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
April 23, 2014 03:30 PM

Michiel, with the ch roughly like the -ch in German ich.

Merijn to rhyme with vine

April 23, 2014 03:27 PM

The dh is a voiced aspirated stop.  It is very difficult for a speaker of English to hear and to reproduce.  If you are hoping to have Medha pronounced properly in an English-speaking context, I would suggest that it's a vain hope.

To give an example of aspiration in English, contrast the t in top with the t in stop.  The t in top is aspirated, that is, there is a tiny puff of air emitted.  In stop there is no tiny puff of air.  Speakers of English do not even notice the difference because it doesn't matter in conveying meaning.  In Hindi, however, the difference between an aspirated and an unaspirated stop is important, because the presence or absence of aspiration will determine meaning.

So in pronouncing Medha there should be an aspiration following the d sound, but not a d-huh, just a small puff.  Oh, and it would never sound like the voiced th.

April 23, 2014 03:05 PM

As I am sure our Hungarian members will agree, Imre is not a Dutch name.  It is Hungarian.  It is true that people living in the Netherlands do not always have Dutch names.  In fact, the traditionally Dutch names have fallen rather out of fashion if my friends and acquaintances are representative.  BTW I do know a Dutch man, that is, born in the Netherlands and a Dutch citizen, who has another Hungarian name Istvan.  His parents fled to the Netherlands after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. 

In my experience Dutch people sometimes have a rather wobbly sense of what is and isn't a Dutch name.  My name Miriam is much more common in the Netherlands (spelled Mirjam) than it is in the US.  On more than one occasion I was asked how I came to have a Dutch name.  Um, no, it's a Hebrew name (possibly of Pharoanic Egyptian origins), and it's been in use for 1000s of years before there was anything like Dutch.

Having lived in the Netherlands, I know how to pronounce Dutch names. 

April 21, 2014 06:34 PM
In Response to 'too' Scandinavian?

As mk said, the typical reaction to seeing Mangus is to assume it is a typo for Magnus.  That's what we all assumed.  On the one hand, the constant assumption that your name is a typo could get old.  On the other, as I have reason to know people screw up even the most straightforward and familiar names anyway.  But it is something to think about before choosing it.  Someone named Mangus is likely to spend a lifetime saying, "No, it's not Magnus--it's Mangus."  There is a pro basketball player names Dwyane Wade, and I would say that at least 80% of the time the name appears in print as Dwayne, and that's from sportswriters who cover the NBA and should be expected to know what the man's name is, and they still don't get it right.  I don't know if that bothers him, or if he just takes it in stride.

April 21, 2014 02:24 PM
In Response to 'too' Scandinavian?

Here's the quote from Nameberry:

"There is a rise in Scandinavian baby names like Stellan, Viggo, Liv, Kai, Mangus, and Axel, but there are other appealing choices as well, including Freya, Linnea, Astrid, Soren, Leif, and Lars."

I hate to burst your bubble, but Mangus is a typo, albeit Nameberry's, not yours.  Magnus is the name meant.  It is a Latin name that has been used in Scandinavia since the Middle Ages.  Mangus is not an existing given name, and it's not Scandinavian.  Mangus is a relatively unusual surname.  It's an alternative spelling of Menges, a name which I happen to know about because the Menges family settled in my home county of Pennsylvania in colonial times.  My Latin teacher was a Menges.  I think it may also be an alternative spelling of the Scottish Menzies, pronounced Menges.

As I have frequently had the occasion to point out, name sites on the internet (and those little "1000 given name" booklets by the supermarket checkout) are far from authoritative.  Some of the information they contain is correct; much of it is not.  In this case, Mangus is a flat out typographical error.  The other names on the list are indeed Scandinavian names, although Viggo is a hypocoristic form.  In many other cases, the information on name sites and in name booklets is just made-up nonsense.

If you want to use Mangus, as a surname turned into a given name, that is your option.  But if the Nameberry quote gave the name appeal as an existing given name, well, it isn't.  In any case you don't have to worry about Mangus being too Scandinavian, because it isn't Scandinavian at all.  It appears to be either German or Scottish.

To answer your questions directly, it doesn't help that Mangus exists as a given name, because it doesn't.  The fact that it doesn't exist as a given name would matter to me, but it might not matter to you or others.  I personally only like surnames as given names if the surname is part of the child's family tree.  I don't care for the idea of appropriating random surnames from other people's families.  Obviously not everyone agrees with me on that since people have no compunction about choosing to give their children surnames which do not occur on their family trees.

April 21, 2014 08:00 AM
In Response to 'too' Scandinavian?

