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
March 30, 2015 07:07 PM
In Response to Jago, Cosmo or Viggo?

I just thought people might be unfamiliar with the histories.  Cornish names are not nearly as popular as the other Celtic names.  Well, Jennifer is exceedingly well lnown, but other Cornish names, not so much.  As for Viggo, many people have heard of the actor Viggo Mortensen, but the may not realize that Viggo is really a diminutive (although it is apparently his full given name) stemming from the word for war, a meaning which may be a pro or a con, depending on personal taste.

March 30, 2015 06:59 PM
In Response to Too many to name!

Look. I told you I didn't make this up.  It's an established term for a type of ruby.  I have no idea why it's pigeon's blood and not some other kind of blood.  Why is the color oxblood called oxblood and not horse blood or elephant blood or some other kind of blood?  Why is Hungary's premier red wine called Bull's Blood and not, say, Stallion Blood or Boar Blood?  Why are the light color amethysts called Rose de France and not Rose d'Espagne?  I have no idea in any of these cases.  And I don't admit that it's silly.  It's no more silly than smoky quartz or London topaz or watermelon tourmaline.  Just because you are unfamiliar with a term doesn't make it silly.

March 30, 2015 05:14 PM
In Response to Jago, Cosmo or Viggo?

All three are names with history: Jago is the Cornish form of Jacob and Viggo is a Nordic short form/pet name for any bithematic name starting with Vig- (war).

March 30, 2015 04:26 PM
In Response to Jago, Cosmo or Viggo?

Viggo is a hypocoristic form, and personally I am not a fan of using hypocoristic forms as formal names on birth certificates.  Possible names for which the pet name Viggo is used include Vigberg, Vigfus, Vigmar, Vigthor, Vigstein, and so forth.  Essentially naming a child Viggo is like naming him Freddie, Sammy, Davey, Joey, Billy Bob, etc.  People do it, but I am not a fan.

Of the three I would prefer Jago, especially if the family has Cornish heritage.

March 29, 2015 07:30 PM
In Response to Too many to name!

Pigeon's blood is not my invention.  It's the "official" name of a highly valued type of ruby.   Like a rose de France amethyst or a London topaz....

March 29, 2015 11:36 AM

The collocation of Willow and Grey makes me think of pussywillows.....

March 29, 2015 11:28 AM
In Response to Too many to name!

I don't know how the line is drawn between pink sapphires and rubies.  I was quite surprised when my "rubies" were recategorized, but when I took another look, yes, they are rosy pink and not pigeon's blood red.  And I thought sapphires were by definition blue, but they are in fact almost a rainbow.  It's also a fact that the beautiful gemstone colors are largely achieved by heat-treating rather unimpressive-looking "pebbles."  It is possible to buy beautiful natural unheat-treated sapphires, but they are pricy.  And what are advertised in large print as rubies and sapphires in the small print are identified as lab-created.  Buyer, beware.  I collect (mostly vintage) jewelry, so over the years I have done a good bit of research about gemstones, although, cost being a (major) factor, most of what I actually buy are vintage plastics of the largest and most outrageous sort.

I quite like the resurrection of the Victorian custom of flower and gemstone names, and I am personally plumping for some new little Garnets.

BTW in my view Coral is a suitable "pink" name.  While coral itself can be quite orangy (salmony orange in particular), it can also be white or black, and the beautiful angelskin corals are definitely pink.  As a color term, what separates coral from orange is that coral is on the pinker side.

March 29, 2015 08:47 AM

I don't know the history or background of Jarrah, but I would suggest Jerah which is a biblical name.

March 28, 2015 10:57 PM
In Response to Too many to name!

Other "pink" words that are occasionally used as names are Fuchsia and Cerise.

Rubies are definitely red.  If the stone is pink, it is not a ruby, but rather a sapphire.  Rubies and sapphires are the same mineral, corundum, but sapphires can come in any color except red.  For some reason the red ones are called rubies (well, the reason is that 'ruby' is derived from a word meaning red), but the white, blue, orange, purple, green, pink, black, etc., are called sapphires.  I discovered this when the jeweler told me that what I thought was a ruby and diamond bracelet was really a pink sapphire and diamond bracelet.  There is a third kind of corundum gemstone called a padparadscha which is a beautiful pinkish-orange, but I wouldn't recommend naming anyone padparadscha.

