Sunday Summary 7.9.17The latest obsession around here? Descendants 2. If you don’t have a Disney Channel-crazed school aged kid, you may have missed 2015’s smash hit flick, Descendants. The plot: Disney’s legendary villains have been banished to a prison-island, but their children – now teenagers – are being given a second chance. Four of the Descendants will transfer to Auradon Prep, studying alongside the children of the Disney heroes.

There’s more to the story, of course, with the villains’ children having to choose between their evil-doing heritage and their own experiences and interests. But let’s fast-forward to the names.

Because they’re uninspired! Maleficient’s daughter? Mal. Jay was Jafar’s son; Carlos, the son of Cruella de Vil; and Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen. Obvious names, easy shorthand to keep the family connections straight.

Since the hit movie aired in July 2015, the story has inspired animated sequels and a series of novels. And now Descendants 2 will debut on July 21, 2017.

And this time? One of the villain kids rocks an AMAZING appellation.

Heck, we even meet her through a song called “What’s My Name?” where the back-up singers all reply “ooo … ooo … mah … Uma …”

Yup, Ursula the Sea Witch has a daughter called Uma.

A blue-haired pirate captain played by young actress-singer China Anne McClain, she’ll introduce the name to a new generation. Up until now, Uma has been an appealing mini-name borrowed from Sanskrit, familiar only because of Hollywood’s Uma Thurman.

(There’s a video of Captain Uma embedded here; if you’re reading this in your email, you may need to click through.)

Of course, the target audience is still years away from having children. Still, I’ll be watching for a rise in the number of baby Umas when we see next year’s data release in May 2018.

Elsewhere online:

  • While talking about the Tory MP who named his sixth son Sixtus, my (British) brother-in-law mentioned an old formula for figuring out your “Tory name.” He says it is grandparent name + first street you lived on + head of school. That makes my husband Matthias Nieman-Plough, which I find quite dashing.
  • While we’re in the UK, British Baby Names’ birth announcement round-ups always charm me. (And she’s got little Sixtus, plus his five older siblings, full names listed here. Totally worth a read. One of their kiddo’s middles is Wulfric!!)
  • If you haven’t voted in the New Names Showdown, please do! This is the second year. We start out with eight promising names new to the US Top 1000, and pick our favorite – or maybe the name that has the most potential to rise again next year. The boys’ contest is here, and you can vote for the girls here.
  • Laura Wattenberg rounded up the official list of true unisex names in the US. That got me thinking: my son’s name is unisex in practice. It’s made me much less troubled by unisex names. He’s been in the room with girl-Alexes plenty of times, and the world has not exploded. Then again, Alex is one of those obvious boy-names-on-girls, like Ryan or Sam. As Laura pointed out in a Tweet, very few of those girls are actually named Alex.
  • Perfect timing! Bree included Alix on her list of popular French girls’ names. Je ne me lasse jamais de noms de français. I think that says I never tire of French names, but I relied on Google translate. (French speakers, why isn’t it je ne me fatigue jamais?)
  • Okay, you know that rule about how you can’t have a one-syllable first name with a one-syllable middle? Or a short last name? I don’t buy it. Because Beau Rush (first and middle) Bricken sounds just perfect to me. Also, Beau and Ford fit right in with Americana baby names for boys. They’re great together!
  • Is X the coolest letter in baby naming? Namenculture makes a good case.
  • You know how some names can mean one thing to one person, and something completely different to another? I think Beretta might be one of those names.
  • As our world continues to shrink, more and more families face naming across cultural and linguistic borders. Even with languages as similar as French, Spanish, and English, there’s a lot to consider, and Duana dives into some of the issues here.

Speaking of language, my son is off to an ice hockey camp today where many – maybe half? – of the instructors speak French as a first language. Last year, I asked a question only to have the coach respond, “Let me think of how to explain this in English.” Even if you speak another language in an academic setting, using it in the wild is a whole other experience, right? You know when they ask about which superpower you’d like to have? Forget flight. Nevermind X-ray vision. I’d like to speak and truly understand every language. Almost like Annie Walker on Covert Affairs, but without the espionage. Now that would be something.

That’s all for now. 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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  1. I’m not sure I ever spoke French well enough to know the difference between “se lasser” and “se fatiguer,” but clicking around a bunch, I’m gathering that “se lasser” connotes weary/bored vs sleepy/tired of “se fatiguer.” This page uses variations of “fatiguer” up until translating “to tire of something,” so that one must be an obvious switch to “se lasser” for the Frenchies.

  2. I’m totally on board with your superpower wish. I’d love to understand even one other language!

    1. Yes! I’ve found that reading other languages and bare bones conversation comes easy to me. But that leaves me knowing exactly enough to recognize that I don’t get it. One of my 2017 goals was to truly master spoken Spanish, and it’s the one that I’m making the least progress on. Maybe it’s time to revive that one …

  3. I know a baby “Uma” here in Germany. I like the name, although I feel it sounds very close to the German word for grandmother (“Oma”). As an aside, Ursula is seen as a normal, old-fashioned name here. No sea witch connotations!

  4. I wanted to shout, “Tristan!” when I read Duana’s letter. *Laughing* I love how easy it is to post comments on your site.