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January 22, 2017 07:37 PM

Do you like the nickname Georgie equally for a boy? I'm sure your eldest daughter would approve of naming a baby brother George, as that's Peppa Pig's little brother's name. :-)

My personal taste is not relevant to your choice, but for what little it's worth, I like Charlotte more than Georgia, but prefer the glorious excess of Georgianna over both. But Leonora and Charlotte is a lovely pair of names for twin sisters: they share a few letters/sounds and have a similar "feel" or style, so they coordinate well, but they're thoroughly distinct in both sound and appearance, so there's no danger of matchy-twinsy excess.

For middles, I would go with one direct honor name per child, so Charlotte Marianne, and then whichever middle you happen to like best with Leonora.

January 18, 2017 05:09 PM
In Response to Spam Filter Woes

My "favorite" is when deleting a spam post triggers the spam filter. OF COURSE it's spam, that's why I'm trying to delete it! Why on earth didn't the filter catch it when it was posted?

In other words, the filter is not only totally ineffective, it's also applied to entirely the wrong parts of the process.

January 17, 2017 04:14 PM
In Response to Name Anna

Vowels in Australian English are often completely different from northern-hemisphere varieties, so I was surprised: the Australian pronunciations of Anna on Forvo agree with the usual American English pronunciation. But yeah, "Anna like banana" only works in North America, because everyone else says the fruit with all three syllables basically the same.

(And then there's New Zealand. I was watching something on TV and the New Zealand realtor kept saying "deek". I couldn't figure out what the heck a "deek" is. Turns out it's "deck". Yikes.)

January 16, 2017 11:00 AM

I knew my daughter's name decades before she finally arrived, but my husband wanted to be surprised by the baby's sex, so we didn't use the name before birth. The first few times we got to actually call her by name, I had a weird feeling of uncertainty about it: "wow, is this right? Is this really her name?" The feeling went away within hours, although I still remember it (unlike a whole lot of other things from that period <grin>).

It's not exactly parallel to your situation: I never got to meet the people she's directly named after (both of my mother's grandmothers), so I didn't have concrete associations with the name. Nevertheless, I think it's closely related to what you're feeling. All that time spent specifically avoiding the name makes it feel suddenly uncertain when the prospect of actually using it becomes more real.


I agree: if you're changing your name due to conversion to Islam, then Adam and Zakaria are not good choices, because neither one looks or sounds in any way Islamic. They're simply part of the overlap between the Koran, Torah, and Bible.

January 16, 2017 07:36 AM
In Response to Name Anna

Part of the equation is that standard Russian doesn't have the /ae/ sound (like in ash, cat, man) that I think you're using. (In England they say 'banana' with something like the 'on' vowel, so that's not a good guide. A better one may be Disney: they used the standard European /on-uh/ pronunciation for Anna in Frozen. Before that movie, the English pronunciation of Anna was clearly /an-uh/; to get /on-uh/, you spelled in Ana.) So it's not so much that the relatives refuse to say it as "an-na", it's more that they simply can't say it that way: the sound is foreign to them, so they substitute the closest familiar sound, that is, the way they'd say the name in their language.

I think you need to try to accept their pronunciation. As your husband says, they _are_ just saying the name in Russian. It's a small difference, really, and people can deal with much bigger variation in name pronunciation.  My name begins with a /j/ as in 'jam' in English, but /y/ as in 'yellow' in Hungarian. I react to both equally as "my name". My daughter's name has the same initial /j/-/y/, plus it ends in -anna, which in Hungarian is /on-na/, but in English we use (and prefer) /an-uh/ -- but we don't change the Hungarian pronunciation (/ae/ doesn't occur in Hungarian, either). I like the name very much in both of the versions we use (Hungarian, with /you-/ and /on-na/, and English, with /jew-/ and /an-uh/), and I made a choice very early on to just accept or ignore the other English pronunciation (/jew-/ with /on-uh/). My daughter follows our lead in this: she always introduces herself with our preferred English pronunciation, but answers to all versions equally. (She's six and a half.)

January 13, 2017 08:05 AM

On closer inspection, Mike shows the same pattern, although its late-September spike (Michaelmas) obscures it.

It makes sense for it to be a data-entry artifact: if unknown days of birth are entered as the 15th, then for relatively rare names, the number of such entries could be enough to show up as spikes.

The problem is, not all relatively rare names show the pattern. I checked Harland, Elwin, Maxwell (which was historically a lot rarer than Max), Bill, Jose, Bette, Eura, and Nina. Maybe it was only certain years that were entered as the 15th for unknown? I don't have the time or mental energy to try and come up with some sort of equation comparing the NameVoyager graphs to the Slate ones.

January 12, 2017 05:48 PM
In Response to I need help smh

The words "eye" and "jay" have totally different vowels.

January 12, 2017 08:05 AM

Could it be an artifact of the Slate article's data processing? They used the word/abbreviation "max" somewhere, and then stuff got re-sorted or rearranged and those words got mistakenly added in to the "Max" count, with a birthdate of the 15th because that's what the associated other cells/data looked like when parsed as a date? There's no other name with similar spikes, which makes sense because "min" is not used as a stand-alone name.

