Alternate Appellations: The names that might have been

June 24, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel talks about the almost-names that might have been if circumstances were just a little bit different. 

Do you ever imagine an alternate life?  Specifically, what you might have been named, or what you might have named your children if your life was just slightly different?

My husband’s taste in given names is buckets more conservative than mine.  From the color of their eyes to the shape of their toes, I cannot imagine our children even a scintilla changed.  And yet imagine just one twist in life’s journey, and all of a sudden they’re Dexter and Domino instead of Alex and Clio.

The given name that I so actively disliked as a child was chosen, in large part, because of a clumsy surname, poorly exported into English without harmonizing the improbable consonant clusters.  What if my parents had decided to overlook the glaring limitations of a let-me-spell-it-for-you last name?  Or what if my ancestors had blanded out their surname to something that accommodated any number of appellations?

The thought was triggered by the next Judd Apatow’s movie, This is 40, due out at year’s end.  I hadn’t realized that his nicely named daughters, Iris and Maude (shown above), co-star with their mom, Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann, in several of the couple’s films.

Let’s begin with the alternate names that Iris and Maude Apatow have donned on camera, in their slightly different cinematic lives.  What a fascinating challenge to rename your kids for movie roles, more than once!

Sadie – Big sister Maude answers to the just-a-little-bit more-mainstream Sadie in the fictional family from Knocked Up and This is 40.

Charlotte – The second daughter of Debbie and Pete in the big screen bunch was played by Iris.  Like Sadie, Charlotte feels slightly unoriginal for the daughter of the couple depicted in the film – but then again, the first movie took place in 2007.

Ingrid – In the edgier, more dramatic Funny People, Iris dons the name Ingrid.  It’s pretty close to her given name, and yet a smidge riskier.

Mable Maude also wore a similar-sounding moniker for 2009’s Funny People.  Can’t you hear parents trying to decide between Maude and Mable?  (Or Mabel – I couldn’t find an explanation for the alternate spelling.)  I wonder if the girls weighed in on their characters’ names?

Archie – Along the same lines, American parents, do you think we would find Archie an incredibly cool name if we lived elsewhere in the English-speaking world?  Waltzing More than Matilda shared a birth announcement from Australian rugby player Berrick Barnes – speaking of great names! – and his wife, Bec.  The couple named their son Archie, which seems to be the rough equivalent of Landon in theUS.

Emet Kuli – If not for Natalie Portman’s Aleph, would Lisa Loeb’s second be called Emet?  The Hebrew word for truth sounds an awful lot like the homespun Emmett, but has a completely different, spiritual and virtue-name vibe.  Emet joins big sister Lyla at home.

Poppy JamesGrey’s Anatomy star Jessica Capshaw is now mom to three!  She and husband Christopher Gavigan have gone for slightly more daring names with each child, from the solid Luke Hudson to the vintage Eve Augusta to the botanical, gender-bending Poppy James.

Cecilia Delphine – Actors David Walton and Majandra Delfino gave their firstborn a vintage, feminine name paired with a clever spin on mom’s surname.  Isn’t it surprising that Cecilia isn’t more popular?  She ranked #241 in 2011, a position she’s hovered near for years.  Another fun bit of name trivia: Majandra is a smoosh of Maria and Alejandra.

Dixie Pearl – Let’s end with what is perhaps the most interesting name from the past week.  Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill and model Lily Aldridge welcomed a daughter, Dixie Pearl.  Followill has Southern(ish) roots, suggesting that Dixie may indeed be a nod towards Nashville, where Kings of Leon got their start.  Or maybe it’s just yet another in the style of Moxie and Pixie.  The half-English, California-born Aldridge has siblings named Miles and Saffron and Ruby, so I might have imagined names like Freya or Imogen for her daughter.

What are the names that were might-have-beens for you – the ones you would use if your life was just a little bit different?

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