Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bemusedley, I Relay a List Most Painstakinglee Talleigh-ed

Or, "How I, on Another Site, I Saw Yet Another New Name Ending in 'lee', and How I Set Out to Discover Them All".-leigh.

I'm not sure who started the '-ley' epidemic, but I have a feeling we have Shirley Temple and Hayley Mills to blame, as well as author George Barr McCutcheon (who gave a female main character the male name Beverly). Regardless, for your own amusement and horror, here are all the '-ley/lie/leigh/li/ly' names given to baby girls in 2010 (for names with multiple spellings, only the most common is given).
I'm sorry.

  • Emily
  • Kaylee
  • Hailey
  • Riley
  • Lily
  • Natalie
  • Kylie
  • Ashley
  • Bailey
  • Carly
  • Kimberly
  • Molly
  • Callie
  • Ellie
  • Allie
  • Marley
  • Leslie
  • Kinley
  • Charlie
  • Miley
  • Ainsley
  • Brylee
  • Hadley
  • Paisley
  • Presley
  • Brynlee
  • Kinsley
  • Kelly
  • Harley
  • Halle
  • Nayeli
  • Annalee
  • Kenley
  • Mckinley
  • Jaylee
  • Holly
  • Finley
  • Julie
  • Yareli
  • Tenley
  • Jolie
  • Rosalie
  • Braylee
  • Raylee
  • Maylee
  • Araceli
  • Keely
  • Amelie
  • Shaylee
  • Adalee
  • Kensley
  • Millie
  • Bentley
  • Everleigh
  • Angely
  • Berkley
  • Zaylee
  • Blakely
  • Ailey
  • Yaneli
  • Tinley
  • Anjali
  • Lynlee
  • Tinsley
  • Janelly
  • Shirley
  • Amberly
  • Oakley
  • Skylee
  • Makaylee
  • Karely
  • Taylee
  • Heavenly
  • Eisley
  • Adley
  • Whitley
  • Mckenley
  • Henley
  • Tylee
  • Hartley
  • Emberly
  • Brenley
  • Shelly
  • Denali
  • Greenlee
  • Beverly
  • Quetzalli
  • Avalee
  • Lovely
  • Jubilee
  • Leily
  • Arleigh
  • Novalee
  • Tilly
  • Sicily
  • Leigh
  • Brinkley
  • Mallie
  • Neely
  • Tali
  • Zuly
  • Noeli
  • Daylee
  • Mali
  • Coralie
  • Evalee
  • Cylee
  • Waverly
  • Idaly
  • Shylee
  • Breleigh
  • Marily
  • Coley
  • Atley
  • Kingsley
  • Jennalee
  • Ily
  • Wesley
  • Brantley
  • Ripley
  • Orly
  • Mariely
  • Ciclaly
  • Isley
  • Haisley
  • Polly
  • Emsley
  • Brooklee
  • Madilee
  • Jesly
  • Kaisley
  • Kesley
  • Ensley
  • Quinley
  • Bradley
  • Metzli
  • Naleigh
  • Hensley
  • Langley
  • Valley
  • Anaily
  • Dolly
  • Sonali
  • Annlee
  • Brentley
  • Ollie
  • Azalee
  • Suley
  • Zylie
  • Nashly
  • Makylie
  • Truly
  • Conley
  • Averly
  • Tigerlily
  • Yaeli
  • Esli
  • Hanalei
  • Tensley
  • Britlee
  • Kialee
  • Ridley
  • Mahaley
  • Zolie
  • Nylee
  • Jaydalee
  • Dally
  • Chaeli
  • Hanley
  • Mattingly
  • Mckinsley
  • Saralee
  • Galilee
  • Anareli 
  • Arceli
  • Nazli 
  • Yameli
  • Kiralee
  • Talei
  • Gabrielly 
  • Jazly
  • Kamali
  • Naraly
  • Wrigley
  • Brendaly
  • Camily
  • Janalee
  • Nayalee
  • Starlee
  • Yariely
  • Heli
  • Shivali
  • Sully
  • Soli
  • Suhailey
  • Greeley
  • Merly
  • Nollie
  • Onalee
  • Siddalee
  • Tanley
  • Danielly
  • Dianely
  • Emmanuelly
  • Isaly
  • Layali
  • Seeley
  • Graylee
  • Isabelly
  • Jehieli
  • Jiali
  • Narely
  • Nirali
  • Norely
  • Pailey
  • Sahily
  • Yaresli
  • Aleli
  • Ameyalli
  • Bexley
  • Celie
  • Darly
  • Lakely
  • Nefeli
  • Timberly
  • Tully 
  • Yoeli 
  • Yorley
  • Zali
  • Airlie
  • Benelli
  • Chanley
  • Chesleigh
  • Hiley
  • Huntley
  • Ixareli
  • Jakaylee
  • Josely
  • Loxley
  • Marbely
  • Shefali
  • Thaily
  • Vaishali
  • Analily
  • Brinsley
  • Brooksley
  • Darisley
  • Draylee
  • Endsley
  • Gracelee
  • Hatley
  • Kentley
  • Kinberli
  • Krystalee
  • Luley
  • Marali
  • Mayerli
  • Medley
  • Mialee
  • Mythili
  • Nelani
  • Rochely
  • Saheli
  • Sareli
  • Saylee
  • Thessaly
  • Wendoly
  • Yaheli
  • Yanali 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Breaking the Patterns, Part 1

