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Globe-Trotting Names: Alexandre, Raphael, and Ysabel

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Not so long ago, globe-trotting was the exception.  Immigrants quickly adopted the language of their new homes, and we tended to marry and raise children with partners from similar religious and cultural backgrounds.

Now, in our globally-connected world, many families are faced with naming across cultures.  The high-profile parents in this week’s round-up can claim roots in Colombia, Cuba, France, Sweden, as well as the US, UK, and Australia.  The baby names they chose reflect this diversity.

Some names seem like an attempt to bridge several cultures, like the Monegasque arrival.  Others, like one of Michael Jordan’s new daughters, or Melissa George’s son, seem to celebrate one parent’s roots.

The trend isn’t just limited to celebrities and royals.  Plenty of us are trying to solve naming riddles: combining Irish roots with Polynesian heritage, or finding Japanese names that work well in English.

If we’re all the jet-set, is it any wonder that our children’s names are so rich with influences from French and Spanish, from history recent and far past?  There’s a healthy splash of creativity and daring, too, which seems fitting in a world filled with so much possibility

On to the nine most newsworthy baby names this week:

AlexandreLet’s start out with one that I missed!  Andrea Casiraghi is Princess Caroline’s eldest, and the firstborn grandchild for the late Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III.  This makes him second in line to the throne of Monaco, behind his mom.  Alexandre is Andrea’s son with wife Tatiana Santo Domingo.  The couple made headlines earlier this month when they celebrated a wedding mass – they’d previously been married in a private ceremony – and also baptized Alexandre Andrea, known as SashaSasha is currently third in line to the throne of Monaco.

Finn – We’ve finally learned the name of Owen Wilson’s second son. Big brother Robert Ford is known by his middle.  Now Ford has a half-brother called Finn.  Mom is Swedish-born personal trainer Caroline Lindqvist.  Finn first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 2000.  With his combined Irish and Scandinavian roots, plus the literary appeal of Huck Finn, this name has quickly gone from rarity to staple boy’s name.

Raphael – We’ve seen Australian-born actress Melissa George on Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife.  Now she and French entrepreneur Jean-David Blanc have welcomed son Raphael.  It’s a traditional Biblical name with a long history of use. Raphael is a Top Ten name in France.  In the US, Spanish spelling Rafael is more popular.  Either way, he fits right in with other Biblical favorites like Michael and Gabriel.

Eric Simon Cowell hinted that his firstborn son with Lauren Silverman might be named Simon.  But instead, the television personality named his son Eric, after his dad – another widely rumored contender for baby Cowell’s given name.  In the US, Eric ranked in the Top 100 from 1950 through 2010.  He’s fallen in recent years, but remains a modern classic.

Lyric – If Eric is a classic, doesn’t it seem logical that Lyric could be used as a boy’s name?  Lyric Sonny Roads is the third child for former child star Soleil Moon Frye and producer Jason Goldberg.  Then again, we weren’t expecting logical from Soleil Moon.  Her older daughters are Poet Sienna Rose and Jagger Joseph Blue – both daring, headline-making choices.  Lyric is much more popular as a girls’ name, but is not unheard of for boys.

Ernest – It’s a birth announcement from boy band One Direction – but no, none of the young pop stars are parents just yet.  Instead, Louis Tomlinson’s mom welcomed twins.  Louis is already the eldest, with five half-sisters: Georgia, from his dad, and Charlotte, Felicite, Phoebe, and Daisy from his mom.  Now he’s added a baby brother to the mix: Ernest Rupert Atholl.  Could Ernest be among the newest revival names?

DorisErnest’s twin sister is Doris Poppet.  Yes, Doris! If Ernest surprised me, Doris knocked me right over.  Other 1930s names, like Esther, Edith, Gloria, and Irene seem ready for a comeback.  But Doris, despite her mythological roots, seemed lost forever.  Is it time to reconsider?  After all, her big sisters’ names are all pretty stylish.  As for Doris’ middle, Poppet is a doll, but also an affectionate term for a girl.  File Doris Poppet with Ruby Sweetheart and Daisy Boo.

Victoria – From an unlikely girls’ name to an unassailable classic.  The regal Victoria is a fitting name for the daughter of basketball royalty. Michael Jordan and Cuban-American wife Yvette Prieto welcomed identical twin girls last week.  Victoria is a Top 100 choice in the US, and is popular in places as distant as Chile and Denmark.

Ysabel Victoria’s sister has an equally classic name – Ysabel.  But the spelling the Jordans used for their daughter is quite rare.  Ysabel was given to just 23 girls born in the US in 2012.  Could it be a nod towards mom’s Cuban heritage?  It is an older spelling of Isabel and Isabelle, once used by notables like Ysabel of Castille, though we know her as Queen Isabella.

Have you considered names that honor your heritage?  Would you consider using a foreign version of a popular name, like Ysabel?  And could Doris actually be making a comeback?  

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