L-L-L-lovely

Sep 20th 2008

Here are a dozen girls' names.  Can you spot any patterns in the list?

Lena       
Leonie       
Sarah       
Anna      
Julia       
Katharina       
Hannah       
Sophie       
Laura      
Lisa       
Lea      
Lara     

Go with the obvious: half of the names on the list start with L.  You're looking at the top dozen names in Austria, just one of the many countries infatuated with the lovely letter L.  Lena and Leonie are particularly hot in German-speaking areas; Lea is huge in France and Quebec; Lucia is the top name in Spain, with Lucy and Lucie soaring elsewhere; Laura is a favorite just about everywhere (good taste, world!)  Take any short name that starts with an L and ends with a vowel, and you're sure to be in style.

Regular readers of this blog may be experiencing a little deja vu right about now.  Yes, you've heard something like this before.  The same pattern came up in my discussion of rising names I've taken off my "Why Not?" list.  Names like Luna and Lila were rare in the U.S. just a few years back, but are suddenly in contention.  The global figures suggest that's not just a fluke.  L is the world's hottest letter for girls' names, and the U.S. is just hitching a ride on that bandwagon.

 

p.s. to those of you who've asked me about that mysterious little "login" button...no, it doesn't do anything quite yet, but stay tuned!

 

Comments

1
By SSB (not verified)
September 20, 2008 9:46 PM

Oh, no! This can only mean one thing: more little girls named Lola! ARRRGH!

2
By Opal (not verified)
September 20, 2008 10:00 PM

Interesting. Our son's name fits the -n name trend, and we did not choose it for that reason at all; we had strong family reasons to choose the name. And my top name for a girl is Leah, again, for family reasons, and that fits a major trend too. Hmmm.

3
By Lisa in Tx (not verified)
September 20, 2008 10:53 PM

My name is in there! I haven't seen it on any trendy lists in quite a while.

Side note: Our baby boy put in an early appearance on Sept 11th. Name is James Franklin ln.

4
By ajaz (not verified)
September 20, 2008 11:21 PM

Just got back from a 6-year-old's birthday party, here are the names of the girls, all about 5 or 6.

Ava Grace
Ellie
Emmy
Grace
Avery
Deyton
Claire (x2)
Lauren and twin Lindsey
Mackenzie
Madeline (Maddie)
Caroline
Alyssa

5
By Guest (not verified)
September 21, 2008 12:13 AM

hi~

my name is angelina..and growing up everyone called me lina..didnt love that esp. so i changed it when i went to university to lane..
sounded more sophisticated. now i use my full name; but my friends from college still call my lane or laney..havent seen this name yet hit the name charts...

angelina

6
By Eo (not verified)
September 21, 2008 1:23 AM

Interesting to see the top twelve names in Austria. None really jump out at me. I do have a fondness for "Anna" no matter how popular or suavely "international" it is supposed to be. "Katharina" with an "a" somehow seems unnecessarily fussy to me.

I think I like certain unusual "L" names that are strong, as opposed to "frilliana".

Liz and Louka, I've always liked your choice of "Louka". Would you mind repeating how you came by it for your daughter?

Names I wouldn't necessarily use but find interesting: Lilac, Leith, Lucasta..

7
By Liz & Louka (not verified)
September 21, 2008 5:21 AM

Thanks eo, I like Louka too. How I came by it: I had the names Mary and Susan in mind, but was still looking out for other ideas. Someone on a naming thread of a baby board said she liked "Luka", which really appealed to me, but many others objected that it was a boy's name. Then I remembered the character "Louka" in George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man. She's a sassy, very independent-minded servant, in late 19C Bulgaria. I don't know if Louka was usually a girl's name in Bulgaria, as it seems it's now mostly a boy's name, though there is a female Greek economist with that name, so it does have some history as a girl's name.

8
By Carolyn (not verified)
September 21, 2008 5:30 AM

I'd add Lilia / Liliya / Lilya to the list. According to the name voyager, its been rising steadily in its popularity in the US lately. If I had a child, I'd use it... but not for the L-start and vowel-end; rather after the '96 Olympic gymnast Lilya Podkopayeva.

9
By Bea Dee (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:42 AM

There is a little Luna in three year old preschool this year. It's pretty rare that we're on the 'cutting edge' of any national trends in this part of the Midwest, but maybe it's because her parents are Lebanese? She is totally adorable. I just want to squish her!

