The endearing quirks of the Nymbler “baby namer”
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Have you tried the Nymbler “baby-namer” on Babble.com? I’m quite obsessed with this interactive name-suggestion generator. While it’s not quite as visually trippy as the NameVoyager (with its rippling pink-and-blue infographics so reminiscent of a Pucci print), the Nymbler is far more eccentric.
While spitting out a predictable array of Brandons, Wyatts, and Emmas, it will suddenly throw in an exotic Azuka or a dusty, anachronistic Doris. Where else, outside of a Michael Chabon novel (or an elite NYC pre-school), does a Jane rub shoulders with a Romeo, an Isis, a Max, and a Kenyatta?
That said, what I love most about Nymbler are its wildly uneven attempts to offer up names that are “similar in style” to one you’ve chosen. Usually, these alternatives make perfect sense. “Timothy” and “Andrew” are akin, stylistically, to “Michael.” But, now and then, Nymbler goes a bit nuts. Some of its more peculiar pronouncements:
• “Other names that are similar in style to Sarah: Elisheva, Jerusha.” Okay, all three are Biblical, but are parents who are thinking Sarah—as in Sarah McLaughlin—likely to name their kid after the missionary in James Michener’s novel Hawaii?
• “Other names that are similar in style to Stone: Sinbad, Tito.” When I read this I pictured impassive TV anchorman Stone Phillips. He is so not a Tito.
• “Other names that are similar in style to Jami: Charlotte, Bernadette.” This just doesn’t compute: “Jami” is all tomboyish, Bionic Woman, the type of girl Ally Sheedy plays in War Games. Charlotte is a Bronte; Bernadette is a nun. While nuns can be tomboyish, there is no such thing as a Bionic Bronte. Apologize, Nymbler!
• “Other names that are similar in style to Tony: Gil, Tip.” Gil the Tiger? Tip Soprano? Nymbler, what are you smoking?
• “Other names that are similar in style to Lynn: Warren, Carl.” Maybe…as endearments in a women’s prison.
• “Other names that are similar in style to Dale: Antonia, Ricky.” As a Dale and a guy, I take this personally. Ricky? I feel so cheap. And what does Antonia have to do with valleys, or corn-fed Southern boys.
Update: Friend-of-PBH Marjorie Ingall reports that, since reading this post, she’s been seeing the name “Jerusha” so often (most recently in reference to the children’s classic, Daddy Long-Legs, which features one Jerusha Abbott) that she feels she’s losing her grip on reality. Nymbler, do something!