Saturday, July 30, 2011

Random Fact of the Day:

Rhyming slang is an almost exclusively British phenomenon, specifically London, and is known worldwide as "Cockney rhyming slang". There is, however, one notable example in common American use: making a rude sound with your mouth = "raspberry" = "raspberry tart" = "fart".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Usual Nickname, Unexpected Name: Addy

In bygone days, Addy was a nickname for the multicultural Adelaide. Today, she's much more likely to be short for the modern Addison. Addy-names are all rising in popularity, from the romantic Adelina to the modern creation Adalee to the "does it really need a nickname?" Adele. If you love the nickname, but want a more uncommon name to fall back on in a sea of Addys, here're some choices for you.

  • Adamina (a-dah-MEE-nah, English)
  • Adanna (ad-AN-ah, Nigerian [Igbo])
  • Adara (ah-DAR-ah, Hebrew)--"noble"
  • Adelais (ad-el-AH-ees, Germanic)
  • Adelia (ah-DEL-ee-ah, Spanish)
  • Adelita (ah-del-EE-tah, Spanish)
  • Adena/Adina (ah-DEE-nah, Hebrew)
  • Aderyn (ah-DER-in, Welsh)--"bird"
  • Adilet (ah-dih-let, Kyrgyz)--"justice"
  • Adrasteia (ah-dras-TAY-ah, Greek)--"doesn't run away"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Hero!

Every kid wants a cool name. You could hope that a kids' TV show comes along featuring your child's name--all the Tommys and Jasons suddenly became cool during Power Rangers when I was small--or you could find a more classic namesake.

Boys:
  • Adrastos (ah-DRAS-tos, Greek)--warrior king of Argos
  • Aeneas (eye-NEE-as, Latin)--son of Aphrodite, warrior, progenitor of the Roman empire
  • Aias (EYE-as, Greek)--hero of the Trojan war, anglicized as Ajax
  • Árpád (ahr-pad, Hungarian)--Magyar prince, forefather of Hungary
  • Bedivere (BED-ih-veer, English)--anglicized from Welsh Bedwyr, one of the original Knights of the Round Table
  • Bran (BRAHN, Irish & Welsh)--an Irish adventurer & mariner, and a legendary Welsh king
  • Caradoc (CAYR-a-doc, Welsh)--several figures in Welsh history & legend, including a Knight of the Round Table
  • Conall (CON-all, Irish & Scottish)--several Irish & Scottish kings, and a mythic Irish warrior
  • Damon (DAY-mon, Greek)--one half of the Greek symbol of true friendship, the other half being Pythias
  • Diarmuid (DEER-mid, Irish)--legendary Irish warrior, and founder of the Scottish Campbell clan. Anglicized as Dermot.
  • Egill (AY-gill, Norse)--Icelandic berserker & poet. Modern spelling is Egil.
  • Eoghan (OH-en or YOH-en, Irish & Scottish)--several Irish kings & other historical figures. Anglicized as Owen in Ireland and Euan or Ewan in Scotland.    
  • Evander (ee-VAN-der, Latin)--another hero of the Trojan war
  • Fergus (FER-gus, Irish & Scottish)--several Scottish & Irish kings and warriors
  • Fionn (FEEN or FYON, Irish)--mythic warrior and hero. Also spelled Finn and (via faulty Anglicization) Fingal.
  • Herakles (HER-a-kleez, Greek)--original form of Hercules, an important mortal in both Roman & Greek mythologies. Other versions include Heraclius (Greek), Heraclio (Spanish), and Ercole (Italian).
  • Jarl (YAHRL, Norse)--progenitor of a race of warriors
  • Jason (JAY-son, Greek)--adventuring leader of the Argonauts
  • Kalev (KAH-lev, Estonian)--hero and king, said to be buried under Tallinn, the capital of Estonia
  • Kaveh (kah-vay, Persian)--blacksmith who led a rebellion against the evil tyrant Zahhak
  • Owain (OH-ine, Welsh)--an Arthurian knight, and several Welsh princes; anglicized as Owen
  • Perseus (PUR-see-us, Greek)--mythic hero, slayer of the Gorgon Medusa
  • Roland (RO-land, English; roh-LAWN, French)--heroic knight and leader under Charlemagne
  • Rostam (ros-tam, Persian)--legendary pre-Islamic Iranian warrior and champion. Also spelled Rustam.
  • Taliesin (tal-ee-ESS-in, Welsh)--a bard and prophet who served at least 3 Welsh kings 
  • Theseus (THEE-see-us, Greek)--Athenian king and warrior
     

