A Child's Name
From “Kazenoko Letter” No.398 - March 2011

 These days, it is very difficult to read the kanji of children’s names. There are many names which we can’t read without the hiragana printed beside each kanji, which means that the kanji is too difficult, or being used to be read in a creative way. This tendency started about twenty years ago, and has gradually become quite extreme.

 There was a time when a name ending with “夫” (“O” in kanji) for a baby boy and “子” (“Ko” in kanji) for a baby girl was common. If you saw a name, you could tell if it was a boy or a girl. Whereas these days you can’t tell only by seeing the name. Unisex names are increasing. One hundred sixty children now attend Kazenoko Hoikuen and Baby Home, but there is no one with a name ending with “夫” and only one child whose name ends with “子.” It is weird but I feel relieved when I hear such names.

 I heard a story about a child’s name from a university professor of psychology. The story was that when you see the name of a child, you can understand the parents’ thinking for their child. There are many names containing difficult kanji these days, but each kanji has a meaning, so we can guess the parents’ wishes for their child. I believe that parents consider each letter carefully and with passion.

 And the children themselves will understand their parents’ thinking when they grow up. Name popularity changes with the times. What kind of names will be used in ten or twenty years? Surprisingly, the start of this change might be hidden in today’s children’s names.

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