Having just received the official list of students registered for her class this year, local first-grade teacher Paula Zirkelbach has begun mentally preparing herself for what will no doubt be a sizable number of unconventional names.
“I swear, every new class, the parents top themselves,” said Zirkelbach, who has been teaching since 2002. “I’m gonna go ahead and predict that about a quarter to half of them will just be a nonsense syllable with -iah, -den, or -lee stuck to the end. Another three or four will be traditional names spelled weirdly – ‘Myccal’, ‘Leesah’, that kind of thing.”
Other possibilities, according to Zirkelbach, include names applied to their opposite traditional gender (Glenn, Nancy), obscure Bible personages (Eliezer, Tirzah), surnames used as first names (Smith, McKay), names reflective of an exotic national origin which neither parent actually shares (Mauricio, Olga, Siobhan), names taken from movies or television shows (Anakin, Khaleesi), and words for natural phenomena or abstract concepts used as names (Grove, Rhythm, Clarity).
“And,” she said, “there’s usually at least one in every class that’s completely made up. Last year it was ‘Civia.'”
As of press time, Zirkelbach had clicked on the email containing the list, read the name “Breighlagh” and paused to pour herself a stiff drink.