Numéro 022Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that the act of observation alters that which is being observed.

I read this in a Harvard Business Review article about twenty-first century phenomena like Electric Performance Monitoring.  When I tried to read up on Heisenberg, I found myself in over my head in about thirty seconds.  Science fiction?  Yes, please.  Actual science?  Not so much.

What does all of this have to do with baby names?

Does the existence of so much data and discussion on names change the names that we give our children?

I’m fascinated by this question, and while it sounds esoteric, it can have some very practical dimensions:

  • Did you see this post on baby name regret in the Nameberry forums?  It’s fascinating – Nayeli is a perfectly normal name to Spanish speakers, but I’ll admit that I can’t say it quite right.  I have a friend who just started a bilingual press, and the first time I said (butchered) the name, he said “No, that’s okay.  I have to get used to hearing it that way.”  He’s right – a non-native speaker saying a name will change the name.
  • Which reminds me – do you read the Lexicon blog?  I like this quote: “Once a word leaves our shores, it’s out of our jurisdiction.”  Will Leben is talking about what happens when English words are imported to other languages, but it works for names, too.  Once a name is in use, it evolves.
  • Proof that this is true at For Real this week: a girl named Asa and another called Lorily!  In the age of Ava, with Ada rising fast, no wonder parents are considering Asa as a possible girls’ name.  And Lorelei might be the new Mackenzie – a name with so many possible spellings that it becomes fare more popular than it seems.  Yes, Asa is a case of name-napping, but on the positive side, I see a boy with the middle name Hadley in the same post.
  • Hmmm … I don’t see Mayleigh as a variant of Mary, Margaret, or May/Mae. I think she’s all invented name, a nouveau coinage related to Kaylee, Hailey, and company.  Great sound, yes.  But not really an established name, especially with the -leigh spelling.
  • I love the idea of June as a contracted nickname for Julianne!  Spotted in this Living with Kids feature from Design Mom.
  • Calais is a truly unusual place name For Real found in birth announcements.  Then I wrote about in a Nameberry post.  Now Lisa Milbrand has included it in her list of unusual place names.  Are we putting Calais on the list of options for parents who wouldn’t have otherwise considered it?
  • Thanks to everyone who sent me this link of truly awful Puritan names.  Agreed!  I can’t imagine going through life as If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone.  And you thought Nevaeh was a bit much.
  • Thanks to Clare for introducing us to such great foreign language name blogs.
  • Isn’t it wild how German names can be so appealing and so … well, not? From this week’s birth announcementsEdith Amalia and Matteo Anian, Sebastian Matthias, and Rosalie Floriane Marie.  A quartet of gorgeousness.  But then there’s Pankratius, Yona, and Irma – and I have no idea if they’re fashionable in Germany or awkward on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Autumnal names en français.
  • Speaking of Fall, how about some apple names?

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

Photo credit: jfgornet via Flickr

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. Asa screams girl to me if you speak Japanese…it means ‘morning’ and rhymes with lhasa (as in lhasa apso).

  2. I’ve liked Asa for a girl for a while. Turns out there’s a Norwegian girl name – Aase, which is similar “oh sah”. So maybe it doesn’t have to be stealing after all?

  3. “Once a word leaves our shores, it’s out of our jurisdiction.” And we English speakers have certainly butchered words from other languages that we have adopted. 🙂

  4. I know this is very anti name nerd of me, but I am firmly of the school of thought that Edith, Gertrude, Agnes,Bertha and Imogene should be left in the past. They were unattractive 100 years ago and still are today.

    1. Oh, I think you’d find that there’s disagreement and healthy debate on most of these names. I agree that Bertha isn’t make a comeback. Ditto Imogene – though Imogen, I rather like. The -gene sound still sounds off to my ear, in Eugene, too. Though Jeanne I’m willing to reconsider …

  5. Now all I can think of is whether that If-Christ-had-not-died… got called “Iffy” and how cute that sounds.

  6. I have a daughter named Julianne. I would never have thought of “June” as a nickname, but it could work. On the other hand, my associations for the name have been: Julianne->Julie->July, and our Julianne being born in July reinforces that for me. But I can see how June could be seen as a contraction of JUlianNE by a new generation of parents.

    Love your Sunday Summaries, Abby!

    1. Thanks, Patricia! And Julianne-June surprised me, too. I like Julianne-July … there’s something sweetly old-fashioned about Julianne and something so spunky about July!

  7. the difference being Hadley isnt name napping because its not a girls name in the first place. Asa on the other hand is a boys name…