Welcome to the New Year!
Let’s kick things off with Swistle’s excellent question – What are the issues with our own names?
After all, parents often reject a possible name thanks to a hypothetical shortcoming. Thinking about challenges – or lack thereof – with our given names – might shine some light.
My answers to her query, for both my given name and the name I took later in life:
- Amy was very, very common for the year I was born. This drove me bonkers. Not only was Amy statistically one of the most popular names, she was especially popular in my part of eastern Pennsylvania, and among friends and neighbors. I answered to Amy N. from my first days of nursery school through soccer and dance classes and … well, if I was still Amy, I’d be one of three in the two blocks in which I currently live. While I don’t think you should reject a name just because it is popular, it was a major source of dissatisfaction for me personally.
- There were no possible nicknames. This was by design. My mother disliked her long, foreign first name and never warmed to the nicknames that were foisted on her. But when I realized that I was one in a crowd, well – what to do? I tried respelling my name – I still like the looks of Amme – but that’s little comfort when the coach calls Amy and three heads swivel. I can embrace the idea of putting the nickname on the birth certificate, but I have a strong preference for a formal name option.
- It’s firmly in mom-name territory today. I’ll call this a non-issue. While Amy was most popular in the 1970s, it isn’t a fleeting name. There’s Little Women, and plenty of notable Amys over the years. I’ve met women named Amy in their 50s and older, and friends have shortlisted it for their daughters in recent years, too.
As for Abby and Abigail:
- It’s been a Top Ten choice in recent years. Non-issue. I don’t have any friends or colleagues named Abby. In the past decade, only once did I meet another Abby in my age range. Lots of people with a daughter, niece, or granddaughter Abby, sure. But there’s something pleasing about having a name that is younger than you. One curious thing: I am very occasionally misheard as Amy, because that’s the name that others expect a woman my age to have.
- Abby is mistaken for other names. Non-issue. On the phone, Abby is sometimes misheard as Debbie or even Bobbie. But that’s less common now that Abby is so much more familiar. And even so, nearly every name is mangled once in a blue moon. If I’m in a situation where mangling would be a) likely and b) problematic, I revert to Abigail, which sounds like very few other names.
- It can be misspelled. While Abby is, far and away, the dominant spelling, I’ve gotten email addressed to Abbey, Abbie, and Abi. But again, it happens to us all sometimes, so … non-issue.
And that’s all I’ve got. It’s no surprise that I’m much happier with the name that I chose than the name that was given to me, and yet I do think I solved some very real problems when I chose my new name.
Enough about me. What’s on in the name ‘verse this first week of 2014?
- Oh my, we do like the letter y. Looking at first babies of 2014, I spotted Naythyn, a little brother for Jaydyn, and Izaya.
- This Saint’s Name Generator was created by the faithful for the faithful, but it might be of interest to name nerds, too. On my second try, I pulled up Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. Great, daffy, historical name – and he’s the patron saint of “final perseverance.” That has a very specific theological meaning, but I like it just as a phrase, too.
- Why so little affection for names beginning with the letter U? Ursula, Uma, Una, Urban, Ulrich, Ulysses, Ugo, Ulf, Undine … Just not Unique. That’s too ordinary.
- Seriously daring names, inspired by Paris, France. Mirabeau is swoon-worthy.
- How much do I love seeing a birth announcement for a girl called Polly? And her middle name is Catherine with a C! I’m a sucker for Catharine.
- Operatic appellations at Nameberry. Love so many of these, but Ariadne is my favorite.
- I have a sweet new nephew who always looks a little bit alarmed, like he knows things he shouldn’t yet know. I’m calling him Orson, as in Welles. Not his name at all, but in the ways these things go, my daughter now calls him Orson, too. It seemed like a crazy choice for a baby, but then I spotted this at Daddy Types, about Cardboard Box Office, an Australian family recreating all sorts of classic movie scenes with cardboard boxes. The point? Their super-cute baby is actually named Orson! Suddenly, I think it works …
- This one wasn’t on my radar when I posted formal names for Lily, but isn’t Lilandil a lovely, elaborate sound? Daughter of a star, unnamed in the original Chronicles of Narnia stories, but christened for the big screen adaptation.
That’s all for this week! Looking forward to another fabulous year here at Appellation Mountain, with all of you very lovely name enthusiasts. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2o14.