Monday, 22 September 2008

What is in a name?

I was chatting with my work colleagues recently about how assorted and varied are the names which we give  to our children.   The latest fashion influences  of celeb' names, be it Apple, Britney, Rumer or Kylie , Justin or Jayzee isn't a new thing by any means. I'm sure many babies were called Vera and Betty or Ronald and Fred in the 30's and 40's.  I wonder whether the area of the country or county where we were raised is a significant factor; Tracey (Emin) in Margate or Thomas (Beckett/ Cathedral) in Canterbury? 

Nicole Kidmans baby girl is named Sunday Rose, which actually quite surprisingly presses my buttons as  l think it pretty. It wasn't the day of the child's birth, as she was born on a Monday,  but it has everything to do with a Australian poet, apparently!!

But is this any 'better'  or 'worse' than say Satchel, Moon unit alpha or Chastity, although l like Apple (of the Paltrow/Martin union) and it's not unlike Cherry or Rose from the 40's & 50's or Daisy from the 60's or Poppy in 70's . And there are the monthly names; June, April, May, these were fashionable in the early 20th century, so really is anything NEW?

My name is Sara, which is French for Sarah and fairly 'common' here in UK now  though I admit incorrect spellings drive me nuts. But in 1950's, when my 'alien' father (French/Italian) went to register my birth, the snotty registrar explained, that if the planned name wasn't in his Book of Names, it wasn't permitted to register in  that name!! My father couldn't argue his point confidently, as his English wasn't yet fluent, so Sarah on the certificate it is, but l am  Sara but I respond to Sarah,  Sar, Saz, Sarita, Mum of course and Oi you, depending who l am with at the time!

My parents  planned to name me Francoise, but my mother  changed her mind on the day as she loved the name Sara from the book  A little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The book has been a firm favourite for all the girls in the family and l have several early prints, but no first editions as yet. 

Also my good pal,  with whom l went to school in upstate New York in '70s called her daughter Sara after me in 1986, indeed an honour!

My kids names aren't unusual, but they aren't run of the mill popular either. Here are the stories of the whys and where for's, as  one has to compromise, cos you and the other half have to agree sometimes ... don't we?

My daughter was going to be named Susannah or Mary, but we couldn't decide which, so when she was born, as she was big and so long, 8lbs 11oz and 23.5 inches long, we thought a bigger name would suit a big girl. So Susannah Mary. Our son Patrick was decided upon long before his birth also, it was husbands choice as I had really chosen our daughters names. Husbands great uncle Patrick was a celebrated football player in the early 1920's and 30's in Glasgow, Scotland, and played for Celtic, and was famously named 'the mighty atom'.... and so Patrick. (also the name of my cousin )

My father's family names are of French/Italian origin,  these include Antoinette,  Carmen, Sophia, Clothilde (oh how I love it), Rachele, Martial, Jean-Pierre, Chantal, Margo, Maguerite,Cecile, Louisa, all sound romantic and chic to my ear!

On my mothers side (MOANNIE) pretty names as in Georgina, Margaret, Eleanor, Iris, Lily, Molly, Anne, Helena, Cecil, Henry and Jack all strong solid men's Brit names.

So, I got to wondering if we bloggers' family or siblings names are normal everyday or extraordinary in any way?  Does anyone have any interesting stories to tell?

P.s, MOANNIE tells me my apostrophe use is appalling...'eats shoots and leaves' it may be, but sorry you'll have to show me where and what exactly....LOL... so apolgies if you are the 'tethcy on grammar' type as Mum obviously is!


  1. Well, let's see... I'm not sure how interesting this is, but...

    My first name is Doris. I was named after my father's baby sister, his favorite sister, as it turns out, and my mother's best friend. This aunt died in Houston, where they were all living, before I was born. In my parents' grief over their loss, they named their next child - me - after her. My middle name is Faye, which is the same as my mother's middle name was.

    I've never liked either of my names, but I appreciate the thought that went into them.

