Here’s the story behind my daughter’s name – the name no one can pronounce: When it came to naming our daughter, her father insisted on naming her Amalasunta, after the ancient Queen of the Visigoths. “No, nope, that won’t work,” I said, standing firm, “No one will ever be able to pronounce that!” And so we settled on Chiara. It means light and fair; the perfect name for our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter.
Well, as it turns out, no one seems to be able to pronounce that, either.
Look, all Black folk don’t have multi-hypenate names. We have Janes, Marys and Beths too. And somehow our single syllabic sisters learn how to pronounce names like La’Taquisha, Marquaysa, Taiwanas, etc. You know what our secret is? Lean closer.
I’m a four syllable girl with an uncommon name (in the States.) I know it’s a challenge to pronounce and I am never offended by anyone asking, “how do I pronounce your name?” However, I am offended when you, a stranger, butchers it without care or tries to nickname me like we’re friends. Take the time to learn my name and maybe, I’ll offer my nickname to help you out.
While some Muslims follow the astrological concept adopted by Sharif and Khan, others rubbish the concept as superstitious and faulty. Fatima Wani, a 66 year old woman says, “I was named Fatima by my father following two of my elder sisters with the same name who died soon after their birth. But my father rubbished any superstitious belief of a doomed name and preferred to give me the same name, Fatima, as of my two late sisters. And look, I am alive and talking to you now.”
In a way, however, both of Quvenzhané’s parents are with her every time someone speaks her unusual first name (pronounced Kwe-VAWN-zhan-ay). The first part combines elements of her teacher mother’s first name, Qulyndreia, and her truck driver father’s first name, Venjie. Her mother says that Zhané is the Swahili word for “fairy,” although no direct translation can be found on an Internet search. Qulyndreia Wallis says her own name means “to you with love.” The rest of the kids include Venjie Jr., 15; brother Vejon, 13; and sister Qunyquekya, 19.
According to several sources, the Swahili word for “fairy” is jini — reasonably close to Zhané, actually.
From early on, many popes changed their names to honor Christian saints or earlier popes, and to show their Christian faith by abandoning pagan names (such as Gerbert). Starting around 1000, the practice became formalized, but the choice of a new name was somewhat political, and popes were often influenced by other church officials. In the 13th century, popes started to choose their names independently. The use of numbers began in the 6th century, when the second Pelagius took the suffix “junior.” (He’s now referred to as Pelagius II.)
The pros of the share-nothing route is that you can blithely stick to your guns and not be dissuaded by friends’ grimaces, underwhelmed shrugs, or regrettable “sounds-like-a-stripper-to-me”-type comments. The bad part is … the same. You get no feedback! And making arguably one of the most important decisions of your life in a vacuum can be tough. Would you want to pick your wedding dress without your friends around to tell you that a mermaid silhouette is really not for you?
By telling other people you get to hear how it sounds when you say it and see if you’re still committed to it even if — and especially if — you have to defend it. No doubt some comments will be ridiculous, have nothing to do with you (ex. “I went to day camp with a girl called X and she threw up on the bus every day”), and/or possibly freak you out (ex. “That was my ex’s name. He was a cutter.”). Still, if you love the name despite the insults, isn’t that a great way to tell if it’s The One?
From a(nother) Stir post about “Teen Mom” Leah Messer and her new baby Adalynn:
[S]he is spending the whole week correcting every media report out there on how to spell the baby’s name. Whoops!
The problem started when US Weekly spelled the little girl’s name with two “d”s instead of one, and just spiraled from there. Leah has had to turn to social media to make the correction.
Sounds like the Teen Mom just got a taste of what happens when you decide you need your baby’s name to be insanely “unique.”
Shared Goals to Consider:
- Would you both like to wind up with a name that reflects well on your child?
- Would you both like to find a name your child will enjoy and want to keep?
- Would you both be willing to screen a name under consideration for “user-friendliness” to make sure that it won’t be too hard to spell or pronounce, will be versatile, won’t create uncomfortable gender confusion, will make a positive impression, and won’t come across as dated, archaic, weird or embarrassing?
- Would you both be willing to pick a middle name that provides a reasonable “fallback” in case the first name doesn’t work out for some reason?
- Would you both agree that the selected name must be one that both parents like a lot and look forward to using?
- Finally, would you both promise not to argue on behalf of (or worse, insist on) any names your partner doesn’t like?
By agreeing that the most important goals of the name search are to find a name that both parents and the child will enjoy using and to not argue about names one partner doesn’t like, you can happily start looking for a name that will be chosen based on collaboration and consensus.
I grew up in what I have learned since then, is considered an ALTERNATIVE environment. I went to a hippie school, and my classmates had names that included Andromeda, Boreas, Vitali, Oak, and Rolly (pronounced Role-e) (hi guys!). Considering the roll call, I was kind of the “Jane Smith” of the group. However, regardless of the pillows on the floor, and meetings where we had to discuss our feelings, I still got teased on the playground and called names. None of them were season-based. They were things that rhymed with my name–names that STILL make me cringe and feel bad. Names like “Bummer” and “Dumber.”
Then, I moved to the East Coast. East coast people find it a very funny name. This morning, as it would happen, two co-workers discussed my name in front of me, and one said, “I didn’t think it was your real name.” I get that a lot. Maybe it’s because there aren’t any hippies left here. I know the cultural consciousness happened on the east coast, because I’ve met people that had hippies for parents, but it seems that east coast hippies have moved on to academic postings or documentary filmmakers, and they seem to name their kids Amos or Noah, and not after seasons or other natural occurrences.
The reality of the situation is that none of us has “dibs” on a name. As with any other intangible objects, names exist within the confines of our minds and, while a particular name can indeed evoke certain emotions (we all have a visceral reaction to the name of the childhood bully who taunted us, or similar), it does not belong to a particular person or family. To that end, it cannot be “stolen” or otherwise pilfered, despite protestations to the contrary.
Palaeontologists announced this week that fossilised remains found on a stretch of Isle of Wight beach in 2008 had been finally identified as a new species of flying dinosaur.
The remains were discovered by Daisy Morris, who, now aged nine, has amassed a collection of fossils and animal remains so extensive it led one expert to describe her bedroom as ‘resembling a natural history museum.’
And when it came to naming the creature, the experts looked to its young finder for inspiration, officially dubbing it Vectidraco Daisymorrisae.
The Latin elements in Vectidraco translate to “Wight” (vectis) and “dragon” (draco).