The Generational Sweet Spot, Or Why Your Parents Have Such Bad Taste

Apr 22nd 2010

Your taste in baby names is shaped by many factors. If I had to point to just one, though -- one force that drives your opinions, that's impossible to escape -- it would be your generation.

That's obvious on the face of it. We all know that name styles change dramatically over time. When it comes to our own personal taste, though, it's hard to feel the generational influence. Here's how I usually describe it: the names of your own generation sound too ordinary, your parents' too boring, your grandparents' too old. But by the time you make it back to your great-grandparents' names, things start to perk up. You've never known a young Vivian or Julius, so those names sound fresh to you.

That places a style "sweet spot" at naming generations roughly 60-90 years older than you. But it also points to a second sweet spot at names 20-40 years younger than you. Those are the names that you and your friends name your children. Meanwhile you're turned off by names in middle, particularly your own age and 10-20 years older. So if you were born in the 1970s, you probably didn't consider '60s names like Sheila or Kent for your kids.

Now here's the kicker. That same generation of names that marks your style nadir is your parents' sweet spot. And those charming antiques you love? They're your parents' stodgy grandma names. Let's overlay some hypothetical curves:

Call the areas in green "argument zones."

Parents, this explains why your mother-in-law keeps suggesting names like Karen and Steve. Grandparents, this explains how your daughter could possibly consider a name like Julius (or Genesis) for a little baby. And to our youngest readers, prepare for your parents to totally miss the appeal of Conrad and Joyce. They don't have bad taste, honest. They're just products of their generation.


By Eo (not verified)
April 28, 2010 10:11 AM

Flash-- I just heard that Sandra Bullock has adopted or is adopting a baby boy named "Louis". Gorgeous picture of them on the next "People" cover.

What joy for her. Apparently "Louis" came to mind because she thought of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" when she looked at her baby! Lovely...

April 28, 2010 10:24 AM

I think Neve as in Campbell is pronounced "Nev." A friend of mine is Neve pronounced NEV-ee, which I prefer.

April 28, 2010 10:52 AM

so, one of the children (age 15) on the show "parenthood" is named haddie. anybody know anything about this? it appears to be made up, as far as i can tell, but yet it sounds completely familiar (i suppose due to its similarity to hattie). i don't see what it could be short for, and it isn't even in namepedia. i just thought it was interesting for the writers of a show to pick a name that is fairly nonexistant.
the other children on the show, by the way, are:

max (brother to haddie)

drew (boy)

sydney (girl)


those are divided up by sibsets. and i've no idea if drew and max are short for anything. also, the grandfather's name is "zeek," spelled that way, which kind of drives me nuts. i understand that as a nickname for ezekial, there probably isn't a "wrong" way to spell it, but it just sort of makes me crazy. i think the names on this show have been brought up before, so i apologize for that. but does anyone know anybody named haddie?

April 28, 2010 11:06 AM

No clue, emilyrae, but it makes me think of haddock. Could 'Tuna' be far behind?

By Craig (not verified)
April 28, 2010 11:14 AM

Not to be a bore,
but as a father who is the primary caretaker for my two children, I do get truly


tired of these articals which entirely exclude the father as a parent.

Point of fact: I read dozens of baby-name books and was the person who named both of my children. (My wife was somewhat disinterested, although she did veto dozens of options.)

Really, this is not a minor issue, as it does feed into the issue of
why many women of the "men are bad" generations (mostly baby-boomers and gen-xers have trouble understanding why fathers need to be a major influence in their children's life when a divorce occurs.

It matters.

April 28, 2010 11:20 AM

haddie could be a nickname for hadley.

April 28, 2010 11:32 AM

Craig-I'm sorry for the apparent pain/disservice you feel you have gotten which is apparent from your tone. More on point though, I wonder how many times the female in the relationship in disinterested in the naming process and the male picks the names? Interesting question.

