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  1. #1

    French mother and Italian father very confused about this trend......

    Hello all,

    I've been a lurker on nameberry for a couple of years, and finally decided to start posting as we are desperate to name our b/g twins who are expected to make their appearance in 2 weeks. We have a 2.5 yr old son named Leo James.

    Here is what is confusing to us: my husband and I are always so shocked to hear that traditional masculine or feminine names (mostly ones that are Italian or French in origin) are now being used interchangeably. I have seen in other nameberry threads that this trend had also existed in English names approx 100 years ago, and perhaps it was a bit shocking to people then too.

    For example, with the birth of our son in 2010, we considered the name Luca, a name we both love, but we noticed that it started to be used as a girl's name. Is that because it ends in "a"? We didn't go with Luca in the end, due not only to the popularity of Lucas, but also because we didn't want people to wonder when they see the name if it was a boy or a girl.

    For my husband's Italian ears, it sounded crazy to name a girl Luca....It would be the equivalent of an English speaker hearing that a foreigner named their daughter Walter or something like that. (Disclaimer: please do not take offence if your daughter's name is Luca! I'm simply highlighting a difference in cultural appeal, that's all. Obviously, we loved that name!)

    Now we have finally chosen the name for our boy twin, Rémi, and I just did a quick search on Nameberry, and under the meaning for Rémi, it specifically says "many parents prefer this spelling for a girl." WHAT? I don't understand! It's a very strong, classic, French man's name. Since when is this name/spelling being used for girls? Am I out to lunch on this?

    We currently live in Canada but are considering relocating to the US. If this is where this trend is more prevalent, I'm now doubting my choice in my boy's name.....And I've got only 2 weeks to go !! HELP.

    Merci!!!

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Humboldt, California
    Posts
    288
    In the US, I'm pretty sure Rémi and Remy are both considered unisex or feminine. Many French (and also some Italian) have a very "soft" sound that seems girly to us.
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  3. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    2,002
    It's an incredibly unfortunate, down-market trend -- the modern equivalent of naming your child Brandi or Krystyl. Remy and Luca are masculine names and always will be. A girl wearing these names is about as ridiculous as a boy named Olivia.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    743
    I tend to agree with you. I love the fact that my aunt (who chose my name) gave me an overtly feminine name. My name is Sarah Louise, never have I heard of anyone even considering these on a boy. And I will never have to worry about getting a call along the lines of "May I speak to Mr. Sarah ---?". My sister is Krystofer, and she has always hated it. (And has always gone by Krysti as a result.) And no one every knows what path their children's life will take them. So naming your daughter Luca, then her winding up living in Italy, is dooming her to getting "You know your name is a boys name, right!?!", often in every day life!

    Aside from that, names have a history and a meaning. I know some names have made almost a complete change from male to female (Shannon, Lindsay, Meredith, Ashley, etc.). But to use a name from another culture and use it on the opposite gender that it's always been used on makes it seem like you don't care about their culture or history. It can seem pretty offensive to those from the culture of the name that you used.

  5. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    999
    I speculate that part of the problem is that the English language doesn't differentiate all that much between genders, in a grammatical sense, while many other languages (including French and Italian) do. So to an English speaker, words are not automatically put into one group or another except in social/cultural grounds. An English speaker who is not familiar with other languages will form personal opinions about the relative masculinity/femininity of a word or name that don't necessarily reflect how that name comes across in the language of origin. And a lot of people either don't care about cultural context or don't even realize that it's an issue.

    I made that up, and it probably doesn't explain everything. I think the fact that it has been a cultural tradition in some areas of the US to use a mother's maiden name as a first name for either a male or a female a child has blurred the lines of what is considered a first name vs. a surname as well as what "counts" as male or female in general.

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