Sunday, June 29, 2014

5 Thoughts on Names

1. Girls have no problems going by guy names but guys are insulted if you call them a girl's name. Alexandra will be Alex. But I've never met an Alexander who goes by Lexie. When I look up my name I get "feminine form of Eric." But I can't think of a single name that would be described as the masculine form of something. Some names slip from gender to gender, like Taylor, but they're considered unisex names rather than girl names. If you ever meet a Joesph who goes by Sophie be sure to let me know.

2. Foreign names aren't always the kind of foreign you think they are.
While reading some family history today I came across a relative named Anita. Hispanic? Nope. Danish. Anita is originally a nickname for Anne or Anna, which are quite possibly the best international names. Plenty of countries have their own form. They're short and easy to pronounce. I know a Brazilian girl named Ana. When I talk about her, people hear the American form, Anna. Her sister Maria is more obvious. Never mind that Maria is used in plenty of European countries, especially German speaking ones. It's currently trending in Ireland.

3. Exotic names don't always work.
Another one of my Danish ancestors had the name Inger Sophie. Her daughter Ane, who emigrated to Utah, named a child Emma Sophia. She had several daughters but never called one of them Inger. I wonder why. Sophie travels well. Inger only works in Denmark.

4. Nicknames don't work internationally.
An American boy names Nicholas will go by Nick. But a Russian boy will be Kolya.

5. Not all belles are created equal.
Annabelle is classy. Clarabelle? Not so much. Isabelle wears silk gowns and kid gloves. Idabelle milks cows. Even though they're only one letter off, the two names conjure up very different images.
This goes for all old fashioned names. In 1914, Anna ranked #6 for girl names. It's timeless. Evelyn snags the #11 spot. It sounds cute and modern. Rose, #15, has a graceful old fashioned touch. But I've yet to meet a young Mildred (#7) or Florence (#13). They're too ugly and old fashioned.


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