Dear Duana,

We are expecting our second child in the next few days, unexpectedly early because of some medical concerns. So, while we had a bit of time on our side (and don't feel like we MUST land on A name before baby arrives), I'm now waiting for a phone call to come into the hospital to have the baby, and thinking about baby names is a wonderful distraction.

So, the details: we don't know the sex of the baby, and they will grow up with French as their first language, but speaking English and hopefully Vietnamese. The name needs to be lovely in both French and English, and pronounceable to both Vietnamese and French Canadian families. Our first child is Jonathan, a name that comes off beautiful and classic in French, rather than an overused name of the 80s and 90s (sorry, I said it). We also aren't as obsessed with shortening names/ nicknames in French.

Baby's middle name will be my family name (1-syllable French Canadian, starting with B) and their family name will be my partner's family name (1-syllable Vietnamese, starting with B). You keeping up with all of this??

The shortlist: for girls - Madeleine, Miriam and Simone. For boys - Hugo and Samuel.

While there are lots of other names that we like, having them be bilingual French-English eliminates most. What am I missing? Would love to add to the shortlist.

Bonne chance!


You are amazing. You are my favourite person. You know why? ‘Bonne chance!”  You’re the one who’s somewhat unexpectedly having a baby in the next 24, but you’re wishing ME luck trying to get this right. I love it.

Also, it's such a treat to read:

We also aren't as obsessed with shortening names/nicknames in French.

THANK you. What's the point in naming a kid something charming like Jonathan if he's just going to wind up Jon? That is, there's nothing wrong with that name, but it already exists – it’s John. Why not just use that?

To that end, I think you have a lot of options that you might want to check out, and in some cases they’re the names that get cast aside by exclusively English-speaking parents because the nicknames are the default…

What about names for boys like Terrence or Gabriel or Frederic(k)? I talked myself out of Julian, because it’s so close to Jonathan and might be rhymey, but I think you might like Julius? Or Hadrian? What about a name that doesn't feel 'French' but doesn't feel not-French, like Seth?

For girls, of course, there are always more options somehow – Celeste is an easy and early charmer, as is my beloved 'seems-French-but-isn't' choice Daphne, or you could choose Elena or Ramona. I suspect 'Sylvie' feels a bit unfinished for your tastes, but what about something like Sabine?

I hope we made it in time, and I can't wait to hear what you choose!