Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What's in a name?

A bonus post today...just becasue I'm curious. The addition of a new baby to our extended family, as well as the same in a friend's family, has led me to wondering how people go about picking a name for their child(ren). It's a hard thing to do....the poor kid will be stuck with it his/her entire life.
Here's my process:
First, nothing trendy.
Boys' names are easier for me. I tend to go for more traditional names, and I like quite a few biblical names (not Moses or Cesar, but the stuff that would also fall into traditional) I think a boy's aname should have a certain degree of stregnth behind it, KWIM? Our boy name was always Andrew. It's Benny's middle name and it is a classic. While I try to steer away from top ten names, I didn't mind if it was top ten but not trendy. Andrew fit that. Other favorites were Adam and Noah (though Noah was starting to get kinda popular).
Girls were harder. In both cases I wanted a name that was maybe a little old-fashioned and not popular, but also had a bit of strength. Also, a name thatI hadn't encountered as a classroom teacher was good. I tend to love Gaelic names, but they're generally hard to pronounce and Benny isn't the biggest fan of them, so while I used a Gaelic name for Helen's real name, we Americanized the spelling, and it's a name that also occurs in other cultures. I fact, by changing the spelling I think we actually made Helen's real name Russian. But I still tell people it's Irish. Ruthie's real name was chosen just becasue it's a beautiful old-fashioned, strong name that I happen to love. Of course, now it's getting more popular and it's just pissing me off. I also loved Sadie and Charlotte but they were vetoed by Benny.
Middle names were picked because we wanted to honor certain relatives.
In the case of either gender, three things were of vital importance. The first was that the name be a strong name that could carry the child through life. A name that's cute wehen she's four might sound pretty stupid when she's 40. And also, it needed to sound good with our last name. And by that I mean just the first and last name together need to sound good, and the whole first-middle-last need to sound good. And it had to be a name I really loved. Nothing I was "settling" on.
So what was your process? Even if you don't usually comment, I want to hear from you! I'm really curious about this! Did you want a nickname? If you have more than one, did you care if they "went together"? Tel me, tell me!


karen said...

Chris' family has a tradition of giving the eldest son the father's name as a middle name and we liked that tradition so, if we were having a boy, 2/3 of our naming job was done. The catch was that doing that saddled us with a great number of letters in the name...so we wanted something short as a first name. To figure out how short it needed to be, I called Crane's Stationers to find out how many alphanumerics fit on an engraved informal card (so his future wife can have elegant written correspondence). The call revealed our target was a first name of four or five letters and we chose to use Chris' father's middle name as a first name (four letters). Throughout the name selection process, we also tried to think like vicious kids - what's the worst thing this name could be mutated into? We chose family names for our second son, too, although there was no convention for it - we just liked the names.

Carly said...

I firmly believe that once you have a name you think you like, you must go to your back door and yell the entire name at the top of your lungs, just to see how it rolls off your tongue.

(followed by ".... get IN here, NOW.")

Anonymous said...

For my second we wanted to name her Alex. We went round and round and round if it was going to be Alexandra, Alexa, Alexia, Alexandria etc. etc. I really just wanted people to call her Alex and I think it's adorable. My real name is Kathleen and it drove me crazy when teachers called me that or worse when they called me Kathy. I thought it would be simpler and I'm happy we did it. Her middle name was after Gary's mother who passed away before she was born.

For my first, we loved the name it was the middle name that threw us. I think it was between Alexandra and Jo. My middle name was Jo and I hated it, was so embarassed by it but now I love it. We went with Jo and I'm so glad we did. It sounds cute and it is a great name to yell when you are mad!!! Which seems to happen quite often.

xmas said...

I firmly believe in the yelling the name out loud test. There's so much more I could say about this, but I know we've talked about it a ton already. For Sabine, a huge motivator was no one else having the name.

It only took me 8 months of her life to encounter another Sabine of the same age and I was pissed. So I can imagine how you must feel about your older girl's name
being in more use now. That's how I feel about Olivia, specifically Olivia Grace. It was the name I always wanted to use long before I had kids, and now everyone is using it!

As for Charlotte, that is one has always been on my top 3-5. I can't believe more people don't use it. Infact, I don't know one single Charlotte. With the naming trend being all about older names I can't believe it's not used more. I love it.

I also agree with the 'cute when they're 4, but not as adult', that's the reason why we couldn't consider Molly.