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February 3, 2008

Birth announcement
Posted by Patrick at 08:45 AM *

Welcome to the world, Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow.

Holy moley, if my middle names included “Fibonacci Nautilus,” I think I’d have the power to transmute metal and fight crime.

Comments on Birth announcement:
#1 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:33 AM:

A name to make Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa not feel so bad.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:47 AM:

Coming soon on the SciFi Channel.. Doctor Doctorow's Daughter...


Congratulations to the whole family.

#3 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:54 AM:


The only problem with this is that my plan to breed an SFnal master-race from the offspring of my friends is suffering a setback, as most of them seem to be girls.

...Hm. Actually, maybe that's not so bad.

*ducks and runs*

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Wonderful names, especially the beautifully Victorian 'Emmeline'.

#5 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:59 AM:

But Fragano, won't "Poesy" get misspelled? A lot?

#6 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:06 AM:

I'd expect Emmeline to be the spellcheck-bait. Poesy has three syllables.

I also expect young Doctorow to team up with Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette at some point.

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Diatryma @ 6... Add Kal-el Cage to the team and no criminal mastermind will be safe.

#8 ::: pixelfish ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:34 AM:

I'm kinda sad I didn't have a chance to procreate and snag Fibonacci before it became one of those hip new names of 2008.

(No Taylors, Ashleys, Madisons, Jordans, or Mackenzies here. Love the name, Cory!)

#9 ::: Tim ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:44 AM:

A possibility: the young lady *will* have the power to transmute metal and fight crime.

Maybe the rest of us just need to unlock the power of creative naming?

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:49 AM:

joann #5: As someone who hates his given name, which gets misspelled A LOT, and who, consequently does not use it professionally*, I expect so.

* My father wanted his children to have unique names. Consequently, he imposed truly awful names on my brothers, my late sister, and myself. My younger brother, initials N.E.H.P. Ledgister is known professionally as 'John'. My baby brother, intials, H.T.H. Ledgister, is known professionally as 'Brian', I use my initials for academic publication.

#11 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:55 AM:

Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *GRIN*

#12 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Congrats! Enjoy the babymoon!

I had a student named Emmaline once. She liked to sign things "Emma ______"

#13 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:17 AM:

“Fibonacci Nautilus”

Her responses in life shall ever have proportion and depth.

#14 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:33 AM:

It's a great name, but...I'm imagining the schoolyard is going to be rough, even if she just goes by "Poesy". Unless she's going to be homeschooled. Or her classmates are singularly high-minded.

Whatever her name, Welcome to the World, small human. May you shine bright and do great work, and be much loved.

#15 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Holy moley, if my middle names included “Fibonacci Nautilus,” I think I’d have the power to transmute metal and fight crime.

She's Cory Doctorow's kid. What's to say she can't?

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:10 PM:

Madeleine Robins @#14:

In my experience, if kids want to pick on you and your name is ordinary, they'll just assign you a new one.

#17 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Holy moley, if my middle names included “Fibonacci Nautilus,” I think I’d have the power to transmute metal and fight crime.

Are we to understand that you can't do those things now? Surely you jest!

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:22 PM:

Congrats to all, Welcome to Poesy, and may you learn to sleep when you can.

What color of cape will she get?

As to names, oddly enough mine (which isn't so rare as Fragano's.... around 500th for frequency among males in the US) is so I am told; though when combined with my family name, so singular, no one in the US has it.

That amuses me, because the only other person I've ever known to share my first name was my grandfather, and we had different middle names; but the same initial. We also had the same habit of using a diminutive of our middle name as our actual name.

For reasons complex the first time I went to his house I was 19. Wiped out from a flight, lost luggage, and then a 10 hour drive I'm walking in the door; at some late hour, and see my intitials on the mailbox.


Young Ms. Doctorow has a splendid name. I am glad there is no acronym buried in it. I wish her, and her parent, all the joy of the world.

#19 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Huzzah! Welcome to the world!

#20 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:46 PM:


She's Cory Doctorow's daughter. If her parents are any indication, I suspect transmuting metals and fighting crime will be the least of what she can do. I, personally, look forward to it.

Woo hoo! Happy day!

#21 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:10 PM:

I already had the "but won't their name lead to bullying?" argument with Cory, and lost.

But I think they missed a trick in not giving her an extra middle name:

\', NULL, \'

(See also XKCD ...)

#22 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:12 PM:

Welcome, Poesey!

Because this seems like a completely appropriate place for it, here's Shriekback's Cradlesong. The song that almost made me want to be a parent:

Sing a cradle-song now, as the light fades around us
And you breathe like the ocean, lying small in my arms
See it all in a moment - you so young and unclouded
Shining bright as a lion - feel the motion of time
As the world rolls away from the sun.
I can feel your life burning - unlived moments within you
Further than I can see...

May the fire be your friend and the sea rock you gently,
May the moon light your way - till the wind sets you free

I remember your face as you cried for the first time
The cold air of the world and the fierce light of day
And the cruel separation in a world washed with tears;
Numbed with pain to unfeeling - May you hold to your truth
As you walk the dark night of unreason
The stone walls which surround us - may your spirit fly round them
Like the wind from the sea...

May the fire be your friend and the sea rock you gently,
May the moon light your way - till the wind sets you free

May you never know hunger: may you love with a full heart -
The light stay in your eyes...

May the fire be your friend and the sea rock you gently,
May the moon light your way - till the wind sets you free
May the fire be your friend and the sea rock you gently,
May the moon light your way - till the wind sets you free
(Lyrics by Barry Andrews)

#23 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Given what my peers managed to do with Julia Ellen, I suspect that there are no good names when grade-school kids get their tease on.

Congratulations, and best wishes. May Poesy, et'c. be like my son, who fooled me into thinking babies were easy and I was invincible.

#24 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:28 PM:

How completely awesome.

#25 ::: Irene ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:28 PM:

pixelfish #8 : Yes, there's one "Taylor" here, but I guess it's from the mother's last name. ;-)

#26 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:33 PM:

JESR #23: Given what my peers managed to do with Julia Ellen, I suspect that there are no good names when grade-school kids get their tease on.

Ethan. Seriously. No one could ever come up with anything. Didn't stop people making fun of me, but that was one avenue that was shut off from them.

My name is also a good example of how difficult it is to name your child interestingly; my parents figured that with the last name "Robinson" their kids needed interesting first names, and at the time, Ethan was such a one--uncommon, but not bizarre. Now it's the third most popular baby name for boys. Having grown up the only person in my world with my name, it's really disconcerting to hear it yelled by new parents all the time.

#27 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:41 PM:

As someone saddled with Ebenezer for a middle name, I heartily approve of Fibonacci Nautilus. And Poesy is just sweet.

Thing is, trying to avoid bullying is like trying to avoid illness. It won't work, and if it did you'd have someone who wouldn't be able to cope with the smallest troll. If it wasn't her name, it would be something else, anything else.

#28 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Terry Karney @ #18 writes: What color of cape will she get?

No capes!

#29 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 01:53 PM:

Congratulations to the Doctorows! That said...

This is, in the words of Spider Robinson, one of those sorts of names from which parents should be prevented by governmental fiat from giving to their child. An adult who wants to take on a name like that voluntarily is a different story.