Girls:
  • Ariadne (ahr-ee-ahd-nee, Greek)--princess who helped Theseus escape the Minotaur in the labyrinth
  • Atalanta (at-ah-lan-tah, Greek)--huntress and legendary athlete
  • Awilda (AH-wil-dah, Scandinavian)--princess who fled marriage by becoming a pirate, sometimes spelled Alwilda; traditionally spelled Alfhild
  • Bevin (BAY-vin, Irish)--several figures, both mortal and goddess, in Irish mythology, traditionally spelled Bébinn
  • Cloelia (klo-EL-ee-ah, Latin)--Roman hostage who led her fellow captives to freedom. Modern Italian form is Clelia.
  • Elva (EL-vah, Irish)--Fianna (mercenary) warrior, traditionally spelled Ailbhe
  • Embla (EM-bla, Norse)--the first human woman, founder of the human race with her husband Ask
  • Maeve (MAYV, Irish)--legendary warrior-queen. Traditionally spelled Madb.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mini Names

The average American name (based on 2010's top 1000) is 6 letters long. Boys' names are slightly more likely to be shorter (5.8 ± 1.3 characters); girls are slightly more likely to be longer (6.0 ± 1.3 characters). So, if you want a name that stands out, or you want to balance a long or complex last name, a short name is the way to go.

Boys:
  • Áed (AID, Irish)--"fire", precursor to Aidan
  • Alv (AHLV, Norwegian)--"elf"
  • Anu (ah-nu, Sumerian)--Sumerian god of the heavens
  • Ari (AH-ree, Hebrew, Scandinavian, Armenian)
  • Asa (AY-sa, Hebrew)
  • Avi (AH-vee, Hebrew)
  • Cai/Kai (KYE, Welsh, Scandinavian, Hawaiian)
  • Dai (DYE, Welsh)--"shine"
  • Dax (DAKS, English)
  • Dov (DOHV, Hebrew)--"bear"
  • Ean (EE-an, Manx)--form of John
  • Eli (EE-lye, Hebrew)
  • Gil (GEEL, Hebrew)--"happiness"
  • Ira (EYE-ra, Hebrew)
  • Ivo (EE-voh, Germanic)
  • Jay (JAY, Indian [Hindi])--"victory"
  • Kir (KEER, Russian)--form of Cyrus
  • Lir (LEER, Irish)--Irish god of the sea
  • Paz (PAHZ, Hebrew)
  • Sem (SEM, Dutch)
  • Tyr (TIHR, Norse)--Norse god of justice & war
  • Udo (OO-do, German)--form of Otto
  • Uri (OO-ree, Hebrew)--"my light"
  • Wyn (WIN, Welsh)--"blessed"

Girls:
  • Adi (ah-DEE, Hebrew)--"jewel"
  • Aki (ah-kee, Japanese)--"bright", "sparkle", or "autumn"
  • Anu (AH-noo, Finnish)--form of Anna
  • Aya (ah-ya, Japanese)--"design" or "color"
  • Dua (doo-ah, Arabic)--"prayer"
  • Eda (eyd-ah, Turkish)
  • Eha (ay-ha, Estonian)--"dusk"
  • Emi (em-ee, Japanese)--"blessing"
  • Ena (EE-na, Irish)--traditionally spelled Eithne
  • Eos (AY-ohs, Greek)--Greek goddess of the dawn
  • Fay/Faye (FAY, English)--"fairy"
  • Ida (EYE-da or EE-da, Germanic)
  • Ila (ee-la, Indian [Hindi])
  • Io (EYE-oh or EE-oh, Greek)
  • Ivy (EYE-vee, English)
  • Jaya (jah-yah, Indian [Hindi])--"victory"
  • Liv (LEEV, Scandinavian)
  • Mae/May (MAY, English)
  • Mei (MAY, Chinese & Japanese)
  • Mio (mee-oh, Japanese)
  • Nia (NEE-ah, Welsh)--form of Niamh
  • Noa (noh-ah, Biblical Hebrew, Japanese)
  • Oda (OH-da, German)--feminine of Otto
  • Rei (RAY, Japanese)--"bell" or "lovely"
  • Rue (ROO, English)
  • Una (OO-na, Irish & Scottish)
  • Wynne (WIN, Welsh)--"blessed"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Usual Nicknames; Unexpected Names: Andy