By hyz
April 28, 2010 11:43 AM

Craig, I'm sorry you feel that way too, but I've re-read Laura's most recent post/article after your comment, and I don't see how it "entirely exclude[s] the father as a parent" in any way. It does seem to be the case that women/mothers are more often the ones interested in names (especially if the commenters on this blog are any indication), but we have several active and valued male commenters here, and you would certainly be welcome too if you choose to stick around and participate.

April 28, 2010 12:01 PM

Hey everyone, I was wondering if you would mind helping me

Ok, I have 3 'p' names in my top 10 girl names. I've loved 2 of them since I was 7 or so & the other one I've also loved for years. I realized that theoretically, it's possible that I might end up with 3 girls with 'P' names- not on purpose, but it's a possibility considering they're all in my top 10.

The names are Piper,Phoebe & Penelope

Do you think the whole Piper/Phoebe thing because of Charmed will be relevant in about 10 years - even with the risk of re-runs on certain channels?

I only want to have kids in around 10 years or so,and by that time the show would have been over for 14 years. Do you think it'd be a 'major' thing to have OR do you think it'd just be a 'Oh, like in Charmed' which I might get occasionally.I've loved these names since I was a little girl, so I'm not 'theoretically naming' kids after the show - I just LOVE those names

I'm not bothered by all of the names starting with the same letter as it's unintentional & I've come from a family like that, which was also unintentional.

Oh, if this helps, there are more 'p' names that I like, but nowhere near as much as those.I realized the other day that there's a good chance any kids of mine might have names that begin with the same by default, as I have 3 'b' names in my male top 10 & about 8 'r' names in my male top 40.

Wow. After reading that again I look obsessed. LOL. I'm just an overzealous NE........

There's a really HIGH chance that these are the names I'll still love when I do have kids, as most of the names on my list I've LOVED for YEARS. I mean, since primary school. Over a decade long lol

Thanks to whoever reads this prologue for my theoretical future children & helps !

By Amy3
April 28, 2010 1:12 PM

Names of the 4th grade peer mediators at my daughter's school. All are girls:


April 28, 2010 1:35 PM


I'm a man and I feel welcome here. Perhaps there is a lack of father-specific guidelines, but the discussions here is good for both men and women who are interested in names. Every so often, there's a question about a male perspective in naming, but really, I'd argue that there are fewer of them that are specifically issues related to the gender of the parent.

If there are any particular concerns you'd like addressed, bring them up. It's a great community here.

April 28, 2010 2:02 PM


When I read your p names, the first thing that sprang to my mind was "oh, that reminds me of Charmed". However, I also used to watch the show from time to time. I do think that in ten years or so, the most you will probably get will be the occasional "Oh, like on Charmed" comment. I say this because even nowadays the show seems to have really faded from 'public knowledge' (compare it to something like Twilight). And I think that if the show is still being aired as reruns it must be really early in the morning, because I haven't noticed it on the schedule. That to me indicates there will be less new fans of the show, so there would be less people who would make the connection.

By hyz
April 28, 2010 2:18 PM

Larksong, I've never seen Charmed and couldn't name a single character in it, so your names didn't remind me of it at all, lol. If it is a popular show among your peers, though, then I think the association with Charmed and those names will remain in 10 years, whether the show is still running or not. For instance, I grew up with the show Roseanne, and if I heard of siblings named Roseanne and Jackie, or Darlene and Becky, it would definitely make me think of the show, even though it ended years ago.

April 28, 2010 2:32 PM

i think i would tend not to worry about charmed. i agree that the associations will fade and your children's contemporaries won't have them at all. besides, plenty of people lean towards (intentionally or unintentionally) alliteration in their children's names--it's not your fault charmed took all the good 'p' names!

April 28, 2010 2:36 PM

@Fernie & hyz

Thank you!

Yes, I think the show has a varied audience. The show was on when I was a kid, but the one person whom I know that was a die hard of it was in their late 40s early 50s when they were watching which is kind of ironic. I completely get what you mean in terms of what you grow up with & how that affects it.I think I'll just have to 'theoretically' deal with it, as all names have a positive & negative connotation & everyone has such varied perceptions of names.