"If it wasn't the name, they'd come up with something else" doesn't cut it as an excuse. Why GIVE the bullies a free pass? Make 'em WORK for it, says I!

#30 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:02 PM:

Beautiful baby girl
Poesy Emmeline,
Born on the morning of
February three,

Promised the world remade
Knowledge uncensored and
creation free.

#31 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:08 PM:

(The fourth line is pronounced "Febru'ry three." Also, can it actually be true that the internet does not contain a website with a large list of double-dactyl words?)

#32 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:10 PM:

I heartily approve of lengthy baroque strings of middle names. Reminds me of L. Frank Baum's stuff. I have two middle names myself, as do all of the kids of my Dad's family... Maybe it goes back to the Dutch? Dad's family universally ended up using the third of their names, because the first two were stanger, I guess... Makes it very easy to tell when a pest or other irritant called, "Can I speak to Ms. Jan?" My sister and I have the start of a sort of generation pattern in our names, with the third name being botanical, Rose or Heather.

And there's nothing whatever to worry about with lots of middle names... No one knows. The only time it comes up is in middle school when you bet people that they can't guess your middle name. Now, if she decides she'd rather be Emmeline, she might be embarassed when substitutes constant call out "Pooosy?" on roll call, but other than that there's no teasing potential. C'mon, who knows anyone's middle name?

And word, ethan #26. For 20 years I was the only Madeline ever anywhere... Now there are parents using "parent jump yells" at tiny Madelines all over the place. I'm kinda pleased, though, because starting around 20 years from now everyone who reads my name will assume I'm 20 years younger than I am.

#33 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Excuse!? How vanilla and ordinary does a name have to be before it's not an excuse, pray tell? And since when does anyone need an excuse to give their child a distinctive name, one that means something to them and will, hopefully, mean something to the child? Godsdamnit, nautiluses are beautiful, and the Fibonacci series is beautiful, and who wouldn't want such beauty in their name?

My name is Nelson Ebenezer Cunnington, and I'll fight anyone in this bar who doesn't like the name Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow.

#34 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:21 PM:

Lee, she's got more names than royalty. The schools will only care about the first two, leaving the rest to used or admired as she likes. She's not really in much danger of being bullied over them. 'Sides, she's a Doctorow. Bet all her peers will have wrappings just as fancy.

#35 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Zak: You remind me I need to get a recording of that (which is one of the most lovely of lullabies, though I am also fond of Jimmy Buffet's Little Miss Magic about which he said, "If you don't write a lullaby for your kid, you go to Hell") for friends of mine who just had their first child born last week.


#36 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Terry: It's on the album Big Night Music which is now apparently somewhat expensive. There used to be a source from which you could buy lots of out of print stuff (more or less) directly from the band, but I can't dig up a link for it now. It was on the old incarnation of their website.

#37 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Serge @ 2

Coming soon on the SciFi Channel.. Doctor Doctorow's Daughter...

"and Other Islands."

Congratulations to the family.

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Zak: I know where to find it. I have friends with copies, I just have to get ahold of them.

Not having a copy, one forgets about the really good stuff which is out there.

#39 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Congratulations Cory and Alice!

Welcome Poesy!

Who else other than Cory and Alice would manage to get a good math trick into the birthdate*?


*Yes, it's the American way of tracking the date, but it's still a rather nifty coincidence.

#40 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:10 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 37... Script by Gene Wolfe? Sounds good. Starring Parker Posey as Poesy's evil nemesis?

#41 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:18 PM:

So here I've been for the last few months trying to come up with baby names that are interesting and unique and cool, and making the (now-obvious) mistake of thinking I was getting close. Nice way to up the ante, Cory!

(And an absolutely beautiful baby. Is it just me, or does Poesy really kinda look like him already?)

#42 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Suzanne #41: So here I've been for the last few months trying to come up with baby names that are interesting and unique and cool

Please, in your search for a cool baby name, take into consideration the likelihood that a name you pick might result in perpetual taunting and schoolyard beatings and get reality checks from outside opinions. Check for caustic rhymes especially and don't underestimate the cruelty of children other than one's own precious little snowflake.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Earl Cooley and lee... On the other hand, if they hate you, one of them will find a way to twist the kid's name into a taunt, no matter how safe the name may have seemed.

That being said, if I had a daughter, I'd want to call her Athena.

#44 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:45 PM:


I never got bullied over Genevieve Jules. Over other things, sure. But not over that.

I will admit that I had one of the more run-of-the-mill names in my Sunday school class, which included Lucretia, Harpswell, Sigrid, and Eben.

#45 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 04:02 PM:

I think I'd rather give the bullies an easy target. It may be better for them to go for the low-hanging fruit than look deeper at the intended victim. I was Cassiopeia for much of second and third grade, but it wasn't the name that really hurt-- it was the teasing. I got just as much teasing for being smart, being new, and having no social skills as for being named Cassie, and that actually hurt.

#46 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Welcome, Poesy!

Most people won't have this problem, but one of our criteria on choosing kids' names was universal pronounceability. At our wedding, the American pastor asked, "Do you, You-vay, take this woman...." He's German and his name is Uwe, pronounced approximately Ooh-va. The pastor knew that, but he was nervous. After hearing all sorts of variations (one of our favorites was "Hoover"), we were a little sensitized. Later nicknames and/or taunting are pretty much out of one's control, though, although it's possible to tempt fate.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Welcome, Poesy! Go easy on your folks for a bit - they're about to find that their world changes a whole lot more than yours. It's worth it in the end†, but it's not easy getting there.

On names:

We chose to give our kids unremarkable first names and unusual middle names. Our son's middle name is Beowulf; our daughter's is Chenoweth.

I agree that names that can be distorted into insulting words, or initials that spell dreadful things* are to be avoided.

But I think it's still good to do something interesting.

† Or, even, the very early middle. Pretty much any time after your first smile.

* Among the combinations possible with my current full name: ARFS, ARS, ASS. Before I got married the worst you could do was ARF, but that R was acquired at 18. I grew up with ASF, which is nice and safe.

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:29 PM:

Abi... About middle names... This reminds me of years ago, when I was in LA chatting with someone I had corresponded with for some time. The subject of middle names came up, and she said she was very embarassed about hers. After some hemming(*) and hawing, she took a deep breath and confessed that it was 'Marie'. My reaction was "So what about it?" It was eventually explained to me that the name is perceived differently in America than in a francophone environment.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Bay Area, there's a young girl whose father is black and whose mother is from Mexico, and her name is Chantal because, when I told my co-worker about that French name, he fell in love with it.

(*) Not David.

#49 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:38 PM:

Congratulations, in the general sense, not being acquainted with the family personally. Hey, good news is always good news.

Apropos names, at university, me, Rosalind and Portia just formed the society for those afflicted with the names of Shakespearian heroines and left it at that.

And actually, I never got that much teasing over my name.

Mostly it gave me a handy means of telling more educated teenage boys from the less well read. The latter would come out with 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?'. The latter would expect to get points for 'Hark, what light through yonder window breaks?'(etc) The more of the verse they knew, the longer I had to think of a crushing put-down.

Husband doesn't have a middle name, nor does his brother*. When elder son was drawing up his family tree in his first term of school**, husband explained this lack by saying 'we were too poor'. Five-year-old son dutifully repeated this to the entire class, so I left husband to tackle that one at parents' evening.

