Successful entrepreneurs Sergey Brin (Google) and Anne Wojcicki (23andMe) were married from 2007 to 2015. During that time they had two children, a son and a daughter.
They named the kids Benji and Chloe, but that’s not all — they also gave the kids a brand new surname: Wojin, a combination of Wojcicki (which is pronounced wo-JIT-skee) and Brin. According to a Gawker tipster, the surname had been created “for security reasons.”
Do you know of any families with invented/blended surnames?
From “The Eyes Have It,” an interview with Orange Is the New Black actress Uzoamaka “Uzo” Aduba, who was asked whether she ever considered changing her name:
When I started as an actor? No, and I’ll tell you why. I had already gone through that. My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”
“I’d been living as Eva my whole life until I found out my name was Evangeline Cinderella. Of course this was the most amazing news as a seven year old girl and unfortunately I told everybody. I’ve paid for it ever since. People have always remembered,” she said.
To consult this list [the SSA’s Change in Popularity list] is to dip your toe into the fetid waters of cheesy celebrity worship. Consider this: One of the skyrocketing names is … “Anakin.” Yes, people are giving their baby boys a name invented specifically to sound non-human, for a character in another galaxy far, far away, one who grows up to become Darth Vader, an evil overlord who wants to enslave the universe. (There have been plenty of Darths, too.)
From the video “Instrument: Celeste” featuring keyboardist Elizabeth Burley of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London:
I’ve got a celeste here today to show you how that works. As you’ll see it looks a little bit like an upright piano, but it’s actually a lot different. Although it’s operated by a keyboard, inside, instead of strings, it’s a set of…metal chime bars. They’re suspended over wooden resonating boxes, and when I press a key, a hammer hits the chime bar to make the sound, like on a piano the hammer would hit the string. The name celeste…it’s a French name meaning “heavenly,” and it does make a very heavenly sound, as you’ll hear.
With her buttoned-up style, work with the UN, and name like a plucky character in a certain English wizard series, Delia Derbyshire may not seem a likely pioneer of experimental electronic music.
From the blog post “What’s in a Name?” by theology professor/social activist Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre:
Today, no one calls me Brother Mike. Nonetheless, if the first act of liberation is self naming, why do I still insist on spelling my surname the way those who had power over me taught me? I have no doubt the reader is probably wondering what’s the big deal? Just spell my name correctly. What they fail to recognize is the power of the colonizing process, and the difficulty to reclaim identity. So as I tag my name to my liberationist works I am reminded with each upper case letter how far I still need to go to claim my own liberation. The struggle, la lucha, continues, even in the letters of my name.
At Sprinklr, our conference rooms are named after the company’s values. Honesty, Passion, Perseverance, Humility, Character, Courage, and Integrity are just some of the names you will encounter. My personal favorites are Awesomeness and 1+1=3. When I asked our founder, Ragy Thomas, why the leadership team chose to name conference rooms in this way, he said: “It would be kind of hard to be arrogant in a room named Humility, wouldn’t it? Or give up in a room named Perseverance, don’t you think?”
Then in the 1960’s, a furor erupted over the first name Tessa, which resembled tisse, which means to urinate in Danish. Distressed over the lack of direction in the law, the Danish government expanded the statute to grapple with first names. Now the law is as long as an average-size book.
Among the baby names rejected in Denmark: Anus, Pluto, and Monkey. Among those accepted: Leica, Benji, Jiminico, and Fee.
A reader named Tamara is expecting a baby boy in May. She writes:
We are a bi-racial couple…he is Mexican and I am American (white), and are looking for a Spanish name for our little boy. Unfortunately, I don’t LOVE a lot of the Hispanic boy names, and we are having some trouble finding the perfect name.
So far, she and her fiance Oscar like the names Tiago and Gabriel…but here are the issues:
We need a good middle name to go with Tiago. And we haven’t gotten a lot of positive feedback on the name. And I feel like Gabriel is overused and doesn’t hold its own when paired with our daughter’s name, Nadia. And the two names don’t exactly flow well together, so pairing them up isn’t an option for us. Any suggestions? Middle names for Tiago? Or just different first names all together?
Here are some thoughts on Tiago and Gabriel:
Nicknames (e.g. Benji, Topher, Xander) sometimes loose their charm when used as stand-alone names, so people might like Tiago more if it were a nickname for Santiago. Santiago is currently ranked 200th, but I don’t think it will rise too much higher.
How about Diego? It’s not as hip as Tiago…but it’s got a similar sound, and, because it’s more familiar, it’ll probably get better feedback. In terms of popularity, Diego seems to be plateauing just outside the top 50.
I think Gabriel sounds fantastic with Nadia, personally. But it’s become popular recently (i.e. over 10,000 babies have been named Gabriel every year since 2001) and my hunch is that it will remain popular for a while to come. So I can understand wanting to avoid it for that reason.
Let’s see, middle names for Tiago…I think iambic names like Ramón, Raúl and Noé sound good after Tiago. I also like longer middles (e.g. Antonio, Mauricio).
Here are a few other ideas for first names:
What other advice/suggestions would you offer Tamara?
A reader named Sarah is expecting her first baby in several months, and she’d like some baby name suggestions. These are the names she and her husband like so far (girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right).
I think they might also like…