Category: guest bloggers
I recently moved to the Hartford, Connecticut area for the summer, and one of my favorite things about this state is its long history, because it yields so many fantastic antique baby names! Â The area is not only beautiful, with green rolling hills and lush forests, but chock-ful of historical, peaceful cemeteries, as well. Â As many a name nerd knows, cemeteries are ripe with fresh possibilities, and the older they are, the more likely one is to find truly rare names.
With this in mind, I set out to comb the best cemeteries in my neighborhood for the most unique and undiscovered gems. In my quest, I noticed some strong preferences for virtue, occupational, and Biblical names, as well as names referencing ancient historians or philosophers. For girls, anything long and feminine was game, and the â€ślâ€ť sound was particularly popular. For boys, parents seemed fond of either distinguished sounding appellations ending in the fusty â€śus,â€ť or jaunty, oh-so-cute names with prominent â€śoâ€ť sounds.
In our never-ending search for enlightenment on the names of various cultures, weÂ turn todayÂ toÂ guest blogger Norah Burch of namenerds.com to throw some light on some of the mysteries of Welsh nomenclature.
Though Welsh names haven’t been as popular in the U.S. as names fromÂ other parts of theÂ British Isles, we still find them now and then. Many, such as Dylan, Morgan, Owen, and Megan have beenÂ used hereÂ for years. Several more, such as Reese/Rhys, Rhiannon and Tegan, are currently climbing the charts. So, though they are not as common as Irish or Scottish names, Welsh names are here to stay.
When people think of Welsh names, they probably immediately come up with those containing Â gwen or gwyn, and indeed many Welsh names contain that element, which means several things: “white,” “fair-haired,” “beautiful,” “holy,” “blessed,” “pure,” etc. When at the end of a name (e.g., Bronwen, Arianwen, Rhydwyn), the “g” is usually dropped, giving us names ending in -wen or -wyn.
Just as in English where we have different endings for names of different genders (like Julian/Julia, Joseph/Josephine), Welsh names follow gender rules. In Welsh feminine names, the form of gwyn is always Gwen, as in Gwennan, Gwenydd, Arianwen, Bronwen, Carwen, Blodwen etc.Â In masculine names, the form is always Gwyn, as in Gwynfor, Caerwyn, and Aelwyn.
The Welsh language has some sounds that English-speakersâ€™ ears are not used to; for example, the “rh” in Rhys and Rhiannon sounds something like a rolled “r” with a “h” in front of it. I cannot even begin to explain the “ll” as in Lloyd and Llewellyn — sort of like “H’yuh” with a slight “l” at the end. There are some other anomalies, such as “w” can be a vowel (i.e., the female name Gwawr, meaning “dawn”), “u” can sometimes sound like an “ee” and “f” isÂ pronounced like “v” (e.g. the woman’s name Tudful /TID vil/).
New Zealand native Anna Hamilton parses the recently released Kiwi name statistics and analyzes whatâ€™s up and down, in and out, including such surprise (to us) hits as Aria, Ayla, Anahera, Manaia, and Sione..
Looking first at the boys: The big news here is that after a five-year reign, Jack was topped by Liam, Jackâ€™s reign lasting one year less than his predecessor Joshua. Â Liam, who placed seventh in 2009 (and also 2008) jumped up to the top, followed at second place by James, who has been in the Top 10 for the last eleven year, and at third is Oliver, who joined the Top 5 in 2009. Jack slips down to spot four, while William remains steady at five; Joshua and Samuel lose, but still stay within the Top 10. Â Leaving the Top 10 are Thomas and Daniel, who fall to 11th and 16th respectively.Â Taking their places are Jacob, jumping seven spots to 8th, and Lucas up one to get the last spot.
The biggest rises amongst the boys in 2010 were: Mason (Number 32), with a mighty leap of 22 spots, Brooklyn (#79), up 20, Ryder (#67) up 19 along with Edward (now #72) and then Quinn, bounding 16 places to Number 63, and Zachary (#49) up 14.
The biggest drops were nicknames Sam (#77) and Ben (#99), down 21 and 19 respectively.Â Sebastian (#87) and Joel (#81) followed suit, down 16 each. Felix dropped down more than a dozen places–fifteen in fact– to number 98, just hanging in on the Top 100.Â Gabriel (#95), Aidan (#76) and Jesse (#60) all fell 14 spots, with the traditionally spelled Aidan seven spots under the variation Aiden.
Novelist Joanne Lessner guest blogs about the family nicknaming tradition that can turn any upstanding name into something much more ridiculous.
My family loves words. We make them up, we pun incessantly, and we number several lyricists among us. Weâ€™re really rather annoying. But possibly the most vexing trait we exhibit, at least to those on the receiving end, is the generations-long tradition of an older sibling blighting a younger one with a ridiculous and, to the uninitiated, mystifying nickname.
We are nothing if not consistent in our weirdness. Our nicknames are all preceded by the definite article. For example, long before there was Rupert, there was my mother, nicknamed The Grint by her older brother. How, you may reasonably ask, did my Uncle John get The Grint from Helen? Apparently, she grinned a lot, and my uncle, misunderstanding the word, started calling her The Grinter, which he then shortened. My mother hated it, but as Helen was the 24th most popular name for girls born in 1941, my grandmother found it useful for getting her attention in a crowded store.
Christmas seems to arrive sooner every year. Once again, I am running frantically to cross things off the list, get the baking done, trim the tree (first we have to get that treeâ€¦), and find the ever elusive Christmas stockings before itâ€™s too late. Some may have bigger â€“or smallerâ€“ things on their minds this season. An impending birth, perhaps? If your new child shares a birthday with the most famous baby in the world, you may be tempted to incorporate the season somehow into their name. Thereâ€™s a lot more to holiday baby naming than Nicholas and Noel. Here are a few ideas that might help broaden the list:
Names related to the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus:
Eve- For the night before