I suppose there are worse things to deal with when it comes to names than somebody possible thinking you copied a tv show ! On the plus side, they'll have a story to tell. It's actually ironic, as I truly just love the names themselves for what they are - not because of anything else.

Maybe by the time the kids are in school, the show will have been over for 20 or so years and their school peers won't really have a connection. Then again, I might land up with all boys...

April 28, 2010 2:42 PM


Sorry, I missed you as I was busy writing and only saw your comment now! Thank you

Yes, the same letter thing isn't on purpose at all, but I was looking at my 'core' names and I realized on both sides that it's possible that I have an alliterative set. In my top 40 for boys I have 3 'h' names, 4 or 5 'b' names, 3 'c' names and about 7 or 8 'r' names. For the girls, it's 3 p names, 3 'e' names, 2 'l' names and about 3 to 5 'a' names. I have 6 's' in there & LOADS more that I love. What can I say, apparently I tend to gravitate towards certain letters lol.......

By Qwen
April 28, 2010 4:28 PM

@emilyrae - lol I never even connected the fact that you fit so nicely into the sibset I mentioned. I think it's funny too that you always wanted the middle name Faye. As for your questions about the names on the show Parenthood (love that show, btw), I have to admit that I just assumed Haddie was spelled Hattie and it was 'named after my grandmother' type of thing. I think it's cute but I can't think of anything for which it could be a nickname. Jabbar is the name in the show that had me most curious. I'd never heard it before at all.

@Craig - You do sound upset and for that I am sorry but I feel the need to point out that Laura's original post addresses her audience as "Parents" not as "Moms" or "Women" or "Ladies". I don't think anyone here has ever expressed a 'men are bad' agenda or insinuated that fathers are unimportant in the lives of our children. However, I'm going to have to agree with Zoerhenne when I say that for MOST of us the naming experience has been the oppositie of yours, it seems true for most couples that the woman is more interested in names and the man holds veto power. This is not a man-bashing statement, more just something I've noted having been a NE and a contributor to this board. That being said, I always enjoy it when we get male perspectives on the board so I hope you stick around.

@Larksong - I bet in 10 years only a few people will notice the similarity to the show 'Charmed' and most of them will be in older generations, not your daughters'.

April 28, 2010 4:47 PM

Larksong-I agree with everyone else. I don't think it's that big a deal to pick a sibset similar to a show that was once popular. I mean how many of us see a Lucy and think "oh like I Love Lucy"? I don't. Hyz, I thought your comment was funny about Darlene and Becky though!
On a different note though, I think style-wise Piper and Phoebe are nice together. Penelope seems the outlier. So I would actually rather see a sibset of the first two than Penelope coupled with one of them. And btw, what are your R names for boys? That intrigues me.

April 28, 2010 4:59 PM

Craig- I looked through the post and the only thing I can see that would hint that mothers have more of a say in naming is the fact that the graph key says "mom" and "grandma". I don't think that's case of "exluding" as you say the father of the child. If this blog was called "Why your mother hates the name you picked", then that'd be another story. Otherwise, I think this blog in general is very open to all perspectives and we often discuss how our significant others play a vital role in naming. I do have to admit though that among my circle of friends the parent with the stronger interest in naming is most often the mother. I've been to countless playgroups and mom's lunches where women say things like "I've loved the name every since I was five years old" or "I have a huge list of names I adore" whereas I've never heard my husband or any of his friends express a similar deep interest in naming. I also think women tend to vocalize this interest much more than men do and are more frequently the posters on name blogs such as this one.

April 28, 2010 5:13 PM

It is wonderful to hear that Max and Eleanor have arrived, and that hyz has a little one on the way. Congratulations to all!

@Summer like the season - I've mentioned in a post ages ago that I rarely have to spell my name, surprisingly. The Eleanor spelling seems to be the assumed spelling. I'm happy to see the name being used again more frequently, and I think it offers a lot of nickname options.

