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It is traditional here in Brazil to give the mother's maiden name and then the father's surname. Since I kept my surname when I married, it made even more sense to follow this custom. We gave both children, born in the USA, my surname as a MIDDLE NAME. But when we had their Brazilian birth certificates issued, the Brazilian authorities moved my surname into the surname position, so now the kids' Brazilian passports show two surnames, but the American passports show just my husband's surname, with mine as a second name. I think it's weird that it's different. We did not intend for the children to have multiple surnames, only my husband's. Brazil also added an accent mark that is absent on one child's American birth certificate.
This may explain why Brazilians often end up having multiple surnames. It's a cultural thing. It also might help explain another naming difference that has really surprised me. In almost every setting, Brazilians alphabetize people by their first names rather than surnames. Lists of classmates, doctors on the insurance websites, everywhere, are all organized this way. I am used to the practice in the US of alphabetizing by last-name-first.
It's strange to me that Willard never appears on the campaign website. Thanks, Laura, for pointing that out. His nickname does strike a completely different note. The subtle but undeniable power of a name is proven again.
I agree with the comments by Linnaeus and the Guest who was a physics major and now an MD. I appreciate the idea, but I would prefer a science-inspired name to be more subtle, or at least to be a name that has positive connotations among laypeople or more accessible nicknames. Honoring scientists is one idea. Might I suggest Mendeleev?
Of your original list, I had an immediate, negative aesthetic reaction to lumen. I have studied too much anatomy to think of it as anything other than a space inside a tube, which may be filled with urine, blood, or other bodily fluids. I think the sound is trendy, but to me it would be akin to naming a girl "alexia" because it sounds pretty. People do it, in considerable numbers. They are either ignorant of the meaning or choose to disregard it. Quoting a comment on Namipedia, "The Random House Dictionary defines alexia as "a neurologic disorder marked by loss of the ability to understand written or printed language, usually resulting from a brain lesion or a congenital defect."" I know, Alexia was not on your list, so I'm off on a little tangent.
Have you seen Despicable Me, with the super-villian who dubs himself Vector?
Like several other commenters, I have negative reactions to Entropy and Inertia. Along similar lines, I think in general usage, the term Momentum has much more positive connotations, and better possible nicknames.
Well said, ilikemints. I mentioned in a different thread that my son is sometimes called "Guggy" although it has nothing to do with his given name. Meanwhile, we pronounce all four syllables of our daughter's name, since we chose a name for which I dislike the most obvious nickname and none of my alternatives has stuck. You never know what will feel right to a family, but it is nice to be prepared with some sweet-sounding nicknames.
Nicknames can come and go, and they are a fascinating glimpse of personality and values. My grandmother always hated her name "Elneth" and when they were dating, my grandfather nicknamed her "Toni." She was called that during the 50+ years they were married and for the rest of her life.
I am in a similar position, with a Brazilian & American cultures, languages, pronunciations and personal baggage to juggle! So, accept my suggestions for whatever they're worth to you.
Boys: Alexandre, Andre, Antonio, Bruno, Cesar, Clement, Diego, Ernesto, Felix, Hector, Leonardo, Nicolas, Simon (two distinct pronunciations, and I find both handsome), Tomas (Those that end in the letter s might run into your LN too much.)
Girls: Adriana, Ariana, Emilia, Francesca, Eva, Helena, Isadora, Leona, Liliana, Natalia, Nina, Teresa, Vera, Veronica (We obviously love girls' names that end in the letter a.)
Good luck and best wishes! You'll find something you'll all fall in love with. And if someone introduces a nickname, that's their prerogative. My son Andr3 has been dubbed "Guggy" for unknown reasons by my daughter, and it's starting to catch on. Who ever knows what will stick?
So funny, Laura's most recent blog post on the "Rise of Liquid Names" for girls struck very close to home. Almost all of my short list consists of such names! If ever there was a doubt of the influence of our culture, my first daughter's name follows the *bree* name trend, and now I love the sound of Leona, Liliana, Helena/Elena and their sisters.
Kalmia, thanks for the Brazilian name list. The name Tatiana was on our short list six years ago. Now it doesn't even come close. My DH and I have such restrictive and conservative tastes. It's a miracle our kids end up with names at all.
When I asked for his feedback on some of the suggestions that I liked from all these comments, he actually just laughed and refused to even discuss them. Apparently, a name that I think is lovely and somewhat sophisticated, Cassandra, is a name to be utterly disdained in Brazilian culture. Who knew? He thinks Josefina and Calista are just ridiculous. On the positive side, an unintended consequence is that he thinks Leona is relatively less strange. He still doesn't like it, though. Like I said, a miracle the babes get names at all.
