Me again - need help naming our babygirl!

Hi everyone! Sorry, I apologise in advance...this might get a bit longer

I've been posting in this forum a while back asking you for help to name our baby. As our due date is getting close, we are still struggling to find the perfect name for our little girl. She is due end of March, but likely to be delivered early, so she could be here any day now!
What we were struggling with the most was that we are Brazilian and currently live in Brazil, but need a name that works in English speaking countries as well. Her older siblings are Júlio, Nathália and Amanda.

Our front runner was Laís (which a few said was unfortunately similar to lice when pronounced wrong) and we are just not sure it's the one anymore!

Right now we really love the name Mayla / Maila (not sure which spelling we prefer). However we would like it to be pronounced My-la, not May-la, but prefer the spelling above. In Brazil this would be no problem, but not sure about english speaking countries? How would you pronounce Mayla or Maila? If we spelt it Mila or Myla people would probably mispronounce it in Brazil and say Mee-la. Also one of my best friend's daughter's name is Mila (mee-la)... is Mayla still too similar? She lives in Canada now and she said she wouldn't mind at all, but would it be too similar anyway?

Another name we like is Aleyna, but I feel like the spelling is too creative and spelling it Elena or Alana would lead to people in Brazil mispronouncing it again... what are your opinions on this name and spelling?

If you have any other suggestions feel free to just throw them in, I'm helpful for any name you think we could like. I'm very scared she will be a nameless baby!!! :O THANK YOU

Replies

1
February 22, 2016 10:11 AM

*also my name is Camila (ca-MEE-la), which is somewhat similar as well and i get called mila frequently as well. i also tried the matchmaker with my kids' names, but there was nothing that really caught my eye

2
February 22, 2016 10:48 AM

Getting an "eye" sound with an 'a' spelling gets hard in English -- due to the Great English Vowel Shift, pretty much any spelling you choose will have a common word association that'll lead people astray (like 'may' and 'mail').  I think perhaps a Zen attitude toward the vowel sound is the best you can do: spell it the way that's correct in Portuguese, because that's a mostly-phonetically-written language, and accept that English speakers will say 'may' as a first guess.

In an American setting, Aleyna doesn't come across as a creative spelling; it's basically phonetic (or as close as one can get, in English), and has no extraneous letters or non-standard sound-to-letter associations. Perhaps it's the 'y' that makes it feel unnecessarily creative to you? How would Brazilians pronounce Alena? That's basically the second half of Magdalena, which is a name with plenty of history in many European languages (with the variations in exact pronunciation that come with any multi-lingual name), so it looks unexceptionably traditional.

No, MEE-la and MY-la are not too similar, as long as they're not sisters. :-)

3
February 22, 2016 12:02 PM

I think that in an English speaking context, people will say Mayla/Maila as May-la.  Mila would be Mee-la (think Mila Kunis).  Myla would be the only one I would expect to consistently get My-la in English.  However, I don't think it's a huge issue if her name is pronounced slightly differently in English.  As she gets older, she can decide if it's something she's OK with or something she wants to correct.

I don't think it's a problem for you to use Mayla even though your friend's daughter is Mila.  The names are similar, but it's not like you are using the exact same name.  It also sounds like the girls won't have a lot of in-person contact, so it's not like there will be a huge issue with confusion.

I would say Aleyna as ah-lay-nah, which is how I say Elena.  Alana would be ah-lah-na for me.  I am not a fan of creative spellings, but in this case, I don't see a huge issue.  If it will get the pronounciation you want in both languages, I think it's reasonable to spell it this way.  If it helps any, behind the name says that Aleyna is an actual Turkish name that gets some use in European countries.  You might wan to do some investigating on Google and/or Facebook, but perhaps this would make the name seem less creative for you?