Earlier this week I added to my SSA analysis, discovering trends and sounds that describe American names. Knowing what most people are drawn to means one has a better shot of avoiding a "boring" or trendy-sounding name.

The average American boys' name:
  • Is 4-7 letters long
  • Ends in N, R, S, or a vowel-sound
  • Will likely start with  J, A, D, C, M, K, R, B, T, or L.
  • Contains the vowels A and/or E.
The average American girls' name:
  • Is 5-7 letters long
  • Ends in a vowel sound, usually "ah" or "ee", or in N.
  • Will likely start with A, M, K, J, or L.
  • Contains A, and E or I.

While I doubt that a future parent will narrow their name list to ones don't fit the above criteria, it's a good starting point to find a truly stand-out name. Onto the inevitable lists:

Boys:
  • Basil (BAH-sil, Arabic; or BAZ-il, English)
  • Briscoe (BRIS-ko, English)
  • Burke (BURK, English)
  • Caius (KYE-us, Latin)
  • Christoph/Kristof (KRIS-tof, German/Hungarian)
  • Ciro (SEE-roh, Spanish; or CHEE-roh, Italian)--form of Cyrus
  • Clement (KLEM-ent, English)
  • Colm (COL-um, Irish)--"dove"
  • Conleth (CON-leth, Irish)
  • Elek (EL-ek, Hungarian)--form of Alexis
  • Ezio (ETZ-ee-oh, Italian)--"eagle"
  • Ford (FOHRD, English)
  • Frey (FRAY, Norse)
  • Gero (GEH-roh, German)--"spear"
  • Giles (JILES, English)
  • Griffith (GRIF-fith, Welsh)--anglicized from Gruffudd
  • Gwillym/Gwillim (GWIL-lem, Welsh)--form of William
  • Hemming (HEM-ming, Scandinavian)--"shape-changer" 
  • Hugh (HEW, English)
  • Ivor (EE-vohr or EYE-vor, Irish & Scottish)
  • Menno (MEN-noh, German)
  • Merrick (MEHR-rik, English)
  • Murdoch (MUR-dok, Scottish)
  • Nye (NYE, Welsh)
  • Omri (OHM-ree, Hebrew)
  • Orfeo (or-FAY-oh, Italian & Spanish)
  • Otto (OT-toh, Germanic)
  • Priam (PREE-am, Greek)
  • Roald (ROO-all or ROE-ald, Norwegian)
  • Rurik (RUR-ik, Russian)--form of Roderick
  • Savio (SAH-vee-oh, Italian)--"clever"
  • Sem (SEM, Dutch)--form of Biblical Shem
  • Somerled (SOM-er-led, Scottish)--"summer traveller". Sometimes anglicized to Sorley.
  • Tygo (TYE-goh, Dutch)--form of Greek Tycho. Swedish form is Tyko.