I'll also mention again that I have synesthesia. Maybe there is a higher proportion among NEs? I see Eleanor as a rose color and Edward as a green, similar to some other NEs. How fun!

April 28, 2010 5:13 PM

Thanks everyone!

I'd land up calling 'her' Penny most of the time.I love Penny & Penelope, but feel that Penny is a bit too informal for me, hence Penelope. Piper, Phoebe & Penny .
I'm big on nicknames, so I'd probably call them Pipes, Fee/Feef & Penny at home to be honest

The 'r' names for boys are
and you could throw in Reilly,Rowan,Ronan & Ryker if you want. Plus, Orion is in my top 20 - I fell in love with it when I was doing astronomy as a little kid in school, and he'd become Ry....

If you think that is bad, don't ask for the girl 's' names, I've easily got 15 lol.
I swear it's not on purpose that it's alliterative !

April 28, 2010 5:27 PM

@Larksong - I recognised the 'charmed' association but I think in 10 years it won't be a big deal. Especially if those 2 names are part of a larger sibset. As for liking names that start with the same letter, of my favourite names an awful lot start with both A and C! This is for both boys and girls..... I think it's pretty common to have a letter prefernce, but by the time you take into account your partner's preference and your changing taste over the next 10 years you may end up with a quite different mix of names.

Speaking of getting males interested in names. How do you all suggest I approach the name discussion with my husband? I want his input on our baby's name but I don't know if it's best to give him lists of my favourites, combinations that sound good or a very short list? Any ideas?

April 28, 2010 5:29 PM

well, i didn't always wish my middle name was faye; i'm happy with my name now. but faye was my grandmother's middle name, and i would have liked that connection. it just seemed more feminine than rae, which, as a child, i was *convinced* was a boy's name. i used to quite detest it. but i'm okay with it now. emily rae suits me, and it has carried very well into adulthood.

yes, parenthood is a great show! (have you seen the movie? if not, you must. hilarious.) jabbar i didn't question because it sounded so familiar to me. i just investigated why it sounded so familiar to me and i *think* it is because of karim abdul-jabbar. then i further investigated to see why i would know anything about that person. then i found out he used to play for the indianapolis colts. i live in indianapolis, so i hear quite a lot about the colts. case closed. however, it's definitely not common, and i don't know if that is where the writers got the name.
conana pointed out that haddie could be short for hadley, which is true. i just think it is such a strange choice. i kind of like your idea of hattie and max though. how very sweet and retro. :] they sound like they should own a restaurant or something.
and i know this has been mentioned before as well, but crosby really does stick out strangely in a sibset of adam, sarah, crosby, and julia. hmm. i really want to talk to the writers!

By knp
April 28, 2010 5:58 PM

Chimu: first off, I don't remember if you've said how interested your dh is in the naming process. But
I think coming up with general favorites together, and firstly, asking him what names HE is thinking about is important without saying "here are my ideas, what do you think?"

If my husband came up to me with a list of his favorite dog breeds (to apply the situation to a different decision) and asked me to give my opinion/pick my favorite, I'd feel like he was making more than his fair share of the decision and I wasn't really consulted in the important part. However, if he and I had come up with the idea that he did the brainstorming first and then I got veto power, I'd be ok with it. does that make any sense?

I think the list method (of any type) is best after you've had quite a few discussions, because I see them as a way to force opinions out of someone.

April 28, 2010 6:27 PM

I was going to respond with something similar to knp, but that's the answer. Respect the spouse's chance to input. Certainly, this can turn into one chooses the list, the other vetos, but ideally it should be because it's been consciously decided by both.

By Anna S (not verified)
April 28, 2010 6:33 PM

Chimu - perhaps your husband would be interested in the NameVoyager and NameMapper features? My partner thinks anything with numbers, statistics and plots is cool while meanings and such are much less interesting to him.

April 28, 2010 6:36 PM

@Craig- I'm sorry that you feel excluded. I'm not a regular commenter (I usually comment in the post-exam period), but I've been reading this blog for four or five years, and I think that in general people here would be glad to have more guys/dads voicing their opinion.

