Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What to call the little person in here?

Ever since the Professor and I found out we're having a boy, there's been a constant back and forth over what to call the little one.  We were all set when we thought we were having a girl.  In that scenario, we had at least three names we both really loved which incited no arguments and no subsequent stand offs.  For some reason, we've found boy names to be a lot harder.  I've never had a favorite boy name and neither has the Professor.  The name game is further complicated by the fact that ideally we want a name that is  universal--one that can be pronounced in any language despite not being from that language.   Furthermore, for cultural/family reasons and because of where we live currently, we'd like the baby's name to be easily pronounced in Spanish even if the name is not itself Spanish.  That means that a name with a phonetic spelling would be best.  

Most of the back and forth occurs for one of two reasons.  The first reason is that the Professor dislikes common or popular names and I dislike names that are either too unusual or names that are made up.  My feelings mostly stem from the fact that my own name is made up therefore it is not just unusual but totally unique (I've never met another person with my name and it's pretty unlikely I ever will).  Some people may find that cool.  As the Professor says, "It's so easy to google you!"  I myself find it annoying.  No one ever has any idea how to pronounce my name or how to spell it or where it's from or what it means.  So every time I meet someone (or have to give my name at a restaurant, or call customer service, or fill out a form), I have to get into a five minute conversation about the origins of my name and how to pronounce it.  For these reasons, I'd like to spare my future offspring this ordeal by choosing a name that actually exists in a baby name book, but not so common that you'd find it engraved on a key chain in a tacky gift shop.  

The second reason for the back and forth stems from the fact that usually a name we like in one language, we don't like in another.  Ever since I read Kafka's Metamorphosis  in college, I've really liked the name "Gregorio" with the nickname "Grego".   The Professor's argument against this name?  "People will just end up calling him Greg."  The Professor's favorite boy's name?  Lionel.  After his favorite soccer player (remember this post?).  My main objection to this name?  Lionel, while beautiful in Spanish (pronounced leo-nel) is awful in English where it is pronounced ly-nel and makes one think either of Lionel Richie or Lysol.  (It even makes me think of linoleum, but I might be the only one). 

So after months and months of arguments, discussions and vetoes, the Professor and I have finally (FINALLY!) picked a name that we're both pretty fond of.  Hooray!  So what is the name, you ask?  Well, we're not telling!  Don't take it personally.  It's not just that we're not telling the blogosphere.  We're also not telling our family and friends either.  This is mostly because during the months where we hadn't settled on a name and were trying out potential choices on our family members, we got a lot of pretty tactless and discouraging feedback.  I'm not going to mention any names, but here are a few responses we got when we told a few family members the names we were considering:

"But that's an old person's name!"

"I knew a guy in high school named __________ and I hated that guy!"

"You can't name your kid something Greek.  The Greeks defeated the Persians and Dad would hate that."

"That name is too weird. Why can't you pick something like Lucas or Matteo?"

"If you like it, that's great but I wouldn't name my kid that."

Pretty frustrating, huh?   So we figure that keeping the baby's name to ourselves until the day he's born is probably a pretty good idea.  After all, I figure it'd take a pretty ballsy or incredibly rude person to meet our little bundle of joy, hear his name, and respond with one of the above commentaries.  At least not to our faces, anyway :) 


  1. Aw haha I think I'll be annoyed at people when I eventually have a kid to name...there's bound to be someone that complains about it!

    My favourite boy name pronounceable in Spanish and English is Israel. If only that wasn't my ex's name, I would name my future kid that.

  2. @ Kerry, Israel is a beautiful name! Go for it if you want to, past flings aside!

  3. Haha!!! I've heard all this before, but I still love it =) I'm excited to learn baby boy's name! Especially if he's born on the day I guessed! ;)

  4. Love the name Lionel in Spanish, but would never pick it for the same reason you cited. We picked Italian names for our boys and one is constantly mis-pronounced by English speakers. Sigh... Also agree that boy names are tougher.