Girls:
  • Beryl (BEHR-il, English)--a type of gemstone
  • Bertille (behr-TEE, French)
  • Celeste (sehl-EST, French)--"heavenly"
  • Chryseis (krih-SAY-is, Greek)--"golden"
  • Dilys (DIL-is, Welsh)--"genuine"
  • Dione (dee-OH-nay, Greek)
  • Echo (EH-koh, Greek)
  • Emer (EE-mur, Irish)--"swift"
  • Eris (EHR-is, Greek)--goddess of chaos
  • Eseld (ES-ehld, Cornish)--form of Isolde
  • Esen (ES-en, Turkish)--"the wind"
  • Eydis (AY-dees, Icelandic)
  • Fen (FEN, Chinese)--"fragrance"
  • Ffion (FEE-on, Welsh)--"rose"
  • Idril (ID-ril, Sindarin)--"sparkle-briliance". From J.R.R. Tolkien's invented elvish language.
  • Ines (ee-NES, French, Spanish, Italian, & Slovene)--form of Agnes
  • Jonquil (JON-kwil, English)--a type of flower
  • Josette (zho-ZET, French)--feminine form of Joseph
  • Lilou (lee-loo, French)
  • Lykki (LEWK-kee, Danish)--"good luck, happiness"
  • Neith (NEETH or NAYTH, Greek)--form of Nit, Egyptian goddess of war & hunting.
  • Nurit (NOO-reet, Hebrew)--"buttercup" [flower]
  • Olwen (OHL-wen, Welsh)
  • Pernille (pehr-NEEL-eh, Danish & Norwegian)--modern form of Petronilla
  • Peronel (PEHR-o-nel, English)--another form of Petronilla
  • Sive (SIVE, Irish)--"sweet, good". Anglicized from Sadb.
  • Tempest (TEM-pest, English)--"storm"
  • Tinuviel (tin-OO-vee-el, Sindarin)--"nightingale". Another from J.R.R. Tolkien.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Same Name?!--Jacob

Jacob--a seeming contradiction; both traditional and trendy. It was a top name back when the SSA started keeping track over 120 years ago, but was steadily on the decline. For some reason, it shot back to the top in the 1970s, and has been there ever since. Jacob wasn't exactly the most honorable of Biblical characters to be sure, but he has that eye-catching J up front, that fun-to-say 'ay', that crisp 'c', and that rare 'ob' ending. The mixture of familiar and unusual is probably what's kept him so appealing for so long. Jacob is also the original form of another perennial boys' name--James.

Original Hebrew form: Ya'aqov [יַעֲקֹב] (ya-ah-kov)
Greek form: Iacobus [ Ιακωβος] (ya-COH-boos)
Later Latin form: Iacomus (YA-coh-moos)

Modern versions:
  • Cobus (KOH-bus)--Dutch
  • Diego (dee-AY-go)--Spanish (via Santiago, an elision of Santo [Saint] Yago)
  • Giacomo (JAH-koh-moh)--Italian
  • Hamish (HAY-mish)--Scottish (from James)
  • Iago (ee-AH-goh)--Galician & Welsh
  • Jacques (ZHAHK)--French
  • Jago (JAY-goh)--Cornish
  • Jaime (HYE-may)--Spanish (from James)
  • Jaime (ZHIME)--Portuguese (from James)
  • James (JAYMZ)--English (via the late Latin Iacomus)
  • Japik (YAH-pik)--Frisian
  • Jaume (ZHOW-meh)--Catalan (from James)
  • Jem (JEM)--medieval English (from James)
  • Kimo (kee-moh)--Hawaiian (from James)
  • Seamus (SHAY-mus)--Irish (from James)
  • Tiago (tee-AH-go)--Portuguese (via Santiago)
  • Xanti (SHAHN-tee)--Basque (via Santiago)
  • Yago (YAH-goh)--Spanish
  • Yacov (YAH-kof)--Bulgarian & Russian
Feminine forms:
  • Giachetta (jah-KET-tah)--Italian
  • Jacomina (ZHAK-oh-mee-nah)--Dutch
  • Jacqueline (zhak-a-LEEN)--French
  • Jamesina (JAY-meh-SEE-nah)--Scottish (from James)
  • Jayma (JAY-mah)--English (from James)
  • Zaklina (zhak-LEE-nah)--Croatian & Polish

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More SSA List Facts

I've been further working on breaking down the baby-name trends of 2010 (the first part is here), and here's what I've got:

Boys' names have much more variety of sounds:
  • When comparing starting letters & ending letters, girls' names are significantly* more likely to start with 'A', 'K', or 'L' or end with 'A' or 'Y' than boys' names.
  • Boys are significantly more likely than girls to have names starting with 'B', 'D', 'F', 'J', 'O', 'Q', 'R', 'T', 'U', 'W', 'X' or 'Z'; or ending in 'B', 'C', 'N', 'O', 'R', 'S', 'T', or 'X'.
  • For all other instances, the numbers are about even.

