Funny Name Legend

“There was a woman that wanted to name her twin daughters, Vagina and Erotica.  And apparently there are two people in America named ESPN after the sports channel.”

The informant said that he heard this story from a classmate at his high school a few months ago in December. He found the story shocking at first, then incredible and funny. He isn’t sure if he believes if it is actually true. The topic came up amongst his classmates because they heard that in some other countries parents aren’t allowed to name their infants whatever they want and have to select a name off of a list. The informant and his friends found this strange in comparison to the American culture they grew up in and so someone told this story. He thinks it shows that maybe people can’t be trusted to name their children whatever they want with practically no restrictions.

This legend is probably a variation of the popular “Funny Name” legend that has been circulating in the US at least since the early 1900s. The earlier variations of this legend usually describe the woman in the story as a black woman. It was probably repeated to show that black people weren’t even smart enough to give their children “sensible names” and just named them whatever sounded good. This legend reflected the racial prejudice that was socially acceptable in the culture of America in the early 1900. While there are still a fair amount of stories circulating about the strange names that African American parents give their children, in this version that my informant heard, the race of the woman was either left out (because the informant is African American and might have taken offense) or the race of the woman is no longer relevant in today’s culture.

There have been many accounts in the media about the unusual names that people give their children and these people are from many different racial backgrounds. People find these “unusual name” stories quite entertaining. A few years ago there was a news story about a Chinese couple that wanted to name their son @ after the @ symbol ( and currently there is a lot of talk over a young man who named his child, Facebook after the social networking website (NPR radio broadcast).   Perhaps now people’s opinion has moved from one race not being intelligent enough to do something as simple as naming a child to what my informant said, which is that maybe some people either can’t be trusted with or that they purposely abuse the freedom they have.

Annotation: This legend does have some truth to it though according to this article written on ESPN’s official website. There at least three people with the name ESPN.

Texas toddler at least the third named espn. (2004, June 26). ESPN, Retrieved from