About Me

Per EVie's suggestion: Here is some information about me: Since personal names currently in use are derived from a multitude of languages and sources, no one can be an expert in all of them. My PhD is in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic, and I also have had formal training in almost all the Germanic languages (Old and Middle High German, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old Low Franconian, Middle Dutch, Yiddish, Modern German, and Netherlandic/Flemish). In addition I learned Hebrew, Latin, and French before I left high school. Cobbling together my French and Latin, I know something about some of the other Romance languages (including Old French, Anglo-Norman, and Occitan), but I am no expert in Romance philology, although I have had formal training in Germanic philology. So that gives me a better than average background in many of the languages from which our current namestock is derived. However, what I know about Greek and Greek-derived , Balto-Slavic and Celtic names comes from my general knowledge of Indo-European philology, and my general knowledge of Indo-European philology does not really cover names from Sanskrit and other Indian languages and Persian. Knowing Hebrew gives me a bit of insight into cognate Arabic names, but I know nothing about Finno-Ugaric (happily we have our Hungarian sisters for that), Chinese, Japanese, the many indigenous languages of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

My Favorite Names

No favorite names yet.

My Recent Blog Comments
September 2, 2015 12:54 PM

I would not recommend The Sopranos to anyone who is not OK with graphic depictions of sex and violence.  But otherwise the writing and acting are excellent. The viewer becomes absorbed in a world of moral ambiguity.  No cardboard characters here...

And, yes, bad things are going to happen.

September 2, 2015 12:45 PM

AFAIK he was.  Most of Tolkien's names are not coined, but rather 'borrowed.'  The dwarf names (which include Gandalf) come from the Icelandic Dvergatal (dwarf catalogue), an assumed interpolation in the Voluspa (seeress's tale) in the Elder Edda.  The riders of Rohan all have Anglo-Saxon names.  The hobbits have Anglo-Saxon and Frankish names, plus some pseudo-Victorian flower names.  The elvish names are coined.  And so on.

I have never run into a Theodoric, but I have known a few with the more modern reflex Dietrich.  I myself am quite fond of Theodolinda.  In Rex Stout's detective novels, Nero Wolfe has an operative named Theodolinda (Dol) Bonner, but I have never met a Theodolinda in real life.

September 2, 2015 12:27 PM
In Response to Sibling rivalry

There is the actress Tyne Daly. 

I do think that using the -teen pronunciation of Clementine is possible in the US.  There are many names in use here which have multiple pronunciations, and it is just a matter of introducing oneself with the preferred pronunciation and then making the occasional correction.  The nickname Tina/Teena would also reinforce the desired pronunciaiton.  Multiple pronunciations haven't prevented people from using names like Helena and Lucia.  And reducing the association with that horrid song is another benefit of Clementine with the -een sound.

There are other 'fruit' names floating around--Cherry and Cerise have seen use over the years, and then there are the celebrity children Apple Martin and the late Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof.  Apple Martin reminds me of a family of children I encountered back in my student days when I had a part-time job as a library aide.  Regulars for story time, the Apple children were named Jonathan, Baldwin, McIntosh, and Snow.  Other boy fruit names include the pear pair: Bartlett and Williams.  So a family of, say, Mirabelle, Clementine, Cerise, Jonathan, and Williams would be a reasonably subtle paean to healthy eating and lots of vitamins.

September 2, 2015 09:07 AM
In Response to Thoughts about Tate?

But Tate Jeffrey Stewart! ought to really get a naughty child's attention, so there's that.

September 2, 2015 09:05 AM

I am really surprised about the lack of familiarity with the Sopranos amongst posters here.  During its run it was the premier critical favorite.  I binge watched the DVDs and found the experience rewarding.  Perhaps the Mafia isn't everyone's cup of tea....

September 2, 2015 08:57 AM

Theoden is an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) word meaning lord.  Tolkien didn't coin it--he simply used it as a personal name.  It comes from the Germanic root meaning 'people' (as in tribe or ethnic group), the same root that gives us Deutsch and Dutch and is found in Theodoric and Theodolinda.  This root shouldn't be confused with Theodore and Theophilus and Theophania (Tiffany) which come from Greek meaning god, deity.

