17 Down, 35 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)

There really isn’t much about Freakonomics that hasn’t been said by anyone else. Pretty much a book about everything; finding the relationships between things as disparate as sumo wrestlers and schoolteachers, the KKK and real estate agents. Suffice to say, it was an excellent read, littered with ‘wow’ moments and great anecdotes. Not a bar or line graph in sight, thankfully. High Browse already featured it here.

I’m not going into a review proper since reviews of this book are probably all over the internet anyway, but I just wanted to point out something that really amused me. Near the end of the book is a chapter dealing with the importance of names, how a person with an obviously black name, say, DeShawn, might not do as well a white one, say, Jake, holding everything else equal. Not that the name is responsible for a person’s life outcome, but rather that its an indicator of the person’s background. Income and education are strongly correlated, and the choice of a name, quite accurately reflects someone’s level of education. And I think this is a phenomenon quite rampant here in Singapore as well.

Anyway, what interested tickled me most was the names chosen by lowly educated white parents, sound like our ah-lian names in Singapore. Here’s a quick sample:

Angel, Heaven, Misty, Destiny, Brenda, Tabatha, Bobbie, Brandy, Destinee, Cindy, Jazmine, Shyanne, Britany, Mercedes, TIffanie, Ashly, Tonya, Crystal, Brandie, Brandi.

Check out the many permutations of Jasmine in terms of the mother’s ascending years of education.

  1. Jazmine (11.94)
  2. Jazmyne (12.08)
  3. Jazzmin (12.14)
  4. Jazzmine (12.16)
  5. Jasmyne (12.18)
  6. Jasmina (12.50)
  7. Jasmyn (12.77)
  8. Jasmine (12.88)
  9. Jasmin (13.12)
  10. Jasmyn (13.23)

As you can see, the low education names are usually mis-spellings – intentional or not – of more standard names. This seems typical of (mostly Chinese) Singaporean names as well. Tell me you don’t know any kids with names like Elvyn, Febii (pronounced Phoebe) and Lawrenz or shit like that. And all the crazy made-up names from god knows where, Brayden (Zoe Tay’s kid), Adoncia (a friend professed this would be her child’s name), and so on.

One favourite Singaporean trick is the adding of a ‘son’ at the end of everything. For example, Johnson, Billson, Davidson and the like. It’s embarrassing, man. I’m just waiting for the day someone decides to one-up everyone else and name his kid Johnsonson. Mind you, I think it’ll happen. So anyway, my point, is don’t give your kid a crazy name. Not only does it make your kid look stupid, it kind of infers that you’re not that sharp yourself.

So please read Freakonomics, you might find some ideas offensive, but what a read!

Freakonomics
(ISBN No: 006089637X) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

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4 Responses to “17 Down, 35 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books)”


  1. 1 vinoek May 8, 2006 at 14:42

    interesting how you choose “jazmin” as your example… hmm reminds of someone who can makes us cringe and makes us disappear under our desk:d

  2. 2 Elvyn Reis April 1, 2007 at 0:38

    Do you any problems with names like ELVYN?
    I hod this name for 30 years and I’m very happy.

    So please don’t tell ELVYN is a “low education names”, or even a ” usual mis-spelling”, OK?
    Thank you.

    PS: I’m man and a have a friend (woman) with the same name.

  3. 3 Elvyn Reis April 1, 2007 at 0:40

    Do you have any problems with names like ELVYN?
    I hold this name for 30 years and I’m very happy.

    So please don’t tell ELVYN is a “low education name”, or even a ” usual mis-spelling”, OK?
    Thank you.

    PS: I’m man and a have a friend (woman) with the same name.
    And we don’t think our name is a mis-spelling.


  1. 1 18 Down, 34 Left (52 Weeks, 52 Books) « zerotwohero Trackback on September 16, 2006 at 13:56

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