My own experience (well, to be honest, the experience of my friends) is that the fathers frequently have 2 or three names that they push for- invariably either sports-related or sci-fi related- Elanor is one that comes up all the time! One friend's husband has a boy's list of 2: Dale (after a nascar driver) and Wayne(after gretzky). Needless to say, she's hoping very much for a girl...

Mabel I see as a pink colour, with yellow and orange in the background. I work at a children's clothing shop, and we have a little plaid dress that is *exactly* Mabel. I couldn't find it online. Ephrem is blue and red, and a much denser texture. I personally find the Ephraim spelling more attractive, with a bit of yellow and the i lighting up the texture. :P

April 28, 2010 7:13 PM

How fun Blythe-I wish I had your talents and I wish there had been a picture of the dress. It would have been fun to see.

Larksong-Well you know Penelope/Penny is not my style exactly so that's why I was curious to see your list of R boys names. All I could think of was Ryan, Richard, and Robert which I KNEW wasn't quite right LOL! Thanks for posting them. Btw, what is the history behind Rogan I've never heard that before.

Chimu-I agree with the others. Maybe you could each make lists of your top 10-or 20 or whatever. Then veto each others lists. That way no one is the bad guy.

April 28, 2010 8:27 PM

I'm another male who posts on here (which is why I put the "XY" at the end of my username, in addition to distinguishing me from any other Kellys around here). Yes, I am a guy named Kelly (and I support those who want to use "unisex" names for boys)!

April 28, 2010 8:52 PM

Thanks for the helpful suggestions! I definitely want my husband's input in the naming process and don't want to get him offside, hence why I'm trying to see what a good approach might be.

He isn't really a NE. But, I know he doesn't like 'boring' names or creative spellings so I'm hoping to get him to provide some interesting suggestions.

We mostly only talk about the names other people use for their kids and haven't really talked about what we would use. I really have never bothered telling him all my favourites, mostly because I didn't want them vetoed 3 years before there was even a child to name and have me get all upset about it :)

Getting him to look at namipedia or name mapper might be a good idea. It's a shame we don't live in the US, as there isn't as good data for Australia. At least it will give him something to play with.

We have plenty of time so I'll work on getting some suggestions out of him over the next couple of months :)

By EVie
April 28, 2010 8:55 PM

emilyrae - you might also be thinking of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was a basketball player and later an actor (most memorably, I think, in the movie Airplane!--one of my favorite '80s artifacts).

I feel compelled to point out that although the title of this article uses the word "parents," the URL address reads "... or why your mother-in-law has such bad taste." A last-minute substitution? I actually think the mother-in-law version is funnier, but I understand why "parents" would be more diplomatic.

Larksong - when I saw Piper, Phoebe and Penelope together, I immediately thought "Charmed" even before I got down to the part where you asked about it. Not everyone will make the association though, and even if they did, it's your choice whether or not to let that bother you.

One thing I would caution you about, though, since you're not planning on having kids for a long time--don't get too attached to any one name without the input of the other parent-to-be. One of the most wonderful and frustrating things about partners is that they have their own opinions ;) And sometimes those opinions can seem completely irrational and out of left field. Many of the NEs here can attest how heartbreaking it can be to have your spouse veto the name that you've been cherishing for years and years as *the* name, sometimes for reasons that seem entirely frivolous and unjustified. It's fun to make potential lists, but don't get too invested in any specific names or combination of names without partner approval.

By knp
April 28, 2010 9:03 PM

oh, and Chimu-- your hubby MUST know that you read this blog-- you can use that as a way to bring up names you like-- (In fact, I use this with my hubby)
for example: "today on the blog, someone brought up the names X, Y, and Z. I was thinking about Y for our little bun-in-the-oven, whatcha think?" A non-threatening opener that can bring up a couple names. he might respond, "I don't like Y, but what about Z?"

