Should you give your baby a unique name?

Same w/ me. Must be something abut Chicago Polish! :wink:

I remember my dad just sounding out our surname phonetically. Really pretty simple to get pretty close if you just look at it and sound it out. No long strings of multiple consonants, silent letters, or anything. We hadn’t had any Polish immigrants for generations, and didn’t know anyone who spoke Polish. I think my wife and at least 1 of kids differ from me as to whether or not they pronounce the Z in the middle syllable “-zin-.” I don’t because my dad didn’t. I think my wife and kids do. I don’t care.

WRT given names, I see a couple of issues. If you choose a name that is from a language other than where you live, you should expect that to be mispronounced. If it means enough to you to express your heritage, go for it. But don’t expect your community to suddenly learn that culture.

I personally have an issue with pronouncing a name differently than it is spelled. The Kirsten/Shasteen example. If you want to name the kid Shasteen, go right ahead. But if you name them Kirsteen, don’t be shocked at what anyone could have predicted.

I also have a bit of an issue with creative spelling of common names. Adding "y"s instead of "I"s, inserting apostrophes, etc. I’m always confused, thinking, “That LOOKS like it could be (common name), but I don’t want to offend.” In my job, I routinely start off by asking, “How do I pronounce your name?”

If I were giving my kid an unusual name, I’d probably either reserve that for the middle name, give a more common middle name, or choose an unusual name that could be shortened to something less unusual. That way the kid can choose a form of their names/initials, without just resorting to a nickname.

Yeah, that’s the other pronunciation challenge. It’s one thing to have an unfamiliar-to-anglophones ethnic name, conventional in some other country than this one, it’s another to think it cute to make your child explain their name carefully every single time a stranger needs to use it, for the rest of their lives.

I can think of some unique (by which I mean you’ll probably never encounter another person with that name) names that turned out just fine. None of Frank Zappa’s kids changed their names. My daughter has a friend named Iolanthe, from the eponymous 19th century Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, which I thought was creative. Her friends call her Io.

You mean like the vocative thing? I guess for the purposes of speaking English people just pick one? I mean, suppose your name is Seumas. How do you want to write it (or ask people to pronounce it) in English?

  1. Seumas
  2. Sheumais
  3. Hamish
  4. James
  5. Ya’akov

Don’t ask me what is the optimal solution.

I think it’s a form of child abuse to give your kid a eweneek name. The parent isn’t the one who needs to live with the mispronunciations & krea’ahteeve spellings, the kid is. I wouldn’t, & didn’t, do it to mine.

Yep. Look, it is all well and good to not pick yet another David or Mary, sure. But pick something easy to spell and pronounce. My first name is very uncommon. Slightly hard to spell, but not at all hard to pronounce, and very rare.

I first read Thywillbedone, as Welsh! :grinning: :scream:


That’s an approximation of how the name is pronounced in Scandinavian countries. Is she from the US? (I would not write it the way you did to approximate the phonetics, but either it’s being pronounced slightly off or heard slightly differently.)

She’s in the UK but her family is Scandinavian.

President Eisenhower wrote that his elder siblings all had nicknames - shortened versions of their given names. And his mother was so bothered by this that she swore she would give her next child a name that couldn’t be shortened. So she named him Dwight. Which ---- became “IKE”.

Moral of the story - give a child a name that’s even mildly difficult to pronounce - don’t be surprised if the rest of the world finds a workaround.

Huh. I’m not aware of that account. Wikipedia says this:

Dwight David Eisenhower was born on October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, the third of seven sons born to David J. Eisenhower and Ida Stover.[10] His mother originally named him David Dwight but reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids in the family.[11] All of the boys were called “Ike”, such as “Big Ike” (Edgar) and “Little Ike” (Dwight); the nickname was intended as an abbreviation of their last name.[12] By World War II, only Dwight was still called “Ike”.[3]

I’ve always assumed “Ike” was short for “Eisenhower,” and that seems to confirm my assumption.

I don’t respond to nicknames. “Oh, that’s too hard! We’ll just introduce you as Dr. V!” Nope. Use my name, don’t be lazy.

Is Richard Pearse your actual name? In that case, I cannot imagine how to misspell it… But this puts me in mind of the Benjamin and Charles Sanders Peirce, father and son, famous Harvard mathematician and philosopher, resp., in the 19th century. Even holders of the Peirce instructorships at Harvard have often thought it was Pierce. The name is pronounced purse, incidentally, a fact impressed on my by the first teacher who taught me the Peirce decomposition.

Sounds like a mixed-up kid.

I’m not sure about the other Scandinavian countries, but in Norway, Kirsten is approximately* pronounced “SHEER-st’n.”

*There is no English equivalent to the Ki- sound in Norwegian. It’s like in between a Hebrew ch- and an English sh-.

It’s a Scandinavian name, so it’s not too odd to want it pronounced that way, I think. I mean, that’s her name.

Here’s a place where you can hear some Scandinavian pronunciations of it.

Scroll down to the Swedish and Norwegian pronunciations for the ones that are as I’m describing.

Purse? (I went to school with someone with that surname.) Pierce? (Which you mention.) Depends on how it’s said, I guess, but those two possibilities come to mind, depending on how its said aloud.

My own first name is a Scandinavian name that is very similar to a familiar name. It has a different spelling, but intuitive to English speakers to pronounce correctly, or so close to correctly that I don’t care. I do have to spell it to people if I want it spelled correctly. (I don’t care at Starbucks how it’s spelled on my cup.)

I don’t mind spelling it out at all when I need to.

I do care when people use the wrong version in an email. I sign my emails, plus my name is in my email address. But, I will only point it out if it’s happening over and over.

I saw what you did there.

“It’s pronounced shamus but it’s spelled with an e because I’m Scottish”.

Not hard.

Someone was named Unique.

I used to have a supervisor who would consistently misspell my name when replying to email I had sent her. She insisted there must be 2 n’s, not just one. I suspect the constant smell of pot surrounding her might have been a factor.

I tend to use my cat’s name in fast-food and similar situations that ask for a name. Allie seems to be easier for staff to spell or pronounce than Seanette, and the cat doesn’t care if I borrow her name.

That van Gogh guy. How dare he spell his name that way