I really don't know much about names in Brazil, but a quick scan of Portuguese girl names on behind the name led to several that would work well in English (not sure how varied they would sound in the 2 languages).  Adelaid, Alice, Alicia, Ana, Antonia, Cassandra, Clara, Claudia, Estela, Isidora, Julia, Noemi, Olivia, Silvia, Vanessa, Veronica

4
February 22, 2016 12:38 PM

Camila, I am Brazilian too if you haven't yet noticed from my usernames!

I honestly believe that the best way to go is far away from the creative spellings, so no Aleyna.

Aline, Alina, Ana, Anita, Thaís, Iara/Yara, Olivia, Livia, Elena/Helena, Marina are all names that would perfectly fit a Brazilian-American baby.

My children are named T0bias and Z3lia and even though the pronunciation of their names change a little bit in the different language contexts (it's actually something they find cool and fun), we have had no problems. Out of all of your names the most beautiful to me is Elena, although I lean more to the version with the "H".

Other ideas: Elisa, Bruna, Bianca, Stella, Antonia, Ines, Laura, Luisa, Alice, Isabel, Isabella, Isadora, Clara, Amelia (talvez parecido demais com Amanda), Angelina, Flora, Maria, Ariana, Gabriela, Victoria, Vivian, Valentina... All of these names fit perfectly well in a Brazilian school but also in an American school.

Laís is a very nice name but most people would mispronounce it and the results would not be pretty for your little girl ;) Mila is too close to your name, but Milena, Mirella, Martha, Emilia would be very beautiful. They are not too common in both countries, but everyone knows how to spell them.

 

5
February 22, 2016 1:12 PM

I think that Mayla would get the pronunciation you want. It reminds me of the name Maya or the Mayan ruins which have the Y sound. Not paying close attention I can see Mayla getting confused with Maya when read. That is easily corrected as the A pronunciation is easily corrected.

6
February 22, 2016 3:09 PM

I actually think that Mayla is the least likely to get my-la, because the "MAY" is so evident at the beginning, depite those other words.

It's one of those really tricky sounds to get. However, that said, I have a friend who named her daughter Laila, intending LIE-la. It took a little while for me not to see it as LAY-la, but I did eventually learn. 

7
February 22, 2016 3:39 PM

Thanks ladies for your help! It's a great feedback that I think we can work with. It's more important to us that family and friends in Brazil will be able to pronounce it correctly, especially since that is where we are from and where we live most of the time. We will probably move to the UK for at least a year this summer, but our plans change constantly (up until a few weeks ago we were supposed to move to the US instead due to oh's work). That being said I think it would be a shame to compromise on the name based on where we may or may not live in the future. Who knows, maybe we'll stay in Brazil after all. And as most of you have pointed out - it's not like those names are incredibly difficult to pronounce. With a bit of explaining I think people overseas should be able to eventually get it. At the moment I think Mayla is our top contender

Yara I LOVE the name Iara (which seems to be your name spelt differently?)! It was a front runner when I was pregnant with my twin girls, but somehow the feedback we got from family and friends wasn't as positive as we had hoped. I still love it though... and I'm actually thinking about putting it back on the table. You're right about the creative spelling part...that's what I'm afraid of with Aleyna. Reading the comments here it doesn't seem very creative to English speakers, though in Brazil it would be very creative and uncommon...and most Brazilians don't like that a lot :D
We've got a veeeery big family, so unfortunately that limits our options with Brazilian baby names a looot :/
I like Vivian quite a lot!

NotAGuestAnymore I really love Elena, and actually prefer the spelling as well, I'm just afraid that in Brazil people will pronounce it basically the way it is written (sorry I'm horrible with phonetic language... so the E would not have the 'uh' sound and LE won't be 'lay' if you understand what I mean).

 

8
February 22, 2016 4:12 PM

I think if Mayla is your favorite, and it would be pronounced properly in Brazil, you shouldn't worry too much about English speakers. People have to correct the simplest names all the time.

9
February 22, 2016 7:30 PM

My Yara is spelled with a "Y" as opposed to "I" which is the Portuguese-correct form because in the Amazon, traditionally, where my mother and family are from, the siren's actual name was Uyara... but it later was popularized as Iara. I'm surprised the members of your family don't like it or approve of it!

