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
May 31, 2016 10:02 AM
In Response to Honour names for Karen

I don't know where you have been googling, but the (blue) sapphire is the birthstone for September.  I know this because I was born in September and have had sapphire rings (well, mostly fake) since I was a very little girl, a good sixty-five years. The flower associated with September is generally the aster or occasionally other blue flowers like the forget-me-not.  The birthstone for April OTOH is the diamond, although cheap birthstone jewelry often substitutes the white topaz, white sapphire, or even cubic zirconia or indeed any colorless stone.

May 28, 2016 02:21 PM
In Response to NYC Name data?

I don't know whether it was a matter of cost savings or perhaps pushback on the idea of breaking the data down by race, ethnicity, language, etc.  Whatever, the breakdown was quite interesting.  For one thing it demonstrated that the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn are a very substantial part of the white population of NYC.  Since they vote as a bloc according to instruction, that percentage is very politically important.

May 28, 2016 08:37 AM
In Response to Name Change

Neither of the names you are considering appeals to me, but that said, I have been mentally pronouncing Jaisec like the first syllable in second, and that is not the pronunciation you are going for.  Since the name and spelling were invented by you, you can alter the spelling to indicate more clearly how you want the name pronounced.  If you want -zic, why not just spell it that way?

As for Jayvn, the English language requires that every syllable have a vowel, so choose the one that best indicates how you want that syllable pronounced.  As it stands, to me Jayvn looks confusing and incomplete.

May 27, 2016 05:52 PM
In Response to NYC Name data?

I had them boolmarked, but the bookmarks are gone.  If memory serves me, NYC stopped putting out that information a few years ago.

May 27, 2016 12:34 PM
In Response to Opinions!!!

My suggestion is to use Maxen, but spell it Macsen (same pronunciation).  Macsen is a Welsh name well over a thousand years old with an interesting namesake from the days of the Roman Empire.  Maxen is, well, a trendy invention with no history.

May 27, 2016 08:51 AM
In Response to Triplets

Thalia is the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry and also one of the Three Graces, so nice associations.

Something to be aware of:

The pronunciation you have in mind is correct, but there is an anglicized pronunciation Thale (rhyming with bale)-ya out there.  Many years ago when I was young, there was a tv show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  One of the characters was Thalia Menninger (played by Tuesday Weld).  The character's name was pronounced Thale-ya.  Now only those as old as I am will remember this little shred of pop culture, but for many people Thale-ya will be the default pronunciation.  So you might want to consider how annoying it will or won't be to deal with correcting people's pronunciation now and again (mostly again).

May 25, 2016 08:13 PM
In Response to Nickname aversion

It won't be a problem until HE decides he wants to be Frank which he may well do.  I insisted that my son be called Edward and nothing else, and I made it stick until he decided to be Ed.  So his wife and friends and acquaintances and fanboys call him Ed, and he publishes his books as Ed.  But I will never call him Ed, not under any circumstances, not even when he complained that I was diluting his "brand" by calling him Edward.  And my friends and my sister and brother-in-law also call him Edward.  No matter what you name your child, ultimately your child will have the power to decide what he wishes to be called.

May 24, 2016 04:15 PM

James and Jacob are the same name.  Just sayin'....

May 23, 2016 09:53 AM
In Response to Suffix Rules

Strictly speaking, Sr. is not used for a male.  The first of the name remains John Smith even after John Smith, Jr., is born. The  Sr. is used when the widow of John Smith becomes Mrs. John Smith, Sr., when her son's wife becomes Mrs. John Smith upon the death of her father-in-law.  As for shuffling happening, my former husband was born the equivalent of John Smith, Jr..  His father died when my ex was in high school, and he dropped the Jr. then (rightly) and was simply John Smith when I met him.

May 21, 2016 08:16 PM

"I don't think Mom is aware of Charlotte's Web yet."

That's why prospective parents should always check in here first.  :-)

May 21, 2016 06:29 PM

Little Templeton must have fun when the teacher reads Charlotte's Web.

May 20, 2016 07:01 PM

If your chosen name is Fido or Spot, I would reconsider.  But if your chosen name is something like Max or Jack, both quite popular with the doggie set, so what.  Both neighbors and their dogs are transients, but your child's name is for life.  I confess I don't understand when people are put off the name that they have selected after careful consideration as being the best fit for their child and family circumstances just because some random acquaintance has a grandchild--or a dog--with that name.  Random people and their random pets are not a permanent part of your life; your child is forever.  I grew up when half of everybody was named John and the other half Mary, and no one was concerned because they encountered other Johns and Marys, so I personally don't get the discomfort around a child sharing a name with someone else, even a pet.  My granddog is named Bella--I hope there aren't a whole lot of mothers stroking out because their little girl is a Bella, and there are a lot of little girl Bellas in my family's milieu.  My other granddogs are Floyd and Percy and the grandcat is Otis, so I don't think it's likely that any mothers in the neighborhood will be concerned about their children sharing those names.

