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Friday, October 22, 2010

Baby Name to Discuss: Junuh

Melissa writes:
I'm having a bit of a name dilemma & am wondering if you and/or your readers might be able to help. I found a name that I really like, but I'm wondering if giving a baby a rare name is almost worse than a popular name in a way? I like the name Junuh really well for a boy (pronounced exactly like Judah, but with an "n"), but the only place I've ever heard the name was in a movie that I saw again recently. It is actually the character's last name, but that's what he goes by in the movie & the more everyone says it throughout the movie the more I like the name. Fortunately (for me), the movie wasn't all that popular (or that good for that matter), so I don't think people would automatically make the leap. I know we're all in the search of the happy balance between 'uncommon' but still 'familiar'. Is this name too far out of bounds? I feel like it sounds a bit familiar, because it is close to both Jonah & Judah, but I like it better than both of those. These are my biggest concerns:

1. Does it sound like something I just made up? (for the record my husband hates what he calls 'makey-up' names & for the most part I actually agree with him)

2. Does it sound like a girls name? because I really don't like boy names that could possibly be mistaken for girls, which is really difficult since all boy names seem to go to the dark side these days, leaving us with VERY few original options. (since people aren't familiar with it, will he go through his whole life with people thinking he's a girl on paper?)

3. Will he always get, "you mean Jonah?" ... "No, Junuh". .... "Oh, like the month, but with an 'a' on the end?"

Anyways, sorry for the saga, but I would appreciate it you have a chance to give me some feedback. I love your website & am absolutely addicted to finding the perfect baby name, & find it a huge relief that I'm not the only one. For the record, my husband & I are starting to try for babies, so if you have more pressing naming issues, I completely understand! Thanks Swistle!

To me, it sounds like a girl name and/or a made-up name. Not only is the "-a" ending typically feminine, but June is an established girl name and Juno is a major goddess. The movie Juno only reinforced the feminine connection. Another problem is that Junuh looks like it could be pronounced Junnuh.

The only boyish connection I can think of is to "Junior." I think I would either use Judah or think of another name.

26 comments:

Anonymouse said...

I've known of two girls named Juna - one is in her 30s and one is a toddler. Obviously it's a different spelling, but the same pronunciation.

Just putting that out there since there was a concern with it being feminine.

Mrs. Haid said...

I think Judah is better, too.

Kate said...

If I saw Junuh I would think to pronounce it "junnuh," and if I heard it I'd think was the girls' name Juna. I think Judah is a better bet!

Anonymous said...

instead of pronouncing it "June- uh" I was trying to pronounce it and it kept coming out jun- uh. I would like Juna better, but it looks feminine to me.

Shannon said...

For some reason I wanted to pronounce it "joonoo" or "juhnoo". I think you would certainly struggle with people not knowing how to pronouce it and I agree that it sounds made up if you've never known anyone with that name which most people probably won't have. But, as with most names, if you really love it and no other name will make you happy, you should use it.

The Schwant Family said...

I actually thought this was one of swistle's made up names that she tries out on here sometimes so I guess that's my answer to "does it sound like something i just made up" I think if you like a name that sounds exactly like Judah you'd should name him Judah, I think you'd get the benefit of actually hearing people call your child by name more and that you would appreciate that people "get it" rather than distorting Junuh. My first thought was to pronounce this name more like Jonah. I also agree that if you really want him to be named Junuh the spelling Juna would be more clear, it does look a little feminine but I'd rather that than he people say it wrong all the time.

The Schwant Family said...

*he = hear

Anonymous said...

Djuna (pronounced "Juna")is one of my favorite girl names. Djuna Barnes was a famous author. It's definitely a girl name.

Karen L said...

My gut response to each of your questions is probably the answer you don't want to hear. It does sound invented (to me); it does sound feminine (to me); and he will probably be correcting the spelling and pronunciation a lot.

I hate to heap more negativity on but perhaps you might want to consider the story you'll tell your son about his name. We liked the sound of it in a bad movie. That's why we picked it for you.

Maybe you can look for some other more meaningful ways to choose a name.

Or how about Julian? It's got the J, U, and UH sounds. It's familiar but uncommon.

beyond said...

I have to say that it sounds made-up to me. When I saw it I struggled with figuring out the pronunciation. I would have guessed joo-noo or juh-nuh. knowing the pronunciation, it sounds feminine (june-ah). If you love it and go with it, you will have to guide people through pronunciation and spelling.
I'm sure you will find the perfect name no matter what...

British American said...

I have a hard time figuring out the pronunciation too. I want to say it "Juh-noo". I wouldn't immediately see the relation to Judah. The June-ah pronunciation does make me think of a girl's name - because of "June" and the "ah" ending.

It does look 'made up' to me or possibly like it's an unusual traditional foreign name, that I'm unaware of.

If you like the sound, I'd stick to June, Juna, Juno or Juniper for a daughter. Maybe Junuh in the middle name spot if you have a son.

The Mrs. said...

Junah seems like a cross between 'Juno' and 'Jenna'. Sorry, it goes into the feminine catagory for me.

There's always Judd, Jedidiah, and Jethro.

Best of wishes as you begin to expand your family!

Patricia said...

