Sunday Summary 5.1.16Welcome to May, readers!

If you’ve been dying to listen to me ramble, this is your lucky week, because I have ventured into video. Yes, video. I am not behind the curve at all. And while certain parts of this process were daunting, I have to admit that I’m hooked and you’ll be seeing more of me.

Earlier this week, I posted my guesses for the new US Top Ten.

A reader asked if I thought the name Harper would really keep climbing, even after all the controversy around Harper Lee’s Got Set a Watchman. My short answer: yes, yes, I do.

For the long answer, tune in here. Erm, why can’t I get a screenshot where I don’t look disgusted? There’s obviously a learning curve here! Promise I don’t make that face intentionally – or really at all in the video. I think.

Also in the real world, my son has made a travel ice hockey team. (Again, actually. First he made the spring team, now he’s made the fall-winter team.) We are so proud of him for all his hard work, and honestly? More than a little astonished, because we always thought we’d be the parents of the quiet kid with the big glasses and interests in all sorts of obscure fandoms. (You know, kind of like his parents. Well, I didn’t get glasses until last month, but you get the idea.)

My husband resisted the idea of choosing any name for our son that sounded like it might belong to an athlete, because how awful would it to have a sporty name like A.J., but be much more interested in the extended Star Wars universe than baseball?

Instead, our child has been sports-mad since he learned how to walk, and when he skates? I wouldn’t be surprised if he sprouted wings and took flight. He is athletic in a way that I never expected.

And so, one of the cardinal rules of baby naming: we name strangers. A little bit of flexibility in a given name is a good thing.

Elsewhere online:

  • look at baby naming among Mormon families posits this theory: because families living in the so-called “Mormon Corridor” – Utah, as well as parts of Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona – tend to be pretty homogenous, names were one way to express individuality. Though now, of course, the unusual names are almost expected. I remain fascinated by the idea of a Utah Baby Name.
  • Speaking of unusual names, this is a sweet story about a couple’s plans to name their son Rome, and how they ended up naming him Rohme instead. Except it’s also a cautionary tale, because I posted the story on social and called the poor kiddo Rhome. If you’re going to opt for an alternate spelling, it pays to be patient and thick-skinned about misspellings. But they can still be the right choice.
  • Dylan Farrow – a celebrity baby herself, once upon a time, is expecting. It’s a girl, and they have a name, but she’s not telling. After writing this post for Nameberry last month, I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought, and I think I have something almost pulled together.
  • Names for Real spots a Samwise! Always thought that was a great Lord of the Rings name, ready for use in our world, too.
  • Or you could take your inspiration from Shakespeare, just like all of these families.
  • An oldie that came up on Facebook this week: old school names from Quebec. 27,000 of them! I get lost every time I visit.
  • I’ve come across this phenomenon a few times, but I was never certain if it was cultural, or just a quirk of the families I’d met: apparently rhyming names for twins is a thing in Nigeria.
  • Speaking of cross-cultural naming, I thought this story would be funny. But it’s actually a very interesting tale of how we understand cultures we only observe from afar. Also, I would not want to go through life named Justin Bieber LastName.
  • This one is on my list of names poised to enter the US Top 1000 in 2015, too!
  • Names from Hamilton! I’m really hoping to take my son to see the touring version next year – me and about a million other people, of course. But hey, hip hop and American history? Two big loves around this place. Curious about Emily’s question – will Hamilton revive Aaron?
  • Alexia Mae asks how we understand our names when they’re said in different accents. Is an Australian Bustah still Bustah in the US, or does he become Buster? I have some (limited) experience with this, as my husband’s foreign-born parents say my name a little differently. And while I’m used to it, if I’m perfectly honest? Nope. That’s not my name. It’s perfectly fine and reasonable and all that, but after all of these years, I do hear it as a mistake. It’s not necessarily about speaking English as a Second Language, either. Regional accents can transform your name, too.
  • They need a K name with a modern vibe, but is Kailen the right choice? Duana uses the term “disposable” to describe names like Kailen and Kylie and Kamryn. I’m intrigued by the comment, because while it sounds the tiniest bit cruel, I think she’s on to something. Sometimes creative, modern names seem forgettable, don’t they? I need to mull this one over.
  • Seren should totally have been on this list, so I’m delighted Elea featured it as British Baby Names this week.

That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and watching! – 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. how cool to see you on video. You’re adorable! You have all the sweetness of an Amy with the spunk of an Abby. (Hope you’re not offended by that; I mean it as a compliment). It does bring up an interesting idea of how the name we’re raised with influences our personalities as adults… even if we’ve had a name change. (I did!) But back to the point: great job on your first foray into video!

    1. Ha! I’ll take it as a compliment, the Mrs. 🙂 Thank you!

      And yes, I think about that a lot – I know a late 50ish Amy who has a totally different take on the name because she was well before the wave of Amys … we were talking about it yesterday, and it struck me that it’s the name, but also the era in which you’re born … definitely a lot to think about!

  2. Thanks for the shoutout! Fingers crossed we ALL get Hamilton tickets eventually 🙂

  3. My parents have two different accents, so I’m basically unfazed by different pronunciations of my name. My father says it Sahhh-rahhh and my mother says it Sair-uh.

  4. My inner creeper is always so interested to see how my expectations align with reality in regards to voices. I have yet to be right about a blogger/writer’s voice and this was no exception! Made me realize that I’ve been unintentionally reading your posts in the voice of Lorelai Gilmore (oops?)

  5. In my area, Seren would sound just like sarin. While I understand the appeal, the liklihood of it sounding like my kid had been named for a chemical weapon puts it it in the “what a shame, but never” pile for me.

  6. I always enjoy your Sunday Summary, and the video was a nice addition. Lots of links to follow and name news to read. I especially enjoyed the BBC article about folks with Shakespearean names. And I found the Québec names of special interest (bookmarked that website) and looked for a 3-times great grandmother’s name, Euphrosine: it was there. You mentioned coming across reference to this list on Facebook — could you tell me where? Thanks for your blog!

    1. Hi Patricia – Thanks! Actually, I don’t recall where I first found the site. It came up on Facebook a few days ago because someone posted about an obscure French name, and I remembered seeing it on the website. Wish I could remember how I first found it, because it’s a fabulous resource!

      1. Me, it was me who shared it with you. I love the site. I’m crushing on the obscure Henrelianne and Humberline from that site. I’m glad it made it on here. It’s such an amazing list and can inspire sooo many couples!

        1. I’ve seen the site featured on many blogs from ” Once a Upon a Name time baby name blog,” divingbells blog, to ” Nameberry” chat forums. But nobody has really dug into the list in the sense of doing a synopsis on many of the names. Its a huge list, lot of work, but it would be amazing to see it done. I think that many parents “scan” the list, because it is so extensive, but never really get to bite into it. I think when names are features, parents take it more seriously, taking the names into consideration once light has been shed on them, and reading the commentary down below guides them. I’m always fascinated in these lists and the process.