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Even while reading responses that are talking about the name sounding like Isaiah, I pronounce Zaya with the 'eye' vowel in the first syllable. That's the "European standard" value of the letter 'a'.
I have no particular preference between /zeye-ah/ and /zay-ah/.
I would absolutely and definitely pronounce Ziya as /zee-ya/. 100%. It would never even occur to me that it could be pronounced any other way. Never in a million years.
Jolan? As a boy's name? Eep.
(Jolán is a Hungarian feminine name, an 18th century literary invention based on the old native phrase-name Jóleány 'good girl' and the Greek name Iolanthe 'violet'. I'm out of touch on naming fashions in Hungary, but it comes across as the quintessential grandma name to me.)
Jacob could be kinda fun for the second boy's middle, but then you'd be rather stuck if you had a third child... (Giacomo? Iago? Diego?)
How did you arrive at Andrew's middle name? Was it just another name you liked, but it didn't work for you as a first name (too common, maybe)? If so, are there others like it -- names that got taken off your list for some reason or other, but which may work as middles?
Some ideas: Joshua, Julian, John, Jonathan; Charles, Elias, Nicholas, Thomas.
If you can adopt a tomahto-tomayto attitude about the pronunciation, it needn't be a problem. Your child can easily learn to answer to either sound.
Our daughter is Julianna, which in English in that spelling really should be /Julie-an-a/, but many people conflate it with Juliana, /Julie-on-a/. We consistently use the "an" pronunciation in English, but we don't try to correct the people who say "on". She answers to both equally. (She also answers to the Hungarian pronunciation, /YOU-lee-on-nah/, and a couple of nicknames as well.) These are exactly the sounds involved in Ahs-trid versus As-trid, only with the preferences reversed.
You have history on your side if you use Reese for a boy. Plus, is it really such a bad thing if occasionally someone thinks he's a girl? Doesn't that ever happen with Quinn?
And, as nedibes points out, the Welsh spelling is solidly masculine, which would help a lot in terms of gender assumptions -- when encountering a name in speech, the bearer is usually right there; it's only in writing that people make decisions or assumptions in a vacuum.
Yikes. It took me a few tries to parse it -- my first thought was "Wensleydale, like the cheese in Wallace & Gromit?"
And yeah, if she'd gone all the way and just spelled it Wensday, I'd be basically OK with it. That's just introducing some sanity into the nonsense of English spelling. But to go partway and stop at a different but still mostly-random jumble of letters? That makes no sense.
(It's not just aspirational names that can backfire. My friend with a granddaughter named Lorelei was heard to mutter under her breath "they named her for a siren, what did they expect?" when said child was screaming in the background.)
Instead of Carly and Holly, maybe Molly? Like Tessa, it originates as a nickname but has 'gone independent'.
For a boy, maybe Rhys or Reese? It has the lightly-surname-y feel I get from both Quinn and Grant. (Of course, the usage of the Old English given name Grante/Grente was so long ago that memory of it is only preserved in a few English placenames, but everything old is -- eventually -- new again...)
You can also play around with the Name Matchmaker on this site. Put in some of your existing or not-quite-right names, and see if it suggests anything that catches your interest.
There are definitely name pockets, but by their very nature they're hard to document properly -- they're so local that if you try to be complete, you come up against privacy concerns. I also think they're nothing new; what's new is their importance in determining one's name experience. When nothing really qualifies any more as statistically "popular" (http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2017/8/think-you-know-some-popular-baby-names-think-again), it becomes irrelevant how many other parents in the state or country chose a name, because that doesn't reflect how many of the name's bearers you actually encounter. (Statistics is like that: it's true in the big picture, but doesn't describe the details very well unless it's a very homogeneous distribution -- which names nowadays are emphatically not.)
There's a saying in genealogy: birds of a feather flock together. I think it applies to naming: people with similar backgrounds tend to have similar tastes in names. They grew up reading the same books and watching the same TV shows and movies, so they have similar associations with names, and they absorbed similar attitudes about them from their parents and neighbors. (Yes, it's a self-perpetuating cycle.) People with similar backgrounds also tend to end up as neighbors: they have similar education levels, and thus similar employment and pay, are attracted to the same sorts of houses and neighborhoods (attitudes absorbed from their childhood communities, again), and their children therefore attend the same schools and go to the same parks and swim lessons and soccer games.
On the other hand, there are also various forms of perceptional bias at play. You notice three Leos, so you start paying attention to Leo-names and L-names, so of course you soon have a list of a dozen kids with these names. If you had a full list of all the kids in your neighborhood, and could compare it to a full list of children's names in your city/state/country, chances are that the various letters of the alphabet would occur with about the same frequency in the two lists. You'd probably find that yes, L is a popular initial and a pretty common letter in general, but so is, say, S. (I don't know what initials are currently common. Laura Wattenberg did some statistics on this at some point, but I can't find it.) This doesn't contradict your experience that there are a lot of L-names, but shows that that's only part of the picture.
