Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Hollywood Life reports that according to Laura Wattenberg — the so-called “Baby Name Wizard” — baby name regret is on the rise.
Why? It’s a combination of not feeling like the name suits the child’s personality, frustration with mispronunciation of the name and learning of negative associations with the name.
Let’s look at how to combat these three common problems. The last one is the easiest: Do your research! Google, Google, Google your potential name. See who and what is out there that relates to your name in any way whatsoever. If you don’t want to tell friends and family your name before baby actually comes, try visiting Parents.com’s baby name group. Here, you can reveal your name to complete strangers and get honest, immediate feedback. Sometimes it’s hard to think of the negative side of a name you really love, so other people are a great resource.
In terms of frustration with mispronunciation, it’s best to really consider the spelling of your name before you make it official. If it’s a common name, resist the impulse to make it “unique” by playing with the letters. Not only will your name be ripe for mispronunciation, but your child will always have to be spelling it out for people. If it’s a less common name, the same rule applies: Go with the classic spelling. And if you’ve made up the name? Phonetics, please!
Hardest to conquer is the feeling that your name doesn’t fit your baby’s personality. Since you pick out the name when you barely know your kid, it’s tough to find the perfect match. You can wait to make the final decision until baby is actually born, though, and at least you’ll have some sense of who your child actually is. Another tactic is choosing a middle name with a very different feel than the first name — that way, if things just don’t seem right a few months in, you can always switch to the middle name.
What do you think? Have you experienced baby name regret? What did you do about it?
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Sunday, March 25th, 2012
In naming his son Bastion Kick, Jeremy Sisto of Suburgatory raises an important naming question: nickname or full name? I pose the question because to me, Bastion — with an o swapped for an a — seems like the obvious shortened form of Sebastian.
There’s a few different degrees of nickname names. Some, like Ella (for Isabella) and Liam (for William) have become legitimate names in their own right. Others are so far removed from their full forms that they’re no longer even recognizable as nicknames: Molly for Mary or Jack for John. And then there are all those names in the middle ground — names that many parents use, but are still closely linked with their full versions: Alex for Alexander, Kate for Katherine, and yes, Bastion for Sebastian.
There are also many different routes that parents go. Some select the nickname version of the name, wanting their kids to only be called by the pet version. Others choose the full name and are adamant that others only use that version. And there are those who choose a full name but use the nickname, with the assumption that their child will switch to the full version sometime in adulthood, when they want a more mature name.
What kind of namer are you? Does your child have a nickname? Do you mind? Did you choose the nickname?
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Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
The Hunger Games movie finally opens this Friday, and I’ve already got my tickets to the premiere. The story is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic society, and fittingly, the characters all have unusual names. I took a quick look at them in a previous post, but with the film set to break all sorts of box-office records, it’s time to go further in-depth. Here, my thoughts on the main characters’ names.
Katniss The heroine of the stories is named after a genus of aquatic plants. I like the potential for this name: It has the easy nicknames Kat and Katie, and it’s tough to really go wrong with a flower name.
Primrose Okay, what I said about flower names? Never mind… at least in this case. The only way I see this name making an impact is if parents go with the nickname Rose (and if that’s the case, why not just choose the name Rose?). But the books often refer to Katniss’s little sister as Prim, so it may be too late to change. Prim just isn’t a great name — it sounds too much like “prim and proper” to me.
Gale Katniss’s best friend (a guy) has this cool name. The only problem is it’s similarity to the girl’s name Gail. If you can get past that association, though, it makes a very strong nature-based name — think a gale of wind.
Peeta I’m mixed about this name, used for Katniss’s fellow Tribute. It’s similar to Peter, but a little more feminine. It could work for a very strong male, but that’s definitely a chance to take.
Rue The District 11 Tribute’s name strikes me as slightly poignant. For a little girl named Ruby, this makes a good nickname. I’m not sure about using it for a given name — it’s just a little too sad.