*for no readily apparent reason that his father can recall
** a way of introducing all the children to the many and varied versions of family structure nowadays, when they're of an age to accept whatever they're presented with as just part of the world the way it is.

#50 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Serge: Being of Czech/Irish descent, and spending my middle youth in L.A., I don't see the problem with Marie. My eldest sister has Marie for a middle name, as does my mother, and her mother. Maria was common in the neighborhood.

As for teasing about names... kids will do it. I can think of several ways to call Poesy which would reduce the odds, but hey, kids can be nasty, they'll find something, and beating parents up for the name they give kids seems less than cricket.

My first name isn't common. It wasn't what I got teased about. The worst moments about my name came from my second grade teacher, who insisted I didn't know how to spell it.

I am told I was in tears when I got home. Same teacher who got upset with my mother for instilling her values in me.

#51 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:16 PM:

I sorta hate to point it out - but her diminutives, while including Poe-y and Emmy ... also include Fibby and Naughty. Though I suppose it's only fair to give the child something to rebel -with- when she's a teenager.


#52 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:20 PM:

I think we're losing sight of the important things here.

Hurray, healthy baby!
Hurray, healthy mother!

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:37 PM:

TexAnne... Agreed. Huzzah for the Doctorow family!

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:52 PM:

TexAnne #52: Agreed!!

#55 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:50 PM:

I have some friends who named their kid Bug. But they were nice and stuck it in the middle after a perfectly normal Andrew. And then the Social Security Administration sent the card— "Andrew Rug." So the mom called and said, "Rug? Why Rug?" and they replied, "Well, we thought you couldn't possibly have meant to put Bug." "And Rug is better?"

I have a very pretty, very feminine first name. (Also very long, hence the initial when commenting.) My middle name is after my grandfather. I love the combo.

Happy birthday, Poesy.

#56 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 08:07 PM:

I have no middle name at all, and a first name that's pretty bland; one the bullies couldn't do anything with. So of course, I wasn't bullied - NOT. And I always envied people with nifty names; Fragano, I think your name's terrific, I'm sorry it caused you trouble.

Diatryma's right, in my view. Give 'em low-hanging fruit - they're going to be mean anyway, no sense in making them get imaginative.

#57 ::: Nona ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 08:41 PM:

I work at a school that is attended by, among others, a Sojourner, an Evo, and a Bear, none of whom are teased for their names. The weird-name bar is getting raised pretty high these days, and most grade-school kids that don't have unusual names themselves have friends who do.

Actually, the thing that *really* amuses me is that we've got an Ella, a Bella, an Isabella, an Isobel, an Annabelle, and an Anna. Most of whom are friends, and play together, which makes calling them in off the playground a fun challenge.

#58 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Serge, #43: You're missing my point. Yes, it's probably true that no name is "safe". But why provide an easy target? The idea that it's OKAY to deliberately set up a kid for truly vicious verbal abuse just to satisfy the parents' egos (or because "it'll teach them to have a thick skin" a la "A Boy Named Sue") is what I'm objecting to.

There's a reason that my official legal signature includes only a middle initial, and that I am prepared to lie like a rug if need be to keep my middle name from appearing on any sort of bureaucratic paperwork.

#59 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:38 PM:

I predict that, for some period of time during the next twenty years, she'll hate her given name(s), and perhaps hate her parents for saddling her with this.

And that she will cope by insisting on being called by some other name -- perhaps something like "Tiffany Angel" or "Mary Jane" or "Herbert George John Wellington".

And that her parents will cope reasonably well with this.

Meanwhile, they all have my Best Wishes.

#60 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:48 PM:

When I was on the paper in HS, there were three people yclept Terry on staff. It took about three weeks (if that) for the rest of the staff to find three different intonations of the word, and for us to only answer the one meant for us.

What was amusing was when someone came into the room, looking for one of us; three heads would swivel to see who it was.

#61 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:52 PM:

I'm with Lee at #58. In fact, when I first read the post, I thought it was about somebody getting a new pet. And even leaving possible bullying aside, having to tell everyone how to pronounce and/or spell your name for your ENTIRE LIFE doesn't sound like much fun to me.

#62 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:19 PM:

She looks like a baby! And boy, does she have the option of a lot of nicknames!

#63 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:51 PM:

Someone named Poesy Emmeline may spend her life saying "Hi, I'm Emma," or "Hi, I'm Poe," or "It's Poesy, damnit, don't you people read?" depending on her personality. Nothing so unpleasant there.

And yes, having an uncommon name can get you picked on, just like having an uncommon skin color can, or wearing a leg brace, or liking chess, or being good at a sport favored by the other gender, or being tall, or being short. People pick on each other. But mandating ordinariness isn't a benefit to anyone. Conspicuousness may be risky, but it's difficult be extraordinary without being conspicuous. I think many parents who choose conspicuous names for their children are trying to bless them with extraordinary lives.

#64 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Congratulations on a healthy baby! May they gather their naps where they may.

I was one of two Elizabeths when I started school, but I'm the only Elizabeth I know that managed to stay Elizabeth to adulthood. Not that I can really take credit for that, my mom HATED the nicknames for it, and refused to let anyone shorten my name. I'm trying to see how I like Anwen for a girl or Stefan for a boy at the moment. I want something that is unlikely to be duplicated in every class, and need something that works reasonably well in both the US and the UK. If I'd had kids when I was in high school, I might JUST have been able to miss the rush of Hannahs and Rebeccas, but now I'm afraid it's too late, and unfortunately Esther has become increasingly popular as well. Maybe I should go with Heather or Britney... they should be out of vogue by now, right?

Oh, and since Elizabeth was hard to make fun of, they just made fun of my last name instead. Q-bert, Cue ball, etc. There are endless variations, even though my parents were careful to give me a "plain" name. So yeah, kids will find something to make fun of, I wouldn't worry too much about middle names hidden away. She can claim them when she's ready to.

#65 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Um, well, congratulations!

#66 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Giving bullies a name to target is like a lizard with a detachable tail-- the cat jumps and catches something, but it's not something that hurts. It was much easier to recover from, "They call me Cassiopeia!" than from, "No one talks to me and I'm never going to have any friends."

What is wrong with Marie as a middle name, if I may ask? Most girls near my age have Anne, Marie, or Elizabeth for middle names, with Renee and Kathryn distant runners-up. I'm a Rose, and my sister is Ruthann(e?)*.

In terms of name-based kid-scarring, my mother gets an honorable mention. My brother is a John Michael-- he was meant to be Mike but Mom was still in the hospital, and Dad called him by his first name. At some young age, he wanted to know his middle name; it couldn't be Michael because that was part of his first name. So Mom said Fred. JM Fred Krahe.
He believed her until sixth grade or so, when his teacher asked if he really had an extraneous Fred in his name. And Mom says his face just fell. I think she'll be paying for that therapy.

*I feel I must explain that the parentheses, question mark, and in fact the asterisk are not part of her name. I don't know how to spell it.

#67 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:04 AM:

Diatryma #66: I feel I must explain that the parentheses, question mark, and in fact the asterisk are not part of her name.

So it's not like SanDeE*, Sarah Jessica Parker's character in LA Story?