Andy is usually short for the Biblical Andrew and its feminine spin-off Andrea. If you love the nickname, but are bored with the usuals, here're some alternates.

  • Boys
    • Alexander/Alesander
    • Anand (AHN-and, Indian [Hindi])--"happiness"
    • Anders (AN-derz, Scandinavian)--form of Andrew
    • Andrius (AHN-dree-us, Lithuanian)--another form of Andrew
    • Antero (AHN-teyr-o, Finnish)--yet another form of Andrew
    • Armando (ar-MAHN-do, Italian, Spanish, & Portuguese)--"soldier"
    • Eskandar (es-KAN-dar, Iranian [Persian])--form of Alexander
    • Evander (ev-AN-der, Latin)--"good man"
    • Ferdinand (FER-de-nand, Germanic)--"brave journeyer"
    • Leander (lee-AN-der, Greek)--"lion man"
    • Loránd (LOR-ahnd, Hungarian)
    • Lysander (lye-SAN-der, Greek)
    • Rembrandt (REM-brahnt, Dutch)
  • Girls
    • Amandine (ahm-ahn-deen, French)
    • Andela (ahn-DEL-ah, Czech)--form of Angela
    • Andraste (an-DRAHST, Celtic)--Briton goddess of war
    • Anthea (an-THAY-ah, Greek)--"flower"
    • Celandine (SELL-an-deen, English)
    • Coriander (COR-ee-an-der, English)
    • Endzela (end-ZEL-a, Georgian)
    • Lavender (LAV-en-der, English)
    • Melisande (mel-ih-sahnd, French)
    • Miranda (meer-AN-da, English)--"wonderful"
    • Rosenda (roh-SEN-dah, Spanish)
    • Ruxandra (REWKS-ahn-dra, Romanian)--form of Roxana

