Welcome to the New Year!
Let’s kick things off with Swistle’s excellent question – What are the issues with our own names?
After all, parents often reject a possible name thanks to a hypothetical shortcoming. Thinking about challenges – or lack thereof – with our given names – might shine some light.
My answers to her query, for both my given name and the name I took later in life:
- Amy was very, very common for the year I was born. This drove me bonkers. Not only was Amy statistically one of the most popular names, she was especially popular in my part of eastern Pennsylvania, and among friends and neighbors. I answered to Amy N. from my first days of nursery school through soccer and dance classes and … well, if I was still Amy, I’d be one of three in the two blocks in which I currently live. While I don’t think you should reject a name just because it is popular, it was a major source of dissatisfaction for me personally.
- There were no possible nicknames. This was by design. My mother disliked her long, foreign first name and never warmed to the nicknames that were foisted on her. But when I realized that I was one in a crowd, well – what to do? I tried respelling my name – I still like the looks of Amme – but that’s little comfort when the coach calls Amy and three heads swivel. I can embrace the idea of putting the nickname on the birth certificate, but I have a strong preference for a formal name option.
- It’s firmly in mom-name territory today. I’ll call this a non-issue. While Amy was most popular in the 1970s, it isn’t a fleeting name. There’s Little Women, and plenty of notable Amys over the years. I’ve met women named Amy in their 50s and older, and friends have shortlisted it for their daughters in recent years, too.
As for Abby and Abigail:
- It’s been a Top Ten choice in recent years. Non-issue. I don’t have any friends or colleagues named Abby. In the past decade, only once did I meet another Abby in my age range. Lots of people with a daughter, niece, or granddaughter Abby, sure. But there’s something pleasing about having a name that is younger than you. One curious thing: I am very occasionally misheard as Amy, because that’s the name that others expect a woman my age to have.
- Abby is mistaken for other names. Non-issue. On the phone, Abby is sometimes misheard as Debbie or even Bobbie. But that’s less common now that Abby is so much more familiar. And even so, nearly every name is mangled once in a blue moon. If I’m in a situation where mangling would be a) likely and b) problematic, I revert to Abigail, which sounds like very few other names.
- It can be misspelled. While Abby is, far and away, the dominant spelling, I’ve gotten email addressed to Abbey, Abbie, and Abi. But again, it happens to us all sometimes, so … non-issue.
And that’s all I’ve got. It’s no surprise that I’m much happier with the name that I chose than the name that was given to me, and yet I do think I solved some very real problems when I chose my new name.
Enough about me. What’s on in the name ‘verse this first week of 2014?
- Oh my, we do like the letter y. Looking at first babies of 2014, I spotted Naythyn, a little brother for Jaydyn, and Izaya.
- This Saint’s Name Generator was created by the faithful for the faithful, but it might be of interest to name nerds, too. On my second try, I pulled up Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. Great, daffy, historical name – and he’s the patron saint of “final perseverance.” That has a very specific theological meaning, but I like it just as a phrase, too.
- Why so little affection for names beginning with the letter U? Ursula, Uma, Una, Urban, Ulrich, Ulysses, Ugo, Ulf, Undine … Just not Unique. That’s too ordinary.
- Seriously daring names, inspired by Paris, France. Mirabeau is swoon-worthy.
- How much do I love seeing a birth announcement for a girl called Polly? And her middle name is Catherine with a C! I’m a sucker for Catharine.
- Operatic appellations at Nameberry. Love so many of these, but Ariadne is my favorite.
- I have a sweet new nephew who always looks a little bit alarmed, like he knows things he shouldn’t yet know. I’m calling him Orson, as in Welles. Not his name at all, but in the ways these things go, my daughter now calls him Orson, too. It seemed like a crazy choice for a baby, but then I spotted this at Daddy Types, about Cardboard Box Office, an Australian family recreating all sorts of classic movie scenes with cardboard boxes. The point? Their super-cute baby is actually named Orson! Suddenly, I think it works …
- This one wasn’t on my radar when I posted formal names for Lily, but isn’t Lilandil a lovely, elaborate sound? Daughter of a star, unnamed in the original Chronicles of Narnia stories, but christened for the big screen adaptation.
