Sunday SummaryLet’s dive right in to a controversial subject, shall we?

Duana answered a letter from a reader asking about diversity in naming.  The writer raises a good point: insisting that names must be easy to spell and pronounce can be especially challenging for families from elsewhere.

Imagine if the names that you appreciate – those of your loved ones, the ones from books you grew up reading, the names you always imagined you would consider for a child – now appear to be off-limits.  

Part of Duana’s answer feels right to me.  If you’re living in a predominantly English-speaking country, chances are that you’ll try to find something that honors your roots and still fits in, and happily, that’s usually easy to do.

But I’d add this to the discussion: even if you do stick with a traditional choice that honors your culture and heritage, there’s no promise that the wider world will be accepting.  Remember this article on Tasbeeh? How would you react if you went to Tasbeeh’s kindergarten open house and found that she’d been signing all of her schoolwork Tess?

Your child’s future reaction to having a non-mainstream name is a) unknowable and b) will likely change over time, but your reaction is something you can examine.   Are you comfortable educating others for many years to come?  What if saying “it’s a traditional name in Pakistan/Portugal/Poland” leads to questions about your life?   

I know one couple who shrugged when they realized their son’s name would be unpronounceable for half of their family.  It would, they decided, work itself out.  But I know another mom who was genuinely surprised at the difficulty her child’s name posed for native English speakers, and seemed frustrated that it was so rarely said right.  (Despite my best efforts, I think I’ve probably mangled it myself.)  

So if you’re struggling with whether or not to use an unusual name for your child, consider whether you’ll be apoplectic if they call your kiddo Cade instead of Qadir at kindergarten graduation.  It’s not the only thing to consider, but it is part of the puzzle.   

Now, on to the names:

  • More bold B names, this time at For Real Baby Names.  Baxton, Brenner, and Blayze are all pretty stand-out, though the only one that I find really appealing is Brenner – an interesting occupational name.  After high profile birth announcements featuring Bowie, Bridget, Booker, and Bijou, I’m very much watching this letter.
  • Unusual nicknames for Sophia – Posy and Sosie.  Love ’em both!  I actually have them on my list as possible short forms of Josephine, too – I think they work for both names.
  • What would you name a sister for Quillan?  Intrigued by this post at Swistle … so many possibilities!
  • Speaking of siblings, how glorious are the royal names in this post at The Beauty of Names?  I’ve never heard Enrichetta as a form of Henriette before, and Violante Beatrice is just swoonworthy.
  • I hesitate to link to this post because, well, snark alert.  But the names! Brewster, Wycliffe, and Philosophie!  And more hereXoeigh, Amethyst, Daenerys.  
  • This is an interesting question – do people know that Jack is a nickname for John?  Well, not we people who read baby name blogs.  Not only do we know, but we are shocked, shocked, that it isn’t common knowledge.  Then again, I have no problem thinking of Polly as a nickname for Mary, but that’s probably not common knowledge circa 2014.
  • Welcome, Annis Octavia!  I’ve mentioned Jodi and her lovely family – baby Annis makes eight! – here before.  Can’t wait until she posts about the inspiration for this child’s name, though I suppose the reason behind the middle is pretty clear.
  • Three boys named Hugo in British Baby Names’ latest round-up.  Why isn’t Hugo more popular in the US?  I feel like he ought to be the next Leo, but I’m not sure that he is.

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. Annis Octavia is a gorgeous name!

    The US really does stand out in its Hugo non-popularity – are Latinised names generally less popular there?

  2. My step-kid’s name is pronounced ZAWN-yeh. Kids seem to have no problem with it, although most adults just assume it’s Sonia… but she’s had several teachers & coaches just couldn’t seem to understand that her name wasn’t Zena, Suzannah or Zoe. (grrrr)

  3. I think the Jack/John thing is going to disappear over the next generation or so. No one my age (mid twenties) who isn’t a name nerd knows that Jack is a nickname. In addition to that so many of my peers are just name Jack . I think the connection is disappearing…and non name nerds seem to have issues with nicknames that aren’t obvious.

  4. I would guess that most young, non-name nerds have no idea that Jack is a nickname for John. I think those nickname links – Jack for John, Polly or Molly for Mary – are going to weaken even more. The percentage of people who share popular names is getting smaller all the time, so distinguishing nicknames aren’t as necessary.