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Problem Letters

Changing the spelling of a name is nothing new, but it sure seems to be on the upswing lately (or maybe that's just the over-information effect, who knows). Often spellings are changed in the name of intuitive pronunciation; other times for purely aesthetic reasons. With increasing globalization, though, what makes sense phonologically can get muddled. Here're the major troublemakers in the Latin alphabet.
  • C: Even in English, and most Romance languages, C can be a pain. Supposedly it's hard ("cut") before A, O, U, and consonants, and at the end of words; and soft ("cite") before E, I, and Y. But, there are lots of exceptions, especially in English ("Celt", "soccer", "ocean").
    • In some Spanish dialects, the soft C is like English 'th' ("thing"). 
    • In Italian it's like the English 'ch' ("church"). 
    • In most Eastern European languages, C is pronounced like English 'ts' ("its").
    • In Turkish, C is pronounced like the English J.
  • G: If C is a pain, G is agony. In English and most Romance languages, G is, of course, hard ("go") before A, O, U, and at the end of words; and soft before E, I, and Y. Unless the word is of French origin, then it's a 'zh' sound ("mirage"). Sometimes rules are broken for no apparent reason ("get", "girl", "algae", "margarine"), and sometimes it's just silent ("gnome", "night"). 
    • In French and Portuguese, the soft G is the aforementioned 'zh'. 
    • In Spanish, soft G is like the English 'h' ("hole"). 
    • In Dutch, G represents a sound that doesn't exist in English, but is somewhere between 'th' and 'z'. 
  • J: In English, it's almost always like in "jet", which is surprisingly straight-forward for our language of exceptions. 
    • In most Germanic and Eastern European languages, J makes a 'y' sound ("yet").
    • In most Romance languages, it is a 'zh' sound ("mirage", "measure").
    • In Spanish, it's like the English 'h' ("hole").
  •  V: Always like in "vat" in English, this sound doesn't appear in many languages, or is represented by a different letter.
    • In Spanish and Portuguese, V sounds like the English 'b' ("bat").
    • In German, V is pronounced like English 'f' ("far").
  • W: Only occurs in a few languages. In English, it's either like in "wow", or it's silent at the start of the word, in front of other consonants ("who", "wrong").
    • In German and Polish, W represents the 'v' sound ("vat").
    • In Welsh and Cornish, W is a vowel similar to the English 'oo' ("cook")
  • X: a.k.a--the weird letter. In English, it makes a 'ks' sound ("six") in the middle, or at the end of a word, or sometimes a 'ksh' sound ("luxury"). At the beginning of a word, it's like a 'z' ("xenon"). 
    • In Portuguese and some Spanish dialects, it's pronounced like English 'sh' ("shin"). Or, it's pronounced like 's' ("sit"), or sometimes like 'ks' ("axe").
    • In most Germanic languages, and Italian, it is always pronounced 'ks'.
    • In French, it is almost always pronounced like 'z'.
  • Z: In English, it is usually like in "zebra", but is sometimes 'zh' like in "azure". 
    • In Italian, German, and Finnish, it is pronounced like 'ts'.
    • In Castilian Spanish, Z sounds like 'th' ("thing"), and in some Spanish dialects, it sounds like 's' ("sit").

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Subtle than Blaze, Jagger, or Hawke

The girls sure do have the advantage when it come to word-names, don't they? Name your little girl 'Rose' or 'Honor' and it's "Awww!", but name your son 'Briar' or 'Valor' and it's "Are you a hippy?" Here're some more 'covert' ideas for giving your son a well-meaning moniker.
  • Adalwin (ad-AHL-win, Germanic)--"noble friend"
  • Alaric (AL-ah-rik, Germanic)--"ruler of all"
  • Alvar (al-VAHR, Swedish & Finnish)--"elf warrior"
  • Ansel (AN-sel, English)--"helmet of God"
  • Andor (AHN-dor, Norwegian)--"Thor's eagle"
  • Aurelio (aur-EY-lee-o, Italian & Spanish)--"golden"
  • Basil (BAH-sil, Arabic)--"brave"
  • Basil (BAZ-il, English)--"king"
  • Brennus (BREN-nus, Celtic)--"prince"
  • Cato (CAY-to, Latin)--"wise"
  • Conall (CON-all, Irish)--"strong wolf"
  • Conrí (CON-ree, Irish)--"wolf king"
  • Duncan (DUN-kan, Scottish)--"brown warrior"
  • Edric (ED-rik, English)--"blessed ruler"
  • Egon (EY-gon, German)--"edge of a sword"
  • Eilert (EYE-lert, Frisian)--"brave sword"
  • Elric (EL-rik, English)--"noble rule" 
  • Evander (ev-AN-der, Latin)--"good man"
  • Ezio (ETS-ee-o, Italian)--"eagle"
  • Frey (FRAY, Norse)--"lord"
  • Gerard (jer-AHRD, English)--"brave spear"
  • Haytham (HYE-tham, Arabic)--"young eagle"
  • Ivar (EYE-var or EE-var, Irish & Scottish)--"bow warrior"
  • Kavi (kah-vee, Indian [Hindi])--"wise man"
  • Kekoa (keh-koh-ah, Hawaiian)--"the brave one"
  • Leander (lee-AN-der, English)--"lion man"
  • Levent (lev-ent, Turkish)--"handsome"
  • Lyall (lye-ALL, English)--"wolf"
  • Perun (PERH-uhn, Slavic)--"thunder"
  • Roald (ROO-al, Norwegian; ROE-ald, English)--"famous ruler"
  • Savio (SAH-vee-o, Italian)--"clever"
  • Shea/Shay (SHAY, Irish)--"admirable"
  • Yorath (YOR-ath, Welsh)--"handsome lord"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Usual Nickname, Unexpected Name: Annie