That’s all for this week! Looking forward to another fabulous year here at Appellation Mountain, with all of you very lovely name enthusiasts. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2o14.
C in DC says
Jaydyn and Naythyn leave me cold, but Izaya I could get behind. It took me a minute to remember the traditional spelling. The y in Izaya makes the pronunciation more intuitive, and Isaya just wouldn’t really work.
I was one of two C’s in my class of ~100 students from 4th to 12th grade. The other C also went to my church. Strangely, there was only 1 Jennifer and 1 Lisa in my class, but 2 Kellys and 4 Marys. For a while in middle school I wanted a different name, but I’ve pretty much embraced it for many years now. On my first professional job, I was one of 3 C’s on a staff of <20.
I’ve seen a couple of Australian babies named Orson – now I’m wondering if one of them was THE screen star Orson! I do think it’s a nice name.
I don’t think my name has too many issues. It was a Top 100 name when I was born, but I never met anyone with my name locally when I was a child, and in fact I hardly ever meet named Anna even as an adult, although I see famous Annas regularly in the news, and people are always saying they know someone with my name. It doesn’t bother me at all.
I appreciate that it is simple to spell and pronounce, and doesn’t have variant spellings. Having said that, people do sometimes mishear it as Emma or Hannah. That doesn’t bother me either.
It doesn’t really have an obvious nickname, but I’ve been happy to go nickname-free – I think two-syllable names are short enough not to need a nickname.
I guess the main issue is that it isn’t the most exciting name, and sometimes I wish it could have been just a tiny bit more exotic. However, one of the things that has made me more accepting of my name is that Anna does seem to be a name that most people like, and almost nobody seems to hate. I often get a “Oh, that’s one of my favourite names”, or “That’s such a nice name”, and I’ve never had a negative response it.
Never had to share my name with anyone, which is a definite plus. My name doesn’t pin me to a particular decade, and I like how ambiguous it is. These weren’t things my parents considered when they chose my name. The only thing my mum really didn’t want was a name that was easily shortened to a common nickname. My friends do have nicknames for me, but none have overtaken my real name.
On the other hand, the continuous mispronunciation is a bit of an issue, particularly when someone doesn’t even make the effort to actually learn how my name is pronounced. I do sometimes get people who just pick a name that is somewhat similar to them, like Sophia or Saphia, and stick with it although they know that’s not actually my name. Luckily, I don’t come across that sort of people very often.
Sara A. says
Even with being a Sara of the 80s, I still love my name. Even when I was one of 4 Sarahs in middle school. I like that I was named for my maternal grandmother I like that it’s a name with a strong pattern of use. I do get annoyed with having to differentiate myself to friends and family on occasion, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. I’ve tended to like the other Saras and Sarahs I’ve met, even the occasional Sari or Sarai. I can’t imagine being a Jen, Jenifer, or Jenny, but being a Sara is really nice.
When it was time to name my daughter, it was important to me that we could honor my paternal grandmother, Gertrude, and my husband’s maternal grandmother, Joan. We arrived at Trudy Josephine, which I felt straddled the line between quirky and elegant nicely into something livable. What I like is that her name fits in with the other toddlers in our group without being Trudy U.
I’m used to seeing butchered spellings of Jadon, but Naythyn? Izaya? That makes me want to cry.
Megan M. says
I was named Megan at the peak of its popularity, the mid-eighties. It’s a non-issue for me though because I just don’t know any other Megans! There was one other Megan in my schools as I grew up, but I can’t remember us ever being in the same classes. I hear the name Megan when I’m out in the store or something, but it always makes me smile. Another Megan! Awesome! The only thing that ever bothered me was when I was looking for personalized stuff and could only find the “Meghan” spelling.
