a very beautiful stripper named Honey. I did not believe that was her real name until I saw her license. Her parents overshot the mark on that one.

One simple rule: picture your kid as the fattest loser in high school. Is their name a source of added torment? Then pick something else. Pick something that works equally well for a jock as a nerd, because you don’t get to choose what your kid is.

* Is saying “Christian name” common in Germany? In the US we say “first name” with “given name” a distant second. Virtually no one would understand “Christian name” especially given how much Christianity has disappeared, although occasionally people say “christening” to mean “naming a child”.

* What this all really signifies is the rapid decomposition of the highly connotated, form-rich world of organic society, and the consequent loss of understanding of what a name actually is.

A name is fundamentally a spacial designation that marks the “place” of an individual within society. Thus, our a priori notions about how the world is ordered are mirrored in our conception of the individual and are expressed in our naming conventions. Social order supervenes on individual identity, therefore there can be no change in the social order without a parallel change in the role of the name.

A glance at the past (and at foreign cultures) reveals an adequate sampling of how names are applied in traditional societies. One commonly recurring feature is the family or clan name, the most basic marker of identity. Often this family name (corresponding to our “last” name) is expressed first, as in Chinese or Japanese. The name Sakai Hiroyuki, spoken proudly, conveys the sentiment, “I am the clan Sakai personified in the man Hiroyuki.” In cultures where the family honor is paramount, there is really no other way to identify oneself. The individual is a sort of bud or flower on the family tree. To suffer the family name to be disgraced or lost is a fate worse than death. It is the obliteration of one’s entire identity.

Closely associated with clan names is the idea of patronymic or matronymic names, which describe lineal descent. It is significantly more insular and “nuclear” than the clan name, though, and serves rather to aggrandize the parent than the entire tribe. Essentially it denotes a time horizon delimited by two generations. Johann considers himself to have discharged his duty to posterity when he sires “Johann’s son,” and little Sven Johansson is constantly admonished by his very moniker to live up to the deeds and righteousness of the mighty Johann. For this reason, patronymics are almost always used in either an affectionate or authoritative tones of voice. Their purpose is that of chain wherewith to bind another in either love or servitude, especially among the Nordics and the Slavs. Among the Semitic peoples they serve almost exclusively as parental adornments. Abdul bin Mohammed, one of a sprawling horde of sons by multiple wives, is just another jewel in Sultan Mohammad’s tiara.

From the feudal order and settled village life of the traditional West there emerged two immensely significant themes: the place-name and the trade-name, the former predominating among the aristocracy and the latter among the peasantry. We cannot overstate the symbolic importance of these developments, for an entire world is expressed thereby. It is impossible to understand a name like Comte d’Orleans if one considers it to be a mere job title; in fact it is a contemplated vision of the social order which contains several important characteristics. First, there is a place called Orleans. This is taken to be a metaphysical fact that needs no further explanation. It has perdurance, it has boundaries, it has a quality and flavor all its own; and intrinsic in the conception of such places, of which Orleans is one, is the idea that there be a man to rule and protect it, the Count. So necessary is the man to this place that he cannot be thought of without it, nor the place without him. Out of this vision grew the medieval maxim “no land without a lord,” and it is from this that we are able to truly understand King Louis XIV’s famous “L’etat, c’est moi.” Modern people take that phrase to be the very height of arrogant absurdity, but it is actually a profound and pithy expression of the metaphysical basis of all political power.

And down in the village there are the Millers, the Smiths, the Weavers, the Coopers, toiling away at their assorted tasks, perhaps presided over by a Burgermeister, while in the manor house the Count is attended by the Chancellors, Chamberlains, and Reeves. A whole organic society springs into being and is girded by these identities, which are all connected by the Great Chain of Being to the King and the Emperor, to the priest and the Pope, and to God Himself. Even the lowliest Porter or Carter has a role to play. The organic society, like the Ptolemaic universe, is driven by wheels within wheels, from the highest to the lowest. In such a world even the secular order is suffused by sacred rays. Work is a blessing, a vocation, and dishonest trade an offense against the whole civitas, to be punished harshly with the approval of onlookers. Added to this of course is the person’s “Christian name,” the name of some saint or apostle that the child receives at christening, which grafts him into Holy Church and the society formed in its image.

At the present time this world no longer exists. In the modern age, the metaphysical basis for societal order is undergoing constant assault. There are today no more lords, no more priests, no more families, no more clans, no more titles—only atomized individuals and their “jobs.” The modern American space-concept is at best boringly and tritely Cartesian, our “first” and “last” names being merely the x and y coordinates that locate us, however transiently, in a boundless Euclidean plain. Nowadays “James Fowler” is just a point in the American phase-space. He does web analytics for the local hospital association. He doesn’t know a thing about raising chickens and he has no idea whether he is the son of Zebedee or the brother of Jude. The burning void that is his identity is temporarily tranquilized by Comicon and fantasy sports, but deep down inside he is forever nobody.

The “creative names” spoken of in this post represent the final stage of irony. It is the ultimate recidive of a form-filled world into arbitrariness and chaos. Throughout the Cartesian plain there are weeds growing up through the cracks. Deshawn and Shaniqua are aberrations, colorful monsters, overfed carrion birds feeding off our detritus—a bit of African animism blown off course by civilizational gales, now living as exotic interlopers in our poorly-tended parks. The process has its parallel everywhere you look these days. Nihilism and ennui are the defining characteristics of our time, from the girl with the pink dreadlocks to the guy with anime tattoos. Open borders, globalism, and political correctness are the same phenomena on a vast scale. Nobody has any identity except the freaks.

Upon all who aspire to a better future it is incumbent to change our identity by changing how we view the world, and to beseech Heaven for a superior vision. He who can believe in himself literally has a nation inside him waiting to be born. To those who find their true names belong the future.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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