We also have several Lydias at our school, which would probably get my vote for favorite L--a name.

10
By Mari (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:49 AM

Lila/Lyla/Lilah is also an L name that I once loved...but it's so overused here in the Boston area that I am (sadly) starting to tire of it.

11
By Amy3 (not verified)
September 21, 2008 9:34 AM

Lisa in TX -- Congrats on James Franklin! Have fun with your new baby.

ajaz -- I was interested to see Ava Grace as one of the girls' names at the party. Does she always go by Ava Grace? I ask because my daughter, who is almost 7, has a friend who is very regularly Ava Rose. This isn't because we're chock-a-block with Avas, though. I think the parents, the girl, or both simply prefer using both.

I know a lot of girls with L names, but most of them seem to be a year or two younger than my daughter. Ones I see around my neighborhood or among my friends are Lilian (nn Lily), Leanna, Lola, and Lia. I'm sure I'm missing some, though. Now I'll be on the lookout for L!

12
By Beth (not verified)
September 21, 2008 9:37 AM

I *love* Lydia. It's been on my list since the 1980s. So has Lauren. But Lisa is still popular? That's odd. I thought it was kind of a "Jennifer" name, played out in the 70s and not trendy anymore.

I know we've battled about socioeconomic status before, but you might find this amusing. My daughter goes to a fancy preschool in San Francisco (on financial aid and a diversity ticket, she protests!), where there is a high concentration of hipster names: girls named Daly and Ellis, boys named Alistair and Pierre, and so on. But every time I see a class list from years gone by, there are two Carolines--my daughter's name--and two in her class right now. In our family, it's a swamp-yankee name, handed down over generations of barely middle-class shopkeepers, musicians, and teachers. Of course it's also WASPy as heck, a name royalty uses, and popular in wealthier parts of the South. But I had no idea that people with lots of Silicon Valley money, out here in the West, were so jazzed by such a stodgy name.

13
By Guest (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:05 AM

Quote of the week from THE WEEK magazine: "When I heard that John McCain's running mate had children named Track, Willow, Bristol, Piper, and Trig, I was floored. A lot of Americans, myself included, want to believe this is still the country we grew up in, a country where no one dreamed of giving their children names like Brooklyn or Rhiannon or Darcy. We want to believe we are still living in a country where naming children is a cultural self-preservation tactic, a means of maintaining an institutional memory of the ethnic and religious groups from which the newborn has sprung, a way of maintaining a link with a heroic past rather than a cute or ironic future. But that country no longer exists. American children are no longer named after prophets, warriors, healers, or cultural titans; they are named after Welsh fairies, characters in science-fiction movies, the outer boroughs of New York, and trees." -- Joe Queenan in the Los Angeles Times

14
By Tirzah (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:10 AM

Caroline definitely seems WASPY to me. Note that the most popular reference when typing in "Caroline" into Google is Caroline Kennedy. It's hard to go wrong with a Kennedy name.

I know both an Ava Grace and an Ava Rose (and an Ava Louise). Both the AG and the AR tend to use both names, but not consistently. I wonder if it is because the name is visually so short?

The L names seem to fit the generational patterns. In my generation, there was J (Jennifer, Josh). Then came the Ks (Kaley, Katie). Now here come the Ls (Lily, Lila). Maybe in another 10 years, we'll see M names.

15
By Eo (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:20 AM

Or some of my favorite letters, the "N"'s, "P"'s, or "I"'s...

16
By Guest (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:48 AM

WOW
My daughters(age 5 & 2) are Leah and Lucy. I had no idea we were in the midst of a trend! I named Lucy after my Great grandmaother who used to tell me tales of the Depression and Leah was my favorite name for a girl growing up...They were going to be Grady if they were boys...another name that is trending up...

17
By The Letter K (not verified)
September 21, 2008 12:31 PM

Just checking out L-names on the Name Voyager - I wonder if this will positively affect the L-names that were popular earlier: names like Lori and Lauren, the gentler-sounding Lynn or the older-fashioned Linda? Seems to me that those stagnant lakes of L-names are staying put, and L is finding fresh new sources instead - and that's what is also part of the trend. Though Lydia sounds like it might be re-emerging as trendy?

