Duana Names: Surprise Middle – so what comes first? 

Duana Posted by Duana at November 2, 2018 20:54:40 November 2, 2018 20:54:40

Hi Duana,

I am pregnant, due in November. I love names and had no trouble naming my son, Luca, after having the name in my head for a decade before he was born. Baby #2 is proving to be a lot more difficult. My family is Italian and my partner comes from Ghana. The idea is to have an Italian first name and a Ghanaian middle name. Being a name nerd, you probably know that many Ghanaians name their children after the day of the week they are born (not the name of the day, but a name that indicates the day). My partner is Kwame, so everyone in Ghana would know that he was born on Saturday. His sister is Ama, born on Saturday, brother Yaw, born on Thursday, etc. We therefore won't know the middle name until our girl is born. This makes the middle name easy to "choose". However, we are stuck on the first name. We have been kicking around Francesca (nickname Frankie), Giana (nickname GiGi; like Gigi Buffon, the best Italian goalie!). I liked Magalie for a hot minute, but had that shot down. My partner hated that every time I said the name, people replied, "Huh?". Plus it's French, not Italian. Serafina has made the list, and Amalea. We're just not settling on anything. I'd like a name with a cute nickname, and definitely don't want it to be too common. Thoughts? Advice?


Oh man I love this, and I love that the middle name isn't a ‘what are we gonna choose', but "what's gonna reveal itself?" SO cool.  Now I know you can't control when the baby is born, but I have to tell you that if your baby is born on a Tuesday, you can name her after our very own Kathleen Abena Newman-Bremang. I love it so much. 

But regardless of the day she's born, the Ghanian middle names are gorgeous. For the uninitiated, each day of the week has several names associated with it for either sex – check some out here. And, if you're a real 80s middle-grade novel nerd (hi, me), you may also remember that in Paula Danziger's "Remember Me To Harold Square", which I loved SO MUCH, there are sisters named Ama and Akosua. Were they twins born around midnight? Does anyone still have a paper copy to check?

Anyway! The biggest challenge I see for you is that a lot of the girls' names start with vowels, and a lot of Italian girls' names end with vowels, so you may run into a situation where the end of the first and beginning of the second share the same letter. You'll notice Kathleen's parents neatly sidestepped this, but Italian names obviously end in vowels almost every time. So the solution, as far as I'm concerned, is to choose a first name with a lot of strong consonants. Luckily, Italian names have these in spades, so you're in luck, and you can choose something with an unexpected ending, maybe. 

My first thought was Valentina – you can nickname Val, Tina, or my favourite that I think I've written about before: Vale, pronounced "Val-eh". Similarly, I've always had a weakness for Raphaella, which has any number of usable short forms and is totally fresh and beautifully classic at the same time. I love Federica – I've always sort of thought that F and L are linked somehow, and it's probably some sort of weird synaesthesia on my part, but I would love Federica opposite Luca. Freddie and Luca? Come on! This also works for the gorgeous Francesca, of course, which is so wearable and so charming, relative to the <ducks> rising-in-popularity Frances. 

Then Magalie made me think of the admittedly less unusual Magdalena, or there's Simona – and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my high school friend Graziella, whose nickname was obviously "Grats". Not for everyone, I guess, but utterly singular. 

I have always loved Bianca, but while I eschew name meanings for the most part, I am always more conscious with that name than any other that it means ‘white'. Why does this bother me when 'Blanca' doesn't? You could also get into Ottavia (or the Latin Octavia) – this is where I throw meanings right out the door, because yes, it means ‘eighth', but given that none of us are having eight kids anymore, we can either choose it regardless, or risk a gorgeous name like that falling out of use, and I hate the idea of the latter, so Eight it up, I guess. If you love it but can't quite get there, I know a young Olimpia whose name suits her so so well – and you're out of phase with all the Olivias enough that it won't be a sound-alike. My Olimpia uses her full name but Pia (or Oli, I guess) are easy nicknames here. 

Finally, in pursuit of strong consonants, I can't help but include Cadenza, which is a musical term for an improvised section at the end of a movement of a concerto. I think if I met a little Denza or Denzie I might faint from charm – and that reminds me that although technically French, the name Denise' is sitting at number 104 in Italy today, so if you're craving a consonant sound at the end to balance out her middle name, whether Esi or Yawa or Ameyo, that might be a place to go. 
 
This was SO much fun! Can't wait to find out what you choose – and what her middle name turns out to be!
 

Photos:
Tara Ziemba/ WireImage

Tags: Name Nerd
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