Boys are actually more likely to have a name ending in 'el'. 37 out of the boys' top 1000 end in 'el', while only 25 of girls' names end in 'el' or 'elle'.

Boys' names and girls' names are generally about the same length--6 letters. Boys' are slightly more likely to be shorter (5.8 ± 1.3); girls' slightly more likely to be longer (6.0 ± 1.3).

Although 'E' is the most common vowel in English, 'A' is the most common vowel in American names. 'U' is the least common vowel in American names, but 'Y' is the least common vowel in English.
Girls' names are nearly twice as likely to contain a 'Y', while boys' names are nearly twice as likely to contain an 'O' or a 'U'.

Only one name ending in 'U' appears in the top 1000--Beau.



*"significantly" is of course, subjective, but for this analysis, it means "at least 40%, in general". Very scientific.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Usual Nickname, Unexpected Name--Ellie/Ella

*dies under avalanche of Ellas*
I kid, I kid. Ella/Ellie is potentially one of the most popular nicknames right now, though, with Isabella, Elizabeth, Ella, Gabriella, Elena, Isabel, Annabelle, & Giselle all in the top 100. Adding Eliana, just-plain-Ellie, Gabrielle, Daniela, Michelle, Elise, Ariel, Eleanor, & Eliza from the top 200, and well, that's a lot of El-s. If you still adore Ella, and want a more stand-out name, here're some for you:
  • Andela (ahn-DEL-ah, Czech)
  • Antonella (an-toh-NEL-lah, Italian)--feminine form of Anthony
  • Ayelet (eye-EL-et, Hebrew)--"gazelle"
  • Camellia (cam-EL-ee-ah, English)
  • Ĉiela (chee-EL-ah, Esperanto)
  • Cloelia (klo-EL-ee-ah, Latin)--modern Italian form is Clelia
  • Cyrielle (see-ree-EL, French)--feminine form of Cyril
  • Elettra (el-LET-trah, Italian)--modern form of Electra
  • Elaheh (el-ah-HAY, Persian)--"goddess"
  • Eleni (el-EN-ee, Greek)--modern form of Helen
  • Eleri (el-EHR-ee, Welsh)
  • Eliora (el-ee-OHR-ah, Hebrew)--"my God is my light"
  • Elodia (ehl-OH-dee-ah, Spanish)--modern form of St. Alodia. French form is Elodie.
  • Elowen (el-OH-en, Cornish)
  • Eluned (el-EE-ned, Welsh)
  • Eumelia (yu-MEL-ee-ah, Greek)--"melody"
  • Finella (fin-EL-lah, Scottish)--anglicized from Fionnuala
  • Fiorella (fee-or-EL-lah, Italian)--"little flower"
  • Ionela (yoh-NEL-ah, Romanian)--feminine form of John
  • Mirella (meer-EL-lah, Italian)--form of Mireio

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Same Name?!--Katherine

Ah, Katherine. Literally one of the oldest names on earth. It's so old that it's original meaning has been lost to time. Many baby books & websites will tell you it means "pure", but that's only partially true. The original recorded form was Aikaterine, which has several possible origins. But when Christianity became really big in ancient times, it was altered because of its "heathen" roots, and thus became Katharina--closely resembling the Greek word for "pure".

Oldest known form (Greek): Aikaterine [Αικατερινη] (eye-kat-ehr-EEN-ee)
Original Latin form: Katerina (kaht-er-EEN-ah)

Modern versions:
  • Cadi (KAH-dee)--Welsh
  • Caitlin (KAHT-leen)--Irish
  • Catalina (kah-tah-LEE-nah)--Romanian & Spanish
  • Cateline (kah-tel-een)--medieval French
  • Cato (ka-TOH)--Dutch
  • Catrin (KAHT-reen)--German
  • Catrin (KAT-rin)--Welsh
  • Catriona (kah-TREE-uh-nah)--Irish & Scottish
  • Kadri (KAH-dree)--Estonian
  • Kaia/Kaja (KAH-ya)--Scandinavian
  • Kaisa (KYE-sah)--Estonian & Finnish
  • Kalena (kah-leh-nah)--Hawaiian
  • Karen (KEHR-en or KAHR-en)--Danish
  • Katell (KAH-tel)--Breton
  • Katina (kah-TEE-nah)--Greek & Macedonian
  • Katrina (kah-TREEN-ah)--Dutch, German, & Swedish
  • Katya (KAHT-ya)--Russian
  • Kotryna (koh-TRIN-ah)--Lithuanian
  • Nienke (NEEN-keh)--Frisian

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Writers Have the Most Fun

As much as I prefer established or historical names for my own kids, I do have to feel bad for parents brave enough to invent names for their children. It takes a bit of guts and confidence, especially if the name doesn't fit into any current trends or patterns, and they're likely to take a lot of crap for it.
When a writer does it, though, it somehow adds credibility to a name. A created name is okay, as long as someone else created it?

