Sunday SummaryI’d never heard conversational Arabic spoken until the other day.

There I was, waiting to check out in the Target express lane.  The cashier recognized the customer in front of me.  They immediately switched into this lovely, intoxicating language.  It’s rude to listen, of course, but is it really eavesdropping if you don’t understand a word?

“Do you mind if I ask what language you’re speaking?  It’s beautiful!” I asked when it was my turn to pay.  She smiled – the sweetest smile – and told me it was Arabic.

I really wanted to ask more – after all, Arabic is spoken by around 300 million people, and it must sound different from place to place.  I would’ve guessed that Arabic would be easy to identify.  But, well, it was the express lane.  And I had just paid.

So I walked away, pondering the difficulty of ever knowing how names really sound in other languages.

Elsewhere online:

  • Another mention of the lovely Constance, this time at Waltzing More than Matilda.  Katherine, Caroline, Eleanor, Claire … why not Constance?  There’s a poll in the post, too.
  • British Baby Names’ latest birth announcement round-up includes an Albert, brother to Wilfred, and a Barnaby.  Do you see those names coming back in the US anytime soon, or is this a trend that will pass us by?  Scottish actor David Tennant has a Wilfred, which makes me like the name even more.
  • Baby Name Pondering covered Langley.  Years ago, two very stylish women named Edie and Langley ran my favorite thrift shop.  My first thought is Langley, Virginia where the CIA is headquartered – but then, we’re in Washington DC, just a stone’s throw from the place.  Anywhere else in the country, I agree with Brooke – it’s a great alternative to names like Avery.
  • The Art of Naming has tons of great boys’ names including the letter V.  From the Shakespearean Benvolio to the musical Elvis, the list doesn’t shy away from daring names.  But there are lots of more mainstream possibilities included, too, and some that bridge both categories – like Savion and Evram.
  • For Real Baby Names found a Veruka Avery!  It’s like Christmas in November.  Yes, I know Veruca isn’t a very wearable name.  And yet … I really do adore the quirky, sharp sound of Veruca.
  • Speaking of my name crushes, I remember loving the surname of Evita Peron’s first husband – Magaldi.  And so naturally, I fell for Magali and Magalie, both forms of Magdalena.  I hear them from time to time, and they’re definitely older names with long histories of use.  And yet – are they wearable?  I like to think they strike the right note, midway between invented modern and traditional favorite.
  • Maybe obscure M names are my thing, because this post from Sophie?  How much do I love the name Marais?
  • What would you suggest as an alternative to Olivia?  Duana takes on the challenge of finding a substitute.  I love her suggestion of Odessa as a substitute.
  • Also, Duana mentions the curious phenomenon of the most popular name when you’re a child seeming much less popular when you’re an adult.  I’d offer this explanation: when you’re in kindergarten or your freshman year of college, the vast majority of the people you’ll interact with are born within five years of your birthdate.  When you’re younger, that window can be even smaller.  But sometime in your twenties, it changes.  There was only a single Jennifer in my former workplace of 120+ people, and once she left there wasn’t another.  A few names that were really popular for men over many decades, like Joseph and James, did repeat.  (Though our workplace was around 3/4 male – so that’s partially why the repeats tended to be Joe and Jim rather than Jen and Jill.)
  • Take baby name data.  {CRUNCH!}  Apply a common sense filter.  And out comes a list of 20 baby names on the rise at Nameberry.
  • Looking for boy names that feel classic, but not common?  Here’s a great set of possibilities from Liann.
  • Let’s end with a laugh!  Robbie Knox brings us a British perspective on How to Name a Baby.  It’s nicely sensible, but also quite funny.

That’s all for this week!  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. I really love Duana’s and Liann’s lists. Odessa for Olivia is inspired. Florence/Flower/Florie might be another angle.

  2. I love Wilfred, it’s an adorably name. You could always use Fred or Freddie if you didn’t like Wilf or Wilfy, although I think they’re sweet.

    I’ve found more people with my name since reaching adulthood – I don’t think I actually meet any more in person (which doesn’t really happen that often), but being grown up, I see their names in the papers and in newsletters and group emails and so on. I’ve probably got a more realistic perception of how common it is. My name is more popular than when I was born, so maybe there just are a lot more of us than there used to be too.

  3. I’m so glad I found someone who shares my fondness for Veruka. I think I’ve found only three or four in the years I’ve been collecting birth announcements.

    I love Marais. It’s so pretty.

    Have a good week!


  4. I love Wilfred nicknamed Wilf, but I think Wilf would unfortunately get associated with MILF and its off-shoots. It kinds of breaks my heart. English actress Hermione Norris has a daughter named Hero and a song named Wilf, which I think is impossibly cool.