Q: What do the words Pluto, Monkey and Anus have in common?
A: They were all rejected as baby names by Denmark's Law on Personal Names, designed to protect children, essentially, from the whims of their own parents.
Denmark, as the Mental Floss website (mentalfloss.com) observes, is one of several countries with laws governing what parents can name their children.
In Denmark's case, the Law on Personal Names requires parents to choose from a list of 7,000 pre-approved names.
"If you want to name your child something that isn't on the list, you have to get special permission from your local church, and the name is then reviewed by governmental officials," the article notes.
Among the stipulations: girls and boys must have names indicating their gender, and last names cannot be used as first names.
The result: some normalcy.
The most recent data from Statistics Denmark shows the country's top five names of newborn girls for the first half of 2018 as Ida, Ella, Emma, Alma and Sofia. For boys, the top five are William, Noah, Lucas, Malthe and Oscar.
Well, mostly normalcy -- way to ruin my hypothesis, Malthe.
And I don't want to single out Denmark -- countries around the world also have varying degrees of regulation on what one can name a baby.
Take New Zealand, for example, where some names that did not make the cut include Cinderella Beauty Blossom, Fat Boy, Sex Fruit, Lucifer, and my personal favorite, Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.
This is not a joke.
In 2008, a family court judge made a young girl there a ward of the court, allowing her to change her name and get rid of her unwieldy former moniker.
"In all facets of life, a child bearing this name would be held up to ridicule and suspicion," Judge Rob Murfitt wrote in his ruling, as Reuters reported. "The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child's parents have shown in choosing this name for her. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap quite unnecessarily.
The girl's new name was not made public, to protect her privacy.
I hope she is now doing well for herself.
"What's in a name?" Juliet opined, in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." "That which we call a rose by another word would smell as sweet."
It's a noble enough sentiment, but then again, the play's not called "Romeo and Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii."
The U.S. allows parents much more leeway in choosing the names of their babies, though some states have laws on the books, mainly prohibiting numerals, extra-long names, obscenities, special symbols, etc.
I'm not a fan of unnecessary regulation, but in this case, I have to side against humanity -- some of us just can't be left unattended.
This is how we ended up with baby girls named Little Sweetmeat, Abcde (pronounced "Absidy"), Phelony, Facebook and Olive Garden, and boys named Like, Sssst, Rage and Hashtag. Again, this is not a joke.
Sometimes, one can only sigh.
Incidentally, the Social Security Administration keeps track of how often names are used here in the States, thus allowing for some interesting comparisons.
A hundred years ago, for instance, the top five most popular girls' names were (in order) Mary, Helen, Dorothy, Margaret and Ruth. For boys, the top five were John, William, James, Robert and Charles.
In 2017, the last year for which SSA data is available, the top five were: (girls) Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella and Sophia; and (boys) Liam, Noah, William, James and Logan.
I approve, and, as they say, my approval and a dollar will buy you a Coke. Just don't name your kid Coke.
The counter-argument to this is that an unconventional name will help the child become an unconventional, creative-thinking person. "If you want your child to stand out from the crowd, be independent, and a real individual, a unique name is one way to show him that you value those qualities," observed Pamela Redmond Satran, author of The Baby Name Bible, in a 2015 Yahoo interview.
I can see her point, and I'm sure there is plenty of anecdotal support for it, in individuals who have excelled, due in part to -- or in spite of -- their interesting names.
But please, future parents: think about it before you pull the trigger. Practice yelling the name up the stairs to call him or her down for dinner, and into the phone when it's way past curfew and you don't know where he/she is. Then see if Tyrannosaurus Rex (still true) seems like a good idea. Maybe just Rex will do.