I highly recommend you to use Iara for your daughter! Everywhere I have lived and visited outside of Brazil, all I ever got were comments on how beautiful and unique my name was. Also, the legend is a great conversational topic! Due to spelling similarity to names like Mara, Lara, Tara, etc in English-language contexts, usually I get my name pronounced YAR-uh (first syllable rhymes with car), instead of the wide open "a" from our language, as in the "a" from the second syllable of Hawaii... To spell phonetically is not my forte.

If you love Elena so much with the Eh-lay-na spelling, maybe you would like Leila?

Vivian, Iara and Elena are some strong and beautiful contenders. Mas claro que vou puxar a brasa pra minha sardinha, haha! Boa sorte!

10
February 22, 2016 4:31 PM

I definitely would pronounce Mayla as May-luh upon first glance (to rhyme with Kayla), but would have no problem adjusting once corrected. I went to school with a Mayra (pronounced My-ruh) and everyone pronounced her name correctly from the second time on. It's not intuitive but it's a perfectly reasonable pronunciation. It's not without precedent: iel nna mentions "Maya" (likewise names Amaya, Soraya, and the nautical affirmative "aye-aye"). I also see no problem with Maila getting the pronunciation you desire. Sure, you might have to correct someone the first time, but we manage the name "Kai" just fine and don't pronounce it "kay". 

You have a natural buffer against the accusation of creative spelling because you're working in multiple languages. I would advise picking the spelling you like best and going with it. People can mangle even the simplest of names when they are reading them off the page, and the people who matter in your daughter's life (friends, family, classmates) will pronounce the name correctly once they have been told how to say it.

As far as your friend's daughter is concerned, I don't see any reason to be concerned. They are two different names, with two different pronunciations, the girls live far away from each other and your friend has said she doesn't mind. "Too similar" is in the eye of the beholder, and the only people who's opinions really matter are yours and your friend's. Unless you have reason to suspect that she secretly does mind and is holding out on you, I think you're just fine.

11
February 25, 2016 6:36 PM

I think most Americans would pronounce Mayla MAY-la. Maila is a little more ambiguous, so I'd expect that to get hesitation rather than an immediate assumption. That spelling is also my personal favorite, although it seems like Mayla is yours.

Mila is usually pronounced MEE-la here, but Myla would be exclusively pronounced MY-la. If that won't fly in Brazil, though, obviously don't sacrifice that.

I have known girls named Alaina, Alayna, Alena, and Elena. In my dialect they're pronounced identically to how I assume you're pronouncing Aleyna. (Alana is usually pronounced a-LAH-na here.) I think you have one of those names like Caitlin/Kaitlyn/Kaytelinne which has too many popular spellings for there to be a straightforward, "traditional" option. To me, Aleyna seems equally as likely as any other spelling.

12
February 26, 2016 12:49 AM

Camila, Calypso is nice as well. 

13
February 26, 2016 1:27 AM

I like Mayla. I think in English speaking context it would be almost entirely pronounced MAY-la, like the month of May, but if you're living in Brazil then you should pick the most intuitive spelling there. I think the reminder to Mayan civilization actually would be the best way to get the desired pronunciation. I'd introduce her as "Mayla, like the ancient mesoamerican civilization with an l."

The other suggestion would be to decide that you find May-la to be an acceptable other-language variant pronunciation of the name, given that you're not primarily residing there anyway and it's likely only to be an occasional annoyance. I think if you can get MY-la out of the English speakers you regularly interact with, it might be possible to be zen about MAY-la in other situations.

I don't think it's an overly creative spelling, and it's a fine choice, too. Both names would in an English context need spelling out, though Aleyna would give you the intended pronunciation from seeing it written down. However, it sounds like you LOVE Mayla, but just like Aleyna, and I think that's the most important thing!