Hi Duana,

I'm in the early stages of pregnancy and am still unsure if I am having a boy or a girl.  My child will have two last names - one starting with a C, two-syllable, and Anglo, the other starting with an L, four-syllable and Southeast Asian.  My husband and I both have three syllable first names and two syllable middle names.  When I was in high school, I discovered a video game character's name that sounds very similar to Riona.  I knew if I had I daughter, I would want to name her that.  The issue is coming up with a suitable middle name.  So far I've thought of Catherine, Callais, Elaine, Wren, or Jordan, but I don't love any of them.  My favorite possible boy's name, London, doesn't go with the girl's name.  The other boy's name I thought of is Etienne.  I have no idea
what middle name I'd pick for him.  I'd love to know your thoughts.  Thanks!


Wow. My thoughts are that this calls for simple, simple, simple. I would never get down on anyone for choices of hyphenation or inclusion or a second last name or anything of the kind, but think about situations in which it has worked: Hilary Rodham Clinton can take or leave Rodham. Mary Higgins Clark has three very, very simple names. Chad Michael Murray is a legend in his own time.

So as a result, if you’re going to give your child both your last names, simple is the name of the game here. Riona doesn’t totally bug me, and feels kind of different, but then I would be going short short short and simple for middles – which doesn’t have to mean boring. My love for Jane is well documented, but Wren works as well, and so would Sloane or Lise or Nell.   

Similarly, don’t overwhelm your son. I like Etienne quite a lot – particularly when combined with Riona – but again, I’d go as soft and simple as possible for a middle if you don’t think one of the last names would work in that spot instead. Etienne John.   Etienne Marc. Etienne Sean or Flynn, even, if you’re not afraid of mixing your genres, which it sounds like you aren’t.

Complicated doesn’t have to be a problem, but sometimes the dream of all the names you’ve ever wanted is better meted out in small doses.  

Let me know!