Mental cruelty?

It’s very hard to understand why parents would saddle their child with a ridiculous name. And, in New Zealand, a judge agrees. Read this and boggle:

Parents must rename girl called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii

Choosing a name for a new baby is always tricky. Should it be classical or modern? Safe or a bit zany? One can only wonder how the parents of one unfortunate girl in New Zealand came up with… Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

The girl, now nine, was not amused. She refused to tell anyone, even her close friends, her name. When her parents split and launched a custody battle, it came to the attention of a judge, who ordered her to be made a ward of court until her name was changed.

The judge, Robert Murfitt, expressed horror at a recent trend in New Zealand for giving children unusual names. Among those that had been approved by birth registration officials were Number 16 Bush Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, and Benson and Hedges (for twins).


Talula is from the city of New Plymouth, on the North Island. The judge said the problem appeared to be particularly prevalent in that area. Some children had been named after six-cylinder Ford cars, while he had recently come across a woman who wanted to call her daughter “O.crnia”, using text language, but was persuaded to switch to Oceania. Read full story here…

Readers of the book Freakonomics, by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner will be nodding wearily by now. That excellent work has a chapter on whether baby naming affects a child’s life outcomes – especially if the name is racially identifiable. Here’s an excerpt.