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
November 20, 2017 05:49 PM

There is a well-known musical act called the Zac Brown Band, so, yeah, it makes a good stage name.

As someone with a dirt common surname and a not uncommon given name, I can testify that it is a very good idea to have a very uncommon middle name for disambiguation. Otherwise your son can find himself on the no-fly list, on the hook for someone else's debts, arrested for someone else's warrant. For example, my son has a very common given, and he had a lien put on his property for someone else's debt which took money and effort to clear up.

November 20, 2017 10:57 AM

Frances does belong on the girl's list. However the name OP has on her boy's list is Francis which is a masculine name.

November 16, 2017 10:49 PM

Yes and no. The OP mentioned liking Coen because of the Coen brothers. In that case Coen is exactly the same as Cohen. OTOH, in the case of someone named, say, Coen van Buuren, Coen has nothing to do with Cohen.

November 16, 2017 09:49 PM

Actually in the case of the Coen brothers, Coen is a variant transliteration of Cohen/Kohen. However, the given name Coen is indeed Dutch, cognate with the German name Con- as in Conrad.

November 15, 2017 10:06 AM

There's Bear McCreary who has composed the sound tracks for, among others, Outlander, Battlestar Galactica, and The Walking Dead. BTW his daughter is named Sonatine.

I have read that Ivanka calls her baby Theodore Teddy Bear.

November 14, 2017 05:17 PM

I must be in a Vivian pocket. There are two in my grandson's second grade class, and a third is a sister of one of his classmates. Otherwise the only Vivians I knew were a generation or so older than I am.

November 14, 2017 10:56 AM

Well, we only have tantalizing clues to the mindset of our prehistoric ancestors, so it's hard to know. Honey was the only sweetener in the early human diet in the Old World. It took a long time to come up with sugar. So humans competed with bears for the sweet stuff. Bears, especially when they are on two legs, look mighty humanish. So maybe there was an element of identification of early humans with bears, both honey-eaters, albeit bears are hairier and browner (in Europe)--hence the other circumlocution "the brown one."

I should note that the plot of Beowulf falls under the folktale uber-plot category of the Bear's Son.

November 14, 2017 09:59 AM

My grandfather, born c. 1880, was Wolf. Besides Wolfgang and Wolfram there is also Wolfstan. Names like Randolph and Rudolph are also wolf names.

Beowulf is a kenning, a sort of mini-riddle which is a feature of old Germanic poetry. Other common examples of kennings include mare-hengest, sea stallion, for ship; whale's road for sea; heath-stepper for stag. Bee-wolf solves for bear because of the well known predilection of bears for raiding bee hives (see Winnie-the-Pooh). Apparently for ancient humans the bear was a powerful totemic beast which was referred to by circumlocution lest by using its true name its power be aroused with negative results. So in Russian the bear is the honey-eater (medved--med is cognate with English mead, the honey-based alcohol beverage). Another circumlocution is bruin, the brown one.

November 14, 2017 09:18 AM

This is confusing to me. The Great Vowel Shift involved the movement of each long vowel one position up and forward in the mouth with the high front vowels breaking into diphthongs. Thereafter English no longer distinguished vowels by quantity, but rather by quality. The letter g doesn't have anything to do with the GVS. BTW in Old English the original form of laughter was hleahter with both h's pronounced like the ch in German bach. Right was originally pronounced richt as in German Richter. Now the i is a diphthong (ah-ee).

November 13, 2017 12:03 PM

I think that monogrammed housewares usually have the surname initial in the middle, but when the initials are used in lieu of the full name, the surname initial is last (FDR, JFK, LBJ, work memos initialed, etc.).

November 12, 2017 11:18 PM
In Response to Girl options

The two runs of Upstairs Downstairs had maids named Daisy and Ivy. I would say that either botanicals (not to forget Rose) were a signifier of the servant class, or that the names were chosen for Downton with a nod to Upstairs. BTW the inept kitchen maid in Upstairs was Ruby.

November 12, 2017 08:43 AM

Elyse is a diminutive of Elizabeth, so you have already honored the meaningful Elizabeths in your life. If you want something with connections to your other daughters' names, Hazel seems a good choice. It has family connections; Violet, Olive, and Hazel are all botanicals and colors; there is a sound echo; they are similar in style.

November 11, 2017 03:43 PM

You can decide what he should be called and name him accordingly, and that still doesn't guarantee that's what he will be called. Sometimes parental choice lasts for a lifetime, and sometimes kiddo has picked up a new nickname before he's two. Basically parents bestow a name and afterwards it's out of their hands.

November 11, 2017 07:30 AM
In Response to Second baby!

As you certainly know from the 4th-6th grade perspective, making fun of names is just no longer a thing. I know it would never enter my second-grader's head that some names are "normal" and others are tease-worthy. He needs to get with the times.

November 11, 2017 07:22 AM

I think that if you name your son Boomer, he will have to spend more time explaining that Boomer is his real name than if you name him Alton Charles and call him Boomer, an obvious nickname of the Buzz/Buddy sort. For the record Boomer Esaison is Norman Julius.

November 9, 2017 04:06 PM
In Response to Burundi naming

I knew a family of upscale Tutsis from Bujumbura who had names like Alice and Aristide FWIW.


November 8, 2017 01:29 PM

I think that as the series went on, the fans pressured Gabaldon to up her game re research. I am not at all sure that Gabaldon understood the term of Sassenach. It does NOT mean outlander, yet she mistranslated it as outlander as the TITLE OF THE BOOK. It means Saxon (English), not Norwegian, French, Italian, or any other generic outlander. It's an ethnic slur, period. It is beyond quirk IMO to call your beloved an ethnic slur applied to the enemy who cut your back to ribbons. Would an Englishman who fell in love with a German woman during WWI call her Hun? Honey, maybe, Hun, no.

November 8, 2017 12:48 PM

My guess is that Gabaldon did not name Rollo the dog for its wolfy connections. She was very sloppy with details, especially in the early books. E.G., Laoghaire is a masculine name, and sassenach does not mean outlander. It is Gaelic for Saxon, and it is by no stretch a term of endearment, quite the contrary.

BTW who is Davina Porter? She has been referred to twice in this thread in context of mispronunciations. I've never heard of her.

November 8, 2017 09:42 AM

Birdie is also traditional for the various forms of Bridget. Others: Polly for the Mary names (Polly too much wth Poppy?), Sadie/Sally for Sarah, Patsy for Martha, Caddie for Caroline, Nan/Nancy for Ann/e, Doll/Dolly/Dollie for Dorothy

November 8, 2017 09:27 AM
In Response to Baby girl #3

Re Elsa:Disney hits never go away. The movies are periodically re-released, the merchandise is promoted and sold without cease, the attractions at the theme parks are permanent, and the brand extensions are unlimited (a live Broadway version of Frozen is on the way). New Disney films and princesses appear every year, but old princesses never die. The question is "Does Disney matter to YOU?" because Frozen Elsa isn't going anywhere.