Thanks for the replies everyone!
@dindlee- I understand what you mean about in a situation like this, finding a name that works good in both languages is perhaps more important than the meaning. I'm just so picky. I like the idea of interpreting 'stern' more in the vein of 'firm', I'll have to see if I can convince myself to do that.
@ottilie- I've always pronounced Aurelio as aw-ray-lee-o (and renrose's link also seems to be closer to the aw-ray-lee-o pronunciation), but looking around the internet, it seems like aw-ree-lee-o is another way to pronounce it.
I haven't actually read the whole Oisin story, but I'm definitely going to. It might make or break this name for me (possibly). All the knowledge I have about it was gleaned from reading Wikipedia.
I never even thought about the similarity of Enoch to eunuch. You may have single-handily convinced me to take this name off the list.
@renrose- Thanks for the link!
@blade- I do really like the name and meaning of Sorin, but as far as I can tell (from two or three resources) the pronunciation is more like sor-een (as opposed to Soren's 'sor-in'). That 'een' sound at the end is not so nice to my ear (makes it sound like Maureen or something).
@mischa- Ha! Sore n' Lucky. Thanks for pointing that out! It does make it sound like two word names bunched together. I'll have to reflect a bit more about how much that bothers me.
@tfzol- If we did have another son, it would make it hard, if we have this 'rui' thing going on. We definitely plan on stopping after two kids (but sometimes plans don't always work out as you hope). There are other potential options with an unlikely third kid (like naming him 'ruikai' and then having 'kai' in his "english" name (like Caius), and then though his english name wouldn't have the 'rui' in it, he'd still be called pretty much the same thing in both languages).
As far as the Chinese name that goes with Soren, there were a few options we found, all starting with the character 硕 (shuo). I can't recall the other characters at the moment, but they were ones with the pinyin of ren and lin (霖 I think).
We have considered some Bo names. Bowen was a possibility for awhile, I just don't love it so much. Boman was also a possibility for awhile, but I think it's pronunciation in Persian is way different than Boman (I think it's often spelled as 'Bahman'), it also might meaning something like 'farmer' in Swedish, but I also don't know how it's pronounced (and I don't think it's actually used as a name in Sweden either). The 'men' character in Chinese also doesn't really lend itself to good names, as far as I understand. Bolan is another that we considered (means 'little poet' in Irish, and would easily have some Chinese name options), but it just sounds so much like a modified version of Nolan to my ear, makes it hard for me to commit to Bolan (it is still floating around the possibility list though).
@marsy- Nice to see another person who appreciated Amias as much as I do! It is a stellar name!
@annie- Thanks for the thoughts! I appreciate them!
I can't decide whether I prefer Aurelio or Oisin in first place! I like them both, and one of them would be my first choice from these four.
Aurelio--Aurelio looks so handsome and well-balanced written out, and sounds so melodious, I'm getting quite fond of it. I like all the forms of this name--Aurel, Aurelian, Aurelio, Aurelius--but this form gets you to Leo.
I actually like the shared 'ray' sound in Rayhan and Aurelio. It isn't at all obvious when you see the names written; it's the first syllable of Rayhan and the second syllable of Aurelio, and the names aren't at all matchy; so it actually functions as a nice link between the two names. The repeating L sounds in Aurelio Lucky aren't bothering me, either.
Oisin--I really like this legendary, romantic Irish name. "Little deer" may not be terribly meaningful, but it is a pleasant meaning, evocative of a fawn on a green Irish hillside. I do have to get past the fact that the spelling reminds me of "raisin," even though I know how to pronounce it correctly.
Soren--I like Soren but don't love it. I feel it's just a wee bit bland, as though it's missing something. I have the same feeling about a few other 2-syllable, N-ending names, like Aspen and Aiden. But I'm beginning to be able to appreciate the boon of finding a name that works in both English and Chinese! I also like the idea of changing the spelling to Sorin to get a better meaning.
