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Friday, September 7, 2012

Baby Girl Grindelwald, Sister to Jackson

Courtney writes:
I recently found your website and love all the naming advice (I went back and read all the updates where moms wrote back in with that they finally chose--love those. Except when they didn't choose the name I liked).

Anyway, here's my naming dilemma:

Our last name sounds a lot like Grindelwald*. My husband's name is Thomas (Tom) and I'm Courtney. We have one son, Jackson, who is three. He's named after my uncle Jack and my husband's great uncle.

I'm 18 weeks pregnant and just found out I'm having a girl. Yayyy!!! Even before we had kids, we had talked about names and decided we wanted to try to honor both of our heritages (husband's is Dutch, mine is Irish). So our son's middle name is a Dutch family name (sounds like J├Ągermeister, but with a Z and without the meister). And for a girl, we wanted to have an Irish bent. We really like the name Grace, but Grace Grindelwald is a little too much "gr" sound. We really want to rule G out entirely. But we did some research, and found that the name Hannah means "grace," and the Irish form of Hannah is "Aine" (pronounced like awn-yeh).

So question one is: Do you think this name is too out there? I think it sounds pretty, but I know people are going to have a hard time pronouncing it (and they already have a hard time with our last name). Will she get teased for the weird spelling? Are people going to call her Anne? Is it mean to give her two names she'll have to spell out and pronounce every time?

Question two is: If you do like the name Aine, what do you think about a middle name? For some reason, I have it stuck in my head that it should start with an L. Originally we had thrown around the idea of Laurel, but that's not really grabbing me any more. I really like the name Lucy, but is that too weird to have two four-letter names? Aine Lucy? My husband likes it too but wants to spell it Lucie, which I think looks even weirder (Aine Lucie--too many e's).

For reference, we had our boys names all picked out, and it was either going to be
Asher Willem (Dutch again)
Miles Emerson
Declan (not sure of middle name, maybe Emmett)

For girls we've also talked about
Sadie (not sure about middle names for that either, but considered Aislinn for the Irish aspect) 
Sydney (used by another friend)
Sophie (husband doesn't like it)

So we tend to go pretty classic but not super popular (um, except Jackson, but I swear it wasn't so popular when we named him that!), and names that have some meaning behind them--even if they're just meaningful as family names. I don't have any real restrictions in terms of names "matching" or anything, aside from no G names, and there are no family considerations at play.

Sorry this is so lengthy . . . I realize this is not a real life-or-death situation but I would really love some objective input :-)

Thanks so much!


* Hoping the HP reference gets me moved to the top of the list?
Just wanted to add, if you decide to post, my husband and I brainstormed a few more names that we would at least consider.

My pick:
Mirabelle (really starting to love this one--it means "lovely, wonderful")





Amelie (I love this one as well)


Shelby (I do not like this)


Isabel/Isabella (I used to like this a lot but I think it's becoming too popular)

Thanks again!

I think Aine would be difficult to get people to pronounce correctly in the United States, but that the spelling Anya would be lovely and perfect. Anya Gridelwald; Jackson and Anya. ...Oh, wait, now we're away from Irish again.

Well, but here is the thing: most of the loveliest Irish names are not pronounceable here without translation. I have finally learned to pronounce Niamh and Aoife, for example, and my brain STILL says them "Nee-am-huh, I mean Neeve" and "Ay-oiff, I mean Eva," respectively. And I have PRACTICED. In general, I recommend translating the more challenging Irish names into the U.S. English alphabet, or using them as middle names.

For a middle name for Anya, I think one with the emphasis on the second syllable would work well: Anya Louise, or Anya Lucille. One-syllable names would also be nice; this might be a great place to put the name Grace. Or Anya Joy, or Anya Jade, or Anya Faye, or Anya Paige. Or a name that ends up being rejected as the first name choice might work well for the middle.

Isabella was the #2 most popular baby girl name in the United States in 2011, after two years at #1. I do think it's too popular, if you're trying to avoid popular. Annabel and Mirabel are great alternatives. I'd also put Isabelle on the list of middle name candidates. Anya Isabel?

I'm not familiar with the name Sezanah, and I couldn't find it in the Social Security Administration's data base or on other baby name sites. I wondered at first if it were a backwards spelling such as Nevaeh. I suggest the underused Susanna instead.

