Hi Duana!

We're expecting our second in May and we won't be finding out the gender. Though somehow we're in the same boat as when we were expecting our first- a full list of potential girls names and zero for boys. Last time we went with the one and only name we could remotely agree on-Ewan, middle name is my Dad's. My partner and I have widely different ideas about names. I like strong, classic, not trendy and not too out there, where as he suggests things like Maximus (who I think would be condemned to grow up to be an asshole!) and Tristan (which seems a bit poncy to me). His main pick last time and this is Gabriel. Which I don't hate, though I fear it's too common and I don't really like the Christian underpinnings. And I don't like Gabe as a standalone, though could see it as a nickname. It seems that most of the popular names these days are originally surnames. My family uses surnames commonly, though always family names, so the idea of choosing a random is weird to me. I like names like Jack (though would never use it as it's way too common) and was pulling for Angus or Alistair for our last. Now I'm thinking maybe Fergus (Gus) though not sure I can sell this either. My heritage is Scottish and partner is Welsh/English/Prussian. Surname will be his, Prussian (though very English sounding) and 3 syllables. Ultimately I'm looking for something short-ish, not common but not totally unheard of. My name is very French, though I have no French heritage whatsoever, so a name from a culture unconnected to either of us is less appealing. And I grew up with a name that shouldn't be mispronounced but was CONSTANTLY so hope to avoid this as well. I'm not sure how we'll agree on something this time round, so any assistance would be awesome!


The original title of this email was ‘Traditional Shouldn’t Be This Difficult’ and on this I do not disagree. But I think what’s interesting is that you don’t exactly want traditional. For example, someone who really wanted ‘traditional’ wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with the ‘Christian underpinnings’ of a name. Not that there’s anything wrong with that sentiment – it just goes back to last week’s idea that maybe categories are becoming increasingly meaningless.

The other reason you’re finding it difficult is because Ewan, a name that I love, is less neutral than you might think it is. To me, it definitively says ‘Scottish’, or, if you chose something like Micah for your second child, definitively ‘to the left’.  My point being, there are a lot of people who think traditional means ‘Charlie’, and I know that never crossed your mind… you know? Several of the names in your letter are close to my heart, so I get where you’re coming from…

Still, your question – trying to find something ‘traditional’ that isn’t boring – made  me consider all kinds of names I never usually suggest. Like, say, Davis or Heath or Tighe. I know your request wasn’t ‘one syllable’ but the idea is there, you know?

But what happens if we go toward something that is – or could be – ‘traditional’?  I was about to suggest Fergus until I saw it in your letter, and I think there are more places to go there: Auggie, for Augustus, or Fergall? What about something like Darragh, or Ansel or something like Vaughn? You know what else it reminds me of? Remember the most awesome name ever spawned in a Barthe DeClements novel… Craddoc? (I didn’t imagine that, right? Please tell me I didn’t) Jonah? Damian? Ewan and… Amos? Walter? Tate?

I love that this is what is ‘traditional’ in your world and want to go further into this and into the places where you could expand the meaning. I would love to see where something like Gibson could be paired with Ewan, as could Cedric (though I’ll admit I worry about people calling him ‘Ric’… or ‘Ced’, for that matter… and I also wonder if something that signals ‘overseas’ but isn’t necessarily could be a good fit here too. Nigel rings that bell for me. Plus, what about Murphy? Garrett? Arthur?

The possibilities are endless and I love that this is only scratching the surface of what we can now call ‘traditional’. No need to stop here…let me know where else you could go!