Enoch--I like this name, but not with ln Lucky. Enoch Lucky is awkward to say, with the word "cluck" right in the middle. The middle name would break it up, but most people are seldom, if ever, introduced by more than their first and last name.
As always, best wishes!
Soren and Rayhan look and sound great together; these two just compliment each other so well. Soren may mean stern with Scandinavian roots, but it really gives me a feeling of a hero, or affiliations with the sky (soaring), which are both really positive. Besides, stern may not just mean "serious", but could mean "strong" or hard to push around. To be honest, I think Soren works so much better than your top 4, though Rayhan and Jasper go well together as well. You could even spell Soren as Sorehn to make it match better with Rayhan, but that's only a suggestion. Nicknames for Soren could be Sora (further connotations to the sky) or Ren, though I prefer Ren next to Ray.
I love Soren so much! But then again, I'm a huge fan of Scandinavian names, being Swedish and a Norse mythology nut.
Just an afterthought, but you mentioned that your wife is Naxi. I know very little about the Naxi, except for their interesting writing system and kinship/ marriage system... But do you think that any one of these names (or any of the others) might somehow be able to bring in her Naxi culture? Or maybe you could do that on the Chinese name side... would any of the Chinese names be able to incorporate Naxi culture slightly better? Btw, you should check out the Bollywood film "Fanaa"... there are 2 Rehans... I think of that every time you say Rayhan.
I would still vote against Aurelio, if the 3rd would be named Caius... I know you don't plan for a 3rd, but both my bro and sister planned for 2 and each ended up with 3. So, it's a possibility. Caius and Aurelio wouldn't fit with Rayhan at all. Aurelio has such an Old World feel, as does Caius... but then Rayhan is quite Eastern... If you can be sure that you are only having 2, then Aurelio would be ok...
@aurora- Thanks for the in-depth reply! I always really appreciate your feedback. I hadn't before noticed the 'cluck' sound in Enoch Luckey, now that you point it out I hear it every time I say the names together. Enoch is gone. So many positive responses for Oisin are getting me to reflect deeper on that one.
@livia- I'm trying really hard to convince my mind to unreservedly accept Soren's 'stern' meaning as something more like 'firm'. If I can get to that point, Soren's potential usage will definitely greatly increase. I do like it, and I agree that it pairs up with Rayhan really well, better than most other options.
@tf- The girl's name we have picked out has very direct ties to the Naxi culture (we don't know if we're having a boy or a girl) (Mayna 美纳 uses one character from my home culture and one from hers). The Naxi culture is traditionally very connected to nature-related stuff (traditional ancient Naxi religion has a lot of nature-worship, quite similar to some Native American traditions), which is a subtle connection I like about Jasper (but his Chinese name, if we go with Jasper, won't likely have Naxi connections). Rayhan's name also connects to nature in several ways (in Persian and Sanskrit, Rayhan means 'flower of paradise' or 'sweet smelling herb', in Chinese 瑞晗 is a combination of characters for 'a good sign' and 'dawn'--- both have nature connections and nice meanings). So, nature related names are a bonus, though not a necessity (my wife and her family really have very little connection to the nature-related elements on their culture, the traditional religion of the Naxi doesn't play a significant role in modern day Naxi culture much anymore), Oh, and one thing, that kinship/marriage system your talking about isn't actually a Naxi thing, it's a Mosuo thing. In the ethnic minority classification system of China, the Naxi and Mosuo people are bunched together, but I really have no idea why (perhaps because the Mosuo people are a small ethnic group), they are actually very different cultures with very different roots (the Naxi's were originally nomads who started in Northwest China (Inner Mongolia region) went down to Tibet (where they stayed for a long time) and eventually moved into Yunnan from Tibet, where they remain).
I'll have to check out Fanaa, I'm curious whether Rehan is pronounced the same as Rayhan.
