Duana Names: BIT OF A LONG ONE

Duana Posted by Duana at March 15, 2017 21:38:33 March 15, 2017 21:38:33

Hi Duana,

I got married last month and hubby and I already have the appointment set for our IVF cycle next month – I am not getting any younger, you know...  I am the anxious/planner one in the family, and then he makes the comment “I can’t wait for you to be all concerned about baby names and their meanings” – what he did not know is that I already had a list on my phone with some of my faves (I have been thinking about my kids names since I was like, 5 Duhhhh).

Anyway, now that he brought it up of course I am all on it – I just found your column yesterday and got no work done! Already downloaded the Kindle book!

Here is the dealio – I am Brazilian with a name-combo with Ana. In my Canadian-life, I just go by “Anna” (I introduce myself with this pronunciation – no reason to fight something I can’t win as the attempted pronunciations of “Ana” by English speakers just don’t work). Hubby’s last name is a made-up Dean (his original last name was pronounced like the “w” word for lady workers, so he changed it when he was 18). Our kids will have one of my last names as one of their middle names – Portuguese people include their mothers’ last names in their surname, a concept that just confuses folks in North America, so I will throw in there in a middle name, as I will be caring the child for 9 months. Hubby’s family is English (his dad’s side) and Jamaican (well, Brits who fled to Jamaica 300 years ago).

Hubby has 2 kids – Clare Victoria (I like Clara but that is now gone, as well as Victoria) and Alexander Christian.  Alexander actually goes by Sasha - his mom is from Eastern Europe. I just think naming a kid something and calling him something else completely different (especially a name used mostly by girls in North America) makes absolutely no sense but… not my kid. Christian has always been on the top of my list for boys – did I lose dibs on that as well???? Hubby basically just agreed with the suggestions for his other kids and he expects me to come to him with a shortlist for him to pick from. #nopressure

Requirements:
-       Names that sound like names – no made up stuff. When I look through my shortlist, I can see a tendency to go “old fashioned classy”
-       No gender neutral – Portuguese is a language that uses gender in nouns, gender neutral does not work for me, it is quite confusing!
-       No picking a name and then calling the kid by a nickname like my stepson. I don’t mind short versions of names that the family can call to make life easier (like Dani for Daniela, Ju for Juliana or Tati for Tatiana)
-       I would like something that can be easily pronounced in Portuguese and English – or that at least won’t be completely alien. Some names are spelled the same but pronounced differently, which I am still debating
-       I don’t want a super popular name in this generation because I don’t want my kid to be “one of the Emmas” just like so many of my friends growing up were “one of the Julianas”. I have been keeping an eye on the Brazilians baby name trending list, even though I live in Canada now.

Also – isn’t funny how names someone has liked for years and years now all of a sudden are top of the list? *Sigh*

Here is my shortlist for girls. I have always wanted to have a girl and that’s where I have spent most of my imagination on (since I was 5 years old!).
-       Audrey – classy. Very anglo, but easily pronounced in Portuguese
-       Chloe – cute, not popular in Brazil. Has been on the top of the charts for too long perhaps. Does having a Clare Dean and a Chloe Dean sound silly?
-       Laura - I had picked Laura with my ex-husband, now I feel weird about naming a girl Laura with new hubby.  Also pronunciation is different in Portuguese.
-       Lara – maybe a new and improved version the Laura who never was? Or the Clara that was stolen by Clare? Would have to make sure about the gringo pronunciation!
-       Angelica – a TV celeb in Brazil is named Angelica, non-issue for me. I think it is timeless and works globally
-       Lorena – worried about the English pronunciation of lo-reee-na, instead of lo-reh-na
-       Grace – I just love it. Maybe a middle name?
-       Charlotte – is it really going to be the new Isabella? Just worried about being too long as I would not like to use a nickname
-       Helena – love this! Classy! Timeless. This is the Portuguese spelling, but I can’t see myself calling my kid “he-lee-na” or “heh-le-na”, when the Portuguese pronunciation is “he-leh-na”
-       Julia – top of the Brazilian charts for the past 5/10 years. A lot of my girlfriends have Julias.
-       Catherine – too many different spellings. Would have to just pick one and stick to it!
-       Isadora – strong girl name. I think it would work pronunciation wise and it is easy to spell.
-       Tatiana – hubby once mentioned he liked this name. Very used in my generation in Brazil, I know A LOT of Tatianas! Tati is a cute short version, though
-       Ariadne – I actually have a friend I really admire who is called Ariadne and I like that the name is timeless and has the same pronunciation (well, 98% the same)
-       Lavinia – I have been liking that a lot more and saw you recommend it quite a lot. Easy to pronounce, to spell. Strong Latin root and means pure.

