It’s a good thing that the Bard is no longer with us, or else his question might instead read: “WTF is it with all these stupid names?”
I’m not just talking about nicknames, where anything goes (e.g. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from Jersey Shores — note: unless you’re in the Mafia, the word “The” in your name is an infallible indicator of douchebaggery, see below). Mostly, they’re a play on names — “Elizabeth” becomes “Biffy” and “Edward” becomes “Ned” — or else, in the case of men, they’re affectionate insults: Booger, Shitbrain, Nostrils, Hairball etc.
First names, especially in the Afro-American community, seem to be in a tacit competition for grotesquery — Jamarcus, Al’iyaa, D’Ante, Shaniquita etc. — but even amongst the Lily-Whites, things have been getting out of hand. Try to see how many variations you find, just in the ancient and beautiful name “Brittany”, for example; I ran out of inspiration at six, after — I swear — “Bryttenee”. (Rough guess is that neither of her parents are in possession of a PhD.)
The latest seems to be inside the rapper fraternity (not the brightest bulbs in the make-up mirror to begin with) who have names like Offset, The Weeknd [sic], 50 Cent and (my favorite name) 6ix9ine, and more.
In the old days — say, in the 1970s — first names actually meant something. Girls were named after flowers (Rose, Daisy, Alison, Lily etc.), for example, and old names actually had a heritage (“Gwendolyn” means “beloved”). My own name, Kim, was not even a name, but a title (“Chieftain” in early Anglo-Saxon) which is why it can apply to both men and women.
These new naming “conventions” (if one could call them that) drive me scatty — literally, I sometimes feel like flinging poo off the balcony at random passersby — because they seem to be just random groupings of letters out of a Scrabble set; but at the same time, I’m not suggesting some kind of control over name selection. Just remember that it took the French until the 1970s to drop their restriction on first names — you could have any first name you wanted, provided that it was on the State-approved list of first names — and I’m certainly not supporting that silliness.
Know, however, that naming your little precious Tre’esha Taniqua will have an effect on her future career prospects. And if all she knows is Ebonics, the “glass ceiling” will turn to concrete unless she becomes a groupie in 6ix9ine’s retinue. Not that I care. Someone has to do that kind of work.