Do you perhaps mean Magnus?  If so, Magnus is a Latin name that has been used in Scandinavia since the Middle Ages, but it is not Scandinavian.  Alexander is a Greek name which has been used in many countries, nothing particularly Scandinavian about it, although admittedly Alexander Skarsgard is very fine to look at.  As it happens, I have Dutch and Flemish friends who have named their sons Sven, Olaf, Mats, Lars, and Nils, so it would seem that Scandinavian names are not uncommon in the Netherlands.  In any case Alexander Magnus is not especially Scandinavian.

April 18, 2014 09:15 PM
In Response to Baby boy #3

Baelfire means funeral pyre, not a particularly auspicious name for a child. I wouldn't use it. FWIW my former husband's name was Aloysius, and he didn't much care for it. Other than Baelfire, I think all of the rest of your choices are acceptable. My personal preferences are Alistair and Cyrus.

Some other names that mught be in the same vein: Tarquin, Darius, Hamilcar, Agrippa, Blaise, Bedivere, Gawain, Lionel, Bran, Merlin, Caradoc, Perseus, Aquila, Columba, Herakles, Phoenix, Seti, Ramses, Aeneas, Romulus, Titus, Theodosius, Sargon, Mithras, Osiris, Achilles, Damon, Nestor, Orestes, Zephyr, Balthazar, Remiel, Weland, Frey, Vidar, Geraint.

All of these names have history behind them.  Perhaps one of them will strike you and dad.

April 17, 2014 08:48 PM
In Response to Names Ending In H

I have a lot of experience:-).

April 17, 2014 06:35 PM
In Response to Names Ending In H

I don't know if you misread it, but you conflated two sentences.  I read it, "So far on my list of names ending in -h, I have a, b, c.  Then new sentence: "They all end in the same sought of sound to names ending in A like Laura or Amelia, Oliva etc."  That sentence clearly is not completely correct.  When I read it, I emended it to "same sought AFTER sound AS names ending in A like a, b, c.  "Sought of sound" does not make sense as written, so some emendation is necessary.  It could also be emended to "same SORT of sound AS a, b, c.  But either way, the two sentences together seem to mean names ending in -h with the -ah sound as in Laura at the end, not any name ending in -h.  As written, I don't think it can be read as what names end in -h. and so far all the ones I can think of have the sound of Laura, Oliv[i]a at the end, but what are some names ending in -h that end in other sounds.  That could have been the intent, but I don't see the two sentences being construed that way.  I spent my entire working life trying to figure out what was meant by sentences that didn't quite work.  I didn't always succeed, but I did most of the time.  Sigh.... 

April 17, 2014 02:22 PM
In Response to Names Ending In H

The ones on the list above that are not of Hebrew or Arabic origin are Norah, Savannah, and Tallulah.

April 17, 2014 02:21 PM
In Response to Names Ending In H

But the original post asked for names ending in -h that have the same ending sound as Laura and Olivia.

April 17, 2014 01:57 PM
In Response to Names Ending In H

Adah, Aliyah (variety of possible spellings), Atarah,  Beulah, Huldah, Deborah, Delilah, Dinah, Farrah, Hadassah, Hephzibah, Keturah, Keziah, Latifah, Naamah, Norah, Orpah, Savannah, Selah, Susannah, Tallulah, Tirzah, Zillah, Zilpah


The great majority of names with this pattern are derived from Hebrew or Arabic.

April 17, 2014 01:42 PM

Ordinarily one wouldn't give a child the same name as borne by one of the categories of relatives you list. However, suppose the father's deceased mother happened to have the same name as the mother's living grandmother. The father would very likely give his newborn daughter his mother's name anyway. Again it is the intent of naming the child after a particular person that matters, not that fact the other people may have the same name. In any case, this whole name business is a custom, and one tinged with a fair amount of superstition, not a matter of law, albeit, Jews place a lot of emphasis on custom and tradition and sometimes almost treat custom as if it were law. Also Jews are masters of the loophole and work around. For example, it is against custom for a man to marry a woman who has the same name as his mother. In fact, my grandmother whose name was Tzivya was concerned that my mother whose English name was Sylvia might be another Tzviya (she wasn't--my mother's name was Sussel). If she had, however, also been Tzviya, she would simply have been given another name for the occasion--problem solved, wedding goes on. I don't see any problem stemming from tradition for naming the child Margaret. English names don't count--they can be anything. The only possible problem would be in the mother-in-law's mind. She, like many American Jews, might not even really understand the technicalities of the naming customs anyway. And if there is any concern or doubt about an appropriate name, then a rabbi should be consulted.