September 2, 2015 08:43 AM
In Response to Sibling rivalry

Well, since you like the association of Mirabe11e with plums, then Clementine would also provide a second daughter with a fruit of her own, and a very "cute" fruit as the citrus growers' ads tell us.  Winston Churchill's wife was Clementine (-teen), which would readily yield the nickname Tina.

September 1, 2015 04:15 PM

Yes, I got that, and that is one brightly shining little five year old, but for anyone who might be looking for a "star" name, sound not withstanding, Astrid isn't it.

September 1, 2015 12:40 PM

Anyone can be nicknamed anything, but for the record Astrid has nothing to do with stars. Astrid derives from the Nordic root for god.

August 31, 2015 05:49 PM

My first thought: a Sopranos fan.

August 30, 2015 01:53 PM

Well. Ezra ought to make you think of a biblical name because it IS a biblical name.

August 30, 2015 09:59 AM

Reminds me of the term when I had students named R0landa and Y0landa.  One had the surname Smith and one Jones, although which surname went with which given name I couldn't tell you, then or now.  They looked nothing alike--one was tall, one was short, one was lean, one was curvy, but which name went with which person was beyond me completely.

August 27, 2015 09:14 AM

Lidia is the Spanish spelling.  As the article states little Lidia is a Spanish speaker.  THe same is probably true of Eimy and Sofia.  This little school serves children of agricultural workers, and in Texas those are likely to be Hispanic.

August 26, 2015 04:52 PM

Cassian, pronounced KASH-an, is a derivative of Cassius, but has the fashionable -n ending.  It's the name of several saints, so not made up. Casimir/Kasimir. Casey, and Casper could conceivably lead to Cash.

If you like Kai, why not use it?  It is a full name in its own right, derived independently from several different languages.  It doesn't have to be short for anything, especially not for a trendy respelling of a place name.

August 26, 2015 09:45 AM

Curious as to the problem you have with the meaning of Sadie.  Sadie is a diminutive for Sarah, and Sarah is derived from a root meaning something on the order of princess.  Given the aggressive marketing of Disney and other toy brands, there is a good chance that your little girl will go through a stage of pink and lavender princess obsession.  Perhaps you are not looking forward to a house full of princess paraphernalia.

August 24, 2015 08:46 PM

I too wonder about why Kian has to be off the table.  For example, throughout the Muslim world, just about every family has a Mohammed, and there doesn't seem to be any concern that family members, friends, neighbors have also used the name.  A name is a choice for a lifetime, and it is unlikely that these friends' child will be part of your son's world forever.  If it turns out that these two boys are childhood playmates, they can be differentiated by different nicknames.  If Kian is the one that you want, I would say don't concern yourself with what other people do or did. 

August 24, 2015 01:57 PM

My only advice is not to worry about future children who may never exist.  Having two sons whose names begin with M does not require you to give a third son an M name.  Even having two sons and a daughter with M names does not require giving subsequent children, if there should be any, M names.  No one needs to emulate the Duggars. So what if Miles and Marshall have a little brother named, say, William.  If William wonders why he doesn't have an M name, he can be told that Mommy and Daddy love the name William and feel that it was the perfect choice for him.  Which would have the virtue of being true.

August 21, 2015 09:10 AM

The former Queen of Iran was Soraya, spelled that way.  Soraya is a Farsi (Persian) name.  I just took a quick looks, and it seems that Soraya is also in use in Latin America.

August 19, 2015 09:19 PM

There is a professional poker player named Huckleberry 'Huck' Seed.

August 19, 2015 09:15 PM

There was an article in today's NYTimes about a Chinese-American family adapting Chinese funerary rituals when they buried their patriarch.  Apparently pearls can figure into Chinese burial rites: "In his pocket, he had a golden coin, a Sacagawea dollar. According to Chinese tradition, the amount had to be odd, to avoid bad luck coming in pairs. He also carried pearls, to light his journey into the next world, and his shoes were new and never worn."  I know nothing more about it than what is mentioned in the article and quoted above, but perhaps it is something to look into.