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:15 AM:

What I know is that if I ever find myself, in the comments to a post such as this one, hotly charging that the parents are "deliberately set[ting] up a kid for truly vicious verbal abuse just to satisfy the parents' egos", I hope someone puts a word in my ear. Or, alternately, breaks out the elephant tranquilizers.

Yes, I made a (mild and appreciative) joke about the infant's given name. If making jokes like that about my friends is going to be taken as license to trash them like Lee does in #58, then I don't want to play this game.

I read comments like Lee's #58 tehanu's #61 and I literally don't understand what kind of social miscalibration could possibly make their authors think it was appropriate to talk like that in this thread. Do those comments' authors think the people they're discussing are remote extraplanetary intelligences whose feelings can't possibly be hurt by this kind of cost-free judgmental nastiness? Alternately, were these commenters raised in a fucking barn?

#69 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Heartiest of congratulations to the parents (and to Baby Poesy, when she's old enough to appreciate them)! Many sleepless nights, and great joy, lie ahead. And, has been pointed out, what a choice of nicknames, when the time comes.

My mother acceded to the cajoling of my paternal grandmother to give me a Good Family Name, then, in her typical passive-aggressive manner, refused to call me any other but the single-syllable name she'd had picked for me in the beginning. Convinced that my long Scottish name would open me up to ridicule, or (even worse!) being called Mac like my dad and his brothers (and by that time she had "major issues" with my dad), she also registered me for school under that simple name, Mike. So, instead of spending my school years correcting people's pronunciation of Leoghann, I got made fun of for Mike (which, second to David, was the most common name in every single frickin' year I was in school).

After a couple of years, the Mike taunts got old, but by then I was gap-toothed. Then I was fat. Then I was too smart. Bottom line is, if kids are gonna make fun, they just are. I wasn't a fighter, so I developed a thick skin.

HOWEVER, my fervent hope is that Miss Doctorow doesn't have to develop a thick skin, and that she lives a life filled with wonder and joy.

#70 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:33 AM:

I just saw that one of the commenters on BoingBoing asked if she was being released under a Creative Commons license, which made me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

#71 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Patrick #68: Alternately, were these commenters raised in a fucking barn?

It's the internets. More rat, less roof.

Seriously, WTF? Are any of us who were picked on in school under the delusion that if only we'd had a different name we'd've been sitting pretty at the popular kid table? It's a beautiful baby and a beautiful name -- as a community haven't we reached the level of sophistication and collective self-acceptance where we can appreciate and be happy for the uniqueness and individuality of our own?

#72 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:06 AM:

The Doctorows' chosen names are insanely great, their bearer is utterly adorable, and of course joy is the keynote emotion here.

Plus having the wilder choices in the middle, as commenters have noted, means she will have lots of selection but need not make any single exotic name public unless she wants to. Don't know Alice D, but Cory D is one of the smartest people I've ever met. Think we can safely trust the parents' good sense here.

So it's not as a comment on these specific parents' choices, but re the wider discussion of names that CAN have negative repercussions, that I give you the quite snarky site Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing:

#73 ::: Lucy S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:15 AM:

Congratulations, Doctrows! I think they're excellent names; but then again, my middle name IS Romana.

#74 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Me, I'm just bemused at (what strikes me as) the wild implausibility of the idea that a child named Doctorow might actually get dumped into or left for long in one of the festering holding pens where unsupervised children are allowed to torment each other in lieu of getting an education.

I think it's a lovely set of names Poesy has. I can't wait to learn what color of cape she may demand.

Having been named "Daniel Boone" by my own parents, I used to hear a fair bit of singing about "my" purported habit of running up a tree in the manner of some unspecified member of a folk whose racist designation rhymed with the relative size of some bear -- also featured in the song -- not smaller than me. Considering that I lived so deep in the woods that there was no TV, I'd never heard the TV theme song this was supposedly a parody of, any more than I'd ever seen a member of the putative tree-running-up folk in question, so all of this odd singing just tended to leave me bemused.

Since I was being educated at home, I could easily just shrug at this sort of teasing, walk away, and go home to my books, which were friendlier. I tend to think the uncivilized thing is leaving children trapped in environments where they might be bullied without defense or recourse. Thinking that leaving them there is actually good for them? Barbaric.

#75 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:53 AM:

I keep having this bit of doggerel run through my head. I hope that by sharing it, it will go to where it will do the most good.

Welcome to Earth, sweet little Poesy
Perfect in form from her head to her toesies.

#76 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:06 AM:

The thing that really trips my trigger about kids' names is that it is, in the most absolute sense of the word, non-consensual. An adult can choose to be known by pretty much any name, no matter how bizarre, and I'll just shrug. But the child has no option.

I really hope that I'm wrong about all this, and that Poesy Emmeline will grow up loving her name. There are, after all, exceptions to everything -- but that's not the way to bet.

#77 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:09 AM:

I think those are wonderful names, I only wish my parents had put as much love and thought into my own name (instead of naming me outright after my great-grandmother, and scoring a sort of evil name givers trifecta: doesn't suit, no-one can spell, first name rhymes with 'pees').

I note that young Poesy's first two given names are perfectly delightful, while her other given names, which are beautiful and inspired, will fly right under the radar of any idiot name-calling peers.

I think it's a beautiful name for a beautiful baby. Much happiness to the whole family.

#78 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:40 AM:

Terry@60: I read once that in the early days of the magazine The Bridge World, Ely Culbertson called out "Hey Al!" and Alvin Roth, Albert Morehead, Alfred Sheinwold, and Alphonse Moyse Jr. all answered, "Yes?"

So Culbertson pointed at Roth, saying: "You are Al." And the others in turn: "You are Albert, you are Freddy, and you are Sonny." Such was the force of his personality that these names stuck to the respective men for the rest of their lives.

(I don't know that the story is true, but it's cute, and that is how those four men were known.)

#79 ::: Irene ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:54 AM:

@ Lee #76: C'mon, at least, the girl has plenty of names to choose for herself if she decides she doesn't like the first. IMO, Emmeline is beautiful, and she can even shorten it and go with "Emma".

#80 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 04:06 AM:

I wonder if she'll ever dig through assorted blog archives to find all the threads that welcomed her to the world (and what a scary thought that is--there having been an internet before your birth). At any rate, welcome to this world! It's not perfect, but it's the best world we've got. Obviously, by the time you will find this post we will be living under water, so that will be quite a bit cooler.

As for the whole name business, all I can say is that if I encountered that name in fiction, I'd suddenly be very interested in finding out more about that character... and her parents. Then again, my middle name is Zenon.

#81 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 04:39 AM:

We're over the moon this morning, folks. She's just over 24 hours old at this minute. A million thanks to everyone who posted -- especially the poetry and photoshops (I cried at the former, laughed hysterically at the latter). She slept in our room last night, in a bassinet and sometimes on us when she was fussing. I nodded off this morning around 6AM with her chuffing like a railroad engine, nuzzled in my throat.

#82 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:22 AM:

You know, my best friend in high school was Barry Nicholas Scott Watkins. So we made the nickname: Harry Dickless Twat Twatkins.

I think worrying about the nickname abuse angle is somewhat overplayed.

#83 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:42 AM:

Mary Dell #63; Let me assure you, having a name that people find hard to pronounce+ and spell* gets old very, very fast. And having an 'uncommon' skin colour can lead to some very interesting experiences, such as getting beaten up for being a 'n....r'. That's not a matter I take particularly lightly.