I’ve always liked the name Polly too and Catherine is the name of my first daughter, so Polly Catherine appeals to me too. But I find “Polly” too nicknamey and have always been on the lookout for a more formal name one could use on a birth certificate. Sometimes Pauline is used (I think the British pronunciation of the first vowel sound in both Pauline and Polly might be closer than with the American pronunciation?). Polly Catherine is darling for a young girl, but I’d worry that it wouldn’t be ‘enough’ of a name for her when she’s an adult.
This American pronounces the first syllables of Polly and Pauline identically.
I say, Pah-lee and Paul-een, not the same way.
That’s the way I pronounce Polly (PAHL-ee) and Pauline (paw-LEEN) too.
I’ve recalled where I heard the two names linked — or so it seemed: the shop girl Pauline in the British drama “The Paradise” (PBS showed it last year) seems to be called both Polly and Pauline (but maybe “Paulie” is intended?). At an rate, when she’s called Polly it sounds like PAW-lee to me.
Do you really? They’re definitely different for me.
I repeated them both to myself about fifteen times before posting, and occasionally there was maybe a very slightly broader feel to Pauline, but not something I’d notice listening instead of saying. And I just tried it again about a half dozen times- definitely the same vowel.
I’m an Amy born in the late ’60s so I understand the Amy LastInitial scenario well. When I was a kid I wished my name were something less common. As I aged, though, I grew to really like my name. (It probably helped that my husband truly loves the name Amy, even before we were dating!) I like that it’s easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and a neat, trim name. As a kid, though, I did wish for an I to dot with a little heart or at least a T to cross!
I know sisters called “Ame” and “Abi”, short for their given names Amelia and Abigail; they were the only children in their family. Ame was born in about 1967 and Abi in about 1970, so I’m guessing they are close to you in age. ??? As far as I know, neither has opted to go by her given name, although they do have those to use professionally and ‘formally’.
I’m wondering at what age you went from Amy to Abby. Is it now your legal name? Did you adopt the name Abigail as well? Were your parents fine with your name switch? Do some relatives still call you Amy? And if you were to change your name from Amy today, would you still choose Abby?
Because of knowing Ame and Abi since they were little girls, the names are paired for me. I like them both (although I much prefer the usual spellings).
I was called Judith up until I was about fourteen. It got to the point where I was getting really stressed thinking about going through my whole life with that name. One big reason is that I could hardly pronounce the name – the ‘Ju’, ‘d’ and ‘th’ felt very unpleasant to say. The name felt too old-fashioned for me, and the nickname Judy was not much better. I know some people like that style, but I’m very hesitant about the whole ‘clunky-cool’ thing. The only issue I have with my name now is that people associate it with Twilight, but that’s dying down now.
My name is Victor, which I have always been very happy with. It was my father’s choice, as he vetoed my mother’s desire to name me ‘Bruce’ (something I am eternally grateful for). I’ve never had any real problems other than people’s desire to shorten it to ‘Vic’ and having to push back on that all during school. I finally gave in when a favorite nephew started calling me ‘Uncle Vic’ but fortunately most people use the full name. I do sometimes get it mistaken for ‘Hector’ one the phone. I certainly never had to deal with any classmates with my name and it’s never misspelled, either.
My infant son is named Casper, and I chose it for much the same reasons as I like mine. Rarely used (much more so than Victor, in fact) but well known and easy to spell. I do like and sometimes use the nickname version ‘Cap’ but if my son doesn’t want me to, I’ll respect that of course. Of course, I’m well aware of the ‘ghost issue’ but don’t really expect it to be much of a problem. I did dress him up as a ghost for his first Halloween to throw it in the face of people who gave me a hard time about the name, though. I’ll certainly never announce a name ahead of time again!
I just had to say, Casper is one of my all-time favourite names! It sounds like you chose it for your son with a lot of care and I’m sure he’ll make it his own like you did yours. Congratulations, and all the best to Cap 🙂