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Have to cast my vote for Crosby James - it is my nephew's name exactly, and it suits the odd, funny, nonconforming, sassy cuddlebug perfectly. (There's something about the sound of those two names together...two of us independently suggested James to go with Crosby when he was still in utero, and we know of a little girl about his age named Crosbie Jane. Also a friend of a friend (female) named Cozbi Jean, which is starting to get away from it a bit, but I digress...) While I can't guarantee that the Cosby association will never be made with your little one, I can tell you that it has not yet arisen in the 6 years of Crosbying that mine has accomplished so far. I actually think the folk rock theme that mk brought up is pretty cool, but it's definitely something to be aware of.
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.
Off topic, but I just had to reply to you because your comment about "Mar" sisters being confusing made me literally laugh out loud. My grandmother was one of 5 sisters... Marilyn, Maribel, Martha, Marcile and Marjory. I can't imagine the tongue twisting when it was time to call everyone for dinner!
If I try to stay recent (last 150-200 years), I've got a Mehitable and 2 Permelias on the female side, a male ancestor named Holberd and a wonderful couple whose names are Baker and Annis. I guess Baker and Annis aren't quite as odd today, but they seem a little incongruous in the early 1800s. The best odd family name that I have heard recently is the aunt of a friend of a friend (I promise it's a valid link, not an urban legend style connection) whose name is J3ffily. A Emily-style faminization of Jeff, perhaps?
I don't find it to be too much of a stretch, but I'm pretty lax on nicknaming. As for introducing herself, I see no problem with saying "Hi, I'm Marina but I go by Maura." I don't think too many people will really grill her about the source of her nickname, you know? That being said, if she spells it Mara it's a little more obviously derivable as well as having an arguable connection in meaning considering that Mar can mean sea, a meaning shared by Marina.
I'm a Michelle that has answered to Melissa for my entire life. I suppose I can see some similarities, but the names feel so different to me that I just don't understand how they get so universally crossed.
I am definitely guilty of the Rachel/Rebecca mixup. I worked with two women by these names and it took me months to instinctively call them by their correct name!
I'm using Chrome on XP. I find that the display is a bit jumpy, it definitely isn't cycling through the displays smoothly, but even if it doesn't display the letters when I keep typing in the name, they still register, if that makes sense. I then have to wait for the animation to catch up with me as it moves through each letter. It works fine, although it was faster for me before the change.
goldenpig--I wouldn't worry about the urban dictionary citation of H0l0kai, it's a user-contributed site that doesn't necessarily bear any resemblance to slang that is regularly used. While I'm not up-to-date on my Hawaiian slang, a search of other, more common names on the urban dictionary site should reassure you as to the validity of their definitions. In fact, this is a facebook meme that seems to be going around right now--search your name on urban dictionary and post the result, and people are posting the most outlandish, silliest results they could find--things that are quite obviously not a genuine widespread connotation for the names being looked up.
My sibset would be Kenora and Kenora, unfortunately, so that hardly works. I suppose I could use Ken and Nora if I was really hard pressed...
As far as Mhairi goes (in Scottish Gaelic), it's another case form of Mairi (Mary). Essentially, a person with the name Mairi would be referred to as Mairi, but addressed directly as Mhairi, with the additional 'h' changing the pronunciation to a 'v' sound. Mhairi is used as a name on it's own, however. The Gaelic for James, Seumas (Shay-muss), is the same. The vocative case form is Sheumais, pronounced 'Hamish'. Hamish is also used as a name independently of Seumas. Also, orthographically speaking, the 'a' in Mairi/Mhairi has a down-sloping accent mark over it (forget what that's called).
Disclaimer: I don't speak Scottish Gaelic, have just studied it a bit, so if there is someone present who does, please correct me if the above is incorrect
Funny you mention that, Linne@ is another name that I have on the list for a potential daughter...I think it's really lovely. What did you use as a mn?
RobynT- I had a Linden epiphany a couple nights ago, myself. I constructed it on my own, out of nowhere, realised it was botanical shortly thereafter, and was then surprised to find it was an actual name. As my mother's name is Linda, it's now been put down on the list of possibles for a future daughter. I was using it as a first name: Linden Marie, (Marie being a choice for honouring my grandmother and her 4 sisters, all of whom have names beginning Mar-) or a TBD middle name based on a relative on a husband's side. I love Ava Linden, though. Great minds and all...