Mystery Monday: Sujey

In 1976 and 1977, several names like Sujey, Sugey and Suhey popped up in the national baby name dataset:

197519761977
Sujey35*36
Sugey13*29
Suehay11**
Sujei10*6
Suhey8*7
Sugei6**
Zujey5*
Sujeiry6*
Sugeiri5**

*Debut; **One-hit wonder

The fact that the letters J, G, and H were used interchangeably — plus the fact that usage was concentrated in states with large Spanish-speaking populations (like California and Texas) — suggested right away to me that these names were being used by Spanish-speaking families.

In fact, I was already thinking “telenovela” when I happened to spot this intriguing Instagram post by sassysugey:

Life always gives you surprises…met another “Sugey” that was named because of the same telenovela! #sugey #telenovela #unamuchachallamadamilagros

That third hashtag pointed me to the 1974 Venezuelan telenovela Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros (A Girl Called Milagros/Miracles), which was indeed airing in the U.S. in 1976.

Everything seemed to be lining up pretty well…until I checked the list of actors and characters in Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros. None of them had a name similar to “Sujey.”

So: either the name was used in the storyline somewhere (and I’m unaware of it), or this is the wrong telenovela, or the answer isn’t a telenovela at all.

Does anyone out there have any information on the name Sujey, or on its possible connection to Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros? If so, please leave a comment!

Sources: Una muchacha llamada Milagros – Wikipedia, Una muchacha llamada Milagros – IMDb

Obscene, but Obscure: Yea or Nay?

While working on the Phaedra post from earlier this week, I came across the fact that Greek playwright Euripides had two wives: Melite and Choerine.

The name Melite I recognized as coming from the Melissa/Melitta/Melita family. All these names can be traced back to the Greek word meli, meaning “honey.”

But the name Choerine didn’t ring a bell, so I went off in search of a definition.

Before tracking it down, I happened to find this enticing little snippet:

“Choerine” is an attested Athenian name, but it could easily be used for obscene puns.

Obscene puns?!

After more digging, I discovered that Choerine (and the male equivalent Choerus) were based on the Greek word choiros, meaning “pig.” And that the equivalent word in Latin, porcus, had given rise to the names Porcius and Porcia/Portia.

But “pig” isn’t he obscene part:

In classical Latin the word porcus was occasionally used as an informal term for the vulva (Greek choiros, ‘young pig,’ was employed similarly).

Here’s more:

Porcus (pig) was apparently a Roman nursery word for the external pudenda of girls […] Perhaps the allusion is to a perceived resemblance between the part in question and the end of a pig’s snout.

In fact, this obscene sense of porcus is precisely how porcelain came to be named. The word porcelain can be traced back to the Italian word for the cowrie shell, porcellana (“young sow”), which was named in reference to its vulva-like shape.

Now for the question of the day: Would information like this (i.e., obscene-but-obscure associations) ever dissuade you from choosing a particular baby name?

Sources:

  • Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Harvard University Press, 1990, p. 270.
  • Porcelain – Online Etymology Dictionary
  • “Pork.” Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, Merriam-Webster, 1991, p. 371.
  • Scodel, Ruth. “The Euripidean Biography.” A Companion to Euripides, ed. by Laura K. McClure, John Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp. 27-41.

The Emergence of Jovon

baby name, jovon, actress, 1960s
Jovon Monteil

When I first noticed the name Jovon popping up in the U.S. baby name data, I thought of Jovan Musk. But the Musk was from the ’70s, and the name popped up a decade earlier:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 5 baby girls named Jovon
  • 1960: 10 baby girls named Jovon [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

So, what put it on the map?

An actress named Jovon Monteil, who was making guest appearances on TV in the late 1950s and early 1960s. (The image is from Sea Hunt.) She was also in one movie: Born Reckless (1959).

Jovon’s real name was Louise Davis and she was originally from Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Journal noted in late 1957 that “Jovon Monteil” was “her newly chosen professional name.”

By the end of 1960 she was married and had a baby (named Michelle), which is likely why she stopped pursuing a career in entertainment.

The names Jovon and Jovan both saw a steep rise in usage in the ’70s thanks to Jovan Musk, put out by the Chicago-based Jovan company. (Here’s a long list of perfume-inspired baby names.)

Sources:

  • “Jovon Monteil Completes Part in ‘Born Reckless’.” Albuquerque Journal 22 Dec. 1957: 15.
  • “Beauty Contest Winner.” Albuquerque Journal 21 Jan. 1962: 15.

The First Appearance of Phaedra

phaedra, movie, 1960s, baby nameThe ancient name Phaedra was the highest-debuting baby name of 1963:

  • 1967: 21 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1966: 22 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1965: 32 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1964: 29 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1963: 70 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

Because of the film Phaedra, released in late 1962. It was a flop at the U.S. box office, but had a big impact on U.S. baby names nonetheless.

The title character Phaedra (played by Greek actress Melina Mercouri, who’d played Ilya in the hit Never on Sunday) was the second wife of a wealthy man named Thanos. She initiated a forbidden romance with her husband’s adult son, Alexis, and then both of them had to suffer the consequences.

The movie is one of the many modern versions of the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides.

In the film, the name Phaedra (based on an ancient Greek word meaning “bright”) is pronounced FEH-dra, with a short E. (Say “Ephedra” without the initial vowel.) Looking at online discussions about the name, though, it’s clear that people use various pronunciations, including FAY-dra and FEE-dra.

What are your thoughts on the name Phaedra? Which pronunciation do you prefer?

Source: Phaedra (1962) – TCM

Popular Baby Names in Slovenia, 2018

According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, the most popular baby names in the country in 2018 were Ema and Luka.

Here are Slovenia’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names

  1. Ema, 268 baby girls
  2. Zala, 241
  3. Eva, 220
  4. Mia, 216
  5. Sara, 182
  6. Lara, 170
  7. Nika, 168
  8. Maša, 154
  9. Julija, 151 (tie)
  10. Lana, 151 (tie)

Boy Names

  1. Luka, 288 baby boys
  2. Jakob, 242
  3. Filip, 227 (tie)
  4. Nik, 227 (tie)
  5. Mark, 211
  6. Žan, 182
  7. Jan, 168 (tie)
  8. Tim, 168 (tie)
  9. Jaka, 166
  10. Lovro, 156

Lovro is short for Lovrenc, which is the Slovene equivalent of the English name Laurence.

The last set of rankings I posted for Slovenia were the 2015 rankings, which were also topped by Ema and Luka.

Sources: Names – Republic of Slovenia Statistical Office, Lovro – Behind the Name