Blog: Simon WarburtonNaming names

Simon Warburton | 12 November 2010

An extraordinary tale from France where the ponderously-named Association pour la Defense de nos Prenoms or Association for the Protection of our Forenames - ADNP - has taken great umbrage at Renault's seemingly innocuous decision to call one of its models 'Zoe.'

"When an industrial company uses a forename to identify a car model, it comes up against the interest of the child, creating a confusion in the constitution of its identity and subjecting it to ridicule its whole life," thundered the ADNP from Paris.

The worthy folk at ADNP had been irked because two families in France - whose surname was surely not the uncommon 'Renault' - also apparently happened to have two daughters called Zoe.

Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and a French judge has rejected ADNP's complaint, noting there was "no affect on private life or dignity."

Names are something everyone's just stuck with and if you happen to live in the UK - or I'm willing to bet in just about every culture - even your christened name is almost certainly not the moniker by which you'll be known all your life.

You may even have several different names according to family, work, friends, some of them complimentary, some of them decidedly not.

And there's one thing more certain than anything else. The more you try to rage against the machine, the more the name you don't want will actually stick.

There's a radio presenter in the UK with the surname Irani. His nickname on the station is naturally "chicken" - as in the curry dish 'Biryani,' but he takes it in good humour and dishes out a few nicknames of his own.

Where do you start and stop with car names? A few year's ago Renault had a huge UK advertising hit for its Clio range with the central character 'Nicole' whose name become part of the national consciousness.

It's hard to see Qashqai featuring a Nicole-type heroine, but who knows? If Zoe can provoke a storm, why not.


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