Haymitch I like this boy’s name. The character is a little less likable, though — he’s the angry, drunken man who’s the only Tribute from District 12 (Katniss’s district) ever to win the Hunger Games. It’s a strong, distinctly masculine name that’s not gimmicky and doesn’t have any other associations.
Cinna Katniss’s stylist’s name is cool in a vacuum, but in reality is too close to the word “sinner” to make a good name. It’s a shame, because I really like the sound of this name, and as a character Cinna is extremely likable.
Effie Effie, Katniss and Peeta’s chaperone, has the opposite problem as Cinna — she’s an unlikable character with a name that’s not bad. It sounds nicknameish, but I can’t think of the full name that it corresponds with. The only problem I see is its closeness to the letter “f,” which makes me think of a certain four-letter word. I might be overthinking this one, though.
What do you think? Did I miss any good (or bad) names? Would you use any of the Hunger Games names?
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Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Yes, Jessica Simpson and fiance Eric Johnson reportedly tossed around the wine and grape as a possible name for their baby (who, according to a close family friend, will be named Maxwell — Maxi for short).
Zinfandel doesn’t quite do it for me, but maybe that’s because I’m slightly sensitive to alcoholic baby names. Some history: One of my nicknames has always been Paulie Girl. It was only a few years ago, when I stumbled upon the beer St. Pauli Girl, that I started to question where that name had come from. Lo and behold, after some research (a call to my dad), it turns out… yes! I was nicknamed after a beer! Sigh.
Anyways, personal baggage aside, I think there are better alcohol-related baby names than Zinfandel. A few off the top of my head:
Margarita This name is a classic in several foreign languages, including Spanish, Russian and Greek.
Brandy I used to be obsessed with this name, mostly because of the gymnast Brandy Johnson.
Apple Martin Okay, you probably aren’t going to borrow Gwyneth Paltrow’s baby name, but I just have always thought it’s so funny that her name is just one letter away from an apple martini.
Mimosa A brunch drink and a flower! Can’t get much better than that. I actually know someone named Mimose, which is a nice alternative.
Perry This wine is made from fermented pears, and is a cute name for a little girl or boy.
Tonto If you can get past the Lone Ranger connection, this fermented banana beverage from Uganda could also be a good boy’s name.
Sherry Okay, it’s a little 70′s, but still a better name than Zinfandel!
Rakia Made of distilled fermented fruit, this Balkan beverage is named with a nice combination of sounds.
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Sunday, March 18th, 2012
If you’re anything like me — that is, a rabid Modern Family fan and a baby name freak — you took a little pause last week when Manny announced the name of his new friend: Griffin Cooper. (If you’re not a fan but still love baby names, you can probably still appreciate the name. If you’re not into baby names… well, you’re not quite in the right place.)
So, what was it about the name that made me take a second look? I know people with both Griffin and Cooper as both first names and last names. Did that make sense? In other words, I had a teacher named Mrs. Griffin. Tons of people have the last name Cooper. One co-worker had a baby named Cooper. Another — actually, two others — have babies names Griffin. So, there you go. Double surname name.
I can think of exactly two other cases of this: Anderson Cooper, and a boy I grew up with named Paul Aaron (Paul as a last name: NBA player Chris Paul). So, there you have it. The culmination of four days and nights of racking my brain.
I’m not sure why I find this so interesting. I guess I’m just imagining the kid on the first day of school. Nobody would know if his name was misprinted or not. Nobody would know if they were actually calling him by two last names or two first names. It could be anything! It’s very Dr. Seussian to me. (Not as Dr. Seussian as my friend’s baby Zoey Zook, but that’s a different post.)
Can you think of any other names where this rule applies? Please help me, I’m sure there must be more and I just can’t figure it out. Foreign names don’t count — at least, not Chinese names. Those are too easy. Ok, go!
Update: I thought of two more names. Ralph Lauren (OKAY I don’t know anyone with the last name Ralph but I feel like it’s possible) and Lily Allen (spelling aside, there’s Eli Lilly and Evangeline Lilly).
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