Duana Names: But Please, No
Writing in for my work wife who is due in June. Her daughter is Eliana and they had a very hard time coming up with that name. Mom and dad have very common 80s names (mom is something like Lauren or Julie* and dad is something like Jason or Austin, last name is very common like Cooper). They finally decided on Elliana about a month before she arrived. Mom likes Adalynn (probably a different spelling, but please, no) but dad is on the fence. I suggested Seraphina, which mom loved but dad vetoed. Dad has nothing. Can you help?
*names have been changed because I'm sure she wouldn't want to be on the internet with this!
“But please, no.” OMG. This is the best.
Let’s talk about this email. I know you want the best for your friend, but it’s also so clear that you actually are worried about choices that could be made. Isn’t this the glory and the strangeness of friendship? “We have SO much in common – except for when I don’t understand her at ALL.” This is the best.
On top of that, I think you’ve nailed down their style. Suggesting Seraphina as a sister for an existing Eliana is pretty astute, actually. So I suspect you’re on the right track and need to massage it in a little further. What they’re drawn to are fancy, many-syllabled girly names, which may be in itself a reflection of growing up in the 80s, around names like Stephanie and Kimberly and Jennifer, even though their own names are shorter and cuter. See? In your five-line email you’ve provided so much anthropological context!
What’s inexplicable to me is why names like the aforementioned ‘Adalynn’ seem to replicate the same sort of rhythms of femininity, given that it’s a knock-off of Addison, which is itself a knock-off of used-to-be-male names like Madison. But since that’s where we’re going, here are my recommendations:
Something like Aurora is as vowel-heavy as Eliana but not super similar. Ditto for Adelaide or Bianca or even Matilda. Your other task, should you choose to accept it, is to steer her away from Isabella and Sophia, which, given the choices she’s made with Eliana and the would-be Adalynn, are exactly the way she and her husband might turn if they went more ‘classical’. But we can do better! She can do better.
I might introduce Penelope or Persephone, if Seraphina went over well, or, depending on what 80s name she’s actually sporting, maybe Juliet if it’s not too close. Genevieve and Cordelia, Gabrielle and Clementine. Natalia, if they’ll go for it?
Cressida, Cecilia? Anastasia? If anything’s more decorative than Eliana but even more legitimate as a name, this might be it? Annalise? Danica? Anisa?
But your highest priority, which you know, and the reason you wrote this letter, is to protect your friend from the trendiest of trends. So the aforementioned offensive name, of course, along with syllable-alikes like Coralyn or Everleigh or Avaline.
Your influence here is important, but you also want them to think it’s partly their idea. Commiserate, carefully consider their suggestions as well as yours, and find a place where they choose a name they didn’t even realize they loved – all because of you.