Category: baby name cognates
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Why would you choose a baby name from another culture? There are several good reasons. First of all, there is the sheer beauty of so many of them. Then there is the honor factor. Say you have a beloved grandmother named Barbara you want to pay tribute to, but you can’t quite see yourself as a parent of a baby Barbara. Then how about the more vibrant Russian version, Varvara?
Or maybe there’s a name you love but find too common or popular or plain? There are countless lovely foreign variations of Elizabeth and Margaret and Katherine that are still substantive but more distinctive.
So here’s a start on the almost endless possibilities for romancing a name.
Usually, when baby names are related, the resemblance is pretty obvious. For example, Christopher’s foreign versions include Christophe and Christos and his short form is Chris; Patricia is otherwise known as Patrizia or Patrice, Pat or Patty.
This can come in handy if you’re looking for an invisible (to non-nerds) or at least indirect route to honoring a namesake. Ways you can do this include finding an interesting but accessible international variation, or an unexpected nickname that can be used on its own, or a mythological, biblical, or other name switch, or dual identity.