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I love Irene. I think it's one of the classiest names. It has a lovely old-Hollywood vibe and a wonderful lullaby in Goodnight Irene.
Irena is also very pretty, but while it is more unusual, I find it less distinctive, and I also think it has more pronunciation issues -- although I also don't think they are terrible or insurmountable pronunciation issues.
My German professor (who I may or may not have had a bit of a crush on), was called Florian, and was male.
That said, if you are in the US, where masculine names are routinely given to girls, I would disregard the disapproval of this board and go with the name you love. It is a name that hardly exists in the US in any case, and the Flor sound ties it easily to Flora, Florence (my personal favourite) and the lot.
I personally think Florienne robs it of some of that spareness which makes it appealing. I also tend to pronounce Vivienne differently from Vivien and Juliette differently from Juliet, emphasizing the ending more, so I would probably do the same with Florienne. It just makes it a lot more flouncy. I would just prepare to tell naysayers "it has some use as a feminine name" and leave it at that.
Ah, just back from a nail-biting political week in Catalonia -- can't believe I missed one of my favourite discussions! Ditto for hating first person present tense, although when doing an online writing workshop with a lot of YA people that was ALL they were using and aparently ALL they like.
My dad and I tend to make the final decision on whether to buy a book or not based on if it is in present tense. If it is, it better have extremely good reviews.
I really like Odette. I think it will be familiar or familiar-ish to most people, while chronically underused. I actually knew an Odette, so to me it seems very wearable.
If I were going for a name from Shakespeare, my first stop would be Viola, hands down. She's a wonderful character in a wonderful play and it's an unusual name with all the stylish contemporary sounds. Knowing a real-life Viola who I did not much like has in no way dampened my enthusiasm. Rosalind, as someone mentioned, is in the same vein. Miranda is also nice, though maybe it has been corrupted by too many other associations in recent decades? If you are in the UK I'm imaging Imogen is too popular?
When I look for literary names, I like them to be unusual enough that the character is a clear association -- so Emma just sounds like a name despite the Austen heroine, while Dorothea pretty clearly signifies Middlemarch. That could be a good candidate?
How about Helena? In addition to Helen of Troy, and the Shakespeare character (not the most inspiring, to be fair), it gives me literary vibes to lots of other works, probably because of Helena Bonham Carter appearing in so many period movies!
I like Natalie. I'm not excited about it because there were a few in my classes growing up (80s babies), but I agree the sound is crisp and nice.
I like Natalia too though, and if you are looking for something with a nod to Russian heritage I would probably suggest that. Although much less used, it is universally familiar due to its similarity to Natalie.
Based on an unstatistical analysis of this forum, there are always people on here saying they will name a boy after their husband (middle name anyway), and mothers-to-be of girls worrying that the name they like is too similar to their own. So I think it is unusual, outside of cultures that do namesakes by default.
I also think that maybe women in general are more into names, and less likely to "waste" a naming opportunity using their own name again, whereas men (gross generalization here) are more into familiarity. I also wonder if men (another gross generalization here) sometimes have more difficulty expressing their feelings, and if naming children after a lineage is a way of expressing familial love without actually having to say anything.
I third the dislike of Emma. I disliked it before it became popular -- it has always seemed to me like the insipid version of my name -- and now that it is top-5 I dislike it even more because I see it so often. However, like Karyn says, we are clearly in the minority.
That said, I like the style contrast of Emma Patricia. They aren't names I would choose, but they are both good names, not teaseworthy, and easy to wear.
I think there are a number of "correct" pronunciations, not least because the same "Isolde" spelling is used in German, French and English (and probably some other languages?) without the name being common enough now to have a default pronunciation in each language.. I think this is one of my issues: I don't mind my daughter's name being mispronounced because at least I'm confident that we are saying it right!
I do like Zelda, but I don't think my husband likes it enough to use it as the full first name, pronunciation aside. And if I'm worried Isolde makes me seem like an opera fan, then Zelda definitely brings its own issues. :-)
I think they are both lovely. I'm usually not a fan of Elizabeth, but it does pair nicely with Diana. Sophie is great too; it is very popular at the moment but it's a beautiful name. I have to say my favourite name of the three though is Diana, which is classic but not too popular and unlikely to be date-stamped...is there a reason you definitely prefer it in the middle?
While seeing the names here in isolation makes them look quite regal, I don't think this would be an issue in everyday life. Most of the time, your daughter will be just Sophie, or Elizabeth, or Lizzie or whatever, and the middle name will only come up if someone specifically asks her. By the time she's old enough to get asked much, the queen will undoubtedly be dead, and her peers may only have the fuzziest idea of who Diana was. They are good, classic names, held by queens and nobility and commoners down the ages!
Good to know! I may have to file Iseult with other mad ideas I've had that don't work in the real world. :-P
Thank you everyone for helping me identify that I really don't like Isolda though. It's particularly good to know that not-feeling-it-is-really-Isolde is a vibe other English speakers also get.
