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marie_claire, the Bullerby books are my favourite Lindgren books too, especially the picture book Christmas at Bullerby. As a little girl I desperately wanted to be named Britta after the character! (I also wanted to be named Brigitta after one of the daughters in The Sound of Music... see the pattern?) :)
EVie - Garnet is a male gemstone name. You find it mainly on older men. I wonder how much it's still used these days.
Megan W, my neighbour's name is Mette. She is Danish. She pronounces it more or less like met-ah, but the a- sound on the end is slightly softer and less pronounced, if you know what I mean.
New baby Hattie reminded me that it is the name of the American (specifically San Francisco) baby in the movie Babies. I think she would be 3 now. In the US I definitely see Hattie/Harriet as an urban, trendy, little old lady name on the rise.
Ger-ARD is generally the North American pronunciation and JEHR-erd is the British/Irish pronunciation. When I was on a university exchange in Scotland I had a friend from Northern Ireland. We were having lunch one day and for some reason I mentioned the name Gerard, using of course the NA pronunciation - the only one I knew. I will never forget her turning to me and saying, "WHAT did you just call him?" and then actually falling off her chair in fits of hysterics. I have since found that a lot of people in the UK find the NA way of saying it absolutely hilarious. I happen to like them both.
lucubratrix, I too was about to point out that Max is a perfectly legitimate name on its own. It was my great grandfather's name - in Germany (where he was born) it is very often "just Max".
I've absolutely no clue who The Situation is, but the analysis is certainly spot on. Another example I can think of is the British 'glamour model' and no-talent ninny Katie Price, whose 'brand name' is Jordan.
It wasn't a very good year for names, was it?
A couple of people have mentioned pronouncing Katherine with three syllables and Kathryn with two. Really? Is this common? Having lived in Canada and the UK, I've only ever heard it with two. I would say there's not even a slight breath in between. I'm quite interested to hear others pronounce it differently.
Re: Badger - that one is so wacky, even for the Telegraph, that it got a mention on BBC Radio 2 last night!
hyz, I haven't been around here for eons - I meant to ask, what did you name your baby? Last I remember you were leaning towards Oliver? Many congratulations to you!
Amber is hugely popular here in the UK. Top 50 last year, I think. It screams 'the popular girl at school in the 1980s' to me, but they don't have that association here. There's not anything wrong with it as a name, if I think about it. As someone said, if Ruby, then why not Amber?
And Jennifer was definitely not as uncommon 50 or a hundred years ago as many might think. My partner's aunt is a 1930s-born Jennifer. And my grandmother's middle name is Jenny.
Karyn, Quebec is probably one of the strictest places in the world regarding name changes, isn't it? I believe there needs to be a "serious reason" why you want to do it, for example the name invites ridicule or is completely unpronounceable. I know there have been women who have challenged the courts to be allowed to change their last name to their husband's, but no one has been successful yet! I presume it's also quite difficult to change your middle or first name in Quebec.
Sol's Mom - as someone with two middle names from birth, I'm not a fan. I find it a little cumbersome as both names often don't fit on forms, and on my driver's licence the second middle is cut off halfway through the name! This is part of the reason I've effectively dropped one of them.
I plan to take advantage of the name change process when I get married - I won't be changing my surname to my husband's but I will be switching to the more correct and intuitive spelling of my German last name (it's all to do with a missing umlaut in English). It's only one letter added but it makes a big difference in others' ability to pronounce it, plus it's more authentic and I just prefer the look of it.
Now that I think about it, I may consider dropping my second middle name at the same time! I never use it and I've never liked it, nor has my mother. She felt pressured into using it by my grandmother. Laura, this post has been a very useful little public service announcement! :)
One of my partner's secondary school students is named Luka - she's a girl. She is named after the Suzanne Vega song. In fact, her two siblings are named after SV songs too! (I don't know what their names are.)
The song is definitely about a boy - watch the video and you'll see. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the parents thought it was about a girl, hence their daughter's name. My partner also thought it was a girl until we verified it. I prefer Luca/Luka as a traditionally male name, but I must admit that it works pretty well for girls.
This Alistair thing is getting hilarious! Has this board ever seen such a pronunciation conundrum before? hyz, I'd say that overall -TER has the edge, but -TAIR seems to be legitimate too.
Eo, great information about Gordon, thanks.
emilyrae, I don't think Piper is actually a nn for Philippa (at least it's not a traditional one) but I see how it could work well.
Oh, and I know I am completely behind on the conversation re: pronunciation of Alistair, but I've just been chatting about it to the boyfriend. I was convinced that it is always, always said -er here in the UK but he says he has heard people use the -air pronunciation too. This pronunciation link seems to bear that out: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=alistair
Definitely surprised by Laurel. I've only ever known one (she'd probably be mid 40s) so it has no generational associations for me. I think it's a beautiful alternative to Lauren/Laura and to some of the overused flower names.
Thaddeus is a shocker. With the current penchant for names like Silas and Tobias, it sounds terribly current to my ear.
SP, I was wondering about the pronunciation too. The only one I've known spelled it Keziah and pronounced it Kez-EYE-ah, but I've heard the others too. Your daughter's pronunciation matches more closely to the related nn Kizzy.
SP - I'd like to second Rjoy's suggestion of Allegra Fleur. It is inspired!
And how wonderful that you have a Kezia. It's one of those names that I don't think I could use, but I adore it nonetheless. It's probably my biblical favourite.
hyz, if Alistair is otherwise a definite possibility for you, I wouldn't let the fact that your daughter has a friend with that name put you off. Friendships can be fickle, as we all know - especially in childhood! And even if they do remain best buds, I still don't think it's a major issue. If she has a friend and a brother with the same name then the name will obviously have great associations for her! I especially think you should consider it because you seem more enthusiastic about Alistair right now than most of the other options, and this seems a fairly minor obstacle in your way.
hyz - I had to laugh at your mom thinking Alexander was obscure. It reminds me of a conversation last year when my mother said to me, "I wonder if Grace is becoming popular these days?".
ChelseaK - I really like Eliana. It reads very Jewish to me, but a quick Google search reveals that it's actually overwhelmingly used by Latinos. Huh, you learn something new every day.
cileag, what a beautiful name! I agree it flows really well.
NAMG, another vote for Thalia here. I also like Chiara with Orion, and especially the suggestions of Thea and Calla.
New baby alert: My cousin just had Al@nn@h Annel!ese. Anneliese was the name of our grandmother's sister, who died when she was very young.