As a color term the word rose refers to pink  Rose is the word used for pink in numerous languages, including  French, Dutch, German, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. As a flower term, roses can be of many colors, of course including red and pink.

March 28, 2015 10:20 PM
In Response to Sam or Daniel

In 2014 Daan was number one in the Netherlands, and Daniel number 45.   And, yes, Daan is a nickname for Daniel.

March 28, 2015 03:04 PM

My son went to middle and high school with the Manning brothers.  I'd see Archie and Olivia at football games (the team was very successful in those years) and parent stuff.  So, yes, the minute I saw the collocation of Archie and Eli, I thought Manning.

March 28, 2015 02:25 PM

I read Rocsen as sounding like Roxanne....

March 28, 2015 02:24 PM

Well, if you are in the US, Archie Eli would sound awfully Manning.  If you're not a football fan and particularly not a fan of the Mannings, I would pass on that combo.  BTW Archie is Elisha Archibald, jr., and Eli is Elisha Archibald III.

March 27, 2015 04:41 PM
In Response to City Baby Girl Name

It's not my personal style, but here I sit in the Phoenix metro area. People also use London and Brooklyn as personal names.  Marseille might work as a girl's name or Roma.

March 26, 2015 11:20 PM

Jocelin (sometimes spelled Jocelyn) de Brakelond was a 12th century English monk whi wrote a chronicle of the monestery of Bury St. Edmonds.  The 12th century Counts of Edessa who ruled the County of Edessa near the Euphrates in the aftermath of the First Crusade used the dynastic name of Joscelin (de Courtenay).  So those are two alternate spellings without the y.  As far as I personally am concerned Joscelin is a masculine name, although I am aware that it is primarily used for girls these days.  If I were to suggest it for a girl, I would recommend the spelling Josceline.

March 26, 2015 03:09 PM

Nathan and Nathaniel are also "gift" names.  Also Jesse derives from a word for gift, and the biblical Jesse was the father of King David.

March 25, 2015 11:34 PM
In Response to Chang My Son Name

We oldies will remember the 60s spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E, one of many espionaged-themed tv shows and films in the Cold War years.  It featured two spy partners, Napoleon Solo played by Robert Vaughn and (oddly) a Soviet named Ilya Kuryakin played by David McCallum (nowadays Ducky on NCIS).  Ilya was a massively popular character, and the young David McCallum a real heart throb.  Ladies of a certain age are definitely going to be familiar with the name Ilya.

March 25, 2015 03:40 PM
In Response to Gender neutral names

One name that fits your criterion is Garnet.  The female version is a gem name like Opal, Ruby, and Pearl, while the male name is from an occupational surname, referring to either a hinge-maker or a pomegranate seller (how many pomegranate sellers there were hanging around I don't know).  I personally quite like Garnet and feel that it could be ripe for revival.

March 25, 2015 01:40 AM
In Response to Gender neutral names

I gather that you don't have in mind modern names lile Jordan and Taylor. 

Avery, I think, works.  The current villain on Justified is Avery Markham, played by Sam Elliott.  Also Leslie--I know male and female Leslies with that spelling, going back the better part of seventy years up to the present (Bob Hope's birth name was Leslie, when I was working one of my male colleagues was Leslie, and Amy Poehler's character on Parks and Recreation is Leslie Knope).  Marion--there's Marion Cotillard and John Wayne's name was Marion Morrison.  French has unisex names like Dominque, Patrice, Camille (living in Louisiana I ran across more male Camilles than female), Claude, Laurent.  Alexis is both male and female, as is Sasha.  Ariel is also male and female.  Modern Hebrew names are often purposely unisex. Andrea is also unisex, and many of the Spanish "religious" names like Rosario, Cruz, and Trinidad are also unisex. Dale (Dale Evans and Dale Earnhardt), Dana, Gale (Gale Sayers and Gale Storm), Jesse/Jessie (I have seen both spellings applied to both genders), Lee.  Then there are the nicknames which are also used as stand-alones like Terry, Val. Toby, Stacy.  I am leaving out the recent and not-so-recent surnames adopted as given names like Sidney, Rowan, etc., but there are a great many of those which are currently used for both genders.

March 24, 2015 10:11 PM

Yes, the names are spelled differently in both Hebrew and (generally) English.  They are pronounced differently in Hebrew, but the same in English, and that's where the confusion lies.