My seven-year-old has a classmate named Ashley. Nowadays, _all_ of the old naming patterns have been thrown out the window, including the concept of datedness.
The only Audrey I know is my age. (Her siblings are Sylvia and George.) We did meet a young Audrey in one of my daughter's early swimming classes, and I remember being thrilled about the name: it's such a lovely, classic choice, with a long history, easy to remember yet distinctive. It's a lot like my name, Julia: people tend to remember it, most people spell it right, nobody ever pronounces it wrong based on the written name (or not in my recollection, anyway), and it's generally a very easy name to live with. (My only gripe with my name is a certain generation that defaults to Julie, which for some reason is Not My Name; this would not apply to Audrey, as I really don't think people would default to the much rarer Audra.)
You don't need alternatives. Audrey is lovely.
My dad was the eldest of four. He and his youngest sister were not given middle names, but their middle sister and brother were each given one middle name. I've asked my aunts about it, but they said they didn't know why their parents did it this way. In Hungary (where they live), middle names are not as common as in the U.S., so neither my aunt nor my uncle ever really used theirs; this is similar to how a second middle will likely completely disappear in the U.S.
The moral of the story is, the discrepancy between siblings is a non-issue, and besides, it will be largely invisible anyway. So if it reduces your naming anxiety to contemplate a second middle for your son, go for it.
I think the ideal would be a name that connects by different routes to both Penny and Lincoln, but isn't even remotely coin-associated. I haven't come up with anything fully satisfying, but some ideas:
Penny is usually short for Penelope, a Greek-origin name of unknown etymology. (It may come from a type of duck, or from 'weft' and 'eye'.) Names derived from Greek words that could be seen as a nod to Honest Abe: Agatha (good), Agnes (chaste), Alethea (truth), Alexander (defender of men [yeah, very vague connection]), Aretha (virtue), Cosmo (order, decency), Katharine (pure [by association rather than actual origin]), Phoebe (bright, pure).
Lincoln is an English placename derived from a Welsh word for 'lake' and the Latin for 'settlement'. Greek placename-origin names in L-: Luke, Lydia. Other Greek placename-names: Cynthia, Delia, Dorian.
I'm guessing about the "lots of people" -- even just getting her help to decipher her writing was a Big Chore, and I didn't want to make that big a deal out of it.
A post elsewhere on the forums today mentioned sons named Cole and Nico, which are both forms or derivatives of Nicholas. Given the interest in names demonstrated by the fact of posting here, I have to believe it was intentional, perhaps to honor an important Nicholas in their lives.
Emily.ei, I share your ideological horror over Thatcher and Caliber, but I actually don't mind Blessence -- it sounds/feels a bit too close to "bless you!", but, I don't know, it's the thought that counts?
Iseult is lovely, and Lagertha is not bad. Pippi and Curie are not my style (too nicknamey and too surnamey, respectively) but OK.
The rest of the list ranges from "umm...." to "ugh! gack! choke!". The worst for me is actually Versailles, because of the far-reaching and _still_ ongoing negative effects of the farce of a treaty they signed there.
But yeah, Furiosa, Mazikeen, Veruca? Really? Furious, evil spirits/torturer, wart... I guess some people don't research their choices, or they just believe whatever's written on the first webpage they look at.
Georgia was a feminine name long before the state (or even the country) existed. My daughter had a friend named Georgia a few years ago, and geography never once entered my mind in connection with her name. But if you're really worried, any interest in Georgiana? It's a lovely name with Austen connections, easily yields the nickname Georgie, and has no geographic homophones.
Cohen is a Jewish hereditary title for the priestly "caste". (Miriam will surely eventually chime in with the correct terminology.) Opinions on using it as a given name range from "weird" to "offensive". Personally, I wouldn't want to saddle my offspring with that kind of baggage, nor would I want the accompanying judgements about my own intelligence and cultural sensitivity. Perhaps consider Colin instead?
Brothers named Micah and Reuben would've practically screamed "Jewish" a generation ago, but Old Testament names have become mainstream-fashionable, so this is no longer a valid assessment. I'd be more worried about the sandwich than the sibset, nowadays.
I don't know where you live that you think Kai and Koa are "very/super popular". Overall, they're not even slightly popular: in the U.S., Micah ranks higher than Kai, and Koa doesn't make the top 1000.
That's really not much to go on. Have you explored the Name Matchmaker and the sibling names in Namipedia? Are there any names you considered but discarded? Does Andrew have any particular significance to you, or was it just a name you liked? Can you at least give a few clues about the surname that this future child will bear?
My father-in-law András [Andrew] had brothers Imre [Emeric] and Gyula [~Julius], and a sister Mária/Marika [Mary]. Any interest? :-)
I think if you recorded yourself saying Lu and Lou and then played the recordings back randomly, you would not be able to figure out which was which. In other words, they sound different to you in your head, because the different spelling puts them in slightly different categories for you -- but this is a difference in _feel_, not in sound.
Henderson is 'son of Henry'. Other English surnames similarly derived from Henry with an intrusive 'd' include Hendrick and Hendrie.