April 17, 2014 09:32 AM

No, not exactly.  There is no problem, for example, in naming more than one cousin after the same deceased grandparent.  My Uncle Jack had the same name as his first cousin (they were both born in the same tiny town in what is now Belarus).  I don't know if they were named after the same person--their fathers were brothers, but either or both could have been named after someone from the maternal side.  Intent is what matters.  The child is named after a specific person.  The fact is that there will be other people around even in the same family with the same name (particularly so because there are only a small number of acceptable male names), but that is really irrelevant.  So the intent should be to recall a deceased family member (or other admired person), and the intent should not be to honor a living relative.  Sephardic Jews, however, do name after the living.  All of this applies only to the shem kodesh, the holy name used in the synagogue and and for other ritual and legal matters.  A vernacular (in this case English) name can be anything.  Females do not have a shem kodesh and can be, are, and were named just about anything.

For an extreme case of family members having the same name, see http://forward.com/articles/147997/meet-chaya-mushka-again-and-again/?p=all.

April 16, 2014 09:50 AM
In Response to Pet Names

Urgh, very few of those names would have been found in 12th century England, Matilda certainly, most of the rest not so much.  Here's a non-exhaustive list of the 12th century English names: http://www.svincent.com/MagicJar/Names/England12-13.html

April 16, 2014 09:43 AM
In Response to Baby brother for Norah

A tip for using the Ellis Island and other handwritten records for reconstructing family history:  the present-day transcribers who are placing the info online are not always adapt at transcriibing old school handwriting.  If you are coming up empty when you suspect that there should be a record, picture the old styles of handwriting and guess what letters might be confusing for a present-day transcriber and then search accordingly.  For example, my father's brother was born in the old country, but he wasn't showing up.  His name was Yaa'kov, but I knew from records that other family members used their Yiddish nicknames when they entered the country.  His nickname would have been Jankel/Yankel. So I pictured turn of the twentieth-century handwriting and found him under Faukel.  In the ornate capital letters of the time F and J look similar, and the u and n are the old minim problem which goes bacl to medieval manuscripts--there is little difference in u, n, m, w, v, and they are easy to confuse.  So Faukel=Jankel, and there he was.  The transcriber also unaccountably confused male for female, so he was listed online as female.  Ellis Island will correct transcription errors, but no other kind, so I wrote to them, and now my uncle is fixed.

If your ancestors came to the US from non-English speaking, and particularly non-Roman-alphabet-using countries, you are likely to find that their names are unstable, as they make new lives for themselves in a new country.  I know in my own family, the names change from one decennial census to the next, but they are the same people.  They had no emotional attachment to the English given names they adopted for the sake of convenience and to blend in with society at large, and as Jews they also had no emotional attachment to the surnames that were forced on them barely 100 years before they emigrated.  So they had no problem changing those names or their spellings/transliterations at the drop of a hat.  I am accustomed to dealing with manuscripts written before the standardization (such as it is) of spelling in the latter part of the 18th century and thereafter, and so I automatically have a sense of alternate possibilites, but that does take some getting used to.   For name nerds it can be an interesting exercise to go back and look at the shifting names (people also adopted new names when they left the east coast for new lives in the west, presumably shedding their old identities like outgrown skins).

April 15, 2014 01:50 PM

If you look at the official Disney Frozen website, the character's name is spelled Anna, so I don't know what your issue is.  The name is properly pronounced AH-na, as it is in Scandinavia and throughout Europe.  My four-year-old grandson went on his first trip to Disneyland yesterday, and this morning he told me that the line to see Elsa and Anna (he properly pronounced it AH-na) was too long, so he didn't get to see them, but he did get to see Merida (had his picture taken with her) and Tinkerbell, so it was all good.

April 14, 2014 10:23 AM
In Response to Bonaventure

Now that explains the screen name kyrie aobut which I wondered.  Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy) is the name of the Greek prayer in the traditonal Latin Mass (also of course used in the Orthodox church).  It is pronounced roughly kee-ree-ay.  That seemed an odd choice for a screen name, but clearly that must not have been what you had in mind.

April 14, 2014 10:16 AM

Here in the US when I was a girl, veterans' organization used to sell paper poppies on the street to support veterans' charities.  It's been a long time since I have seen those paper poppies, but at the time (well after WWII), poppies were definitely associated with veterans.

BTW when I was living in the southern Netherlands (not far from Flanders), my backyard was planted with poppies, and when they bloomed, the carpet of blood red was amazing.  Going back to the ancient world, red and purple flowers have always been associated with the death of young heroes.  See Walt Whitman's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," an elegy on the death of Abraham Lincoln.  As it happens today is the 149th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

April 13, 2014 12:28 PM

If you go with Griffith Arthur, you could conjure up the nickname Garth which might (or might not) appeal.