+ My name is not 'FRAGann-o', Fernando, Fergana, or a number of other variations.
*As witness the letters I receive addressed to 'Fregano', 'Fragana', 'Fragand', and 'Fragane'.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:46 AM:

Cory Doctorow #81: Congratulations!

#85 ::: Pete ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:55 AM:

A remarkable name for a remarkable girl, who I'm sure will break hearts (and databases) in the years to come...

#86 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:00 AM:

You can second guess the whole naming thing too much - who could have known in advance that a TV show called The Young Ones would give kids a strange idea of what people called Neil are like, or indeed that Larry Hagman would portray a character in Dallas with the same initials as my brother?

Also, I've had to spell my names all my life and I now look on it as an interesting test of organisations and people (assuming I haven't been narrowly missing Neal Wilcocks all these years).

Also, congratulations, welcome, and so on.

#87 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:28 AM:

When I was in school, there was a popular kid whose surname was "Cox." No one made anything of it (despite the rich opportunities presented by the homynym, "Cocks"). There was an unpopular kid whose surname was "Greene" whom the alpha girls called "greener" and made mericless fun of, making horking snot noises when she went by.

Whether you get made fun of, and what they choose to make fun of, is entirely dependent on your social confidence and popularity, not what your name is. You could be named "Motherfucker Tinydick" and if you were the big man on campus, they'd call you "M-man!" You could be called "Lisa Smith" and if you were the unpopular kid, they'd call you "Lezzie Shit."

#88 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:20 AM:

hmm, well the nickname for Rasmussen was for at least a year "Harass My Ass mussen" because, I assume, I was sort of an annoying bastard.

That admission made, I really think that Oregano Ledgister guy has a point too.

"A remarkable name for a remarkable girl, who I'm sure will break hearts (and databases) in the years to come..."
My first daughter will be named Select *

pronounced Select Star Rasmussen.

#89 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:21 AM:

As someone with a funny last name and someone who was bullied mercilessly in school, I can't say that I think the two had all that much to do with each other.

And as for misspellings and mispronunciation, you'd be shocked how many people can't handle a simple name like "Wand". I get Ward all the time, and quite often get people who think my name is Wan, and expect me to be Asian. But my favorite are the telemarketers who try to rhyme Wand with land.

So welcome to the little Miss Doctorow, whatever her name may be.

(And am I the only one who immediately thought, with apologies to Messrs G&S:
"Hail Poesy,thou heav'n-born maid!
Thou gildest e'en the sci-fi trade!
Hail flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail! All hail! Divine emolient!")

#90 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:22 AM:

hmm, my coworker just told me that he thought Select Star sounded like the name of a porn actress.

#91 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:25 AM:

hmm, my coworker just told me that he thought Select Star sounded like the name of a porn actress.

#92 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:27 AM:


Also, thanks from your co-swimmers in the gene pool. The breed needs more Doctorow.

Has anyone told xkcd?

#93 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:31 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @#83:

Mary Dell #63; Let me assure you, having a name that people find hard to pronounce+ and spell* gets old very, very fast. And having an 'uncommon' skin colour can lead to some very interesting experiences, such as getting beaten up for being a 'n....r'. That's not a matter I take particularly lightly.

I'm not saying I take it lightly, either. I got tormented and occasionally beaten up for appearing neglected, and my friends were the other kids who didn't fit in--black girls, smart kids, tomboys, "sissies." There's beatings enough for everyone in school. Black kids in my class had it bad sometimes, but nobody had it worse than the kid who was getting beaten at home - everyone knew he was easy pickings.

I'm just saying that while conspicuousness can be difficult, it's not necessarily bad, and compulsively avoiding it is problematic. The things that make us cool and special often also make us vulnerable. But, given the right environment, being unusual or even conspicuous can be a good thing (Even though it wasn't for me, until much later in life).

#94 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:46 AM:

bryan #88: Ouch.

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Mary Dell #93: You have a point.

#96 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Congratulations to Cory and Alice, and welcome to Poesy!

#1, Josh -

There was a lot of fuss when Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter "Apple" and I always wondered if the fussers had ever heard of the Zappa children. Apple struck me as unusual, but fair game because it seems of a type with names like "Rose" and "Lily."

#32, Madeline F -

We avoided middle name embarrassment by essentially not having them. My mother named my sister and me with what she called "traditional southern double names" and elected not to hyphenate them. So as far as I'm concerned, I don't have a middle name, I have a first name whose spelling includes a space. Government documents disagree, of course.

#97 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:22 AM:

Cory Doctorow: Congrats, as abi says, it's a strange, wonderful, difficult ride; like nothing else and (so she assures me) worth it all.

There's nothing like holding a newborn. I got to do it last week (and will be babysitting said child tonight [his mother is taking a class, and someone needs to sit with him]).

I envy you.

#98 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:23 AM:


Considering my last name has punctuation in it and is contantly manglicized in its anglicized form.... It's not that bad. Even when I have to tell people to look for my file/record/paperwork under the second letter of my last name. (Most computer systems don't like/recognize apostrophes and making the first letter my middle initial is a common fix/workaround.)

After a while, it becomes a litmus test. It's really easy for me to tell friend from foe and careful from careless people. This also includes people who automatically use the most common diminutive of my given name. I like my name and refuse to shorten it. I love the expression I get when friendly, well-meaning strangers ask, "Do you go by Vicky or Torey?" after an introduction.

#99 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:40 AM:

More congrats and good wishes! Even for an SF writer, having a kid may make the further reaches of this century seem a lot more real. (At least I feel that effect, contemplating neighbors' kids and my cousin's young son -- no longer entirely stuck in Boomerdom.)

Tehanu (#61): having to tell everyone how to pronounce and/or spell your name for your ENTIRE LIFE doesn't sound like much fun to me. Well, I can reel off "Like Karen, but with an F in front" without even thinking about it by now, but I tend to stick with my maiden name so I don't have to spell "Hanscom" too. (One neighbor with poor hearing initially thought I was "Farina." Oh well.)

Oddly enough, a longtime friend whose birth name *was* Karen got sick of what used to be a really familiar monicker and renamed herself a variety of things, ending up as Cynara. So I'm delighted that there's a Poesy now, instead of one more Madison or Britney.

(Faren Miller [Hanscom], daughter of Aleta Cross [Miller], daughter of Eurilla Farren [Cross])

#100 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:47 AM:

I haven't had to spell my full name for all of my life. Only since January 1986 when I moved to Toronto from Quebec City, then to the USA. I have stopped counting the times when I've spelled my family name only to have the person at the other end of the phoneline spell it back with vowels in the wrong order.

#101 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:48 AM:

#96: My middle name is a peculiar romanization of my Chinese name. (The romanization mostly, but not quite Wade-Giles.) When I got my MD driver's license, the nice clerk at the MVA insisted that my middle name couldn't possibly have a hyphen. After I showed her my official papers, she relented. Then she insisted that the second half of a hyphenated name couldn't possibly be only one character long. I had to show her my official papers again. Given how busy she was, I have to wonder how the found the time to insist to me that I didn't know how to spell my own name.