Julian is a name I like very much, so like Eowyn, I'll throw out some other male names I like very much (I'm not sure how many of them are "lilting" though.
Laurence, Giles, Theodore, Harold, Oliver, Isidore, Sebastian, Rupert, Rafael, Cyrus, Clement, Cedric, Rufus, Leonard, Adrian. Hugh.
I also know someone with sons named Balthasar and Lysander, which are pretty lilty but might be a bit over-the-top.
Thank you for the feedback and for pulling up the data.
I'm not overly concerned about pronunciation variations, more the kind of thing where someone looks at a name and doesn't know where to start. I was sitting at the doctor last pregnancy when a nurse came out, looked at her paper, groaned and rolled her eyes and finally shouted "Ah-CHOO". An Indian lady got up to go in. I've no idea what her actual name was, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't Achoo.
Going back and forth between English/Catalan spellings is certainly doable, but I vaguely worry that no-one knows Iseu even in Catalonia, unless they've checked it out of the library. It's the less common form, like Iseult, but so rare that I cannot find a single mention of any age in the Spanish statistics...meaning there are between 0 and 4 living people with that name. I like uncommon, but I'm a bit hesitant to go full-on unique.
Itzel is very pretty. It reminds me of Itziar, a Basque name I like very much.
Ha! I've never seen Downton Abbey, but I'm pleased there's that association, because my previous association was mainly Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers!
I feel like it's sort of general, and sort of specific. I feel like liberté, égalité, fraternité is referring to universal brotherhood, in the sense that mankind is all of us. But at the same time, when there is a word for "sisterhood" in Spanish, it does strike me as sliiightly bizarre to use the masculine form, not that I think Hermandad would make a good baby name. They have different connotations, but still. It does not pass the "would I want this to be my name" test.
You have a point, cm2530! Having written the Don Quixote of forum posts, I thought I'd leave Sibyl for another day! I do like Isolde/Iseult, but I think the spelling and pronounciation issues are doing my head in a bit. I don't mind correcting people -- I have to correct all the time with my daughter and explain why her name is what it is, etc., but at least in her case I have it very clear in my own head what the correct answer is. If people can't remember or pronounce her name in one language, I steer them towards the other. I feel like Isolde needs explaining in all languages, except the Isolda version, which I don't like.
I do like Cybele, although Sibyl is on the list for associations and things as well as sound. I'm going to mull that one over.
I think one of my problems choosing a name (apart from the fact that the pressure seems to increase with each subsequent child), is that it is difficult to find names that work in both Catalan and English, and don't sound terrible in Spanish, that I like. There are a lot of traditional names that I can't get too excited about (Julia, Isabel), names that are starting to sound great in English but still sound geriatric in Catalan or vice-versa (Ottilie, Martina), or are beautiful in English but hideous in Spanish (Genevieve-Genoveva) or are much more popular in one country than the other (I like Lucia in English but it's everywhere here, and quite like Amèlia in Catalan but...). My daughter's name was a happy accident, but there aren't that many like it and anyway I think it would get a bit cutesy if we continued in that vein. The classical/mythological names have been a bit of a halfway point. I may have to make another post with our long list.
Thank you. I actually don't mind Isolt. I do feel like I have to stay within the range of English spellings (of which there are dozens anyway) and Catalan spellings or risk losing all coherence in our family!
I think your pronounciations of Iseult are closer to the ones I've heard online (which seem to vary widely depending on accent). I don't mind any of them actually; I think I just lean to IzOLT as containing sounds that Spanish people could make...although I'm not actually sure they could.
I'm glad to hear that the Isolde spelling is not all opera for you. I know there have been recent films, but I'm not sure they arrived to mainland Europe (or were widely watched in North America).
Unfortunately, Zelda in Castilian Spanish would be pronounced THEL-da, which is a sound I find pretty irritating. In Catalan that wouldn't happen, but I still imagine she would get a lot of Thelda. Which unfortunately rules out Thola too!
Gisela is lovely! I seem to really gravitate towards ballet names, despite not being particularly interested in dance. In fact, my partner originally nixed Isadora because we are not dance fans.
If you liked Helen before but find it too sturdy with Rosalie, have you considered Helena, with the HEL-en-uh pronunciation, like Helena Bonham Carter? I think that would make a lovely pairing with Rosalie, and Helena Poppy or Helena Constance are quite pretty.
I would say Caroline and Carolyn will definitely be confused. I have a friend Caroline, which I've always pronounced Carolyn, and it was only after seeing people worry about the pronunciation on here that I thought to ask her if it was, in fact, Caro-LINE. It turned out I was pronouncing it correctly. My friend is English, so this might be a UK/US thing, but, like Madeline, I would say there are no guarantees.