Other top ten female L-names from Europe include these interesting sets (these stats range from 2005 to 2008, found on Wikipedia)
Lotte, Louise, Lore, Lina, Léa, Lucie, Louise (various parts and language areas of Belgium)
Lucija, Laura (Croatia)
Laura, Lene (Denmark)
Lisette, Laura (Estonia)
Louane, Léa, Léna, Louna (France)
Lili, Laura (Hungary)
Lotte, Lieke, Lisa (Netherlands)
Lara, Lana (Slovenia)
Laura, Laia (Catalonia/Spain)
Linnea (Sweden)
(The other German speaking countries' data wer essentially same as Laura's Austrian data set above.)
Could Lotte, Lieke, Laia and Linnea make it in the US naming scene?

18
By EssBee (not verified)
September 21, 2008 12:48 PM

I know of one Linnea -- she's probably in her 40s, though. I don't know if it's pronounced LIN-ee-uh, or Lin-NAY-a. Any idea?

Lila...I do kind of like that one. I'm wondering if the moms of these baby Lilas have a vague memory of a character in the "Sweet Valley High" series from the 1980s? Besides that, I've never run across a "Lila".

I also kind of like "Laurel", but it doesn't work very well with our last name (which has an L in the middle).

EssBee
(still undecided at 22weeks 5days pregnant with a girl).

19
By Just Jenny (not verified)
September 21, 2008 1:10 PM

I've known Linneas who have pronounced it both ways... I guess whichever you like better!

20
By Amy3 (not verified)
September 21, 2008 1:24 PM

I know a Linnea who is a freshman in high school. She pronounces it Lin-NAY-a. That would be my preferred pronunciation, if I were ever to use it (which I would, but my husband would not -- another moot point in naming around my house. It truly is a wonder we managed to name our daughter.)

21
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 21, 2008 1:25 PM

I have to say my favorite L name is Lindsey. My dd has a Lainey/Laney/Lanie (not sure of sp) in her preschool class. We have a Lily in our neighborhood (3yo). I also knew a Linnea about 15yrs ago. She was 2 at the time. I thought the M's had a little surge about 4/5 yrs back with all the Madeline/Marlena/Maddison and the like showing up. Hmm maybe just a pocket.

Other L names:
Liza, Liz, Leisel, Lacey, Libby and weren't we mentioning Lettice the other day??

22
By ajaz (not verified)
September 21, 2008 3:45 PM

Amy3: Yes, she always goes by both names, Ava Grace. I don't know of any other Avas that age that she knows, so I think it was just her parents' choice to call her by both names.

23
By Keren (not verified)
September 21, 2008 4:14 PM

Just come back from my son's first fotball match of the season. Two teams of 8/9 year old boys, Jewish, London:

Jordan, Jonah, Judah, Jamie, Josh, Joshua, Jacy, Jacob.
Archie, Alex, Albie.
Rafi, Yoav, Zac.
It was so funny! Two managers shouting 'J' names all afternoon.

Also noticed in the nursery of my son's school there is a Mia, Thea and Khia.

I also love Lydia, such a pretty name - I know a family with Lucy and Lydia and the mother wanted to call her third girl Loveday, but went for Amy in the end.

24
By Cathy (not verified)
September 21, 2008 4:53 PM

I want so badly to like the name Lydia, but for the life of me I cannot erase a very crass limerick from my mind. Actually, it was a witty (?) public service announcement that hung on a billboard of sorts. I saw it often in the mid to late 1990s as I'd take the PATCO high speed line between NJ and Philadelphia. The 3 longer lines of the limerick ended with Lydia, pity ya, and the very unfortunate chlamydia.

25
By Jennifer (not verified)
September 21, 2008 5:36 PM

The "L" craze has, as Laura noted, been taking Europe by storm. The Germanic countries have been trending towards "smoother" sounding names for years now, which has manifested itself often by borrowing from neighboring France or Italy.

In France itself, however, there has been an absolutely astonishing phenomenon: the introduction of the name "Lilou" and its variants. There's a bit of debate as to whether there was a single Lilou in France before 1997's "The Fifth Element" [the moderator of www.meilleursprenoms.com seems to believe there were a handful], but it's been going down gangbusters ever since. The "lou" sound is something the French simply cannot get enough of-- hence the numerous little Lou-Anns, Louannes, Lylous, and so forth.

