FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,
FernWithy
fernwithy

On naming, real and fictional

I've been entertaining myself at Baby's Named A Bad, Bad Thing. I've been there before. Most of it's valid, though the sitekeeper seems to have considerably less tolerance than I have for names that are a little bit out there, but not horribly so. I mean, is "Orion" really so terribly wrong that it belongs on the same list as "Mykynzy" (pronounced "Mackenzie," but spelled to be much more interesting, you know) or Irelynd?

The truth is, I'm glad we're seeing some unusual names, or at least fresher sounding ones and in greater variety. I don't have a problem with people named "Sage" or some other noun or verb--virtue names have a perfectly legitimate history. Personally, I like a weird one from the family tree, Reconcile. I figured "Connie" could be a good nickname... until my cousin pointed out that it would take my uncle thirty seconds to start calling her "Wreck," and schoolmates even less time to come up with "Train-wreck." Er, anyway, I still like it, but I guess I wouldn't, you know... well. I still might. I don't know whether I should hope for a tolerant husband or one who will put the brakes on.

The point remains that a lot of those sorts of names, there's nothing inherently wrong with them. I know a girl named after a very famus Greek goddess who wears it pretty well. And oddball Biblical names? Why not? Go for it. Place names, I'd hope have some meaning, but go for it if they make sense. Again, with the long history. "Naming after" is fun as well, especially if it's done in an interesting way. Feminizing masculine ancestor-names is nice sometimes, and it could probably go the other way, and using a different part of a shared name for every day use--John Joseph used three times might have a John J., a J. John, and a J.J.--keeps a tradition without being confusing. I'm sanguine.

But the doofy spellings have to go. "Mykynzy" is not pronounced "Mackenzie," nay, not even if thou doth insist upon it. For one thing, the "y" is representing three totally separate vowel sounds in the same word! If you want to name your child Jennifer, be bold... ignore the slights on overused names and call her "Jennifer"! No one is going to be fooled by Djinyphur anyway... or well, at least no one who can be bothered to read it phonetically and make a guess. (Note, this doesn't apply to foreign versions of names, which are a whole 'nother ball of wax; this is about stupid, made-up spellings of perfectly normal names.)

Some names may be lovely, but saddling a kid with them... I adore the name Galadriel. Just adore it. But what if my daughter prefers Hemingway to Tolkien or wants to be President? It may not stop her, but it'd sure get in her way. Anakin's a great name, phonetically speaking, but giving it to a child puts him in as strict a social category as naming him Freedom Rainbow. It can be overcome (or changed) if the child wants to be elsewhere, but why not be sneakier about it? Name a daughter Anneke--you know what it means and where you got it, but other people will just think she's Scandinavian--and let your son be Ben or Luke or Owen (or Lars, if you want to stick with the Scandinavian names), if you want the theme.

And initials. Must watch the initials.

As to siblings with matching or pattern names, I'm neutral. If they're too obvious, no--my grandmother's third husband was a teacher, and he taught kids in a family where they had Italian numbers for names--Primo, Segundo, etc--and the last one was named Finale. That's a bit much. But I also knew two families with strict initial patterns where it didn't stick out, because they used normal names. Floral names can get cloying if there are too many, and you're reaching for, like, "Hyacinth" for a boy, but would it be that horrible to have a Lily and a Violet?

Blargh, I know, I have no children, I shouldn't spout on the subject. But I love names, and because I have no children, my LJ is the only place to indulge naming theories.

On fictional names, I'm a very big fan of patterns. It helps the reader. Again, you don't want it to be intrusive (unless you're writing the Black family, which lives to be intrusive), but if you have one family that really likes the virtue names, stick to them--it makes it easy for a reader to say, "Oh, this one's from the Whooziwhatsis family!" Fanfic-wise, it helps to make the names of invented children seem less random without having them share names with existing characters. I love Sirius as much as the next girl, but either Harry or Remus naming his son Sirius (or James, for that matter) would irk me in a subtle way. The story all exists at the same time in the mind--as opposed to real life, which happens in linear time--so I'm trying to juggle too many people with the same name. If they must name after someone, for the love of G-d, give them a nickname. But if you use floral names for Harry's daughters, bam, they're Lily's granddaughters, there's a connection, but they aren't "the new Lily." And the Blacks... that's where you can use all of your powers of absurdity in naming. Get out an astronomy book and have a blast. Yes, there are odd ones like Narcissa and Nymphadora as well, but those star names... those are fun. You can get a regular collection going.

For new people, you just want it to fit into the universe a little bit. I couldn't explain why Ravyn Skye doesn't fit in HP, but it just, you know, doesn't.

I guess that's it.
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  • So, "The End of the World" is getting an audio treatment...

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