When I moved to MA, the nice clerk at the RMV didn't ask any questions. She just assumed I was wrong, dropped the hyphen, and treated the 2nd half of my middle name as a suffix. *sigh*

When I'm feeling suitably ambitious, I may go fix this. I didn't realize what the clerk had done at first. Due to the way the RMV prints the name on the license, it actually looks correct, save for the missing hyphen.

(For some reason, I didn't have any name problems with the DMV in NY, where I first got a driver's license.)

#102 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:03 PM:

Really there's no such thing as a tease-proof name. The trick is to include a name that is normal-ish so that the kid can retreat without having to go to court.

Though I have a long and stupid story about how using one's middle name as a front name can lead to difficulties nowadays with the draft board, the Social Security Administration, the federal financial aid people, and universities, leading to the necessity of going to court to change one's name to one's name.

Luckily, my son had a passport with his name in it.

#103 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:13 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer: I know all about the use of middle names. More to the difficult, I use a diminutive of my middle name. Some where I have a trophy, which was redone from Terrence E. Karney (incorrect) to E. Terry Karney, which is no more correct.

Names are funny.

Terry is what I use, day to day (though it looks odd to me in print). E. Terrence is the more formal usage I favor. E. Terry is right out.

There is a small group of people who call me Terrence, which doesn't displease me. They do it because I had a teacher, in high school, who like it, had never had anyone named Terrence, and asked if she might use it.

I didn't see the harm in it (from theater, and fandom, and I don't know what all else, having multiple names didn't seem a problem to me).

I wonder what the perception of me is to those who know me by different names. Freff had an interesting column about the power of names, I wish I knew where it was.

#104 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:14 PM:

When my sister-in-law and her hubby were going thru the adoption process, they asked me for suggestions for girl names. They were already seriously thinking about Aria, what with my in-law's hubby being an opera fan, and it was a fine name. I suggested Theora, which was the name of Amanda Pays's character on Max Headroom. They liked it quite a bit, but we never could find confirmation of its meaning ("opener of doors", I think) anywhere. That turned out to be a moot point since they got a boy, little Theo.

#105 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Faren Miller #99: Did your friend call for madder music and for stronger wine?

#106 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Doesn't everyone dislike their name at some point? I still remember being angry with my parents for not having the foresight to name me Princess Sunflower. I got over it. I even kept the "Meadors" when I got married, even though I finally had a good excuse to change it to a pronouncable/spellable name.

re: Dweezil, remember that's not the name on his birth certificate; he had it legally changed when he started school and found out what his parents called him wasn't his "offical" name. I don't believe he ever suffered from it. (Certainly not more than he'd suffer from Zappa, even if his first name were Dave.)

While I wouldn't encourage someone to name their kid "Shithead McButtmunch", I don't see how giving them any name that isn't John/Jane Smith is going to lead to lasting psychological horrors. When I was in school, everyone was John, Bill(y), Sara(h) or Jennifer. Now, there aren't any two kids with the same name in my daughter's class, and hardly two kids with the same name in the whole school. (It's a small school, sure, but there were FOUR Jennifers in my first grade class of 22 kids.) Parents have to work a whole lot harder to get their kids ostracized through something as simple as name choice. (I suggest packing sack lunches. Instant outcast!)

Most importantly - congratulations, Doctorows!

#107 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:27 PM:

Cory @ 81:

I love that feeling. There's nothing like falling asleep with a sleeping baby snuggled up next to you breathing you in. I think it's a primate thing.

Again, I wish many happy years to you and your family.

#108 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Not that I can really take credit for that, my mom HATED the nicknames for it,

...all of them? Seriously, there are like 30, just off the top of my head. It's certainly not impossible that she hated them all, but wow.

Apple struck me as unusual, but fair game because it seems of a type with names like "Rose" and "Lily."

If we had lots of girls named "Strawberry" or "Peach", I'd agree with you. :)

Well, I can reel off "Like Karen, but with an F in front" without even thinking about it by now

When dealing with strangers, I don't even wait for them to ask, I just start spelling as soon as I've told them my surname. It doesn't help that the name's Lithuanian in origin but spelled as if it were German.

My boyfriend and I have a category we refer to as "Your Honor, the Defense rests". On trial for the murder of her parents, the accused gets on the stand and states that her full name is (to give the most egregious example I can currently recall) Moxie Crimefighter Gillette. "Your Honor, the Defense rests."

#109 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 12:53 PM:

R.M. Koske #96:

My parents elected to do the same thing with me (part of a pact with my mother's best friend to name offspring in some combination of parents' given names), and I removed the space when I went off to college, having discovered that otherwise I'd get called "Jo", which at the time did nothing for me, and I'd get letters from the Air Force Academy (this at a time when such places were most definitely not coed). Fortunately the draft board never got involved.

The best name in my family tree is a great-great grandmother: Rava Jane.

#110 ::: CJ ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Congratulations to Poesy and her parents!

First thought: Yay for more geeklings!

Second thought: What an amazing name! She gets the options of picking what bits of it she uses when. And can you imagine a three year old blithely explaining her entire name? The Emmeline is for Pankhurst, yes?

The names that bug me are the ones that the parents came up with to be "special" or "different" with no sense of where the name came from.

At my undergrad, working at the snackbar, I was for a while one of five Chrises working there. We weren't often all there at the same time, but there were enough times we had the "Chris?" "Which one?!" routine going. My mother picked my name with no sense of how popular it was. She liked it, and one of the main characters in The Magnificent Seven was Chris, and so I got the name.

Names with stories are more fun, I think.

#111 ::: gdr ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 01:55 PM:

#61: having to tell everyone how to pronounce and/or spell your name for your ENTIRE LIFE doesn't sound like much fun to me.

This is an experience common to everyone who moves from one culture to another, so I think it has some value in helping you to be sympathetic. I have a perfectly ordinary Welsh name, but I live in England where it has to be spelled out. It's not a big deal and it helps me to imagine the difficulties I might contend with if I were called, say, Dhasanawalaya Sornsongkram.

#1: A name to make Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa not feel so bad.

Wikipedia says,

Dweezil's registered birth name was Ian Donald Calvin Euclid Zappa ... He was always called "Dweezil" by his family and was unaware that this was not the name on his birth certificate. Upon this discovery at the age of seven, he insisted on having his nickname become his legal name. Gail and Frank hired an attorney and soon the name Dweezil was official.

So did he ever feel bad about it? Similarly, Moon Unit has kept her name and it seems likely that having a memorable name is an advantage to her in her profession as an actress, singer and writer.

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:05 PM:

CJ @ 110... Have you looked at the rest of the cast's names?

#113 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Our recent move has doomed our children to years of spelling their surname. "Sutherland" may be easy in Scotland, but the Dutch can neither pronounce it ("Give up on the 'th'," my husband told me. "You're now 'Sooderland'.") nor spell it.

But even in Scotland, I knew people with Scottish names that spelled them all the time. We used to joke that one of our colleagues was named Iainwithtwoi's McCorquodaledoyouwantmetospellthat?

And there is no feeling quite like having a sleeping baby on your chest, I agree.

#114 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:12 PM:

Back on the actual topic of young Poesy's own particular names - I have to say, it's one of the best collections of cool concepts and conjurances I've seen in...well, ever. I'm of the school that thinks names are magical, and that's a powerful set of blessings.

