She’s a rarity recently overheard on a Brooklyn playground.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Isaura as Baby Name of the Day.
Plenty of ancient locations, many long gone from the map, survive as given names. There’s Lydia and Delphine and Adrian, too. Isaura shares her origins with these names.
Modern day Turkey was once home to a people known as the Isaurians. They were a contentious tribe, fighting amongst themselves and terrorizing their neighbors. In the first century BC, the Romans attempted to bring the unruly Isaurians under their control. It took four centuries for it to take.
Or maybe it is more accurate to say that the Isaurians ultimately conquered their conquerors. Fifth century Byzantine Emperor Zeno hailed from Isauria. From 711 to 802, the Isaurian Dynasty ruled the Byzantines, beginning with Leo III and ending with the gory story of the ruthless Irene.
The masculine moniker Isaurus first surfaces sometime in the third century, when a martyr was beheaded in Macedonia, along with a group of early saints.
I’m not certain when the first Isaura was born, and I’ll have to guess at her pronunciation. In my best American English, I say eye SAWR ah – not a pretty sound, sort of like “I sawr a brown cow in that there field over yonder.” But I’m guessing the Spanish sounds more like ee SOH rah, instantly transforming her from awkward to glamorous.
And you’ll inevitably hear Isaura said with a Spanish or Portuguese pronunciation because A Escrava Isaura is an 1875 novel that’s been making waves for decades.
Bernardo Guimarães’ late nineteenth century novel tells the tale of a biracial Brazilian slave girl on a coffee plantation, from her myriad sufferings to her eventual happy ending. The author became a star in his native country, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that Isaura became an international sensation.
Telenovela Escrava Isaura debuted in 1976. Viewers tuned in to watch if the noble, innocent Isaura would be forced to become her owner’s concubine, if she’d marry Melchior the dwarf to escape cruel fate, or if she’d somehow manage to marry her true love, Alvaro.
Not only was the show a hit in Brazil, but it spread throughout South America and Europe. In the 1980s, it became the first soap opera broadcast in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. It even aired in Africa and China. Brazilian actress Lucélia Santos became major international star for her portrayal of Isaura. (Though Santos would still probably wait for table at a Cracker Barrell in US.)
The original series ran through 1977. In 2004, the telenovela was rebooted, again for Brazilian television. Once again, it has spread well beyond Brazil, and can be seen in Europe and the Middle East. A Spanish version has been broadcast in the US by Telemundo. This time, Isaura is played by Bianca Rinaldi.
Sharing her sounds with Isabella, it is no surprise that Isaura is starting to surface. Nancy reports that 38 girls received the name in 2009. But I’m guessing that most of them have brothers called Diego and Santiago. It’s not unthinkable for non-Latino parents to consider Isaura, but the sound seems more appealing if you expect to sing your lullabies en español – or at least can cite a grandparent from somewhere in Latin America.
All my life I told people to call me ‘eye-SOAR-uh’ only because my teacher tried pronouncing my name in kindergarten and I just stuck with it because I don’t know how my name would be pronounced in english :).. I never liked my name and it has always infuriated me of how many teachers/substitute teachers butcher my name beyond comprehension haha.. guess I’ll tell everyone how to CORRECTLY pronounce my name after 20+ years of mispronunciation :)…
Isaura is also my name and its pronounced ee zow rah – I’ve always had trouble with pronunciation and spelling so opted to go by my middle name but now I regret it. I should have insisted, anyway I like it and that’s what matters.
Hey my name is isaura n I love it I have only meet 2 other isaura in my life time .. when I use to attend school I had a different name in every class loved it got to experience they way people see my name.. in college I had them call me by my last name because they were lazy to try to get it.. love my name .. my nick name is sao.. people should start naming their babies isaura lol
I named my little girl Ysaura after her great grandmother who was from Chile. We have nicknames for her Esa, and YaYa. she’s nine years old and we live in Canada and we have not ever had an issue with kids making fun of her name they think its funny when we call her yaya. But I was wondering the meaning of the name and where it came from or originated from.
Its great fun to read these posts! We named our middle daughter (of three) Isaura. We first heard it in a classic samba song Izaura (ee-ZOW-ra – roll your r!) and loved the sound. It also seemed a nice tribute to family members named Isabel and Rosaura. My inlaws are bilingual and the pronounciation/rolled r is a breeze. School teachers not so much….except the Spanish teacher ; ) She often goes by Isa at school and Is at home. Surprisingly, it is harder to find a logical nickname for our oldest: Natalia. She gets the honor of a nickname that was bestowed by the younger (barely verbal) sisters – Yaya. I grew up with an unusual name, loved it and married into an unusual surname too. We’re just keeping up the tradition. : )
Isaura LG says
You’ve taught me things!!!
My name is pronounced differently with each person but its kinda of like: E-saw-u-rr-ah
Most of family doesnt use the double r’s though.
thats my name, but its pronounced is-are-ra, ffs
That is a particularly pretty way to pronounce Isaura – but clearly not the only one!
My name is Isaura too. I’m British, and lived in New York for 3 years. There was always a little trouble with pronunciation of my name in London and America, but people are always keen to get it right. I’ve always loved it. My nicknames are usually Isa, Issy or just Is for the lazy 🙂
Glad to hear it wears well!
and forgot to mention, the previous Isaura is correct. Chagua is a common nickname. Mine is Chawis. lol.
