Don’t Give Your Kids and Pets Similar Sounding Names, Or You’ll Confuse Them | Smart News | Smithsonian

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Don’t Give Your Kids and Pets Similar Sounding Names, Or You’ll Confuse Them

Your parents don't actually think you and your sibling are interchangeable

smithsonian.com

Every year there’s some controversy about some celebrity naming their baby something odd. Beyonce had Blue Ivy, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had North West and Jessica Simpson’s son will forever be known as Ace Knute. (At least until he changes his name.) There is one upside: those kids won’t get their names confused with their siblings or peers. And one new study has a tip for parents: don’t give your kids similar sounding names. 

In what seems like a relatively obvious finding, researchers have confirmed that if you name your children similar sounding names it’s easier to confuse them. They surveyed 334 people with one or more siblings, asking them how often their parents confused their names. The researchers write:

Respondents whose names shared initial or final sounds with a sibling’s reported that their parents accidentally called them by the sibling’s name more often than those without such name overlap. Having a sibling of the same gender, similar appearance, or similar age was also associated with more frequent name substitutions.

Also, don’t name your kid and your pet anything similar. In over five percent of the cases of name-switching, parents accidentally used a pet’s name rather than their child’s. "It is tempting to attribute such mistakes to the animals' status as family members and child-substitutes," the lead researcher Zenzi Griffin said in the press release. "However, it seems unlikely that parents would make such errors so readily if they were labeling family members in photographs."

In other words, it’s not that your parents actually think you and your pet are interchangeable. It’s just a verbal slip. Which is good to know. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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