Thursday, June 28, 2012


That President's name test died a horrible death after Barack Hussein Obama was elected. You know what I'm talking about. The "use a name that White rich males will take seriously if you want your son to be successful" test. Thank the gods that that was proven to be bullshit.

Barack (pronounced "bah-RAHK") is a multiligual name. The origin the President's parent's intended is that it's a variant of the Swahili name Baraka, which comes from an Arabic root word and it means "blessing." He was named after his father who is from Kenya. The name is apparently popular in East Africa.

Barack is often said to be a variant of Barak, a Hebrew name meaning "lightning." This is technically incorrect. However, I think that they're so similar that they could reasonably be considered variants of each other. There is a character named Barak in the Bible. He was the military general that commanded Deborah's army.

Despite the presidental namesake, there wasn't exactly a boom of babies named Barack or Obama in America when he was elected. There were a few, but there were far more Obama inspired baby names in Kenya. Also it appears that most of the people inspired to name their children after the President were African immigrants, which is hardly surprising. It's a far more familiar name to them, for one. But the American tradition of naming children after the current president faded after Watergate. We are now far more cynical of our own government.

But I do love that the President has a name that reflects the diversity of the country. I don't want to get into politics here very much at all, that's not what this blog is for. But having the very Arabic name Hussien didn't even hold him back at all. It inspired some nasty comments and rumors, but it didn't stop him from being elected.

Some Americans might feel more inclined to use his name after his presidency. In the meantime, it's a great reminder of how far we've come when accepting people with unusual monikers.


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1 comment:

  1. Yes at one time it was said we couldn't have a Prime Minister named Kevin - too Catholic-sounding, too working-class sounding, too daggy etc. Well we got one, and he was probably one of our most popular PMs. So there you go.

    Also, what about the other side of the Presidential race? Isn't the other guy named after a baseball glove?


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