Junuh/Junah -- it sounds like it could be a Korean name, and sure enough it is: eg., Junah Chung (m.), "an active chamber musician and soloist..." (http://www.junahchung.com/jcbio.html)
Korean names comprise two elements, so this name consists of Jun (or Joon) and Ah (or Uh). But the name Junah/Junuh is unknown in the US, and I don't think it would suit an American boy with no Korean heritage.

As for the fictional character Rannulph Junuh in "The Legend of Bagger Vance," it seems that his surname was invented by the author of the book the movie is based on.

Looking at the SSA Beyond the Top 1000 lists, I found that in 2009 16 girls were named Juna, but there was no listing of Junuh or Juna(h) for boys, meaning 4 or fewer boys (maybe none) were given that name. There were 13 boys named Joon; most likely all are Korean American and called by Joon + another syllable; some might be called Joon Ah or Joon Uh.

I disagree with those who might encourage you to use the name "if you love it". The parent is not the one who has to bear the name, and it seems to me that an important part of naming is for parents to choose a name that they believe their *child* will love, all of his life. A good test is to have the parent of the same gender try the name on, imagining himself as having that name all of his life. Only if he thinks it would be a great name for himself should the parents go ahead with a very unusual name and particularly one with the concerns you have about this name.

You covered your concerns with naming a boy Junuh very well. I'd look for another name. As has been mentioned, Julian, Jonah or Judah might be a good alternative to Junuh for you; all three are known names with long histories of use as male names. Or you may find a completely different name, a name that's perfect for you and for your baby.

Best wishes!

Twee Poppets said...

I have to say that I agree with pretty much everything that Swistle and the other commenters have said so far. If you do decide to use the name, though, I think a LOT of the pronunciation issues could be alleviated by changing the spelling to Junah, which mimics the spelling of similar boy names Judah and Jonah. Good luck!

StephLove said...

I like the family of Judah/Jonah/Jonas-type names. In fact, Jonah was my top choice for a boy at the beginning of my second pregnancy (I rejected it as too close to my son's name before finding out the child in question was a girl). I'd go with Jonah for all the reasons you cite, or Judah, if you'd like something a little less popular.

Jen said...

To answer you questions, I do think it does sound made up, could be mistaken for a girl name, and would have pronunciation issues. Which is not to say that you should not use it but I think your reservations are legitimate.

Megz said...

At first glance I thought it was pronounced Joonoo and was a girls name.

The only masculine version of Junah I can think of is Junius which may get mistaken for Julius.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very made up and not very "strong" for a boy. I also immediately thought of the movie.

Adey said...

I didn't really think "made-up" but more different.

However - I definitely thought you were going to say it was for a girl.

Sorry! I didn't so much mind the name, but definitely went feminine for me!

Susan said...

I would say definitely a made-up name and definitely feminine. Perhaps you could save the name for a girl. I think girls can carry "made-up-sounding" names easier than boys, and I think Junah has a pretty sound that people would get used to quickly -- and especially given since the "a" sound at the end is common for girl names and since "June" is an established girl name. My vote is to save the name and use it -- but for a girl.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you already had your baby or not but I was dead set on naming my Junuh too if it was a boy? After Rannulph Junuh in Legends of Baggervance. mY mother actually convinced me of it. It sounds great when they all say it. Plus we too live in the South, and how it sounds on the movie and here is more of a jew-nah to me. I had a girl and named her Damia but everyone say Daymia Domia, they will get wrong unless it michael or suzzy so who cares!

Junah Chung said...

Hi there, my name is Junah. I am a grown up male of Korean descent. Growing up I never ever thought of my name as being masculine or feminine. And for many years I thought I was the only Junah on the planet and was quite happy being the sole owner of a unique name! I was shocked to hear the name Rannulph Junah in the golf movie, bagger vance.

I have received many "what a beautiful name" compliments over the years and have been called Jonah, Yonah, and once even... Zonah. but that never bothered me.
i have had to carefully spell it many times for people.

Does it sound made up, esp. if you are not Korean? I don't think so. I thank my lucky stars that my parents didn't name me John or Tom. (not that there is anything wrong with those names.) Honestly I think having an unusual
name has developed my individuality.

Good luck!

Junah Chung

quintinmaxwell said...

hey sweetie. dont know if its to late or not but I LOVE THE NAME JUNUH. me and my husband watched that movie too and loved the sound of that name. i love that we named our beautiful son that and it fits him so well. i am a "sarah" so im not "big" on the common names and having 2 or 3 sarahs in the room. but good luck and i hope this helped. JUNUH IS A GREAT NAME!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that I named my son Junuh almost 10 years ago and that I have no regrets...yes some people would ask how to spell it but for the most, once I told them they had no issues...

Anonymous said...

I have a 11 year old son named Junuh & everyone loves the name and so does he.

Anonymous said...

The Legend of Bagger Vance is based on the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita, or song of God. It is a conversation between the warrior Arjuna and the God Krishna who acts as his charioteer. In The Legend of Bagger Vance, the golfer (ie. warrior) is named Rannulph Junah (R.Junah sounds like Arjuna) and God (Bagger Vance) acts as his caddie. So the name has meaning more than just sounding nice in a film. :)