A good way to balance an unusual, rare, or heritage-name is with an easy, recognizable nickname. I plan on doing a series of these sorts of posts, and we'll start off with the sweet, timeless Annie. It's generally a nickname for the solid Anne or the Biblical Anna, but if you want something a little more spunky or eye-catching, here're some candidates.
  • Anaïs (ah-nah-ees, French)
  • Anandi (ah-nahn-dee, Indian [Hindi])--"happiness"
  • Anastasia (ah-nah-STAY-see-ah, Russian & Greek)
  • Anatolia (ah-nah-TOHL-ee-ah, Latin)--"sunrise"
  • Anfisa (ahn-FEE-sah, Russian)--"flower"
  • Aniela (ahn-YEL-ah, Polish)--form of Angela
  • Anina (ah-NEE-nah, German)
  • Anisa (ah-nee-sah, Arabic)--"friendly"
  • Annelien (ah-nah-LEEN, Dutch)
  • Annick (AHN-eek, Breton)
  • Annora (an-NOR-a, English)--Medieval form of Honora
  • Anouk (ah-NOOK, Dutch & French)
  • Ansa (AHN-sa, Finnish)--"virtue"
  • Anthea (an-THAY-ah, Greek)--"flower"
  • Anwen (AN-wen, Welsh)
  • Inanna (in-AHN-nah, Sumerian)
  • Lisanne (lee-SAHN-neh, Dutch)
  • Orianne (or-ee-an, French)--"golden"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Made-Up Names to the Ekstrema!

Back in the 1880s, L.L. Zamenhof believed that different languages led to division & misunderstanding amongst peoples. He sought to fix that by creating an easy-to-learn, culturally-neutral language to be used in the international community. Nearly 120 years later, Esperanto has over 2 million speakers in 115 countries. It is easily the most common constructed language (sorry, Klingon!), and is used in some schools to prepare students for other foreign language acquisition.
Esperanto baby names are formed by either re-forming a name from another language, or by simply using an Esperanto word. All nouns end in 'o' adjectives in 'a', and verbs in 'i'. Since Esperanto is a created language with no gendered words, any of these words could theoretically be used for either gender.


  • Aglo (AH-gloh)--"eagle"
  • Alaŭdo (ah-LOUD-oh)--"lark"
  • Amika (ah-MEE-kah)--"friendly"
  • Ĉiela (chee-EL-ah)--"heavenly"
  • Fiera (fee-EHR-ah)--"proud"
  • Koralo (koh-RAH-loh)--"coral"
  • Katida (kah-TEE-dah)--"kittenish"
  • Merita (mer-EE-tah)--"worthy"
  • Miela (mee-EL-ah)--"honey-like"
  • Pipra (PEEP-rah)--"spicy"
  • Rava (RAH-vah)--"ravishing"
  • Valora (vahl-OR-ah)--"valuable"

Many names already have established Esperanto equivalents, but if yours doesn't, here's how it goes:
  • Esperanto has one sound for every letter and vice-versa.
  • There are 5 vowels: A ("father"), E ("get"), I ("ski"), O ("cope"), and U ("glue"). There's a good deal of flexibility.
  • C is always soft ("cite"), never hard ("cut").
  • Soft 'ch' ("church") will become Ĉ.
  • Hard 'ch' ("Zachary") and 'c' ("cut") will become K. 
  • G is always hard ("get"), never soft ("giant").
  • J or soft G ("giant") will become Ĝ.
  • Qu will become Kv.
  • S is always soft ("soft"), never hard ("laser").
  • Sh will become Ŝ.
  • W will either become V, or Ŭ if part of a diphthong (e.g. aw, ow, ew).
  • X will become KS.
  • Y will become J.
  • It may be easier to transcribe the original Latin form or a Romance language form (French, Italian, Spanish, etc).
Here are the top 10 boys' and girls' names from 2010 in Esperanto.

