Duana Names: Should We Fix This “Mistake”?

Duana Posted by Duana at January 30, 2017 22:20:41 January 30, 2017 22:20:41

Dear Duana --

I'm pregnant with Baby No. 3. My husband and I both adored and agreed easily on the name Stella Jane for our oldest. The name hadn't *quite* taken off when we chose it, but, honestly, we didn't care that it was popular; we chose it as a tribute name for Mary, the Mother of God (Our Lady, Stella Maris -- Our Lady, Star of the Sea).

We had a much harder time naming our son. We have a very difficult last name of Czech origin (three syllables with a silent "D" and initial sound of "Z"), so I really wanted a name that ended in a hard consonant (Adrian, Julian) or a soft consonant (Walter or Jasper), but my husband vetoed every name I suggested. He liked Southern names like Miles and Gunnar. We briefly landed on "Rhett," but I couldn't get over the Rhett Butler association and also really wanted a saint's name. In the end, we chose Louis James and "Louis" turned out to suit our son -- if not necessarily our last name -- perfectly.

This time, I'm totally at a loss for either a boy or girl name. I think "Alice" goes perfectly with "Stella" and "Louis," but it doesn't go particularly well with our last name. The "s" into "z" sound is tricky, and we already caved on that once with "Louis" (although that's mitigated by pronouncing it "Louie" or shortening it to "Lou," both of which we do). I also like Lydia, Clara and Frances (but again with the "s" sound!). For a boy, I still like all the names my husband rejected last time, but I also like the idea of another king name (Phillip, maybe?). I feel like I'm failing to tap into the potential of our last name to inspire something more original, but I also just want my kids to have easy first names, given that they will, without a doubt, have to repeatedly spell and pronounce their last name repeatedly to anyone who seeks to know it! Help!


Well, here’s the thing. You had this rule—that you didn’t want to have an ‘s’ in conjunction with your last name, which I will for our purposes pretend is “Spaghettin”—but you did, twice. Stella Spaghettin and Louis Spaghettin. And it’s worked out twice, because whatever hoops your surname made you jump through, it has helped you land on names that I would brand as “Classic Up with A Twist”, because who doesn’t need booze before noon these days?

Look, think about your adorable little Louis, Louie, Lou. How often is his name said aloud, Louis Spaghettin? Sometimes, for sure. But sometimes it’s written down, where everyone can see that they are two separate names—and most often, his name is just Louis, said on its own. “Louis?” “Here!” “Mr. Spaghettin, Mr. L Spaghettin…?” “Yes, I’m here!” Sure, there are situations where the sounds of the names are going to blur together, but I would wager that most of the time that happens, your son is going to know his name is going to be called, you know what I mean?

I’m not suggesting you call your next child Sisyphys Spaghettin, but I don’t think any of your current choices are problematic. Alice isn’t a different sound, and yet people mentally conceive of the ‘ce’ sound as being different than ‘s’ – think also of Royce or Bryce. Alice Spaghettin. And of course I like Lydia and Clara, and these names also make me think of Daphne and Moira and Lucy (still! So many people took a popularity pass on Lucy but I think there’s room for her to rise again) and Eva. 

For boys, I will agree that Phillip seems to me to be a bit too buttoned-up relative to your other choices, although you have to understand that we’re splitting hairs here (I would have a stronger conflict with Gunnar). Stella and Louis seem to want as their brother someone like Wesley—there’s that S again!—or Gavin, or hey, maybe Clive! Stella and Louis and Clive are so damn cool. Or maybe Virgil, or Winston, or Abel, or Calvin? Some of those Old Testament names tend to have a lot of overlap with the kind of modern cowboy names your husband was hankering for.

It should be clear by now that I try to answer each letter according to the skills and tastes of the letter writer. I don’t get a letter that says ‘well our first child was Bo’ and try to recommend Bartholomew and Terpsichore. But you have navigated the naming of your first two children with aplomb, and so I’m less concerned about the choice you make and more than happy to be merely a suggestion machine.  Blake.  Harvey. Damon. I got a million – but you’re going to be just fine.

Let us know!

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Tags: Name Nerd
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