We're in the process of kicking around theoretical names for the theoretical child we're theoretically adopting. Finding names that are cool, have meaning, don't belong to slave holders or other jerks,* but invoke historical figures who are important to us, is really challenging.

*some pre-enlightenment jerks are grandfathered in, but Napoleon is right out, no matter what my husband says

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Abi @ 113... having a sleeping baby on your chest

At the end of February last year, I flew to the Bay Area and stayed at my sister-in-law. Due to many flight delays, I had a splitting headache and could barely stay awake. That didn't keep my SiL from handing over her 6-week-old baby who promptly fell asleep on my chest. Next thing you know, I heard someone whisper my name and I realized I too had fallen asleep. I'm still bummed that my SiL didn't take a photo of Serge and Theo.

#116 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:16 PM:

#108, Carrie S.

I think Peach would be a fine name, but I agree that Strawberry would be pushing it.

#109, joann

I've never quite gotten why people seem to have such trouble with the idea. If I introduce myself with three names, why do they think that somehow the "middle" one isn't important? I mentioned it, didn't I? People I don't use my last name with get a pass, because there's often a pause after the introduction that leads me to believe that they think I have a really odd last name. (Need to figure out a way to prevent that.)

I was really charmed in the eleventh grade by a classmate who, on discovering that I preferred to use both, immediately switched his habits. We'd been in classes together for something like five years at that point. (Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who has a preference, but doesn't feel it strongly enough to actually correct anyone. The preference doesn't lead to any hard feelings if it isn't followed, so why make a fuss?)

My husband sometimes makes a fuss on my behalf, which I also find charming.

#61, Tehanu -
Having to tell someone how to spell your name is annoying, true (my first name is difficult to enunciate so even though it is easy to spell, I often have to spell it out for clarity) but manageable most of the time. The last time I got really irritated was the week I moved to a difficult to enunciate street in a difficult to spell town with my difficult to enunciate first name and hard-to-spell last name. Changing my credit card and bank information entailed spelling all four, every time. Not fun.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:17 PM:

Mary Dell @ 114... No Napoleon? How about Serge?

#118 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Following on #114, Fragano, I have a question for you over on open thread's a bit off-topic here, I think.

#119 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:32 PM:

I think Peach would be a fine name, but I agree that Strawberry would be pushing it.

Whether it would be or not (I am strongly of the "no nouns in the local dominant language[s]" school, myself), it isn't common for children to be named after fruits the way it is for girls to be named after flowers. Hence, "Apple" is a strange choice of name.

#120 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:48 PM:


This is an experience common to everyone who moves from one culture to another,

this has me thinking of parents who name their children in tradition with a culture that is not the culture of the place the children are born.

my brother & sister-in-law gave their firstborn a hebrew first name, hard to spell & hard to pronounce (it has a chet (velar fricative) in it; her one set of grandparents can't even say her name right). and they didn't give her an "english" or easier middle name to fall back on, or any middle name at all. i kinda thought that was unfair.

my husband's folks went way in the other direction: japanese ancestry on both sides, not only did they give their kids "normal" (very common) english first names, they buried their japanese middle names after another very common, no history, "mainstream" middle name for each kid. like so even if they were asked their middle name, they wouldn't have to mortify themselves by saying something japanese. i find that silly, but again, not my business.

i'd really like to give our godwilling future children one hebrew & one japanese name each. i think if they're easy enough to pronounce, there is no need for "culturally unmarked" disguise names.

#121 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:54 PM:


(it has a chet (velar fricative) in it;

just for the sake of correctitude, & because naomi libicki might call me on it, it actually has a chaf, not a chet, in it. still the velar fricative, unless i'm misremembering that term, too & naomi (or other linguists) can correct me.

#122 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 02:58 PM:

R.M.Koske #116:

It gets even more complicated because I'm convinced that there's a pronunciation difference between "Joann" and "Jo Ann" involving a pause, almost a glottal stop, in the middle of the latter, which I just Do Not Like to hear or even, really, to contemplate.

As to changing names on the fly, it's rare that it happens completely gracefully. My husband spent many many years being known by a family nickname. At the time he got his first book published, he decided that he had an identity crisis, or at least a problem with identity management, sufficient for him to decree that he should now be known at all times by his real name. The next several months were somewhat interesting and provided much insight into the thought processes of friends and co-workers.

#123 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:05 PM:

Peaches Geldof (Bob's daughter) is fairly well known in the UK, full name (according to Wikipedia) Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof. I like Poesy's name better.

#124 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Congratulations on Poesy for being born, and the parents for ahem facilitating the process.

Fun fact: poessie, which with a bit of creativity you can pronounce Poesy as, is the Dutch (well, Amsterdammish) name for a small cat or kitten.

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Belated congratulations, Cory! And Bright Blessings for mother and child, good health, long life, and good fortune to all the family!

Victoria 98: Hear, hear. I'm a Christopher who is always Christopher, never Chris (as Our Host is never Pat—and Our Hostess never "Terry," which is a mistake it would never have occurred to me anyone would make, had I not heard with mine own ears an otherwise-quite-reasonable person make it). I have preferred Christopher since childhood, but wasn't assertive enough to insist on it until I became an adult. Consequently my family still calls me Chris, and it's a little grate each time.

These days I just introduce myself as Christopher, and let the litmus test begin! People who automatically call me Chris without asking have a very bad first impression to overcome. People who ask make a much better one, but the platinum ring goes to the people who call me Christopher without asking, because heck, that's what I said, isn't it? I prize such ones above rubies.

Please note: This is why I use people's first names on here exactly as given, punctuation and capitalization (or lack thereof) and all. If, like Mary Aileen, you are using your two-part first name, let me know and I will try to remember.

Since salesmen use calling you by a nickname as a trick to fool you into unconsciously thinking of them as a friend, I find it's helpful if I don't correct them when they call me Chris. They use your name over and over to try to wear you down, but it just keeps reminding me that they are NOT my friend and do not have my best interests at heart. It's improved my sales resistance enormously.

Terry 103: 'E. Terry Karney' sounds like a Cordwainer Smith Underperson species.

Carrie 108: We have an intern named Torian where I work. I once told him that if he ever does drag he should use 'Tori-Ann' as his drag name. He's a straight boy, but he laughed anyway.

CJ 110: The plethora of Chrises is one reason I'm Christopher.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 04:37 PM:

Xopher @ 125... The plethora of Chrises? Wasn't there a DC comic-book by that title in the mid-1980s. Wait. That was Crisis on Infinite Earth.

The only person who ever was allowed to call my wife Suzie was her granddad. Unfortunately, Sue's youngest sister kept referring to her as such with her own kids. It looks like the name is going to stick. As for what the kids call me, they actually use my name, with a nearly correct pronounciation. Nope. No Surge. And this is a name that can't be shrunken down.

#127 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:05 PM:

#119, Carrie S.

I can see that it is uncommon, but it just doesn't ping my "uncommon enough to be comment-worthy" meter. I was more startled by the attention paid to it than by the name itself. Maybe if it hadn't been the subject of what seemed to me to be way too much media attention, I would feel differently.

#128 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Serge @#117:

No Napoleon? How about Serge?

I wasn't in favor of the surge either...

#129 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:10 PM:

Mary Dell @ 128... Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

#130 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Serge @#129:

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

Oops, my bad, I forgot that you hate puns.