Boys'
  • Ajdeno
  • Ĝajdeno
  • Ĝajkobo
  • Kajdeno
  • Itano
  • Ĝaksono
  • Mikelo
  • Aleksandro
  • Viliemo or Viljemo
  • Noa
Girls:
  • Sofia
  • Izabela or Ezabela
  • Olevia or Alevia
  • Kloi
  • Ema
  • Emeli
  • Abegajlo (or -a)
  • Madesano (or -a)
  • Ajva
  • Adesano (or -a)

If you're interested in learning more about Esperanto (or just learning it), visit lernu!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Subtle than Princess, Diamond, or Heaven

Your name reflects who you are, or what your parents wanted for you. Word names are funny things--some are seen as quirky, but acceptable. Others are scoffed at by a good portion of society. So, you want to name your daughter Queen, but want to make sure she won't legally change her name the nanosecond she turns 18? Here're some less overt choices:
  • Adi (ah-DEE, Hebrew)--"jewel"
  • Alina (ah-LEE-nah, Arabic)--"noble"
  • Alya (AHL-ya, Arabic)--"heaven" or "sky"
  • Anthea (an-THAY-ah, Greek)--"flower"
  • Anwen (AHN-wen, Welsh)--"very beautiful"
  • Astrid (AST-rid, Scandinavian)--"beautiful goddess"
  • Bevin (BEY-vin, Irish)--"fair lady"
  • Bijou (bee-zhoo, French)--"jewel"
  • Calantha (cahl-AN-tha, Greek)--"beautiful flower"
  • Despina (DEHS-pee-na, Greek)--"lady"
  • Diantha (dye-AN-tha, Greek)--"heavenly flower"
  • Dulcibella (dul-see-BELL-a, Latin)--"sweet and pretty"
  • Donna (DAH-nah, Italian)--"lady"
  • Eirian (eye-REE-an, Welsh)--"bright"
  • Freya (FRAY-ah, Norse)--"lady", Norse goddess of love and beauty
  • Gytha (GEETH-a, English)--"beautiful goddess"
  • Inanna (in-AH-nah, Sumerian)--"lady of the sky", Sumerian goddess of love, earth, war, and fertility
  • Ixchel (ee-SHEL, Mayan)--"rainbow lady", Mayan goddess of the moon, earth, and medicine
  • Keeva (KEE-va, Irish)--"beautiful", traditionally spelled Caoimhe
  • Líadan (LEE-ah-dahn, Irish)--"grey lady" 
  • Mabel (MAY-bel, English)--"lovable"
  • Malika (mah-lee-kah, Arabic)--"queen"
  • Mio (mee-oh, Japanese)--"beautiful cherry blossom"
  • Mona (MOH-na, Irish)--"little noble one"
  • Naomi (nah-oh-mee, Japanese)--"honest and beautiful"
  • Nerys (NEHR-iss, Welsh)--"lady"
  • Neve (NEEV, Irish)--"bright", traditionally spelled Niamh
  • Orla (OR-la, Irish)--"golden princess"
  • Ourania (ou-RAN-ee-ah, Greek)--"heavenly", Greek muse of astronomy
  • Peninnah (pen-IN-nah, Biblical Hebrew)--"precious stone"
  • Rani (rah-nee, Indian [Hindi])--"queen"
  • Regina (re-GEE-na, Latin)--"queen"
  • Reina/Reyna (REY-na, Spanish)--"queen"
  • Rhiannon (ree-AN-on, Welsh)--"great queen", Welsh goddess of the moon and fertility
  • Ríona (ree-OH-nah, Irish)--"queen"
  • Sarah (SAIR-a, Biblical Hebrew)--"princess"
  • Talulla (tah-LOO-lah, Irish)--"princess of abundance"
  • Theia (THAY-ah, Greek)--"goddess"
  • Yakira (yah-KEER-ah, Hebrew)--"precious"
  • Ziva (ZEE-va, Hebrew)--"radiant"

Friday, July 1, 2011

Random Fact of the Day:

Although English is a Germanic language, it's closest sister language is Scots. It split from English 400-600 years ago, but is still most intelligible by modern English speakers, if you pay close attention. ;)