May 20, 2016 03:29 PM
In Response to Thoughts on Lewis?

After living 25 years in New Orleans where French names are pronounced as in French, I totally agree with you: Louis=Lou-ee as in Armstrong.

May 20, 2016 10:01 AM

My thought when I saw Dov and Dovid was that this reflects the enormous birth rate and self-confidence (or perhaps insularity) of the ultra-orthodox stream of Judaism.  Its members no longer feel it necessary or desirable to give their children blend-in English names to use on the birth certificate and other legal documents.  Instead they simply use the Hebrew names that are in any case used for all purposes inside their communities.  A sidelight: Dov is often used as part of a double barrel name Dov Ber.  Dov is Hebrew for bear and Ber is Yiddish for bear, so Bear Bear.  This is not uncommon in Jewish naming.  Another example is Tzvi Hirsch where Tzvi is Hebrew for stag and Hirsch is Yiddish for stag, so Stag Stag.

Aviva is a name that appeals to the Modern Orthodox stream; that is, it is a Modern Hebrew name like Gila and Ilona which is sufficiently fashionable in sound to be used as both a Hebrew and an English name.  There is also a large multinational insurance company named Aviva, as well as a Real Housewives of NY cast member named Aviva.  I can see Aviva moving from Modern Orthodox families to the mainstream, where it will be chosen by parents who won't even know it's a Modern Hebrew name.

May 20, 2016 07:44 AM
In Response to Triplets

Maven is a Yiddish word meaning expert, often used ironically to mean someone who claims to be an expert but actually doesn't know what he's talking about.  It's one of those Yiddish words that has drifted into general parlance in some parts of the country.  Just something to know when you are considering it....

May 19, 2016 12:09 PM

My own name experience might be relevant here.  From birth I was exclusively called Mimi and didn't know that my name was really Miriam until I went to school and was so addressed by the teacher.  I was devastated and went home in tears.  It took me a long time to adjust to Miriam, but I was eventually very happy to be able to be Miriam in formal  and professional contexts.  I am still Mimi to family and friends, except for a few friends who use Miriam because they think that Mimi is ridiculously cutesy for an adult.  My sister was Suzi until she went to university and ditched the Suzi for Suzanne. She is now exclusively Suzanne.   My mother had a cutesy family nickname which she despised and jettisoned when she married and moved to a new town.  Her sisters and cousins continued to call her the despised nickname until her death, but everyone else used her proper name which was Sylvia.

Point being, while Pippa is not as cutesy as Pippi as in Longstocking, it is still a cute girlish nickname.  Pippa is the long-standing traditional nickname for Philippa (as Pip is for Philip) whether some people know that or not.  Judging from my small family sample of three, at some stage of life your daughter may find a cute little girl nickname not compatible with her "brand" and would prefer the option of a more formal name.  If you do give her a formal name as an option, I would urge that that you also make sure that she is familiar with it, so that she does not have her sense of identity questioned when she does learn it.  Personally if I wanted Pippa as the call name I would put Philippa on the birth certificate--or perhaps Phyllida (same name as Phyllis, but derived from an oblique case).

May 18, 2016 12:33 PM

Ellis Peters is the pen name of the novelist who wrote the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

May 18, 2016 12:31 PM
In Response to Nickname aversion

Since you have a Scandinavian surname, perhaps you will like the nn Frans better than Frank.  Frans is used in the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands.   Also if you think Frederick is a little clunky, perhaps you would like the Scandinavian variant Fredrik.  Other Frederick nns: Rick/Rik, Fritz/Frits

May 17, 2016 01:41 PM

Actually Ariel is referred to by the gendered pronoun 'his' in all texts of the play.  Of course Ariel was originally played by a male (boy) actor, since all parts were played by males in Shakespeare's day.  Since then the part has been played by both males and females, as, for example, has been Peter Pan who is nonetheless a gendered male character.  Whether played by a male or female actor, Ariel is generally portrayed as epicene.

The Hebrew name Ariel (Lion of God) is currently used for both genders.  The Hebrew name may have the source of Shakespeare's choice, but it may simply be a play on aerial 'airy' with nothing to do with the Hebrew name--or Shalespeare may have been inflienced by both possible sources.  Disney's Ariel is of course a merMAID.  Unambiguously feminine versions of the name include Ariela and Arielle.

May 17, 2016 11:24 AM

My preference is Max.  Shay is just too reminiscent of the one-horse shay for me.  Perhaps spelled Shea?