We live in a turbulent time for comedy. Opening social media you’ll see a lot of acquaintances discussing what’s still worth laughing at, and what’s gone so far it’s just straight-up not funny. As a general rule of thumb, in life only three things are certain: death, confusion as to why people are sad they don’t have to suffer through a 21km run, and the fact that we shouldn’t be openly mocking children for something they have no control over.
Malta has a long-standing obsession with other people’s weird names. Almost anyone you speak to will have a personal anecdote (that probably never really happened to them) about the time they met Rodent Saliba at the beautician, or how Rishwashy Borg used to shop at their grocer.
But are weird names really that funny?
In the case of people like Pearl Haber, it’s probably a yes. Unfortunately for the child (now adult) in question, if you have a pun-name, it’s bound to get a chuckle. That’s literally the whole point of puns, they fuel dads all across the globe. But can you imagine how sick of the jokes she is?
Even if she’s not bored of the constant airplane noises made around her (rivaled only by the amount of times Jurassic Pace has had people roar at him), getting noticed when even Google keeps insisting on auto-correcting your name to a Wikipedia page on an event that killed 2,500 people is heavy stuff to deal with for the rest of your life.
And with the weight of America joining WWII on your shoulders, you really don’t need The Salott weighing in on it too.
Malta’s currently reality is one of heavy overpopulation, and as a result of the sheer number of humans who are able to vote blindly, chat shit about the current storms and drive without ever using an indicator (aka being Maltese), parents are doing everything they can to help their kids stand out.
The reason we’re seeing an increase in names that are basically just a random string of consonants with a vowel every time the parent feels the word needs a break isn’t a negative one. It’s probably not what’s best for the kid… but no parent starts out hoping their kid will be teased for life.
Now, future parents, please do not take any of the above points as a reason to name your child anything backwards. You’re opening them up to a whole world of pain; even spelled properly being called Legend is a lot to live up to.
While it can sometimes feel like people think they’re gonna get extra points by replacing certain vowels with a ‘y’, the intention is to help their children get ahead in life, so mocking that is kinda a dick move.
It’s also one that has its roots heavily buried in classism.
I grew up with a ‘weird’ name, and have had to deal with being called Jacques (cos it’s easier), Chunky (cos they think my name came from my curves) or ‘inti’ (cos they didn’t really understand me). But despite being (nick)named after a cartoon character from the 90s, I never had any real problems with my name – and that’s cos it’s strange, but not “ħamallu“.
Anyone who’s lived in Malta long enough knows that the names most-mocked on the island are ones belonging to kids from less affluent families. We’ll be taken aback by Barclay Borg-Smith, but move on quick enough. It’s Xheznija Abela that we’ll write articles about.
So why does this happen anyway? Most likely it’s because we want to feel like we’re better than others. We pretend it’s to educate, change minds and help the kids; but who has been belittled at a national level and thought: I’m going to change my values right now.
And if you’re still not convinced it’s problematic, listen out for how all the jokes end in a nice, condescending sigh while wishing these parents had “a little more sense, marelli!”.
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