April 28, 2010 9:53 PM

Regarding men-

I do think it's a little insulting to group a vast amount of people as having a similar mindset - especially a "man-hating" one. After, the commonly used abbreviation DH means "dear husband", which to me is anything but animosity-inspired.

I for one value varied and diverse input and perspectives, and men certainly count in that arena. Although I'm fairly new to this board, the reason I joined was because the posters were warm and supportive, and if more guys joined, I doubt anyone would be outraged.

As for bringing up the subject of names to an unsuspecting significant other-

I like the idea of each party coming up with a list of about 20 names separately, then sharing. Although as NEs, it seems like we've been considering potential children's names forever, your partner may have some gems you've never considered before, or your lists could be shockingly similar. I believe collaboration is the best way to go about naming a baby (after all, it's conception was certainly collaborative;) ).

Of course, I say this with only a boyfriend, marriage and babies far in the future. I do hope I'm not showing any naivete in this assessment!

By hyz
April 28, 2010 10:06 PM

Chimu, I agree with all the suggestions so far. Also, if he's the sort that's game for getting immersed in the process, maybe ask him to go through the more likely style lists in the back of the BNW (you know, skipping the lists that def. aren't either of your styles), and mark the ones he likes most and least. Then you could do the same thing, and see where your lists overlap, and start making lists from that--that way the initial suggestions are neutral, not "yours" or "his", but it still gives him more ideas than he'd likely come up with on his own. My DH wasn't thrilled about anything that involved going through a book (it involved too much time talking and thinking about names), but maybe you'll have more luck!

By Beth the original (not verified)
April 28, 2010 10:57 PM

So belated, my comments, by the time I get through all of them. But: congrats to cabybake, hyz, and Anne with an e! So exciting.

I've also loved seeing SarahC's combinations and permutations because of my Elizabeth/Caroline heritage and my daughter being a Caroline Jane after both grandmas. I did laugh at your reaction to CJ, SarahC, because when Grandma Mary Jane laughingly called our daughter CJ, my partner and I fixed her with a steely gaze and she never did it again.

As to the man/woman thing, a lot of times I can't tell the gender of the posters on here. I can never figure out men who think gender-neutrality is male-bashing. And hey, as a big old flaming dyke I haven't been offended by DH and so on. The reality is, most people having babies are still straight.

I love the name Royal.

I am so not synesthetic. All names are black on white to me. Sad, no?

By knp
April 28, 2010 11:41 PM

Beth the original: I also am sad that I am not synesthetic!!

April 29, 2010 12:08 AM

I missed the earlier mention of the name Royal, but I'd love to contribute that The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my all time favorite movies. Not sure if the name was mentioned in that context. Not the most savory character (who is the father figure in the film, aka Royal Tenenbaum), but the name is perfect for him nonetheless. I've always found the names from that film interesting. You've got Royal, who is/was married to Etheline (nn Ethel), and their three children: Chas, Margot and Richie. I've always wondered if those were secretly short for Charles, Margaret and Richard which make sense as a sib-set. The off-beat nicknames are totally right for the characters, who are all very quirky. Oh, and Chas has two sons, Uzi and Ari.

April 29, 2010 1:05 AM

did you ever say why tziporah has one p and zipporah has two? someone asked earlier and i'm very curious myself.

April 29, 2010 1:23 AM

That's so interesting about feeling that Penelope seems to be the outlier to you, zoerhenne. I had the same thought, only about Piper! Penelope and Phoebe both make me think of Greek mythology as the first association, so to me they have a very similar feel, whereas Piper to me feels much more modern.zxs So very interesting to hear another perspective, which also makes a lot of sense when I think about it.

ETA - Evie, I agree with you about partner input being important, but would like to add that for most of us that is actually a blessing since we will not have 20-40 children to bestow all our favorite names on! It's so much easier to have someone else weed your garden of names for you!

