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 17, 2017 01:05 PM

Re personalized stuff and Etsy:

Etsy sends me emails featuring products I might like based on previous purchases. This week one of the emails highlighted a display for figure skating medals which just happened to be personalized with my grandson's name. Obviously that caught my attention and I asked my son and daughter-in-law what they thought. Turned out that the featured item was the very medal display they had already purchased. Apparently the vendor was so pleased with how Elliott's medal rack turned out that it became the "poster child" for that shop. 

BTW he is seven years old, has been figure skating for just over a year and already has lots of competition medals to hang on his rack.

September 14, 2017 01:18 PM

There is a pro basketball player named Iman Asante Shumpert. He and his wife Teyana Taylor have a darling little girl named Iman Tayla Shumpert, jr.  Like Alexis Olympia Ohanian, jr., junior is used for a daughter whose name is not exactly the same as dad's. Both little girls have a pro athlete parent. So maybe this usage is now a thing, at least in pro athlete circles. BTW I am assuming that Tayla is a nod to mom's surname.

September 13, 2017 04:30 PM

Re androgeny as a one way street: I'm betting that the majority of Americans would parse Alexis Kerry So-and-so as female.

September 13, 2017 12:31 PM

Strictly Alexis Olympia cannot be the junior of Alexis Kerry because the names are not identical, but people do as they please in America where there are no naming laws. The junior notwithstanding, Alexis Olympia is a fine name, and Alexis Kerry would also have been a fine name for a daughter (Alexis Kerry the Younger would be the appropriate style).

September 13, 2017 12:25 PM

My son and daughter-in-law circulated a list of names to both grandmas. Some of the names were obvious jokes (my son's sense of humor), and others were serious options. All four of us chose Elliott right off the bat, well, after a brief discussion of spelling possibilities. All five of us, including Elliott, remain pleased with the choice. 

BTW I too thought about lucubratrix when the article threw shade on Wilfred.


September 11, 2017 03:19 PM

Other Marian names: Pilar, Rosary (as opposed to Rosario),Guadalupe, Paz, Maristela, Carmel/Carmela, Marigold.

September 11, 2017 10:24 AM
In Response to Harlow, Cleo, or...

Since you have a Rowan, I don't suppose it matters to you, but Cleo is also gender-ambiguous. There are more male Cleos, derived from the biblical name Cleophus, than you might think. The first Cleo who pops to my mind is Cleo Fields, a not-so-honest male politician who was frequently in the news when I lived in Louisiana.

September 11, 2017 10:13 AM

Elior is a variant you might like, too. Lior/Elior are derived from a root meaning light, if derivations are of interest.

My bubbe's name was Tzvya Chaya, but she used Celia Ida for her American name, so to me Ida is a bubbe name. Lol

September 11, 2017 07:22 AM
In Response to First child, boy

If your wife vetoed Jacob, then perhaps James, with the possible nickname Jed from the initials.

September 11, 2017 07:12 AM

So what's so wrong with Schlomo?! One of my friends has a grandson Jayd3n Schlomo. And my grandfather was Schlomo Chaim.

My suggestions: first of all, consider your deceased family members' Hebrew names. Then choose a name that is similar in sound or meaning. Another possibility: I think that many modern Israeli names might fit your criteria. Some ideas: Ilan, Eitan, Lior, Alon, Tal.

September 8, 2017 08:41 AM

I also knew a female Michael who went by the name of a famous male Native American leader. I don't know if the Native American name was on her birth certificate or whether it was just a nickname she picked up along the way.

September 6, 2017 09:21 PM

Cohen/Kohen are alternate transliterations. Koen/Coen are Dutch and are cognates with the Con- in Conrad.

September 6, 2017 09:20 AM
In Response to Need help deciding!

Ari is one of those names that have different origins in different languages. In Hebrew it's a lion name. In the Scandinavian languages it's an eagle name.

August 31, 2017 10:28 AM

I think NYC stopped publishing that data, but the old data should still be available.

August 31, 2017 10:26 AM
In Response to Harvey

The toll is usually given as c. 1300-1500. It is likely that people were also just washed out to the gulf and never accounted for. There were also many very close calls, including some of my colleagues.

August 30, 2017 05:50 PM
In Response to Harvey

Actually Katrina had a quadruple digit death toll.

I have been watching the Harvey news coverage carefully, and there are significant differences. First of all, the Republicans on both the state and federal levels have been busy giving each other attaboys and cooperation. In Katrina the Republicans in Washington and the Democrats in Louisiana and New Orleans fought tooth and nail. The Katrina news coverage focused almost exclusively on the African-American community as if others were somehow miraculously spared because of their superior virtue and as if African-Americans were somehow solely responsible for the disaster, letting, among other things, the Army Corps of Engineering off the hook. Fact is that all kinds of neighborhoods, upscale and not, were deluged. For example, every single structure in St. Bernard Parish was inundated, the population of St. Bernard was almost 100 per cent white working class, and the media said not a word about St. Bernard. OTOH, I have been watching the Harvey coverage, and given the interviews of evacuees one would think that there are no persons of color living on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Optics aside, it is clear that some improvements in disaster response have resulted from the lessons learned in Katrina, most visibly at the moment in the arrangements for imperiled pets. Now we'll see how things work in the long term. At least the Republican  Texas congressional delegation is supporting disaster relief for Harvey, when they opposed relief for Sandy. Even if Harvey does not turn out to be the horror show that Katrina was, nonetheless hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people now have their lives turned upside down, and it will take years to achieve some sort of restoration. It won't be pretty.

August 30, 2017 01:39 PM

I think alliterative naming tumbles into Duggarism when the spelling is tortured to maintain the theme. (Looking at you, Jinger Duggar and Kourtney Kardashian....) Khloe, otoh, is a legitimate, if infrequent, transliteration.

FWIW in Anglo-Saxon England it was customary for family names to alliterate.

August 30, 2017 01:27 PM

Ashley Zukerman, actor born in the US, grew up in Australia, not female, not black

August 29, 2017 09:50 PM

I know a family where everyone has a bizarre spelling, the kind that actually has to be deciphered, for the express purpose of never finding any pre-personalized merchandise.

August 29, 2017 04:19 PM

Congratulations on your healthy little screamer. Love the name, and glad we were helpful.

You don't have to be done with naming. You can do more than lurk here--you can give suggestions. And you can name pets, cars, and collaborate in the naming of dolls and stuffed animals.