It doesn’t matter if I’m at the dentist or the drugstore or Disney World, I’m always listening for names.
One of my favorites namespotting locations is Franklin’s, our local brewpub/restaurant/toy store – is there any better combination? – because, of course, we’re all chasing our children around while we wait for a table. The other night, I heard a dad calling Raleigh – but wait, no – he was calling Rally. After a few more rounds of “Rally, no you can’t have that fill-in-the-blank,” dad resorted to his son’s full name: Ralph. I’ve always wanted to like Ralph, but between The Honeymooners and the lack of a nickname and my sense that I’m not cool enough to pronounce the name Rafe, well … all of a sudden, Rally rescued Ralph for me.
Here’s a debate that I’ve long since quit, but find fascinating nonetheless: a thread on Nameberry’s message boards devoted to LEGITIMATE Alternate Spellings – emphasis theirs. Beyond the futility of telling people they can’t spell their daughter’s name Kaydence – because, really, they can and they do – I’m amazed at how much wrong information is out there. A few I noticed:
- Rachael was dubbed a hyperforeignism. (That’s SAT-speak for attempting to apply the rules of one language to another and falling flat.) I prefer Rachel, too, but Rachael has a long history of use, probably by parents familiar with the perfectly English spelling of Michael;
- While some embraced Katharine, one dismissed her as nothing more than an imitation of Hepburn. But that’s not so – plenty of Katharines pre-date the twentieth century, and in the nineteenth century she’s fairly common;
- On Greer vs. Grier: “since it’s a surname, there can’t really be a legitimate spelling.” Surnames have been subject to the same forces as given names – respellings, adaptations into other languages, inadvertent manglings, multiple spellings applied to the same person over the years.
Spellings matter. Charlotte’s charm is sacrificed when she’s respelled Sharlytte, and I’m never sure is Mya sounds like Maya or Mia. And I don’t know that there’s much point in taking a really popular choice like Madison and swapping out letters to arrive at Maddasynne. But attempts to draw a hard bright line are futile. Language is ever-changing, a rushing stream, and the more I learn about names, the more I’m convinced that they’re a slippery fish. Which making writing naming rules something like trout fishing with your hands.
It also hits close to home – my cousin S. just welcomed a daughter named Alivia. It wouldn’t be my choice, but she’s a much-loved addition to the family, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t care less if she were named Chardonnay.
Ahem. I’m putting my soapbox away – promise – to look at what else was out there this week:
- ForReal Baby Names spotted this one: Phantom Jack. Usually I like an offbeat noun name, but Phantom seems sinister;
- Here’s a second one from ForReal: For all of those newborns named just Alfie or Bess, this one surprised me: Elissia Kath. Kate, sure. Kathy, of course. But Kath feels incomplete;
- I loved this post at Swistle. The parents of Oberon Elwood are looking for a name for their daughter on the way. I loved their idea of Ursula, nicknamed Zuzu, but there were lots of great options suggested, like Thisbe;
- You really should click through to this post at You Can’t Call It “It” just for the Mighty Mouse graphic. Okay, and for the list of three-letter names for boys, of which there are more than you imagine. Asa has recently become one of my favorites;
- Here’s a great story from Nancy: the parents were rushing to the hospital, but baby #4 arrived en route, in the front seat of their Toyota Corolla. Instead of Cecilia Violet, their daughter was named – wait for it – Cecilia Freeway. Cecilia will never be able to give her full name without telling the story of her birth, but at least it is more subtle than naming her Corolla;
- Nymbler’s July list is out: Lucy and Violet entered the Top Ten favorite names for the first time, and the five new search names were Annabeth, Adalaide, Arbor, Kensley, and Moxie. It’s easy to see the appeal of the spelling Adalaide, and Arbor is a natural addition to Willow and River. And I guess Penn Jillette gets the last laugh if Moxie becomes as common as, say, Sadie.
The big starbaby news was the birth of Amy Poehler and Will Arnett’s son Abel, a little brother for Archie, but there’s also:
- American Idol alum Tamyra Gray welcomed a daughter, Sienna Marie;
- Via Gawker, Will Ferrell was on Regis and Kelly, and he discussed his sons’ names: Magnus, Matthias, and Axel. Loved this line: “They better not be bassoon players.”
That’s all for this week – as always, thank you so much for reading!