Thanks for your thoughts about Aurelio/Rayhan/Caius combo, I definitely see what your saying. Other 'ray' names I know of that I like (like Rainier) would sound too similar to Rayhan to be usable, I think (looks like I may need to do a bit of research to see if there are any other names with a 'rui' (or even 'ry' or 'ree' or something at least somewhat close) sound in it that wouldn't be too matchy with Rayhan or Aurelio. I know it could happen, but the chances of a third boy coming would be so slight, it's a little hard for me to cut a name out of the running on the very slight off-chance it happens. But it's definitely something I'll need to reflect on more.
Interesting about the Naxi vs. the Mosuo... especially since this seems like such a widespread issue (I've read many ethnographies in both Chinese and English that have failed to clarify this point). I'm also intrigued by how the government created these minorities... like why are the 回族 a minority, even though this just means "descendants of Chinese who married with Muslim foreigners", so essentially many Hui could be completely unrelated. Anyhow, enough of that rant... Would you ever consider choosing a Chinese name which does not sound like it, but conveys the same meaning as the original name? For example, Jasper is a stone... Now, I know most jade and such characters are normally found in girls' names, but would there be a way to make it more manly (I genuinely don't know)? Or what about a name like Cyrus (similar to Caius), which I believe means "sun"... 阳 and other sun characters are quite manly in Chinese... Plus, that would connect him to Rayhan (who has the sunrise)... Might not sound soooo similar to the original name, but at least you could maintain the nature-related aspect AND the meaning of the original name... Don't you love naming in 2 cultures? If we stick around China, we'll get to worry about 3... :P
Soren and Aurelio are my favorite. And for your Soren concerns, meaning doesn't have to just come from the literal meaning of the word. A lot of names' meanings are more historical relics than anything. To most people, Soren brings to mind Kierkegaard, which, no matter how you feel about his philosophy, is certainly a nice way of naming your son. Lends a sense of wisdom and intellectualism without doing something awful like tacking your son with one of those horrible word names.
@tf- I do not quite know why the Chinese ethnic minorities are grouped quite the way they are, cuz though there are 56 officially recognized minorities, there are actually way way more than that. It seems like it is sometimes quite an arbitrary categorization, perhaps sometimes based on geographic convenience. With the Naxi and the Mosuo, there is evidence that they may share some similar roots, but there is also evidence that says the opposite, so perhaps since there was uncertainty on the issue, they were thus were grouped together out of convenience. I don't really know though.
Your idea about connecting the meanings instead of the pronunciations is something we've definitely been looking into (specifically with Jasper). The direct translation of Jasper into Chinese would be a nice name, for a female. We haven't been able to find/think-of any gemstone related names in Chinese that would be masculine, but if we can do that, that would definitely be a viable option. I'm not attached to having the exact same pronunciation (though I'd like that a lot), but as long as there is some pretty direct connection between the 'English' and Chinese names, I'd be content. I think if we do this meaning related connection, we'd definitely try to do it with one of our top 4 (Jasper, Emrys, Evander, Amias), and if that seems impossible then we'd probably end up going with Soren, Aurelio or Oisin (for the similar pronunciation path), or perhaps end up going with Evander (He Yang De 和様徳-- 和 is the family name in Chinese) or Jasper (JiaZhi 嘉志) anyways-- Evander and Jasper's Chinese pronunciation here don't sound quite as close as Soren/Aurelio/Oisin do, but not too crazy far off either (Amias and Emrys on the other hand, are really tough ones to get anything anywhere near similar in pronunciation).
@liz- Thanks for your thoughts! I do like the associations with Soren. I only know a bit about Kierkegaard's philosophy, but I do like some of the things I've read about him. I'm gonna be doing a bit more research on him since it is a rather large association to the name Soren. That may be part of the process that could partially sway me one way or the other with this name.
Research currently underway: The legend of Oisin
Next research to be done: Soren Kierkegaard's philosophy