Why You Shouldn’t Name Your Kid Captain Hook

There have been many social experiments on the power of a name, and in a nutshell, many have concluded that a name has the capability to set one up for failure or success. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with this, but I do know that naming your child Captain Hook is probably not the best idea.

In Taiwan it is customary for everyone to have an English name, especially those attending schools taught in English. Seeing as I teach wee little ones, many of them arrive on their first day with brand- spanking new names, or in some cases no English name at all.

This is where I come in.

In Taiwan, the job description of a kindergarten teacher includes much more than just lesson planning and teaching. It even includes more than singing, dancing, and reading stories.

Here, I am also known as The Name Giver.

I will never forget the day a new student walked in with his mother, eager to start his English journey. I asked the mother for his English name, only to be told that his name was Hook, like his favorite Disney character. (Really? Whose favorite character is Captain Hook? I’m not even delving into this box of worms.)

I looked at the other kindergarten teacher with a “is this shit for real” look on my face, only to get a “you don’t even want to know” look back . At this point, I had only been teaching in Taiwan for 2 weeks, so I really didn’t know what was appropriate. Should I kindly inform the mom that Hook is a horrible, horrible name that will set her child up for disaster and years of teasing, if he ever decides to attend school in an English speaking country? Or just smile and nod?

I was surprised when Melissa, as cool as a cucumber, told the mom that she should consider changing his name, as it was unsuitable. The mom took it very well, but insisted we call her little man Hook anyways.

Melissa said that she does this often with children who come in with names like Cherry, Candy, or Ginger. She lets the parents know that these are stripper names, and are not highly regarded in the States (sorry in advance to any Candys reading this).

Following Melissa’s suit, I have since approached these awkward situations in the same manner, as I know that I would want someone to be blunt with me if I was in the same situation.

Since then, I have already named three children.

One student came in with the name Lion, and I suggested to his mother that we change it to Liam. Now I know what you are thinking: What’s wrong with Lion? Lion is a badass name!  Well, okay. Yes it is. But when you reach the age of 12, and are a foreign exchange student in the States, it is not *. Teasing will inevitably ensue, and the poor kid will be left wondering why in the hell his kindergarten teacher from the States didn’t do anything.

And that is why I take my job as The Name Giver very seriously; there will be no Cinnamons, Sugars, or Cherries on my watch.

Question is-how do I tie in this skill on my resume?

*Author’s Note : Exception being a study abroad student in University. In this case, Lion would probably be cool again.


  1. One year as an undergrad, I had a Chinese housemate who had taken the name “Forgiven.” We didn’t talk too much, because his English wasn’t that good, but for some weird reason whenever I was around him I always thought of proselytizing Christian people.

    It’s pretty incredible to have that much power given to you, and to have complete strangers entrust you to help name someone (then again, that goes for being a teacher–kudos to you).

    Giving someone a name is akin to branding a product–as you clearly recognize, stripper names are out the door, as are evil Disney character names, because they create such negative connotations. So maybe you can leverage your naming experience into a job with a marketing/PR company? Oh, and add good Disney protagonist names to the no-no list. Simba, Pocahontas, and for fuck’s sake, definitely not Quasimodo.

  2. Reblogged this on ENGLISH LANGUAGE REVIEW .

  3. “Question is-how do I tie in this skill on my resume?”

    On your CV:
    Name Giver: Enriching children’s life experience by renaming them appropriately.

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