I find this so interesting given that the "L" trend in Germanic and Scandinavian countries was largely an appopriation of the smoother-sounding French onomastic options. The French wanted to jump onto their own bandwagon and evidently had nowhere to turn, so linguistically imploded on themselves, reducing the element to its simplest manifestation. Rather like a black hole.

PS Miriam-- I read with great interest your contributions on the other thread. I took my first degree in Medieval French Literature, and was fondly reminded of the good old days in Oxford's Oriental Institute nattering away with the philologists. Now that I'm in the more mundane world of medicine, I'm curious: do you think the massive population displacements caused by the Black Death had any causal relationship to the Great Vowel Shift, or its subsequent dissemination?

26
By Eo (not verified)
September 21, 2008 5:36 PM

By the way, Liz & Louka, thanks for the reminder. Louka will have such a neat story to tell about her name, with the fairly obscure but fun and admirable George Bernard Shaw character as inspiration! Love it.

27
By Birgitte (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:32 PM

Our baby boy showed up a little early too. Hubby and I were finally able to agree on a name: Francesco Vittorio Ln (Incredibly long and complicated Italian ln).

Can anyone think of a cool nickname for Francesco?

28
By Melanie (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:35 PM

I can see where the sound of Lydia can be very pretty, but it is forever branded by Pride and Prejudice for me. Is there any chance L names will eclipse J names? I still remember when all my favorite boy names started with J. Or was that just a popular name when everyone was being named Jennifer, Jessica, and Jonathon?

29
By Danielle (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:37 PM

Lisa: congrats on little James Franklin!!!

EssBee: I always think of that series when I see the name Lila! I'd wondered whether or not anyone else made that connection!

Also, I'm 27 weeks pregnant with a baby girl and still undecided on a name, so I was happy to see you are the same way! I know 3 pregnant women, all with names chosen in advance, so at times I start to panic because I don't have the "perfect name" chosen yet. (The names they've chosen, BTW, are: Ad@lynn, K@ylynn, and Lucy.)

Our top choices (for now!) are Caroline and Chloe, but I'm pretty hesitant about Chloe, given its popularity. We'd have preferred Zoe, but it's our dog's name. (The rhyming isn't a problem.) Aside from the national rank, it's #19 in my home state. A bit more popular than I'd prefer... We have a 3-syllable (very Italian-sounding) last name, that begins with A and ends with "lone." My concern with Caroline is that, when combined with our last name, it may be difficult for people to say. Thoughts, anyone? Any suggestions are welcome!

Names we've already excluded, so you can get a sense of our "style," are:

Abigail (nn Abby - way too popular!)
Ainsley
Alexandra
Allison
Delaney
Juliana
Kate (love it as a nn, but not as a stand-alone name, and Katherine/Kathleen/Kaitlyn are NMS)
Kennedy (my husband isn't a big fan of surnames-as-first-names)
Michaela (too popular, with its various spellings)
Rebecca (our favorite name, but already taken by our niece)
Rhiannon
Samantha

30
By Opal (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:44 PM

My good friend's nephew is Frank (simple 5-letter, 3-syllable Italian last name) and he has a son named Francesco. They usually call him by his full name, but occasionally use Franco.

I've also heard of an older person with this name who went by Chez (I guess from the 'ces' part of Francesco?).

Congratulations on your son!

31
By Opal (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:49 PM

Errrr, previous post directed to Birgitte. My apologies.

32
By Birgitte (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:50 PM

Thanks, Opal! I never thought of Franco. We have been experimenting with Cesco, but not 100% happy with it.

33
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 21, 2008 6:50 PM

Congrats to all the new babies and expected ones as well!
Danielle-how about Charlotte,Carla/Karla or Katra, or Gia/Gianna.

34
By Melanie (not verified)
September 21, 2008 7:55 PM

Danielle,

I wouldn't worry about being undecided at 27 weeks. I was still deciding up to the hospital and a few friends of mine took weeks after the birth to resolve their name discussion. Usually, however, it has involved issues between spouses and not indecision. I have always thought discussing names fun until it is time to actually name the child then it some how morphs into something different. I could see how the letters could come in generational waves. I wonder what letter would I pick if I could chose the next letter wave? I have always liked T names. . .

