My partner and I are discussing girl names again for a baby next May, gender unknown. The two front-runners for girls at the moment are Isolde/Isolda/Iseult and Sybil/Sibyl/Sibil·la, both of which are obviously presenting some spelling issues. For background: he's Catalan, I'm Canadian. Our naming style has been described as "arty" and "pretentious," which we are fine with. Our daughter is Heur@ Edith, known as Ivy to English family and friends.
My partner loves the Catalan Iseu (Iz-ei-u), but to me it looks incomplete, not clearly female, unpronounceable in English and not used even in Catalan. He's fine with using another variant and calling her Iseu as a nickname. I actually slightly prefer Isadora to any of the Isolde variants, but I have made no headway at all in the last year trying to sell this as an alternative.
Isolde: Pros: Not the version used in Spain but instantly recognizable. International. Can easily contract to Iseu or Izzie, but also, at a stretch, Zelda, which I love. Cons: We are not opera fans but are coming to this name from Medieval literature, and I feel this strongly implies opera. Feels slightly middle-aged. While I am happy with either EE-zol-duh or Is-SOLD pronunciations, in Spain we are likely to get a lot of Ee-SOL-day, which I'm not thrilled about.
Isolda: Pros: unambiguous pronunciation. Familiar Latin spelling. Cons: While not a common name anywhere, I feel Isolda has been more used in Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, so it doesn't have quite the same literary feel. When I google image it, I mostly get pictures of a Brazilian brand of meh floral dresses. Also, I would prefer that if we do have multiple girls, that not all their names end in –a. This is slightly maniatical of me but I don't like the overarching trend that boys names can end in all sorts of letters but girls names end in a. Rather like boys and girls clothing colours.
Iseult: Pros: My current favourite. It harkens much more clearly to literature than to opera for me, not only for the Tristan legend, but in the figure of Iseult Gonne, strongly connected to Yeats. I also like that this underlines its Irishness – my Irish surname will be part of the child's name, and my sisters both have Celtic names. Leads intuitively to Iseu as a nn. Repeats the "eu" of our daughter's name, which is also present in our choice for a boy… Cons: Pronunciation is ambiguous even in English. Having listened to online sources there seem to be so many variants and accents that I would probably just go with what I like best (Iz-OLT). Pronunciation is going to definitely be an issue in Spanish/Catalan. I'm not sure I can pull off Zelda as a nn with this. Partner thinks this version is a bit crazy, but I can probably bring him round since he recognizes that Isolde is more his idea than mine.
Extra fun: My partner has a grandmother called Soledad, and while we're not naming after her, I do feel that Isolde/Isolda could be <i>attributed</i> as an honour to her.
Sorry for the essay! Any thoughts or experiences with people in the real world with these names? Pronunciation thoughts?
Tue, 09/26/2017 - 5:41am