I think Sadie Aislinn is great. The initials are a little dicey but not terrible. I especially like the idea of using a favorite first name, and then a very Irish middle name with the original spelling.

More possible combinations:

Nora Maeve
Sadie Isabel
Mirabelle Sian
Sadie Maeve
Annabel Kaatje
Annabel Sian
Annabel Maeve
Amelie Niamh
Amelie Maeve
Miranda Siobhan
Beatrix Aine
Beatrix Saoirse
Susanna Maeve
Katya Faye
Katya Jane
Katya Louise
Amelie Kaatje
Amelie Siobhan
Mirabelle Niamh
Miranda Sian

I think my favorite is Nora Maeve. Nora Grindelwald; Jackson and Nora. I also love Annabel Maeve and Anya Maeve. Well, and Sadie Aislinn, and Katya Louise. I guess I like a lot of them.

I'm partially limited here by a low familiarity with Irish names (I mostly know the ones I've looked up while reading Maeve Binchy novels). I wonder if there are some good choices in your family tree?


M.Amanda said...

I love Maeve. Beatrix goes well with Jackson, I think.

Regarding Irish spellings, I am torn between suggesting spelling changes and letting it be a learning experience for those unfamiliar with Irish names. Telling someone to change the traditional spelling just to make it easier for other cultures to read seems a bit selfish and disrespectful. On the other hand, not only do I feel bad for people who constantly get their name butchered, but I feel very foolish each time I encounter an Irish name and have absolutely no clue where to begin on the pronunciation. It can be awkward all around.

Whether you change the spelling depends on how irritating you think you (and later on, your child) will find correcting people compared to the cool factor of keeping with tradition.

Swistle's suggestion of keeping those names in the middle name slot seems a good compromise.

StephLove said...

The answer I was composing in my head as I read was pretty similar to the first part of Swistle's response. As Irish names go, Aine's pretty easy to pronounce, and the anglicized spelling Anya is a fairly well established option. Using an Irish name for a middle name is also a good idea. I like Beatrix, Chelsea and Miranda from the new list. Also I thought Susannah was a good suggestion (and a personal favorite of mine).

Kimberly said...

One of my best friends named her daughter Niamh. But she and her husband were so worried about people butchering the pronounciation that they made her nickname Nev (pronouced like it sounds, as opposed to pronouncing it NEEVE). Nev (as she is always called) is not quite three, so we have yet to discover if she'll have any personal issues with her name as she grows older. But people they encounter have a heck of a time and constantly call her Nee-ahm or Ny-mah and the like. I think my friend sometimes wonders if the name was a mistake. However, Nev has bright, curly red hair, so as soon as my friend explains that it's an Irish name, people "get it."

Anyways, the point is, based on this experience (and the fact that my maiden name is very long and very french and got butchered all the time) my husband and I have already determined that we'll give our kids names that are easy to pronounce upon sight.

But I also believe that if you really love a name, you should use it. So perhaps this is the longest, most useless comment ever.

Alice said...

Maeve is my daughter's name and I love Irish names. Aine is one of my favorites...I think you'll have to tell people how to pronounce it but it's beautiful and frankly, people should have an education about such things! Other Irish girls name I like that are easier to pronounce: Orla (means golden princess), Nessa, Nola and Oona.

Swistle said...

M. Amanda- I find it helps to think of it as translating it into that culture's alphabet---and of it going all directions, not just "from their way to our way," as if we're saying they have to conform to us.

