Dear Duana,

I have been reading your column a long time out of interest, and I can't believe it is finally my turn to write in! My husband and I are expecting our first baby in early December, and for years we have been talking about names... mostly girls names. We love Ariel, and we are partial to Raphaële, Zoë and Penelope. However, at our ultrasound they told us it was 70% chance of a boy! Is it really like the weather?

In any case, we are not prepared for boys' names and would like your help with suggestions of names that would go well with the middle name Frank, my father's name. The last name is a Hispanic name ending with the sound –ar. Ideally the name has to work in French, English and Spanish without changing the spelling. I have a great first name, Laura, which has served me well all my life and I would like to give my child the benefit of a strong, confident, simple name. On a personal note, I have a long hyphenated name because my parents were hippies and Quebecers, and it has been the boon of my existence...

So far the only name my husband likes is Lionel, does Lionel Frank A---lar work? Or does it seem too incoherent? As you can probably tell by our girls name choices were are not very adventurous or cutting edge, we'd like to stick to more classic or traditional choices.

Thank you kindly for your help,

Over Hyphenated in Montreal


Hey Hyphen, 

I actually don’t find your names unadventurous at all, so if you remove that idea from the equation you might find yourself with even more options than you currently have. People have to choose names like Moonbeam or Ermintrude to be considered ‘non-traditional’.  

That said, I hear you on the challenge of finding something that, to quote you, will ‘serve him well all his life’. That’s the goal, though not everyone realizes it – not just naming a baby, blah blah blah, I’m not trying to be a broken record but I love that you get it, and am realizing now people who come to that conclusion on their own may, like you, have names that they liked both as children and adults. .. revelation!

Anyway - I begin from a bit of a place of bias, because I love Lionel, and think it’s great not only because it works in French, but because the different number of syllables in Lionel, Frank, and A----lar that make it really flow… I don’t think it’s incoherent at all. 

Other options? I think Rafael would translate very well to a boy, obviously – Rafael Frank is great! Alternately, names that your girl names made me think of included Sebastian (or Sebastien, as per your preference), Gabriel, Thaddeus – or hey, what about the gorgeous and easily-translatable Pascal? There should be more opportunities to use this great name. Or maybe Eugene? I know a few of you are looking askance at me, but in a decade, those of you who are having your first child will bemoan the act that it’s “suddenly so popular.” Mark my words. 

What about something like Joaquin, which makes me think of Judah? How about Emil or even Enzo? Fabian? Victor? 

If none of these wind up working for you – although I think you have dozens of workable options – think about whether it would work to reverse things? Put Frank, or Frankie, in the front spot? I know a young Francesco who wears his name with style – maybe that’s a way to make the ‘honour name’ feel fresh? 

I look forward to hearing about how the ‘70%’ weather prediction works out, and to hearing what you choose!