I never got my husband to lift the ban on the name Felix, so I guess I shouldn't hold my breath on Leona.
I had never thought of Calista or Delia, but I like them. Although my first initial is D, and with Delia the whole sequence ends up being too alliterative. Calista has good strong consonants, and I love that its origin is Greek and means "she that is most beautiful." The other names on your list don't work for different reasons.
It occurred to me that Cassandra kind of swallows our son's name, Andr3. Are they too similar?
Thank you! It is refreshing and valuable to hear input from someone who was raised bilingual. I had not expected to get such a reassuring perspective on the different pronunciations. Both my husband and I were raised in just one culture (oh, so limited!) so although we feel like we're charting new territory, it is wonderful to remember we've got plenty of company.
I also appreciate the expertise on the name Elena. I still have a gut-level hesitation about eliminating the letter H.
I am also thinking about the nickname of Lena, which can be short for Helena. It brings to my mind the old obsessive Billy Joel song "All for Layna," which is ironically a positive connotation to me.
Sorry, that was a silly joke. The pronunciation of Hazel Noelle in Portuguese is pretty much a nightmare. I think it would be "ah-ZEH-oo no-EHL-ley" and then followed by my and my husband's LNs it would be a bad scene. I think this suggestion would work for some other family who lives in the US, since they are both pretty names in English.
I do have problems with Portuguese pronunciation. Even when I manage to wrap my mouth around the sounds, some of them feel too foreign to me for my own child. On the one hand, they have a wonderful way of pronouncing each vowel separately, so that names end up liltingly multi-syllabic more than in the US. On the other hand, almost the only position of the letter R that is acceptable to my ear is at the beginning of a syllable, positioned after a somewhat hard vowel like B or D. As a first letter, Brazilians gargle the letter around in the back of the throat and it comes out more like an H. My husband likes the name Renata but it sounds like "hhkheh-NAH-tah". And Carla sounds like "KAHHKHrrr-lah." Obviously, I just don't like it. My mother describes the sound as someone talking through a mouthful of oatmeal. My parents don't speak Portuguese and my husband's family does not speak English.
I had almost settled on Juliana, but then met about 4 local Julianas and Julias (in Rio de Janeiro), all under the age of 3 or 4. Julia is the #1 most popular name in Brazil right now, and very common among multi-cultural families. I really don't want to jump and turn around a dozen times every time we visit a playground.
It's true, Lotus will never work because it's just too harsh-sounding. It was my beloved great-grandmother's name, so I have a sentimental attachment to it.
I am going to keep lobbying for Leona, or introduce the idea of Cassandra or Josefina. What do you think of Josefina? Is the spelling too Latino? The trouble with Josephine is it would be pronounced "zho-seh-FEE-ney" in Brazil. Josefina would be pronounceable in both languages.
The most likely compromise that we'll end up with is Helena. I just cannot decide whether the different pronunciations bother me. Would I most likely call my daughter "HEL-eh-na" while everyone living around me calls her "el-EH-na"? Spelling it Elena might solve the problem, but that changes the name so that to me it seems more Russian, more like an Ellen than like Helen. I kind of like the history of Helen of Greek mythology, and Helen Keller, and the actress Helena Bonham Carter, and the fact that some of Shakespeare's heroines were named Helena. Actually, just now it occurred to me that Helena (or perhaps Cassandra too, though in the myths she was seen as insane) could be considered a very oblique homage to my late FIL, who had the same name as the most honorable and courageous defender of Troy.
This naming challenge is one of the most fun things to think about right now. I appreciate all of your input!
Thanks! I am most intrigued by Cassandra and Josefina. The initial M is pretty much ruled out because of the LN and my husband's first initial.
I love the name Felix, and I kept insisting it was at the top of my list, despite my husband's dislike of it. We had to find another name for our son!
I like the name Isadora. It's not too popular but still a recognizable name. Isadora Duncan was a strong, free-spirited, globe-trotting pioneer of modern dance. She inspired films, plays, poems, sculptures, and songs. But my mother and I cannot quite get over the gruesome way she died (that's our first association with the name... mine probably because my mother talked about it several times when I was an impressionable child). If you don't know, Isadora Duncan was strangled when her long, flowing silk scarf caught in the axel of a convertible car in which she was riding in the south of France. In fact, reading of her entire colorful, heroic/tragic life, I would hesitate to saddle a girl with the same name. But the name is lovely, and more unusual than "Isabella."
Another name I can't imagine being brave enough to use is Artemis, though she's my favorite Greek Goddess.
Lotus was my sweet little great-grandmother's name, and it's a pretty flower, but the sound is too harsh and DH hates it. We need names that work well in our two cultures, and Lotus definitely doesn't.