My name is Isaura. It is pronounced Ee-sao-rah.
Isaura LG says
Yep, i been called that:)
Thats how they usually call me too, i’ve been showing it with a u.
My name is Isaura and my birthday is on September 4th. I just thought it was funny lol. My grandmother also shares this name.
Oh and by the way the most common nickname is Chag
Thanks, Isa, and happy birthday!
Isaura LG says
Yep, i been called that:)
Emmy Jo says
My sister was roommates with an Isaura in college — pronounced ee-SOUR-ah, like JNE said. I think it would work just fine on a baby born today. But then again, I live in an area where it’s very common to hear names from many different languages — at the elementary school where I teach, you’re almost as likely to be named Shriram, Maqel, Vindya, Belicia, or Erasmia as you are to be Jacob or Emma.
I started with Photoquilty’s pronunciation, ih-SORE-ah. But when I read the post, I started to hear the Spanish p’n, ee-SOW-rah. (Middle syllable rhyming with ow, not sew.). But then I wondered about a completely different p’n: ISS-uh-ruh, anyone?
And what are the nicknames for this chica? Isa, Issa, Saura, Issy?
Distinctive sci-fi air, probably because it reminds me of Inara from Firefly. Pretty name, but the pronunciation issue makes it too difficult to use.
With the Spanish/Portuguese pronunciations, the name is beautiful and exotic. But sadly, I wouldn’t use it for a child in the US– the teasing potential is just too high. When I look at “Isaura,” the first thing that comes to mind is dinosaur. It’s just a short leap of the third grade mind to come up with:
… and it would keep on like that for the poor girl.
The other troubling pronunciation is the “Eye-sor-a,” which sounds awfully close to “eye sore,” yet another unfortunate tease.
Isaura LG says
Never been called that. It stands out, yes, many say they like it, but i have not been teased. Just saying
Christina Fonseca says
I’ve only met one Isaura; she was born in Mexico and is a relative on my mother’s side of the family.
Photoquilty’s “ee-SOW-ra” is how it’s pronounced in Mexico.
Laura pronounced Lora is nice; Isaura pronounced ee-SORE-a, sadly is not.
I was glad to see this name featured although in English-speaking countries it’s probably “safer” in the middle name slot.
It’s pronounced [ee-ZAU-ruh] in Portuguese (“au” as in “now”). It’s dreadfully oldfashioned here, though, and “Escrava Isaura” doesn’t make the name very appealing for young parents.
On an English-speaking context, I think it could make an interesting choice. Personally I prefer Isolde or Isotta.
I pronounce it as ee-SAR-uh [i’s?r.?], since I think of Maura, which I pronounce as MAR-uh [‘m?r.?]. I could see it as ee-SO-ruh [i’s?.r?] as well.
Charlotte Vera says
I can’t say I’m really a fan. When I see the name, the pronunciation that comes to my mind is “ee-SOH-ra”, but somehow it feels incomplete — like it needs another syllable or something.
The first time I came across Isaura was in the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros about two years ago. The main character’s mother briefly mentioned having two friends named Yolanda and Izaura. If there’s one thing that I remember about books, its the characters names. 🙂
I didn’t like it at first, but its been growing on me lately. I definitely prefer the spelling Isaura, with an S rather than a Z. I pronounce it ih-ZORE-uh, like the name Zora with a short i sound in front of it. I like the pronunciation ee-SOH-rah, too. Isaura is a nice choice, and Izzy is a cute nickname!
Isaura is gorgeous!
Hmmm… it made me think of dinosaurs when I first saw the name. I believe the Spanish pronunciation would be closer to ee SOUR ah (best as can be replicated with the IPA). I found a link to the Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation: http://www.forvo.com/word/isaura_bruno/ I’m not sure I really love any of the possible pronunciations (and I’ll agree eye SAWR ah is not appealing for sure). Despite my affinity for I names, it’s not for me.
The woman I met in a Brooklyn playground had a daughter named Icaura. She told me it was a Brazilian name. It was in June, and I’m ashamed to say that I don’t even remember how she pronounced it, thought I do remember the C sounded like an S. ih-SORE-ah maybe? Abby’s so booked with names, this was the earliest she could post it – but my memory isn’t good enough to last a couple of months! LOL.
I submitted the name because it was something I’d never heared before – very intriguing. I don’t particularly like it, but it certainly stands out from the crowd…but in this particular playground, all the names are interesting. Everyone’s trying to outdo one another in terms of interesting names. They don’t make them up, however; they just pick unusual names. Ethan stands out like a sore thumb when we visit my parents. I’m sure I come across as very pedestrian. If only they knew! 😉
LOL! That must be the same playground where Tiny Fey’s character heard a mom call her kid Wingspan in Baby Mama. 🙂
C in DC says
In Portuguese, the “c” in Icaura would have a cedilha under it, making it pronounced like an S. Oh, and the R would be rolled. My Brazilian MIL’s name is Maura and it sounds like mow-da (rhymes with a Bostonian pronunciation of chowder).