April 29, 2010 1:50 AM

I actually have no idea why in my mind Tziporah is with one p and Zipporah is with two. Tzipporah with two p's is used often, but it just looks a bit redundant to me. It's the same way with Sara vs Sarah or Rebecca vs. Rebekah, one just looks more right than the other. Of course, transliteration is very murky when it comes to Hebrew because it's a different alphabet, so as long it sounds phonetically the same, it's considered accurate. I'm sure Miriam has a much better answer than this. But, in Hebrew the spelling is צִפּוֹרָה, and has one פּ ("pay"), which I've always translated into one "p". And maybe once you change the first sound from a tzadik (the tz sound) to a zayin (z sound), then the rest of the spelling is up for grabs. There are so many spellings of Tziporah though, I've seen it spelled Tzippora(h), Zippora(h) and Zipora(h), plus there's the Tzippa and Tzipi variations.

April 29, 2010 2:24 AM

Chimu: In my case, I think I would limit the amount of info I ask my partner to process. Idk if this is because of his personality in particular, but I think it's also because he's just not as interested in names and doesn't think it's fun to think through all of this. (Although, we are not expecting, so maybe if you are, it changes?) Even for myself, sometimes when people post really long lists here, I can't process it all. It's much easier for me to give my feedback on a short list.

I also remember someone mentioned the rating system they asked their partner to use; I think I would use something like that with my partner too--to make it easy for him to give his view.

Now that I think about it, this is kind of reminding me of when you design a study. You have to make a survey very easy and simple for your participants so they will be more likely to complete it. Fewer questions=better.

April 29, 2010 2:50 AM

Becky--I would spell Tzipporah with the double p because in English that signals unambiguously the correct pronunciation of the vowel. Since Tzipporah is not a name that is familiar to all English speakers, it may be beneficial to use English spelling conventions to give some guidance. Just so, Tzippa and Tzippi are likely to be pronounced correctly (like Pippi Longstocking), while Tzipi (a la Tzipi Livni) might come out as Tz-eye-pi or even Tz-ee-pi (like tipi which is an alternate spelling of teepee) in someone's mouth.

Out of curiosity I went over to the tehillim list at Yeshiva World News to see how names are being transliterated. [Note: tehillim are psalms, and they are recited by the community on behalf of someone who is very ill or in some other kind of jeopardy. The name of the person needing the support of prayer is always given as (name) son/daughter of (mother's name).] So there is currently one Tziporah on the list (transliterated with one p), but she is mentioned three times as: Tziporah Feiga bas Sima Sheindal, Tziporah Frima bas Symma Shayndel, and Tziporah Faiga bas Sima Sheindel. Obviously transliterating Hebrew into English is a free for all, no consistency whatsoever. I don't know why one listing has Frima and the other two Feiga/Faiga, but obviously three different people wrote in to put Tziporah on the list, and one of them was confused about the correct name.

So basically either one p or two is a matter of choice--there is no 'correct' way.

For those who may be curious as to what Jewish names (as transliterated into English)look like, here is the url: Note: the Gilad ben Aviva on the list is Gilad Shalit who has been held captive by Hamas for four years and whom Israel would very much like to see returned. Some time ago, we had a discussion on the list about the name Gilead/Gilad which someone was thinking about using.

April 29, 2010 5:35 AM

@knp - I am sure my DH knows I read this blog and just ignores the fact that I am name obsessed :) Using discussions on here to bring up names on here is a good idea though. Maybe I get him to read here? More discussion of IT would be required for him to be interested though!

@Robyn T - yes I agree that giving him a huge list of names is just going to make him freak out. While we like lists of names to pore over, most people just find it a bore. I think the rating idea is a good one though. I remember I liked that! I might give it a go.

By EVie
April 29, 2010 7:26 AM

RobynT - your excellent point about long lists being overwhelming relates to what my husband studies in graduate school (in the area of judgment and decision making in psychology). There is some solid research out there showing that people usually end up more satisfied with a decision when presented with a more constrained number of options. People also end up more satisfied with their decision when told to pick something that is "good enough" as opposed to "the best". That could be some useful info for those of you trying to negotiate with spouses.