January 11, 2017 04:53 PM

I want to reinforce Elizabeth T's point upthread: don't worry about rankings. Baby names are so diverse nowadays that random factors far outweigh the everyday effects of popularity. "Top ten" just means "well-liked" -- it doesn't predict anything whatsoever about sharing the name with classmates.

January 9, 2017 09:34 PM
In Response to Kalea

I agree with Karyn that "ka-lee-uh" and "ka-lay-uh" are in the class of things that cannot be written unambiguously in English, regardless of where the stress falls (/KA-lih-ya/ or /kuh-LEE-ya/, etc.). A few ideas for similar names with better-established or less-ambiguous pronunciations: Callista or Calla (from/inspired by the Greek word for 'beauty'), Keelin (an Anglicized spelling of an Irish name), Delia or Cordelia, Jewel, Jillian, Julia. (The -ia names all have some ambiguity between /ee-ya/ and /ya/, but that's the sort of difference that has to be accepted as regional or accent-based: it's below most people's perceptual thresholds.)

January 9, 2017 01:51 PM

1. As Miriam already wrote, Hattie is traditionally a nickname of Harriet or Henrietta.

2. The little girl we know with your daughter's name has a little brother named Paul.

3. Have you tried the Name Matchmaker on this site? Put in three names you like, and it'll suggest others that may suit. You can specify the gender, or not.

January 5, 2017 09:42 PM

@Emily.ei: Elia Kazan was male, so the name ought to appeal to parents seeking a gender-neutral route to Elle/Ellie.

January 2, 2017 07:46 AM
In Response to Naming the Tooth Fairy

Thank you for all the suggestions. I had to come up with a response at 1:00 am -- the Tooth Fairy already missed a tooth a few weeks ago. (In her defense, it was the second night in a row with a tooth under the pillow. The six-year-old currently has four teeth missing or only partly grown in.)

What I ended up writing was "My real fairy name is a secret, but you can call me Philodendra."

It had occurred to me earlier in the day, when we were at Longwood Gardens and saw the three-story-tall philodendrons, that the Greek word for "tree" (the -dendron part of the plant name) is rather similar to the Latin root meaning "tooth", dent-. Living near Philadelphia, we're pretty familiar with Phil- meaning "friend", so I'm thinking of Philodendra as a sort of multi-lingual play on "tooth friend".

January 1, 2017 09:07 PM

Um, Imogen _is_ /Ih-moh-gen/, unless you mean something very different by /Ih/ (as in 'sit'), /moh/ (rhymes with 'go'), and /gen/ (like in 'generation', 'general', or 'agent').

January 1, 2017 08:54 PM

If Sadie is a nickname for Sara, then the sibset is all four-letter names, which would be a fun "theme" without being too in-your-face or cheesy. This is by no means a requirement, though -- Sadie can be just Sadie if you prefer (or Toby short for Tobias, or whatever). As a reader, I greatly appreciate when all characters have different initials, which you've done, so based on just these names, you're off to a good start. :-)

December 31, 2016 04:38 PM

I naturally put the stress on the first syllable: LIL-lu-ka. (The I is like /ee/, but shorter in duration.) This is unsurprising when you consider that in Hungarian, the primary stress is always on the first syllable of a word.

The penultimate stress habit of English would definitely be a problem with the name Lillukka, but not an insurmountable one. For the people with no ear for language who just can't wrap their brains around the correct pronunciation, you'd need an easy fallback option, such as "just say LILL-a." I think everyone else can learn it, with perhaps a few corrections. After all, there are no foreign sounds involved, and there are lots of names with the same X-x-x rhythm. Examples from the current girl's top 50: Abigail, Emily, Madison, Evelyn, Avery, Addison, Lillian, Natalie, Allison, and even Violet (if pronounced with three syllables).

One thought: it may be easier to get people who are having trouble to try for LEE-look-a. This is because in English, vowel sound, duration, and stress are very closely linked, so it's much easier to get stress on a "long" syllable like /lee/ than a "short" one like /lil/ or /look/.

December 28, 2016 07:14 PM

I know a little girl named Arwen. (Given name, not middle. Her middle name is a rare but well-known "normal" name originally from classical mythology.) I think Padme is comparable in both geekishness and wearability. The "inspiring culture" is from a different continent (Arwen is Welsh-ish, while -- as you note -- Padme is Hindi/Sanskrit-ish), but it sounds like you have family ties to that culture, so the choice makes sense for you on more than one level. Go for it!

December 27, 2016 07:56 AM
In Response to Jade/Jaide/Jayde ??

Note the year on this post -- the child in question is probably in preschool. The thread was revived above by someone with the name Jaide.

December 24, 2016 09:57 PM

Ellis Bell was Emily Brontë's pen name. (Charlotte was Currer Bell and Anne was Acton Bell.) If Wuthering Heights is your all-time favorite novel, then maybe Ellis Belle would be right for you, but otherwise, it'd be a bit odd (or clueless-sounding).