    My hubby's name is the same as his father's. Each firstborn male in each generation since the family left Hungary had the name Paul either as a first or middle name. Even our son has Paul as his middle name.

    Interesting question! I hope you get some more interesting answers than mine...Peace - D

  2. I wanted to call my daughter Pandora. And you should have heard the stick I got for that one!!! I think its a beautiful name but no one else did!!

    Of course I gave in and called her Sian (husband is Welsh) but i should have stuck to my guns. After all it was my baby.

    And then i got stick again because I wanted to call my baby son Alfie. Again i gave in and called him Gareth which i liked but wasn't what i wanted. That was before that bloke in The Office became famous of course.

    My advice would be to stick by your guns.

    love JS xx

  3. Strangely enough Pop and I were talking about just this subject over lunch today [how civilised, you say]

    I still love your name but I wish I had added an Iris, Eleanor or Antoinette...why I lumbered M with Simone I don't know...for JM I had no choice. As for my name...I was a big big baby and took a long time to emerge. Mum was so exhausted that she looked at me and thought, for some strange reason that I was Irish...asked the wee Irish nurse her name and it was Molly, and that was it.
    Usually it is a family name...but often just a whim..JM should have been Frank, or my secret love-Frank Sinatra...or as you say, Francoise for one of you girls...think pop was right to put his foot down, don't you?

  4. We have an Italian surname beginning with Z, so had to be careful picking names to go with that. Our kids are Simon (named for the lovely boy in Lord of the Flies), Lily (just a beaut name), and Will (his dad's a Shakespeare nut and Will was due on Twelfth Night).
    I dislike my name: Lesley. Ann in the middle. Sigh.

  5. I do wish celebrities would stop and think before naming their children with 'made-up' names.

    Closer to home I knew a vet who's surname was Nutt - his first name was Peter (P.Nutt), his wife was Hazel Nutt!

  6. Such a difficult thing, choosing names. Mine is Carol, without the 'e' as my mum thought a 'magic e' would confuse me as a child. I had a grandfather who felt it should have an 'e' so every birthday card was written to 'Carole', much to my mum's annoyance.

    Although I did have a lucky escape because my mum says that when she was learning Biology at school she always thought 'amoeba' would make a lovely name!

  7. About a year ago, I wrote a post asking readers to guess my middle name.

    It was great fn to read some of the guesses!!

  8. We were eight children back home, each of our names would sound familiar all over the western part of the world, I guess. Our own four have equally familiar, i.e. quite traditional names. We tried to select names which would sound "right" in the three languages that we have a close connection to.

    Our first daughter went under "Baby Last Name" for the first three days of her life. We were simply overwhelmed by the responsibility of choosing the right name for her. ;-)

    Congratulations on being on David's "Post of the Day"! :-)

  9. I had my daughter's name picked out when I was in high school. And even dreamed she was going to have blond curly hair and blue eyes. I'm a brunette and have brown eyes.

    Twenty odd years later...I gave her the name and she has blond curly hair and blue eyes.

    Thank you for your visit! :)

  10. Gosh, I noticed that "Lesley" hates her name. My name is Leslie (with an IE) and that's usually the male spelling. So I always surprised my teachers when they saw that I was/am a girl. I hated my name, too, when I was growing up because it was DIFFERENT. I wanted to like all the Lindas, Carols, and Dianes. But now I don't mind my name at all. Now my middle name is sort of, well, okay, but rather old-fashioned (Barbara). Interesting post and something to really ponder.

  11. I love your name stories. I like the names of my daughters, and why we named them those names, but I've never put them on the internet. One is Irish and one is Dutch. Neither are unusual in those countries, but terribly unusual in America. And we just can't get upset when people don't spell/say them right. It's just going to happen!

  12. Have popped over to read your Blog from Working Mum - lovely names and a v. interesting Post. Also many thanks for adding me to your Blog list - it was a lovely surprise. M :-)


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