Boys:
  • Cedric (SED-rik)--Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
  • Figaro (FIH-gar-oh)--"The Barber of Seville", Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
  • Orville (OHR-vil)--"Evelina", Fanny Burney
  • Percival (PUR-si-val)--"Perceval, the Story of the Grail", Chrétien de Troyes

Girls:
  • Amanda (ah-MAN-dah)--"Love's Last Shift", Colley Cibber
  • Arline (ahr-LEEN)--"The Bohemian Girl", Michael William Balfe
  • Ayla (AY-lah)--Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel
  • Cora (COHR-ah)--The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper
  • Haidee (HAY-dee)--"Don Juan"; Byron, Lord Tennyson
  • Imogen (IM-o-jen)--"Cymbeline", Shakespeare. A two-fer! Shakespeare originally wrote Innogen (Gaelic, "maiden"), but it was misprinted.
  • Janice (JAN-is)--Janice Meredith, Paul Leicester Ford
  • Jessica (JESS-ih-kah)--"The Merchant of Venice", Shakespeare
  • Loredana (loh-reh-DAH-nah)--Mattea, George Sand
  • Lorna (LOHR-nah)--Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmoor
  • Lucinda (loo-SIN-dah)--Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
  • Melinda (mel-IN-dah)--"The Recruiting Officer", George Farquhar
  • Miranda (meer-AN-dah)--"The Tempest", Shakespeare
  • Myra (MYE-rah)--"Myra"; Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke
  • Nerissa (nehr-ISS-ah)--"The Merchant of Venice", Shakespeare
  • Norma (NOHR-mah)--"Norma", Felice Romani
  • Nydia (NID-ee-ah)--The Last Days of Pompeii, Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Olivia (oh-LIV-ee-ah)--"The Twelfth Night", Shakespeare
  • Ophelia (oh-FEE-lee-ah)--"Arcadia", Jacopo Sannazaro
  • Pamela (PAM-el-ah)--"Arcadia", Sir Philip Sidney
  • Perdita (pur-DEE-tah)--"The Winter's Tale", Shakespeare
  • Stella (STEL-lah)--Astrophel and Stella, Sir Philip Sidney
  • Vanessa (van-ES-sah)--"Cadenus and Vanessa", Jonathan Swift
  • Wendy (WEN-dee)--"Peter Pan", J. M. Barrie

Monday, August 15, 2011

You're a God (Part 1)

I started to do a post summarizing god & goddess names from mythology, and names derived from them, only to realize that guess what? There's an awful lot of them! So, today I'm going to focus on Roman mythology. (since the cultures overlapped so much, though, don't be surprised if some Greek sneaks in)
When we think of Roman mythology, most of us think of the big names like Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Diana. But over the course of Roman history, there were literally dozens of gods worshipped, some named by the various Roman cults, some incorporated from other religions.

Boy:
  • Caelus (KYE-loos or KAY-loos)--god of the sky
  • Janus (JAN-oos)--god of gateways and beginnings
  • Jove (JOHV)--another name for Jupiter, god of the sky and thunder, king of all gods
  • Sancus (SAHN-coos)--god of honesty, trust, and oaths
  • Sol (SOHL)--god of the sun

