PARENTS

Achtung Baby: What's In A Name?

29/09/2011 13:03 | Updated 22 May 2015
Choosing baby namesGetty

The Beckhams' decision to name their daughter Harper Seven kicked up a gossiping storm amongst those who find importance in what complete strangers choose to call their kids.

Personally, I couldn't care less what anyone names their child. It is of no consequence to me if your offspring is named after a piece of fruit, a Japanese car or Wigan Pier.

Children are generally much more tolerant and accepting of deviations from the norm than adults. A perfect example being the loathsome behaviour of the parents who made Livvy James's return to school as a girl so troublesome.

Here in Germany officials have the power to veto names new parents want to give their child. Demonstrating a level of bureaucracy that only gives encouragement to the stereotype, Germans don't understand why some may find this an affront to the rights of the parent, usually arguing that a child's future could be severely debilitated by giving them a "weird" name.

Basically, if the name is androgynous, or one which they deem likely to expose your child to ridicule, you will experience serious opposition, usually in the form of a bespectacled, stern and uncompromising Frau with a "acceptable" name like Helga.

As Finje is not a registered name we expected bother. Surprisingly, we encountered fewer problems with the Standesamt (Office of Vital Statistics) than when trying to explain the name to our English friends.

Had I been experiencing doubts as to my complete immersion into German culture, the choosing of this name quashed them into oblivion. Seeing "Finje" written down, I read out the word in my head just like a German would, as though the "J" were a "Y". It didn't occur to me for a second that on seeing the name Finje, an English person would automatically rhyme it with singe or binge. Finge. Not good. Worse still, the fact that, when pronounced correctly and as far as my limited vocabulary allows, Finje rhymes with nothing. Awkward when trying to describe, in writing, how to pronounce by daughter's name.

My mate scoffed at my concern, suggesting it was quite simple to explain the pronunciation:

"Finje, like, if you do that again I'll chin ya!"

Not necessarily the rhyming slang I had hoped for but I suspect I can make use it in certain circles.

The girl herself has no issue correcting mistakes and is more than happy to yell the correct pronunciation at anyone who dares to rhyme her with binge.

I told her, if all else fails she could utilise her second name, Irene. Easy. You know, Irene, rhymes with.......er...

Do other people have trouble pronouncing your children's names correctly?

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