For boys the problem is completely opposite – lack of names! Why is this so hard????
-       I like Jack (“just Jack”) but hubby’s stepdad was Jack, not sure it will fly. Is it even considered a first name or just a nickname?
-       Christian – in a house of atheists, does it make sense to have 2 Christians?
-       Ryan – anglo name, but easy enough for Brazilians due to the Ryan Goslings of the world
-       Eric – I am leaning towards this one – EXACT same pronunciation and a “global” name
-       Patrick – nice and “manly”

Help me narrow this down!!!! And enjoy some multicultural/multi language baby naming drama while you are at it!

___

OKAY. THAT WAS A MISSIVE.

I ran this letter because it made me laugh, and because I have a mental image of you writing this and sort of talking back and forth to yourself in your head, which entertains me. Not everyone is as evocative in what they write. There are a couple of eyebrow-raises in here, I’m not going to lie, but I enjoyed the picture in my head I got of the person who was writing.

Also because I like your question, but I mean… there are a lot of questions here. So… I’m just gonna treat this like we’re in a meeting and I’m going to run down some of the salient points, kinda ‘precis’ it, and then we can all have takeaways that we can circle back on, hmmm? (I need to work on my corporate-speak, clearly.) Let’s begin with the place all of this began…

Your husband:

Listen, everyone’s different, and you do you – I can tell you have a lot of opinions (ahem) but you should consider asking him to come up with a few names of his own to add to the compilation of your list, because this isn’t just your job, and because it doesn’t have to go the same way it did with his previous children.

Hey look, that brings us nicely to…

Your stepchildren’s names:

Your stepchildren’s names are their names. I know nothing about your relationship with them or anything like that, but you would be strongly advised, for the harmony of your family, not to try to ‘hijack’ their names, or to refer to them being ‘stolen’. In fact, parents have written to us who have polled the existing children in the blended family about the name-to-be and remember this child will be their sibling. Tread carefully.

Specifically, ‘Sasha’ is a very well-known nickname for Alexander, and in fact it belonged to boys and men long before women. I know names change and we would rarely refer to a male Hilary or Beverly, but… tread a little lightly here too. I also don’t know if you can be criticizing the ‘anglo’ pronunciation of some names and then be less-than-open to an Eastern European nickname. Seems like an either or proposition, you know?

And no, I wouldn’t consider Christian for your baby-to-be, as it could have the unintentional effect of looking like you’re ‘taking’ the name. Then again, they did it in the Ryan Gosling Eva Mendes family, so your mileage may vary.

Cultural Considerations:

I hear you on names that work in both Portuguese and in English, but in some cases I think your fears about Canadian/English pronunciation are unfounded. I mean yes, I do this for a living, but I think we would choose to pronounce ‘Lorena’ and ‘Helena’ the same way. Both of which I love, by the way, and why don’t we use that transition to take us to…

The Name Lists:

I’ve copied your notes from above. You’ll find my answers in bold…(what do people say, ‘I’ve red-lined the document’?)

For boys the problem is completely opposite – lack of names! Why is this so hard????
It IS hard. The short story is because so many men were named after their fathers and grandfathers, fewer names were in use so fewer are seen as acceptable. Onward.

I like Jack (“just Jack”) but hubby’s stepdad was Jack, not sure it will fly. Is it even considered a first name or just a nickname?
Officially, Jack is just a nickname for John. However, most people don’t know that and it hasn’t stopped people from naming their kids Jack by the dozen. Give or take that men don’t always complain about this quite as much, Jack will most definitely be ‘one of the Emmas’.

Christian – in a house of atheists, does it make sense to have 2 Christians?
We’ve discussed this above. I don’t think you can name him Christian BUT it might be fun to have two brothers share a middle name?

Ryan – anglo name, but easy enough for Brazilians due to the Ryan Goslings of the world
Eric – I am leaning towards this one – EXACT same pronunciation and a “global” name
Patrick – nice and “manly”

Nothing wrong with the above three names, but you should know, for what it’s worth, that they are all ‘Dad’ names, used for the generation of men who are now having children, rather than the children they’re having. Know what I mean?