Girl
  • Abeona (ah-bee-oh-nah)--protector of children alone, especially guarding their first steps
  • Aura (AW-rah)--personification of the breeze
  • Aurora (aw-ROHR-ah)--goddess of the dawn
  • Bellona (bel-LOH-nah)--goddess of war
  • Cardea (car-DAY-ah)--goddess of hinges and change 
  • Carmenta (cahr-MEN-tah)--goddess of childbirth and prophecy, the patron of midwives
  • Ceres (SEER-ez or SEER-ess)--goddess of agriculture and fertility
  • Cybele (SIB-el-eh or KIB-el-eh)--goddess of mountains and caves, and wild animals. Originally Phrygian, but adopted by both Greeks and Romans
  • Deverra (deh-VEHR-ah)--goddess of childbirth, midwives, and purification
  • Diana (dye-AN-nah)--among other things, goddess of the moon and the hunt
  • Egeria (eh-JEER-ee-ah or eh-JEER-yah)--bestower of law and ritual
  • Fessona (FES-soh-nah)--goddess who aids the weary
  • Flora (FLOH-rah)--goddess of spring and flowers
  • Juno (JOO-noh)--goddess of marriage and finance, protector of the community
  • Juturna (joo-TUR-nah)--goddess of fountains and springs
  • Levana (leh-VAH-nah)--goddess of newborn babies
  • Lucina (loo-SEE-nah)--goddess of women in childbirth
  • Maia (MYE-ah)--goddess of spring, wife of Vulcan
  • Minerva (min-EHR-vah)--goddess of war, wisdom, trade, and industry
  • Nenia (NEHN-ee-ah)--goddess of funerals
  • Rusina (roo-SEE-nah)--protector of fields and farms. Sometimes called Rurina (roo-REE-nah).
  • Vesta (VES-tah)--goddess of home and family
  • Victoria (vik-TOR-ee-ah)--goddess of victory
Surprisingly, there are lot more goddesses than gods in Roman mythology. This isn't even half, but they are the most "usable" in modern English, IMO. Understandably, parents, both in ancient times and today, often didn't want to give their child the exact name of a deity. Instead, they gave names in honor of the god. Here are some names derived from Roman deities.

Boy: 
  • Corin (COR-in)--from Quirinus, a god of war
  • Gennaro (jen-AHR-oh)--from Janus
  • Marcus (MAR-cus)--from Mars, god of war & agriculture
  • Martin (MAR-tin)--another from Mars
  • Silas (SYE-las)--from Silvanus, the god of forests and fields
Girl:
  • Junia (JOO-nee-ah)--from Juno
  • Polina (pol-EE-nah)--from Apollo, a Greek god adopted by the Romans, a god of light, prophecy, medicine, and poetry, among many other things
  • Sylvia (SIL-vee-ah), Silvana (sil-VAH-nah) and Sylvaine (sil-VEHN)--from Silvanus

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why Does Leigh Sound Like Lee?

Really, this has bothered me for years. Most of the time in English, "eigh" sounds like "ay" ('weigh', neighbor', 'sleigh'). The only instance I can come up with where it doesn't is in "height" and related words. Those seem to be coincidence, etymologically ("high" + "th" [measurement suffix] = "height"). So why does Leigh say "lee"?

The name Lee has at least two sources:
The less common is an Anglicization of the Irish surname O'Laoidheach. O' is the typical Irish patronymic, of course, equivalent to "-son" in English. Laoidheach, through the fun that is Gaelic linguistics, is pronounced "lee-ock". It means "poetic" or "songful" and was an occupational name for poets & bards.
The more common source is the Old English word for 'field'--"lea". As a surname, it was given to someone who lived by or worked a field. Although Gaelic names are full of letter combinations odd to English, it much more likely that the latter is actually the source of Leigh's unintuitive spelling.
Being an nice old word before dictionaries were invented and literacy was common, there were a lot of alternate spellings for "lea": ley, leye, lei, lēah. Even older spellings included leag, lege, legh, and læch (all likely pronounced something like "lag" or "leeg")
Somewhere along the line, the spellings got jumbled into "leigh", and while the 'gh' sound was dropped, the spelling never changed.

Silly English.

Friday, August 12, 2011

True Unisex Names

Giving girls names that are traditionally boys' is nothing new, no matter how much modern parents wail about it (or wholeheartedly embrace it). I won't get into the sociological theories and quibbles about gender-bending names, but the truth is, once boy names "go girl", they rarely are suitable for boys after a generation or so. There are, however, some names that are truly unisex--they have been used both for boys and girls for several generations, or even several centuries in some cases. These are usually the result of two different names, from different sources, sounding the same in English, or a non-gender-specific name remaining extremely uncommon.

