So while I’ve been recovering from the cold that will not die, and which is currently threatening to develop into the potentially WORST stealth side effect ever, you’ve been sending me your International Names that are ripe for co-opting. Herewith:
I've always been a fan of the Basque: Julen, Iker, Mikel, and Imanol for boys and Ainhoa (a-ee-NOH-ah), Iciar (ee-SEE-ar), Aranzazu (nickname Arantxa), and Illari (ee-YAH-ree) for girls. Some are more adaptable to Anglo cultures than others, but in general, I think they are great them. They are gaining a lot of popularity in Latin America, too.
Also, Yago as a nickname for Santiago (I'm sure you know this but James, Diego, Santiago/Yago, are all the same name!)
Lainey would be right with you on the Iker, and while I think Iciar might come out as “Ice-ee-ar”, I am so in love with Yago that I want to use it, although I think I would prefer Diego above all.
The next name is one that, when I started the email, seemed impossible, but by the end of the two sentences I was utterly on board with:
I thought I'd send you one... Hesper. It is Greek meaning "evening star". I don't mind giving it up as I would like to use it as a middle name…Maeve Hesper in fact. However that is my third place name so I have a lot of baby making to do!
Hesper. Like Hester, which is not yet a revitalized old-lady name, but seems like it’s going to be on deck now that Hazel is an utterly acceptable choice. I love Hesper, I am a convert.
This letter writer included some other favourites, though not all of them are ‘international’:
Boys: Kip, Teddy, Paddy, Willie
Girls: Winnie, Nan, Tinka (have you ever seen Strike! the movie?)
OMG Tinka. You guys, whither Monica Keena? RIP Abby from Dawson’s Creek.
Here’s another great international-name flow, with a delicious angle…
My mother is Swiss and so here are my suggestions from the land of cows and chocolate...
Ursula (my middle and mother's name...hate The Little Mermaid reference, damn you Disney!!!)
Berta (my other middle name and my grandmother's and yes, I was teased about it because people thought it was Bertha and not the beautifully pronounced Bearrrrta)
Verena (my aunt's name)
Betina (family friend and mother of below)
Flavian (family friend...I love this name)
Lutzian (twin brother to the above)
I love Flavian too, friend! I would choose it over Lutzian because I automatically think of Lutz from 30 Rock, but – Flavian! Also Verena, but why do I think Verena is a maligned or old-woman name? Is there an unsavoury association that I can’t remember? I feel like there’s a similar vibe to Ursula, but I can’t put my pop-culture finger on why. Does it ring a weird bell for anyone else?
Finally, the generosity among the leadership knows no bounds, because look at this person selflessly giving up names for you…
I'm not having kids, but I still love your column. And because I have no reason for people NOT to steal these names, here are my suggestions. They're all German (I'm dual-citizen so I grew up hearing these names) but they're not common in English-speaking countries. I've included proper pronunciation as well:
• Jana (YA-na)
• Sabine (sah-BEEN-uh) [Germans pronounce the vowels at the end of words]
• Heike (HI-kuh)
• Ulrike (UL-rick-uh)
• Bettina (bet-TINA)
I like Ulrike, but I think it would be so often mispronounced. But then again, maybe I don’t. As I always say, we’ve learned, as a society, how to pronounce Siobhan – so can Ulrike be far behind? After all, it’s not like there’s another name to confuse it with. Also, as a follow-up question – I think I have a visual idea of who each of these people could be, except, possibly, Heike. Who is Heike? What are Heikes like?
(Lainey: Heike Makatsch! Love Actually! And former girlfriend of Daniel Craig!)
As always, thank you for your enthusiasm and name stories and for reading even if you are not naming anything more permanent than the cutest little piece of broccoli in your Basil Beef.
(I called him ‘Sherwin’. He was delicious.)
Keep the questions and emails coming!