Your boy names seem to lean quite hard on the ‘Anglo’ side of things, but on the lower part of your most popular list, what about Thiago or Levi or Bruno? (It’s worth noting that Ryan and Eric(k) both appear on the lower half of that list too, so apparently they are the generation being born, also!) I love Enzo and Danilo and Artur, and I think they’re so written-like-they-sound that pronunciation won’t be too much trouble?

Now for The Girls:

Here is my shortlist for girls. I have always wanted to have a girl and that’s where I have spent most of my imagination on (since I was 5 years old!).Audrey – classy. Very anglo, but easily pronounced in Portuguese

I’m just going to cut to the chase—Grace, Charlotte, and to a lesser extent, Audrey are definitely, 100% very popular. This may not bother you, and I agree that Audrey is very classy—but forewarned is forearmed. These are Many-Emmas-In-Their-Class names.

Chloe – cute, not popular in Brazil. Has been on the top of the charts for too long perhaps. Does having a Clare Dean and a Chloe Dean sound silly?

You know what? I am so against matchiness and cutesiness but actually Clare and Chloe don’t sound that similar. Chloe is way popular, but if it doesn’t bother you, I actually don’t have a problem with this.

Laura - I had picked Laura with my ex-husband, now I feel weird about naming a girl Laura with new hubby. Also pronunciation is different in Portuguese.
This is one where I agree with you on the pronunciation. Italian/Portuguese/Spanish ‘LAUW-ra’ is very different from North American ‘Lorra’, and the latter is so ingrained you’ll never change it. Same goes for Paula. But that’s OK, because you already know you shouldn’t use a name you were thinking of using with your ex. Right?

Lara – maybe a new and improved version the Laura who never was? Or the Clara that was stolen by Clare? Would have to make sure about the gringo pronunciation!
This name is 50/50 pronounced ‘LARE-A’ and ‘LAH-ra’. Just teach people, they’ll get it.

Angelica – a TV celeb in Brazil is named Angelica, non-issue for me. I think it is timeless and works globally
So do I.

Lorena – worried about the English pronunciation of lo-reee-na, instead of lo-reh-na.
Just tell people. Lo-reee-na is really not that likely.

Grace – I just love it. Maybe a middle name?
Charlotte – is it really going to be the new Isabella? Just worried about being too long as I would not like to use a nickname

Way, way, way too popular IF you don’t want a popular name.

Helena – love this! Classy! Timeless. This is the Portuguese spelling, but I can’t see myself calling my kid “he-lee-na” or “heh-le-na”, when the Portuguese pronunciation is “he-leh-na”
We talked about this above.

Julia – top of the Brazilian charts for the past 5/10 years. A lot of my girlfriends have Julias.
Catherine – too many different spellings. Would have to just pick one and stick to it!

There’s nothing wrong with the above names, but you can do better. The reason I know?

Isadora – strong girl name. I think it would work pronunciation wise and it is easy to spell. Tatiana – hubby once mentioned he liked this name. Very used in my generation in Brazil, I know A LOT of Tatianas! Tati is a cute short version, though.
Ariadne – I actually have a friend I really admire who is called Ariadne and I like that the name is timeless and has the same pronunciation (well, 98% the same).
Lavinia – I have been liking that a lot more and saw you recommend it quite a lot. Easy to pronounce, to spell.  Strong Latin root and means pure.

Look at these last four names! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

All creative and unusual and beautiful and not gender-neutral and not nicknamey! Nice!

Ariadne is going to cause you the most problems, pronunciation-wise; there will be a lot of people who look at the name and, at least initially, misread it as Adrianne. But the good news is, it’s so unusual it usually sticks in people’s minds. 

Honestly, I’m not just making up for a salty tongue earlier—these are great, charming, evocative and singular. If I had to choose, I’d say I love Isadora and Lavinia the most, but I love Tatiana and Ariadne too, and I love that you see the charm in them.

I really hope that when you write back with an update it’s even longer. I would be willing to run your letters as a serial, all to-be-continued. Thanks for keeping me entertained—and let me know!!

Okay. Done. I need a drink!

Photos:
WENN

Tags: Name Nerd
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