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My Favorite Names
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February 17, 2017 11:58 AM

I haven't heard any discussion of the motivation for Aleph. 

I've heard from friends in Israel, where Portman is appartently a big deal, that the name was generally derided for being a letter name rather than a person name. So, if my sources are correct, that's at least a tiny clue: that that wanted to point to Judiasm but didn't mind do it in an iconoclastic way. 

February 15, 2017 12:24 PM

So, in all seriousness, or serious silliness, do we think the Portman-Millipieds have painted themselves into a bit of a corner? How do you name a sibling to Aleph wihtout them seeming... secondary? One of the appeals for the name for me was that, at least in the Arabic incarnation, it has a sense of unitary/unique/solitary -ness. 

February 15, 2017 12:09 PM

Miriam: Good one! Or perhaps Tav?



February 15, 2017 09:32 AM

I'd be interested to know if the name is significantly less popular in Canada because of its association with Stephan Harper, the former PM, who is a member of the Conservative Party and therefore not too popular in many circles (although everything's relative. Historically bad politicians are looking pretty good by comparison these days).

February 11, 2017 10:52 AM

(not playing the game, just commenting on saltwatertaffy's comment):  Are you sure it wasn't Ren? It's a fairly common nickname for Lawrence. Although I suppose that could be spelled Wren as well, I just haven't encountered it as such. 

February 1, 2017 08:48 PM

Funny. I read your post as being about a sister for girls named Elin and Ilke. Ilke would work great, I think if it weren't visually so similar to Ike.

January 26, 2017 08:13 PM

Is that a misplaced modifier, or are you the blogger in question? ETA: Never mind. Just read the blog and I'm pretty sure you are not she!

January 26, 2017 07:59 PM

Quaxton perhaps?

January 18, 2017 07:01 AM
In Response to Spam Filter Woes

Meanwhile the boards are full of spam this morning! Poor moderators, and poor us!


I love your name. I'm pronouncing it "Laa-ees," long a, long e, sort of like "la isla bonita," but without the la bonita, obviously. If that pronunciation is correct, than "la isla bonita" might be a useful way of explaining the pronunciation. 

Given the popularity of what Laura on this blog has termed "liquid names", your name will fit right in. I know little girls named Issa pronounced ee-sa, not to mention Lala, Lola, Lula and names with the ah-ee sound, like Tais, which has an umlaut over the i and is pronounced how I think your name is. 

I think that you might want to try sticking with your actual name. Graduate school is a much more cosmopolitan context than high school. I bet people will be able to handle your name and pronounce it correctly. 

An alternative might be the aforementioned "Issa," pronounced EE-sa. To me, it's an intuitive nickname for Lais, unlike Liz. There's a fairly famous TV producer/actress named Issa, so people may have heard it too.

I'm also curious. What naming tradition does your name come from? Did I guess the pronunciation correctly? [Edited to add: I googled the name and see that it's Brazilian Portuguese. I also see that it's been discussed on these forums before, where the ability for Americans to pronounce it was quite thoroughly debated. You might want to take a look. I would link to the URL, but this site has given web links trouble lately, so I'll just say "google the name and babynamewizard."]

Good luck!

January 14, 2017 01:34 PM

Yes, what Miriam said. I always found the idea of a gender reveal party so silly. Like, "Announcing, in 20 years our daughter will decide she's a femme!"

January 9, 2017 09:11 AM
In Response to Kai

Kai is all boy to me, and specifically surfer-boy. 

January 9, 2017 09:11 AM

Not at all fiction, and not related to personal names, but this classic from cultural anthropology is all about culturally-specific sense of place and focuses on the significance of place-names: Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache by Keith H. Basso. 

December 15, 2016 09:13 AM

Laura: First off, omg, you are awesome and it's nice to meet you. Secondly: I just posted on the main blog page and had no trouble doing so. Keep up the amazing work.

December 15, 2016 09:12 AM

Is there a Pulitzer for blogs? Because the analysis here not only perfectly unpacks the dynamics of our times, but also proves how paying attention to names can shed light on the cultural zeitgeist.

December 14, 2016 01:51 PM

Hmmm.... Wonder why I'm not able to comment on the post then? Oh well, I'm happy to strike up a conversation here.

December 14, 2016 11:46 AM

I like the name a lot. I've encountered it before, and it was pronounced Sah-nah. Similar to the pronounciation of sauna, but with the long a of father instead of a dipthong. I think it can hail from many different naming heritages. I'm not sure of the "true" etymology. As others will point out, names don't really have 'meanings', though, only connotations. The important thing will be to figure out what the name connotes to you and to those Sanna would be likely to encounter. Yes, to answer your final question, I think it would fit in well in England.

December 7, 2016 10:42 AM
In Response to US-UK names

So fun! In the UK, I'd be Elizabeth, and my daughter would be Francesca. The latter is much more feminine and elaborate than my daughter's name. But Elizabeth I can totally see myself as.


I actually find Alex much more gender neutral than Alec, especaily since it can be short for Alexandra or Alexandria. I also know of girls named Alix, a spelling that plays on the similarity between Alex and Alice and therefore seems more feminine. 


Sascha is an interesting name in this context, since, like Alex, it's a nickname for Alexander or Alexandra/Alexandria and thus is often used for boys as well as girls. 




I agree that it does not necessarily connote Muslim religiosity. I probably think first of the character Omar from The Wire, the absolute best fictional character I can think of. There was no indication that he was in any way Muslim.