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February 27, 2018 10:32 PM
In Response to The name Jesus

Great question! I don't know how it came to be, but it's certainly fascinating. I even remember reading about a woman in Peru named Virgen Maria ("Virgin Mary") who had a son born on Christmas day named Jesus. Her husband was even a carpenter! Unfortunately the husband wasn't named Jose- that would've been too perfect.

I just wanted to mention that Joshua is etymologically related to Jesus, and that is obviously in very consistent use in the English speaking world. 

February 27, 2018 09:58 PM

This is such a dicey subject, and I really don't think there are any right answers. What's unforgivably offensive to one member of a minority group may be funny or insignificant to another-there's no decision making authority on what's acceptable and what isn't. 

On the one hand, I think there should be a reasonable amount of tolereance for any name that's given with love, as the vast majority of names are. I'm sure most people choose Cohen without knowing that it's controversial. Some may know the controversy, but feel that the personal significance of the name (perhaps it was a surname of a beloved friend or the name of a significant place) outweighs the pitfalls of the controversy. There are also TONS of secular Jews who identify as Jewish culturally, but aren't particularly religious and wouldn't be offended by the name's use; I imagine that there are a few Cohens out there who belong to that type of family. If a family is misinformed and thinks Aiyana is a beautiful name with a lovely meaning, I don't think it's really fair to criticize them for that. There is clearly no bad intention on the parents' part, and I don't think it's useful or kind to make an issue of it.

That said, these issues point out the importance of thoroughly researching a name prior to choosing it. There are so many bad baby name books out there- I don't know why, but it's the only branch of etymology that seems to have absolutely no standards. I've seen books that list "Dijonaise" as a name (Dijon + mayonaise) or say that Declan means something like "Little Warrior" when in fact NO ONE knows the meaning of Declan. Those terrible books contribute to the ignorance of parents choosing names. Additionally, I've seen people who believe that because they had, for example, and Italian great-great-grandparent, they know everything there is to know about Italian names. Then they choose a name like Giavana, which is a misspelled, mispronounced Italian name. I think that comes across as ignorant- even though that isn't the parents intention- and it's a dead giveaway that the parents did very little research before they chose the name. 

I think another issue that contributes to the problem is the fact that shockingly few people realize that different cultures have different naming customs. In some cultures, babies are named based on their birth order and the parents have no say in the child's name. In other cultures, a baby is named for situations that relate to their birth, so while parents may technically choose the name, it's chosen based on events beyond their control rather than a personal preference for one name over another. Some cultures, like ours, have words that are exclusively names (like "Katherine" or "Jonathan") while others don't have any such words and instead only use regular words as names (like "Hope" or "Daisy" or even something like "Dew on a Leaf in the Morning"). The Yanomamo tribe of Venezuela and Brazil has a name taboo where it is a sign of great disrespect to address someone by their given name. Ancient Hawaiians would sometimes rename children something unpleasant, like "ugly," in the belief that it would ward off bad luck. Some cultures have only unisex names, some only gender-specific names, and some a combination. I guess what I'm saying in this very long tangent is that there are a lot of different ways to name a baby, and I don't think everyone realizes that, which can lead to misunderstanding and accidental misuse of names. 

So overall, I don't think it's necessarily wrong to use a name from a culture that isn't yours, but it is tricky and possibly a bit odd. You have to be very careful that you fully understand the cultural context of the name you chose and expect that people from that culture may find it strange that you named your Irish-American daughter Auli'i. The world is shrinking, so your child will almost certainly run into someone from that culture, and you don't want it to be awkward or uncomfortable.

February 27, 2018 09:20 PM

I love both names! They have a great ancient history, but seem really modern as well. I'm a big fan.

September 6, 2017 11:27 AM

If you want to incorporate all three, it'll be tough with Tobias in the middle. I like Ray Tobias, but that leaves Dennis out. Leyton could work as WesLEY + WesTON, but that leaves Larry out. The easiest solution for honoring all three would be scratching Tobias and using Wes (or some variant) in the middle, which I don't think would be a big deal because he wouldn't actually share a name with his cousin, just a middle. You could then use some variant of Ray or Larry as a first which would include everyone. If you're open to leaving someone out, here are a few suggestions with Tobias in the middle:

Tennyson Tobias (Tennyson="Son of Dennis")

Lorenzo Tobias (Lorenzo is a variant of Lawrence, Larry's root)

Lawson Tobias (Lawson="Son of Lawrence")

Ray Tobias 

Rayan Tobias

Raiden Tobias

Rayner Tobias

Ennis Tobias

Denver Tobias

Dean Tobias

September 6, 2017 11:16 AM
In Response to A More Creative "Lily"

I agree, I don't think a different spelling would really help here. Liliana is a good suggestion, but you could also do Lilian, Lilavati, Lilias, Lilia, or Kelila with the nickname Lily.

September 6, 2017 11:13 AM
In Response to Need help deciding!

My cousin was actually in a similar situation with her son. My cousin lived with her mother and sister when her son was a baby. Grandma called the baby "Buddy," Auntie called the baby "Werbles" (long story) and my cousin and her husband called the baby by his name. As he got older, he was slow to speak. The doctor told them that the multiple names were confusing and to all call him the same thing, which they started doing, and his speech improved. Now obviously this isn't your situation and your baby may adapt better than my cousins' son did to having multiple names, but I think the principle that one name is best may apply here.