Teens with unique names, spellings say positives outweigh negatives

By By Faith Hensley
Mingo Central High School

“Taylor Green, Mary Jones, Helen Parks, John Smith.” The teacher reads the attendance list before pausing, unsure of how to continue. She makes a face, struggling to decide which way to attempt to pronounce the strange name typed on her roster.

This scenario is one with which many teenagers in today’s society are familiar. Unique names have become extremely popular across America, and as a result, our youth are sporting some very quirky, distinctive names as opposed to the traditional names of generations past.

Upcoming Mingo Central junior Ashia Donté Cline is an excellent example of a teen whose life has been influenced by this trend.

“When school first begins, my name is pronounced wrong almost every period. Substitutes also do it a lot,” Cline said. “Really, anyone who has ever tried to say it aloud for the first time has mispronounced it.”

Fellow junior Raeana Fate Cook also understands this predicament all too well. She said, “I once had a teacher pronounce my name like ‘Ray-no.’ It made me kind of mad because there isn’t even an ‘o’ in my name!”

However, mispronunciation is not the only problem. Another junior, Catelynn Gillman, knows all about the complications that common names spelled uniquely can also cause.

“There’s never been anyone to spell my name right the first try,” Gillman said. “Then, even after I show them the correct way to spell my name, it still takes a while for them to learn it.”

How, though, do people come up with such outside-the-box names for their children?

“I got my name, Ashia, from my mom,” Cline said. “She was watching TV, and a set of twins named Asia and Africa were on this show. She liked Asia but wanted me to be different, so she added the ‘h’ to make Ashia.

“As for Donté, it came about because of my mom’s best friend. She was named DonnaSue, and my mom wanted to incorporate her name with mine after she died in a car accident while my mother was pregnant with me. She didn’t like Ashia DonnaSue though, so she took the “Don” from DonnaSue and the “te” from her own name, Teresa, and added an accent over the e to make it sound like a long a.”

Cook’s name also carries a lot of sentimental value.

“My mom got ‘Rae’ from her uncle, Gary Rae, and she got ‘ana’ from her own name, Mariana,” Cook said. “Then, she got Fate from my grandpa’s great uncle from Ireland, Fate Donley.”

So, is having a unique name something these teens love or something they would rather do without?

Cline admitted it took a little getting used to for her. She said, “I used to not be very happy with my name, but now I like it. I’ve realized it makes me stand out and be different.”

Gillman also now has a real love for her name.

“Whenever someone sees my name written down, they know it’s me,” she said. “There are few people who spell their name like mine. I like having that uniqueness.”

Cook said, “My name makes me feel special. I like being the only Raeana in my school.”

In fact, these girls even hope to carry on the tradition.

Cline said, “I definitely will not give any future kids of mine a common name. I’ve been thinking if I have a girl, I might name her Aria or Australia.”

Cook whole-heartedly agrees. “I do hope if I have kids they will keep my name in the family since it is so uncommon. Maybe I could have a granddaughter named after me.”

What may have started as a fad has now become a part of many of our generation’s identities. While your name may not define you, it is a part of who you are, and these teens love knowing it makes them unique.

“I love my name, and because of it, I know I have been unique since the day I was born,” Gillman said. “Now, I’m just continuing the lifestyle.”

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