  • Arden (AR-den, English)--a surname with various geographic origins
  • Briar (BRY-ar, English)--from the thorny plant
  • Caelan (KAY-lan, Irish)--anglicized from the masculine Caolan ("slender boy") or the feminine Caoilfhionn ("slender and pretty")
  • Callisto (cahl-LEES-toh, Italian & Greek)--the masculine Italian and feminine Greek forms of Callistus ("most beautiful")
  • Carey/Cary (KEHR-ee, English)--from the surname Carey with many origins, or short for Caroline
  • Casey (KAY-see, English)--from the Irish surname O'Cathasaigh ("vigilant")
  • Christian (KRIST-yan, English)--originally unisex, it's only recently become overwhelmingly used for boys.
  • Francis (FRAN-sis, English & French)--"Frenchman"
  • Garnet (GAR-net, English)--from the occupational surname, or from the gemstone
  • Germaine/Jermaine (jur-MAIN, English & French)--the two most common versions of the Latin Germanus ("brother" or "seed")
  • Hanan (hah-nahn, Hebrew & Arabic)--a masculine Hebrew name ("gracious", sometimes considered the male form of Hannah/Anna), or a feminine Arabic name ("mercy")
  • Jules (JOOLZ, English)--from the masculine Julian or the feminine Julia
  • Kiran (keer-an, Indian [Hindi])--"sunbeam"
  • Lee (LEE, English)--from the English surname ("field")
  • Lior (lee-OR, Hebrew)--"my light"
  • Liron (leer-ON, Hebrew)--"my song"
  • Mika (MEE-kah, Finnish & Japanese)--a Finnish form of Michael, or a feminine Japanese name ("beautiful perfume" or "beautiful addition")
  • Merit (MEHR-it, English & Swedish)--from the surname Merritt, or from the English word, or a Swedish form of Margaret
  • Merle (MURL, English)--from the surname Merrill or the feminine name Muriel, or from the archaic English word merle, "blackbird"
  • Morgan (MOHR-gan, English & Welsh)--from the masculine Morcant or the feminine Morgen
  • Noah (no-ah, English & Hebrew)--from the masculine Noach ("comfort") or the feminine No'ah ("motion")
  • Rio (REE-oh, English, Spanish, & Japanese)--from the Spanish word for river, or a Japanese feminine name ("cherry blossom village")
  • Robin (ROB-in, English)--short for Robert, or from the songbird
  • Rowan (ROH-an, English & Irish)--from the Irish surname O'Ruadhan, or from the tree
  • Shea (SHAY, Irish)--anglicized from Seaghdha ("admirable")
  • Tai (TYE, Chinese)--"great"
  • Wyn/Wynne (WIN, English & Welsh)--from the English surname ("friend") or from the Welsh masculine name Gwyn ("blessed")
  • Yarden (YAHR-den, Hebrew)--anglicized as Jordan
  • Yuri (YOO-ree, Japanese & Russian)--feminine Japanese name ("lily") or a Russian form of George

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Same Name?!--Elizabeth

Watching languages develop & diverge is fascinating--or at least, that's what I tell myself when even I see a crazy alternative spelling or try to decipher 1447spk on a forum. ;) While most of us realize that our modern versions of names aren't exactly the same as the original, it can be surprising how many familiar, everyday names share a common source. I can see myself doing many of these posts, so today I'm going to start with the many versions of the traditional classic Elizabeth.

Original Hebrew form: Elisheva [אֱלִישֶׁבַע] (el-ih-she-VAH)
Greek transliteration: Elisabet [Ελισαβετ] (eh-LIS-a-bet)

 Modern versions:
  • Alzbeta (alzh-BEH-tah)--Czech
  • Bethan (BETH-ahn)--Welsh
  • Bettina (bet-TEEN-ah)--German
  • Eilís (AYL-eesh)--Irish
  • Elisabetta (el-iss-ah-BET-tah)--Italian
  • Elisaveta (el-ee-sah-VET-ah)--Bulgarian
  • Eliska (el-EESH-kah)--Czech
  • Eliso (eh-LISS-oh)--Georgian
  • Elsa (EL-sah)--German
  • Elspeth (ELZ-peth)--Scottish
  • Elise/Elyse (el-EESE)--English
  • Elizabella (ee-liz-ah-BEL-lah)--archaic English
  • Isabeau (is-ah-bo)--Medieval French
  • Isabel (IZ-ah-bell or ees-ah-bell)--Medieval French
  • Isabella (iz-ah-BEL-lah)--Italian (from Isabel)
  • Isobel (IZ-oh-bell)--Scottish (from Isabel)
  • Liesel (LEEZ-el)--German
  • Lilibet (LIL-eh-bet)--English
  • Lisette (lih-sette)--French
  • Sabela (sah-BEL-ah)--Galician (from Isabel)
  • Spela (SPEL-ah)--Slovene