People are beginning to wonder what lasting benefit the Olympics will bring to London in 2012, looking to South Africa after the World Cup as a possible predictive model.
On this basis, our lasting legacy will be a lot of babies with odd first names, since it is a South African tradition to name babies after some significant event at the time of their birth. Ladies with a somewhat turbulent love-life might have baby Quarrel or baby Heartache for example. South African newspapers have recently drawn attention to a wave of new 'football' names such as baby Vuvuzela, baby Striker, baby Offside and even baby Substitute, which is every new mother's fear as they dish out the babies from the trolley in the Maternity Hospital.
I can vouch for this naming tradition, having spent some time in South Africa. The most colourful name I came across belonged to an otherwise undistinguished man called Vermin. Not a bad choice when you think about it. Vernon is an acceptable name in UK, but the suffix 'non' is very negative, as in anonymous nondescript nonentities, whereas Vermin is closer to men and manly.
The English are not above making similar bloomers. Candida is a perfectly acceptable rather upper-class name, with connotations of a Goddess and virginal purity, even though Candida is a yeast-like organism which causes an offensive white vaginal discharge. In the same vein I think Syphilis (a character in a Latin poem) and Hepatitis are quite pretty names. Melanie was a popular name at one time and I did consider Melaena for our first-born, but my wife demurred as she knew that melaena is a sticky black diarrhoea due to intestinal bleeding. My own mother chose John, an American toilet, and loads of attractive women (my age,you see) are called Pat, as in Cow-pat.
Such difficulties can arise in any society, as in the case of the Essex girl who had to have an interview for her Social Security benefit-
Social worker: Are you married?
Essex girl: Aw my Gawd no!
Social worker: Any children?
Essex girl: (counting on her fingers) ...Er, ten, ....so far
Social worker: Can you give me their names?
Essex girl: Well, the eldest is Wayne, the next is Wayne, and so on, and when the new baby comes next month he'll also be Wayne.
Social worker: So they are all called Wayne, are they?
Essex girl: 'At's right
Socail Worker: So how do you address them?
Essex Girl: Well I just go to the door and I either shart 'Wayne stop that!' or 'Wayne come in fer yer tea'.
Social worker (S.W.): But supposing you want to address them individually?
Essex girl (E.G.): Well I just shart their surnames, doan'I.