Category: Unusual Baby Names
As many of you know, I’m a good half Greek, but as not too many of you know, the other half of me is Choctaw and Cherokee Native American. Today, I’ll focus on Cherokee names and naming rules and next time we’ll look at Choctaw.
Cherokee has its own alphabet and its own naming rules, much like any other language. For example: There are no Cherokee sounds for the letters B, F, P, R, V, X, Z, SH, or TH. Cherokee speakers replace them with the lettesr QU so they would pronounce Rebecca “quay-quay-gah”. SH becomes S, TH becomes T, R is sometimes L or QU (Mary would be may-lee), and KR/CR/CHR becomes QU so Chris becomes quiss.
In Cherokee, syllables end in vowels so if your name ends in a consonant, like Megan, you become Megana.
Whose name is worse than mine? Almost no one’s, by my lights. I’ve spent decades looking, and 99 percent of the names I hear are better than my own. Once in a great while, I do come across a name that I actually think is worse, and I view such names with both pity and awe–but more on this later.
What’s so bad about my name? I come by it honorably enough; I was born in Chadera, Israel, where the name Yona was perhaps not so common as the Susans or Debbies that populated my grade school classrooms, but neither was it freakish. Then my parents moved back to the United States and it did not occur to them to Anglicize my name, which was always confused or mangled: Yola, Yoda, Ona and Zona were a few of its many ungainly permutations. And coupled with my unusual last name, Zeldis, made for an even more confused reaction.
When I entered a new school in fourth grade, my teacher looked at the class list and said, “What is Yona Zeldis?” I had to raise my hand and say, “It’s me.” She thought it was a misprint and that it should perhaps have been Zelda Yonis; no such luck though.
I am currently catching up on the show Scandal, which takes place in the US Capital and involves the highest political figures of the land. The fictitious president has one of the best character names I’ve ever heard: Fitzgerald Thomas Grant. He is called Fitz by those close to him, and I can’t help but be drawn to it, especially since there are so many names that could lead to the nickname. Let’s take a look at the Fitzes!
Fitz is the Anglo-Norman version of -son and means “son of.” It eventually was used by the British family as a surname of the illegitimate children of kings and princes. Fitz is also a standalone surname of German origin.
There are a few Fitz names that are or have been used in the United States. In 2012, only Fitzgerald (12) and Fitzpatrick (7) were given to boys. Since 1880, the only other Fitz names given to 5 or more boys in any given year in the United States were Fitzhugh and Fitzroy. Fitz itself also has a history of use.