What are 'Mormon names' and how do they affect children?
Our take: Celebrities have elevated baby-naming to an eyebrow-raising art. Apple, Zuma and Pirate are just a few original examples. Of course, movie stars aren't the only people who have a knack for creativity in this department; Mormons are making a mark as well. LDS Living recently talked to Jennifer Mansfield, a graduate of student folklore, about the different types of Mormon names and the impact they can have on children.
Picture this: You're in a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Monday evening (a little before 6 'o clock) and you see a yellow van park across from you. The door opens and kids, all dressed in knee length shorts and capris, spill out onto the pavement. A mom and a dad join the crew (also dressed in knee length shorts), and together, the family treks into the store to shop for ice cream toppings. If you're anything like me, your first thought is, Mormon.
It's not always easy to tell if someone is Mormon, but some things (like knee-length shorts and big families) are pretty good hints. Sometimes just a name is a dead giveaway: if a guy introduces himself as Moroni Young, you can be 98% sure he's Mormon.
What is a Mormon name?
We may not always recognize it, but as Mormons, we definitely have a unique culture, and names are a big part of that. While not every Mormon has a Mormon name, there are some trends that spread wide in our culture.
Jennifer Mansfield, a current graduate student in the Folklore Program at Utah State University, identified six different types of Mormon names: religious (Moroni, Nephi, Brigham), combination (Taylee, Mandylyn), invented (Kaislen), creatively spelled (Kady, Taeler), ancestral (Freestone, Jenkin), and themed (Monson, Hinckley, Kimball).
But parents who give their kids Mormon names don't seem to recognize that they're doing it. Mansfield noticed that the mother who had given her kids theme names (like Kyler, Kailen, and Kory) thought that Moroni and Nephi were Mormon names, while Moroni and Nephi's mom seemed to think that Kyler, Kailen, and Kory were Mormon names. Nobody thinks they're doing it, Mansfield explained. But a lot of people are.
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