Re: What kind of names do you make up?

Subject: Re: What kind of names do you make up?
From: Maurice Rose <Maurice -dot- Rose -at- SAVILLEMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 16:57:05 +0100

Being Canadian and therefore pathologically polite (any other fans of Due South
out there?), I made up a set of names that were as much as possible gender
neutral, ordinary, and of mixed nationality. The gender neutral names were fine
in screens with only one or two names, but in the screens that listed a set of
names, the effect was curiously disorienting:

Pat Smith
Kim Brown
Chris Jones
Robin Cook
Leslie West
Terry Johnson
Lee Adams
Francis Murphy

Each name on its own is unremarkable, but you'd never see such a grouping of
sexually indeterminate names in real life
(yeah, some of those are supposed to be male or female depending on slight
spelling variations, but...). I ended up mixing in some Jims, Johns, Janes, and
so on to restore a more normal balance.

There was a problem getting any non-Anglo names that are gender neutral. Maybe
my sources weren't reliable, but there were very few names that go both ways
from India, the Middle East, or China. I can't remember any off-hand (this was
in a previous job).

Incidentally, when reading documentation, I find humorous or recognizable names
at best distracting and at worst very irritating (like when the product is
difficult to make sense of, and the guide isn't helping much - the attempts at
humour make me want to strangle somebody).

Maurice Rose

P.S. - Robin Cook is a British cabinet minister and Leslie West played guitar
with Mountain, so I wouldn't have actually used those two.

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