Think of Chinese names, for example, and how impossible it would be to use the original Chinese characters in a non-Chinese-character-using country, and vice versa. It's not considered disrespectful to write those names in the U.S. English alphabet for use in the United States, instead of expecting people in the U.S. to be able to handwrite and pronounce the original symbols---any more than it's considered disrespectful for U.S. citizens not to understand Chinese, or for Chinese citizens not to understand English. We translate to aid communication, not to show disrespect.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Swistle that translating to aid communication is not disrespectful. Ellis Island immigrants who had their names changed to something not even slightly related to their original name upon entry to the U.S., well, that was disrespectful. But a family in the U.S. using an anglicized version of an Irish name is just being thoughtful of their child. A name like Aoibheann (sounds like a cross between Even & Aven) is just a bit much for your average American kid to have to deal with.
Anya instead of Aine would work. However, it does diminish the Irishness of the name since the spelling Anya isn't a strict translation so much as a name from another language that just happens to sound a bit like Aine. So then the question is if an Irish inspired name is just as good. There are also plenty of Irish names that Americans are familiar with. There are also accepted anglicized spellings that still read as very Irish to most Americans.
Fiona, Maeve, Caitlin/Kathleen, Brigid/Bridget, Deirdre, Keeva, Keira, Moira, etc.
I do think Anya is pretty, but it's up to the OP to decide if it's "Irish enough". Much as I like Aine, I would use Anya.
I do like Lucy, but it does look a bit weird with Aine. Anya Lucy is better, but the flow isn't the best. Anya Lucille or Anya Lucinda would work better. I also like Lucy as a first. Lucy Grace Grindelwald would be a name I'd want for myself. With Sadie, I like Sadie Grace and Sadie Annabelle. Sarah Annabelle, called Sadie, is also adorable and offers more options when your daughter gets older. She might enjoy playing with Sally and Sarah one day.

Michelle said...

I don't think it's disrespectful at all to choose a different version, one more 'anglisized'. Look how many variants there are of John, or Margaret, or Katherine. It seems every country has their own way of using these and others.

There are many Irish names that are a bit more suited to those of us unfamiliar with Celtic phonics. Anne also means 'grace'. I love Maeve. My great grandmother was Irish, her name was Eva. Eileen, Colleen and Brigid come to mind. Finola is lovely as is Fiona.

Susannah said...

Enjoyed this post, as I have a Finn (3) and an Eamonn (3 months). We pronounce Eamonn AY-min (the traditional pronunciation, I've heard some UK residents might say EE-min). We chose Eamonn because we loved it, and because we were disappointed by how popular the name Finn became right at the time we chose it for our son. We also loved the way Finn and Eamonn sounded (and looked) together. I have to admit, though, that I have been surprised by most people's complete bafflement over the name. I really didn't think it was THAT "out there." I know it is not pronounced phonetically, but as Irish names go, it's not Aoibheann, as one of the above commenters mentioned. I was in tears 3 weeks after his birth, wondering if we'd made a bad decision and if he would hate us for it later. But honestly, my husband and I still love the name, love its Gaelic roots, and love our Irish pair of boys. If you absolutely love Aine, and are okay with potential negative comments from strangers, I say go for it.

I also love Swistle's "Sadie" suggestion. I happen to be "Susannah" and have always loved my name, so I second that one, too!

Anonymous said...

Can I add, Aine isn't pronounced the same as Anya, its much closer to say it is Onya., so really Anya is a completely different name.

It would be a harder one to wear in the US, but fabulous nonetheless, and at least it would make people remember her, she'd certainly stand out! Plenty of names need a little explanation, so its certainly not dooming her to a terrible life!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I pronounce Anya like ON-ya, not like ANN-ya. Probably because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Kate said...

I love the name Aine! And unlike certain Irish names, I do think the pronunciation is close enough to the spelling that once someone's heard the name they'll remember how to say it.

Anonymous said...

Swistle - aha! I guess its an Irish/british prn then, we say ANN-ya, I just assumed everyone else did too! Interesting to note the variations!

Anonymous said...

A-ha, the Onya-Anya distinction. The issue is that most of the country hears/says no difference between "cot" and "caught." For those of us who do, the idea that there is no distinction between Onya and Anya (and correspondingly, that ANN-ya is what you mean by "not ON-ya") is crazy. Linguistics!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- The difference between ON-ya and ANN-ya isn't the difference between cot and caught, it's the difference between cot/caught and cat! I think most of the country can hear that!

Anonymous said...

No, no. That's not what I was saying. I was saying that for those folks who hear "cot" and "caught" differently, ON-ya is different than AHN-ya (both of which are very different than ANN-ya). The former is effectively "AWN" (cf. "caught") rather than "AH" (cf. "cot"). I pronounce Anya like "AHN-ya," which, to my ear, is very different than "ON-ya." But for people who hear "caught" and "cot" as the same, which is, again, most of the USA, "AHN-ya" is going to register the same as "AWN-ya/ON-ya." I believe the difference, for caught/cot distinguishers, is that Aine is more like AWN-ya than it is like AHN-ya.