In terms of this board and baby-naming, I too admittedly skim over the longer lists. I think that we might get more constructive and useful feedback if we present our fellow NEs with a few choices at a time each post, then narrow it down and come back later with the finalists (kind of like a tournament bracket, which I know has been discussed before). This method would probably work well with husbands too ;)

By Amy3
April 29, 2010 8:44 AM

When we named our daughter I admittedly came up with the suggestions (although we'd mutually agreed on specific mns ahead of time since those honor family members), and my husband weighed in on them. However, I found myself in the position of not having the long list of possibilities I might have anticipated b/c suddenly names I thought I loved just didn't seem right. We also ended up delaying talking names until quite late and would typically consider only a few at a time.

I agree that shorter lists are always easier to process and even here I have trouble making decisions when presented with loads of names.

@Craig, I do hope you stick around. The male contributors here provide a great perspective on naming from a man's pov, which I think is welcomed by all of us.

April 29, 2010 8:50 AM

Evie-You point to Chimu about not getting too attached to any name(s) is a good one to remember.

knp+hyz-Your ideas are good too!

Beth-Your description of yourself was funny. It is often very difficult for most people on here to remember who is partnered and who is not, etc. I think DH has grown to become a catch-all more generic term but maybe we should start using DP(dear partner).

lucubratrix-I do see the Greek association in the names and agree that Piper could also be an outlier. It is fun to see different points of view which is why this blog is great. For me though, Piper and Phoebe give off a certain child-like character. It is hard for me to see them on a grownup (i.e. judge, teacher, etc.) They also have a spunk that Penelope doesn't have for me. Another way I just thought of, is to make Phoebe the outlier because it has more of an F sound than the other two!

Becky-I think regardless of the beginning spelling your name should have 2 p's because to me it looks more complete. Using just 1 has a bit of a made-up look about it even though I know it's not meant to.

April 29, 2010 9:32 AM

i tend to agree with the points made about tzipporah/tziporah/zipporah. using only one /p/ looks incomplete to me and using two makes the pronunciation more clear, in my opinion.

By Pip
April 29, 2010 9:49 AM


I am interested in hearing more about your hyperlexia. I remember learning that this was a term a few years back, and wondering if it applied to me. I, too, was a self-taught early reader (somewhere around 2, writing full sentences by 3) and, upon hearing of hyperlexia, figured I fit into that category. However, the description of the condition seems to point to issues with reading comprehension and other corresponding deficits, which I do not have. I do have some issues with auditory comprehension (I definitely retain it better if I've read it), and socially I am reserved and sometimes a bit awkward. :) I'm just curious to hear how well you fit the typical profile, as I'm wondering if there are others out there like me who just seemed to read ridiculously early without struggling in other areas of learning.

By hyz
April 29, 2010 10:12 AM

becky, I think you should go with what looks best to you, but I agree with the others that the "pp" spelling seems more complete with either "Tz" or "Z" at the front, and I was also going to raise the point that Miriam mentioned about the double consonant inidcating the correct pronunciation of the vowels. On the other hand, we transliterated my daughter's Korean name as Minna (rather than Mina or Minah, which are other "correct" transliterations) for that very reason, and we still get TONS of people who pronounce it as "Mee-na" rather than "Min-ah". Apparently, Hooked On Phonics did NOT work for these people, lol. So, I come back to the point--just go with what you like better, since neither is "wrong".

By Craig (not verified)
April 29, 2010 10:14 AM

I commented earlier that as an involved father I feel tired of these articles which entirely exclude the father as a parent.

Zoerhenne, Hyz, Linnaeus

PLEASE NOTE The original article which I commented on has been altered.

Throughout, in place of the exclusive use of "mother" and "grandmother", without mention of men in the naming process, the author has quickly replaced these terms with unisex terms (PARENTS, ECT.), including replacing "Mothers" in the title with "Parents".

I am not upset with this, and I thank Laura Wattenberg, the author, for her attention to the changes.

I am merely pointing out to those that are contradicting me saying there is no exclusion of males, that the problem I was complaining of is no longer present.