35
By Jane (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:13 PM

Lydia reminds me of Pride and Prejudice, too! The book, but even more the BBC version. I don't think I could like it now. On the other hand, I have always loved Leah. I think it has the prettiest sound. But Leah in the Bible never really resonated with me, so I would maybe hestitate before using it for a child. Are there any other Leah namesakes out there? In literature perhaps?

36
By Jane (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:14 PM

Would Rosco be too far out as a nickname for Francesco?

37
By Artemis (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:20 PM

Birgitte: I once heard of a Francesco who went by "Chess."

38
By another amy (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:21 PM

congrats to the new moms and welcome babies!

as for those who still need to pick a name--despite much discussion, we didn"t have a name until we wanted to leave the hospital and they wouldn't let us leave w/o a name. I never thought I'd be that way. we know another couple this summer who did the same thing.

re L-names--my best friend in HS was the oldest of this sib set: L@aura, Lis@, Len@ and Lynn (ln beginning with L). I've always wondered what the elusive son would have been named!

39
By Miriam (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:44 PM

"Caroline definitely seems WASPY to me. Note that the most popular reference when typing in 'Caroline' into Google is Caroline Kennedy. It's hard to go wrong with a Kennedy name."

Uh, Tirzah, the Kennedys are anything but WASP-y. Their non-WASPiness was a huge issue in 1960. I remember when Caroline Kennedy was born, the name Caroline was widely criticized as being old-fashioned to the point of mustiness. Back in those day the main association with Caroline was probably Caddie Woodlawn. :-)

Danielle, what about Carolina (Caroleena, as in Carolina Kostner, not Caroleyena as in the states)? Carolina would go with an Italian surname. Kostner is from the South Tyrol, currently part of Italy, where people speak both German and Italian, and Carolina would seem to suit both languages.

"I'm curious: do you think the massive population displacements caused by the Black Death had any causal relationship to the Great Vowel Shift, or its subsequent dissemination?"

Jennifer,'why?' is not always the most productive question when it comes to sound changes. Often sound changes occur when a population speaking one language shifts over to another, and the original language influences the new one. But that does not appear to be the case when it comes to the Great Vowel Shift. I have never seen the GVS ascribed to the Black Death, and I don't think that is likely to be the cause. Certainly the Black Death was also the scourge of the continent, and the vowels there retained their so-called continental values. Chaucer was a tot during the Great Pandemic of 1348-49. By the time he died at the very end of the century, the vowels had not yet started shifting. The GVS started in the 15th century, and the beginnings of the shift are visible in Malory. Shakespeare's language is well into the shift which isn't completed until after Pope and Swift--and in some parts of the English-speaking world (Ireland, for example), the shift was never completed. If you were to hear Shakespeare's plays properly pronounced (which you never do), you would think all the characters are from County Cork.

One thing that did happen in the 15th century was the end of the last vestiges of the everyday use of French in England. Into the 15th century French continued to be a/the epistolary language, but that petered out. All that was left was law French which continues to this day with terms like "voir dire." In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (where I grew up in a legal household), the criminal court is known as the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and the bailiff cries "Oyez! Oyez!" as he calls the court into session and heralds the entrance of the judge. Perhaps the end of the everyday use of French allowed the English vowels to slide away from the continental values, but that is a (wild) guess on my part.

40
By Opal (not verified)
September 21, 2008 8:56 PM

another amy, I worked with sisters Linda & Lisa (last name started with L as well) and they had a younger sister whose name started with L also. I'm fairly certain that it was Laura, but I can't be sure. It was just the 3 of them - all girls, like the family you knew. The oldest was born in the late-1950s, the youngest in the early to mid-1960s.

41
By Guest (not verified)
September 21, 2008 9:00 PM

don't forget lela (LEEE-la but also LIE-la)
thoughts on dalia / dahlia?

42
By Alitalia (not verified)
September 21, 2008 9:41 PM

Birgitte - another option for Francesco might be Cesc, as in the footballer Cesc Fabregas. I think he pronounces it [Sesk]. I also like Franco a lot, and Chess is an interesting option.

(We were considering Francesca for our daughter born this summer, and had trouble coming up with acceptable nicknames - I did NOT want people calling her Fran!). She ended up as Juliette. :-) )

43
By Guestie (not verified)
September 21, 2008 9:53 PM

ah!! Caddie Woodlawn!! I had completely forgotten how much i loved those books! wonderful names and characters!