Swistle said...

Anonymous- Yes, I think that if someone cares whether it's more like ON-ya or more like AWN-ya, it's probably not a good name choice for them: endless and uncorrectable struggle to get people to say it exactly the way they want it. I can hear the difference between those two, but not to the point of caring about the difference: that is, if someone says they "cot" a fish, I can hear it with understanding and without objecting, even though "caught" definitely sounds different to me.

But Anonymous above (WHY OH WHY CAN'T WE USE NAMES, EVEN FAKE NAMES, TO MAKE THIS EASIER??) mentions Ann-ya, so I think he/she must be talking about the On/Awn-ya vs. Ann-ya issue, not the On-ya vs. Awn-ya issue.

Also, now I have a headache.

Anonymous said...

What about Enya like the irish singer Enya Brennan?

This is the anglicized version of her name of course. She was born Eithne Ni Brhaoinain.

I think Enya is a lovely name.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I would change the spelling. I think two difficult say-and-spell names is unecessarily hard work. Anya, Onya or Enya are truly lovely. Use a difficult name in middle place if you like the tribute factor.
I grew up with, and Still have, a name with foreign spelling which is very difficult to spell or read in English. Although it is pretty when pronounced with the correct accent, nobody in the English (USA, AUST, etc) world gets it right. Anglicise it and I would have had a much happier childhood. Instead of being known as "the girl with the weird name".
I'm just saying.......
Kaatje is also lovely, but make it Katya, and if you both like Amelie/Emily/Emalie style, I would start there and just use your tribute name, spelt its original way, in middle place.

Jill said...

As much as I hate to say it, I think I'm going to second anglicizing Aine. Is it the traditional Irish spelling you love or the sound of Anya? I agree that the spelling change wouldn't make it seem terribly Irish, but seeing the traditional Aine on paper would read like Ayn at first glance unless you added a y somewhere. I don't know whether you're ok with a spelling change, but I'd suggest just tweaking it, either Anye or Ania so she doesn't have the frustration of "Aine? Like Ayn Rand?" all her life. My sister had an unusual spelling of Haley and she had a heck of a time growing up. No one could get her name spelled correctly on school awards or name tags or lists. She hated it even if she liked her name.

Jill said...

Oooh, sorry me again, if you want to go Dutch on an Irish name, what about Anje or Anja? Its sort of like you sandwiched your backgrounds together which is kind of cute :) Most people in the US know names like Katja and Anja aren't hard J names, and if you're considering Katja anyway then hey all the better!

jess said...

Here is a list of the most popular girls' names in Ireland in 2010:

My personal favorites from this list are Ciara, Molly, Roisin, and Alice.

If it was me, I would use the spelling Aine. I love all of the vowels in it and could deal with the potential difficulties. There are days when I have had to spell Jess out for people over the phone who want to spell it Jeff (and I don't have a masculine voice).

Anonymous said...

I have a friend with the Irish name Nuala (pronounced Nool-la). It is very pretty.

My middle name is Louisa, which fits your "L" criteria. I have always loved it as people find it unexpected and Louise seems to be so common. It also gives a kind of forced pause before starting the surname, so it runs on nicely.

Hope these help!

M.Amanda said...

I thought about the "translation" thing, but it didn't seem the same to me in this case since we already recognize the letters used as opposed to a Chinese or Russian name. It seemed more like saying it was too much trouble to learn that Germans pronounce Ws like a V or Js like a Y, so could the Wagners from Germany please spell their son's name as Yahn Vahgner if they don't like having his name mispronounced in America?

But then I do tend to worry unnecessarily much over this type of thing....

Courtney Groeneveld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Courtney (original poster) said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! If we did Aine, we would definitely want to use the Irish spelling (hence the concern). Very interesting to see the debate over pronunciation.

I think at this point, we're seriously leaning toward Aine, Mirabelle, and Amelie. I do like the idea of the Irish middle name (which matches with our son's Dutch middle name) so I'll look over this list, there are some great suggestions!