Category: japanese names
Wacky celebrity baby names are popular gossip-mag fare all over the world, and we love hearing about Audio Science, Moxie Crimefighter, Princess Tiaamii and Phaedra Bloom Forever. But we’ve got some intriguing home-grown celebrity baby names of our own right here in Australia.
Retired AFL footballer Brodie Holland has twin boys named Kip and Bowie. I’ve been told Kip‘s name is inspired by actor Kip Pardue, while Bowie is presumably after singer David Bowie. Kip and Bowie‘s older sister is Stevie – another pop reference.
The eldest daughter of TV chef Pete Evans has an appropriately culinary name – Chilli. She was born the year after Gwenyth Paltrow’s daughter Apple, which inspired Pete to also use a type of food as a name. Chilli‘s younger sister is Indii.
Guest blogger Sachiko returns with reflections on the complexities of using names from her Japanese heritage.
Growing up, I never thought Japanese names were weird. Most people in my part-Japanese, part-American Mormon family had one. I lived in Japan when I was small, and grew up going to the cherry blossom festivals in the spring, dancing at Obon in the summer and eating mochi on New Year’s Day.
Then I started naming my own children, and two things happened, one good and one bad.
First, I found out how hard it can be to choose a Japanese name. (This is the bad thing.) My Japanese is shamefully rudimentary, and barely a match for the formidable language barrier. I rely on a lot of sources for Japanese naming help, which I’ll go into later.
Second, I found out how popular Japanese names are, in the sense of being well-liked, if not yet well-used. (This is the good thing.) I had thought that nobody would appreciate a Japanese name unless they were Japanese, or maybe because they’d spent considerable time in Japan.
That’s why my first few kids have their Japanese names in the middle, the place of Name Shame, the same way you’d lock a crazy aunt in the attic.
People surprised me—not only did they accept my kids’ Japanese names, they really seemed to like them. I took courage, and gave my two most recent kids Japanese first names, and not only did people like them, some asked for pointers on choosing a Japanese name for their kids.
Regionalism might have something to do with that. Perhaps Japanese name popularity roughly correlates with the size of local Japanese-American communities. My experience bears that out, with my family’s Japanese names most popular here in the Northwest, and in Utah. I’m told Japanese culture is fashionable right now, so Japanese names might be getting more popular in your area too.
Let’s cover the possible difficulties you might experience while choosing a Japanese name.
R’s are flipped, like a cross between an R and a D. Pronounce every syllable with equal emphasis, and you’ll be right 90% of the time. For instance, most people pronounce my daughter’s name, Sakura, like this: saw-KUR-rah. The correct pronounciation is saw-koo-rah, with a small, quick, flipped R.
Unless people ask how my kids’ names are pronounced, though, I don’t correct them, because how pretentious would that be? My last name has a strong –ur sound, which sounds good with the American pronunciation of Sakura. Also, we have a cop-out: we nicknamed her Suki, a name anybody can say.