44
By Laura (not verified)
September 21, 2008 10:37 PM

Another "L" name that hasn't been mentioned in this post: My mom's first name is Leta, which is Latin for "joy." I absolutely love it, but she's never gone by it. She's always used her middle name. It's a little close to Leda, as in Zeus and the swan thing, but I love it and would love to use it if we ever have a daughter. I have no idea where my grandmother got the name from, and I've never heard anyone else with it, just related names like Letitia. It definitely fits the trend, though.

45
By Lisa in Tx (not verified)
September 21, 2008 10:46 PM

Birgitte - re. Francesco: Chico, Cisco (SIS-co), Frankie, Chester, Che... I like Rosco and Chess, too. My husband's a Spaniard, so Franco doesn't have the same sort of ring for us. Or you could go off the mn with Vito.

Also, what state are you in? Just curious because Hurricane Ike totally broke my water at 4am, even though I'm 150 miles inland.

46
By Jennifer (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:01 PM

Miriam-

I thought the decline of French in the High Middle Ages / Early Enlightenment England was due to a great number of factors-- most prominently the fact that French was the language of the court, the educated classes, the aspiring classes, etc but then there was a series of protracted Anglo-French wars that made appearing too francophilic a bit treacherous. Some people even attributed the Great Vowel Shift to that-- a reactionary desire to appear "super-English" which the educated classes, who of course controlled the written word, took their learning of everyday spoken English to the extreme.

The GVS also occurred principally in southern England, no? The Black Death refers to bubonic plague, not necessarily the specific horrible visitation in the mid-14th century that killed off 1/3 of the population. England, as well as Europe, was visited by numerous plague epidemics throughout the time period in question. Often times this meant the countryside was more or less emptied out as households collapsed, villages became unsustainable and as survivors migrated to the cities-- principally London in the south. The last epidemic of plague in England was in the 1666-7 season (chronicled brilliantly by Daniel DeFoe)-- this is three centuries of devastation and terror we're talking about. It was the demographic equivalent of an earthquake. I thought it would have a dramatic influence on the evolution of everyday spoken English.

47
By rebecca (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:44 PM

plus LAY-la (like the song)

48
By DRDS (not verified)
September 21, 2008 11:53 PM

Thought this group might be interested in these new baby names . . .
Our local hospital posts new baby pictures and first names on a section of its website, which I check regularly to satisfy my personal name curiosity. In the past week I've seen a boy named Trinity and a girl named Spencer.

To comment on the "L" theme, they also list new (girl) babies named Lia, Layla, and Lilah in the last couple of days.

49
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:03 AM

Does anyone else think that L names on girls are "lovely" and on boy names are "lousy"? (I dont mean there are no nice boy names but just trying to be a bit punny there). I do enjoy the sounds of Laura, Lisa, Lindsey, and so on but find Lawrence, Lucas, and Lester to be not quite my style. Anyone else feel like this? Are there any other letters that do this? Maybe K for me and T is the opposite manner.

50
By Kristi (not verified)
September 22, 2008 12:19 AM

Danielle & EssBee - don't feel bad. I'm almost 37-1/2 weeks pregnant, gender unknown, and we are still trying to figure out names. I feel like we finally made some progress tonight coming up with a shortened list though.

We like to keep the baby's name secret (from family & friends) until birth, so I am hoping to get some unbiased input from the readers here. We have twin boys, almost 2 yrs, Hayden John & Koen David. Our last name is long, German, hard to spell & pronounce, beginning with a 'C'.

If we have another boy, our current top picks are (in no particular order):
Soren
Theron
Lucian
We are considering James or Jonas as MNs, but don't know that either really goes with Lucian. My twin boys' MNs are after family & a close friend, but we don't really have any other family/friend boy names to use as a MN this time around. We were thinking James at least ties in as a Biblical name, and we like it. Any other MN suggestions?

If we have a girl, our current top picks are (in no particular order):
Aleah
Lena
Sorenah
Rhianna
Selene
(hmmm...it just hit me that all but one of these end with the -a sound. I guess we are unintentionally following a trend there, like our boys' -n names)
My SIL is Carolyn, so we would like to use either Carolyn or Caroline as the MN for a girl. I lean towards Caroline b/c Carolyn seems a little choppy to me as a MN, but dh prefers Carolyn. Can we still say she is named after my SIL if we use Caroline?

Any input would be appreciated! Thanks.
-kristi