Duana Names: Chicken or Egg?

Duana Posted by Duana at April 23, 2013 17:46:49 April 23, 2013 17:46:49

Hi Duana,

We are expecting a second baby girl in 2 weeks .

We are stuck with our list - Carys has emerged at the top but I am struggling with pronunciation issues.  Carys in the native Wales would be Kah-riss, but over in N.America, it seems that Care-iss is most common. And I must say I prefer Care-iss.  I guess it goes along with the differences in accents (e.g., UK would say CLAR-a, we would commonly say CLAIR-a, they would say TAR-a, we are more likely to pronounce TAIR-A...), or does it?  Are we just making up our own pronunciation - ruining a good name?

Then there is our second name - Claudia.  Light and pretty like her big sister's name, but the meaning is lame, crippled.  I can't get over naming our daughter something with such a terrible meaning!

That only leaves Elspeth.  Which can get a little lispy, especially with a surname ending in -son.

Thanks so much for your help - my husband says he likes Carys - pronunciation problems or not.  I just don't want to regret the name choice.


One of the weirdest things about names – words in general, actually – is that they are in constant motion. They evolve. Every year there’s that article in the paper about how “mashup” or “gastropub” or whatever has been added to the dictionary, and is now a real word.  

So it is for names, where nothing stays the same. Michelle wasn’t always a name; it was from the male, “Michel”. Jennifer was once “Guinevere”.  Beverley was once a boy’s name.

This is how it is. They evolve. My mother can rant all she wants about how she thinks people pronounce “Liam” wrong on this side of the pond, but I do know this happens. The actual, proper pronunciation of Caitlin is “Kotchleen” but do you think anyone’s changing now? 

This is all to say that I think you’re being hypervigilant about something that is going to matter to very few people. I had only ever heard the name “Care-iss”, though if we’re being precise, I’d only seen it written ‘Cerys’.   With a name that hinges on the pronunciation of a vowel, half the people are going to get it wrong anyway, as I’m sure all the Taras in the world can tell you. Be prepared for people to guess the spelling of your daughter’s name wrong as often as not.

As for meanings of names – it might surprise you to know they don’t mean a lot to me. People make judgments on names based on people they know who bear them, not on the ascribed meanings (which come from where, by the way?). To me, based on my life, the meaning of “Leah” is always going to be “fun girls who laugh at my jokes” rather than “weary”. You don’t announce the baby’s name’s meaning when you announce the name, so I wouldn’t worry about Claudia’s being not to your taste. Besides, people who are parents now are apt to think of Claudia, the Baby-Sitter’s Club’s renegade candy eater.

As for Elspeth – here’s the association taking over the name again: to me, it’s the angry aunt in a V.C. Andrews novel. I wouldn’t say that if you loved it, necessarily, but you have two you like much better. 

Let yourself off the hook! The names are great. Nobody will worry about the “internal” aspects as much as you do – so if you love them, you’re golden.


Tags: Name Nerd
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