#131 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:32 PM:

Mary Dell @ 130... Fooled you, didn't I?

#132 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:38 PM:

About fruit names: I've known women named Cherry in several generations.

(I'm suffering from an attack of the terse or I would expand).

#133 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Serge @#131:

I suppose you're really a sockpuppet for some pun-hating person.

#134 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Mary Dell @ 133... Get thee away, temptress!

#135 ::: CJ ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Xopher @#125 - That's the same reason why my most common nickname is CJ. Do you, by any chance, live in Lansing?

Serge @#126 - The Crisis on Infinite Earths comment made me laugh.

#136 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:28 PM:

Well, mostly my mom just hated the nickname Liz really, or Liza, because of the song Liza Jane which she had a possibly irrational distaste for. I tried to convince people I was Beth for a while after reading Little Women, just because she was my favorite character, but was unable to get it to stick. I was definitely NOT the Eli that I was called in high school, and I'm pretty sure Libby or Lisa wouldn't have fit particularly well either.

Has anyone else given thought to names purely by first letters? My signature currently includes two capital E's and I am so sick of writing them. S's or M's or R's are just so much more fun! Perhaps that's just an after effect of working jobs where I had to initial a lot though.

My husband had a mildly unusual name for the UK (Graeme) but has had much more trouble since moving here. My favorite misspelling? Grakne. But it serves its purpose in keeping the telemarketers at bay.

I think what we call ourselves affects how we perceive ourselves as well, or possibly the other way around. I just like the thought that we have control over our own identities in that way. That's what this whole thread is keeping in the top of my head, anyway.

#137 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:28 PM:

"'D' like dog, 'I', 'A', 'Z' like zebra." This is exactly the same mnemonic my mother used. I don't expect ever to stop using it.

People who already know how to spell my last name (but aren't related to me) invariably address me in Spanish.

Also, being named "Jean Marie" while being visibly female tends to blow fuses in the Francophonic contingent.

#138 ::: Erin Kissane ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Welcome, Poesy!

We will do our best to give you a good world to grow up in.

#139 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:51 PM:

CJ 135: ...? No, but I grew up in Okemos. Why?

#140 ::: CJ ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:23 PM:

Xopher @#139 - I know a Christopher in town, who also only goes by Christopher. I've even seen him type his name as Xopher.

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Wow. Sounds like a kindred spirit, but he's not me. Tell him I said hi.

#142 ::: Mary Dell sees an odd poetic drive-by ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:32 PM:

#140, poetryman69's first post to ML. Seems random.

#143 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:32 PM:

Faren, #99, "Like Merrily We Roll Along, but spelled differently. No, really, it's all one word."

Cat Meadors, #106, I started changing my name legally when I was an adult, but my mother had died recently and my father went on about how I was dishonoring her choice and when I thought about it again later, I was too well known by this name.

#144 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Chris W. @ #89: "Hail Poesy,thou heav'n-born maid!
Thou gildest e'en the sci-fi trade!
Hail flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail! All hail! Divine emolient!"

I've got the alto line!

More on fun with names: My maiden name (now my second middle name, though the SSA thinks it's my first last name, no hyphen*) is Polish but, somewhat unusually, pronounced exactly the way it's spelled, all six letters of it. Which means I had to continually correct the people who thought it was French. I have a very good grip on names because of this: in college I saw the name Derakshandeh and very properly pronounced it with the accent on the second syllable (deh-ROCK-shawn-Deh), causing the girl in question to stop in shock and say, "You got it right!" Then it turned out that she'd never corrected anyone who'd said it wrong, an absolute must if you want it said correctly.

*First inevitable digression: it's not my first last name because it's very silly in combination.

My mother-in-law is named Joan, pronounced Jo-ann. Her father was Danish, hence the spelling confusion. Her middle name is Moonyean. She is in her seventies (and looks and acts mid-fifties!)

One of my sisters has never gone by her first name, that being Mary. Most of the time we forget that she has a first name (I think she kept it that way when she got married because having an initial in the first name place makes "a power name.")

Evil Rob wanted to put Æthelfled in as a girl's name. However, he has since decided against this in favor of Ælflæda, another variant, because of the possibility of "elfling" as a nickname. His nieces— Ashley*, Sarah, and Jennifer— are appalled at this, which only encourages the both of us. :)

*Second inevitable digression: There were five girls born in the hospital on the day when Ashley was born, and they were all named Ashley!

I do not go by nicknames because my mother hated the most obvious for mine. "It sounds like a boy's name." A) Tell that to my older sister Roni and B) my middle name IS a boy's name! I introduce myself by my full name and everybody tends to call me that. Except Evil Rob, but he's privileged.

One of my nieces wanted us to name my upcoming boy Justin or Logan. Thankfully, I didn't have to say, "those are too trendy" (she's all of eleven) but could use the handy but true excuse that anything that rhymes with my last name is an automatic out.

(wanders off, humming "Hail Poesy!)

#145 ::: Lisa Spadafora ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Xopher at 125:

This happens (in reverse) to my wife. Apparently, no one's mom would put Jenny on a birth certificate—according to the idiots at various airlines over the years who have insisted that she has to use her “real name” for the plane tickets, as just one example.

And yeah, we do belong to the generation for which Jennifer was the number-one name, according to the SSA--but I'm talking about folks who, when corrected, pretty much just flat-out refuse to believe that she isn't just expressing a preference.

The funny thing is, she was named for her mother's grandmother, for whom Jennie was, in fact, a nickname--for Jane. (Jane was my mother-in-law's name, as well...I think she liked the idea of their names being connected, without being the same.)

#146 ::: Terrt Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:07 AM:

with great satisfaction do I brag that I am typing this one-handed because I have barely less newborn than Poesy in my other arm.

He is grabby, and cooing, and soon to be taken from me because he is hungry.

But right now I have him.

#147 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:13 AM:

EClaire: I like initialling things. TK is easy, and I use the descender of the T as the vertical for the K, so it's an idiosyncratic mark.

Makes it easy to tell if someone is faking my initials too.

#148 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:17 AM:

I grew up in the deep South, where ornate and glorious names were common, and until this thread I had naively assumed that all such children use names that bear no resemblance to the legal paperwork.

I graduated from high school with a boy named Henderson McKenzie Fortescue Bridges IV, for example. He was universally known as Pete.

I read the names as a statement of her parents' love and pride, and am certain that her call name will come about naturally.

If I were naming a child from scratch*, one of the things I would watch is the sequence of vowels. Keeping the same vowel sounds in first and last name makes it more euphonious, I think. (I.e., Kathryn Franzen, Kimberly Miller, Sarah Asplund, Kenneth Henderson, etc.)

*Mine came named, which is both good and bad.

#149 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Xopher at 125:

I'm always a Don -- except for getting the first name of "Donald" or "Mister" from people who're working from documents or want to butter me up. It's a useful reminder of operative status. (Okay, I have encountered a few "well-brought-up" youngsters who use the formal terms of address to someone so manifestly their elder. Those instances I play by ear, or by whim.)

#150 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:27 AM:

B. Durbin @ 145: in college I saw the name Derakshandeh and very properly pronounced it with the accent on the second syllable

Long ago, when I was working as a secretary, I made someone's day: "Can you tell him [ʃəvan] called?" "Is that S-I-O-B-H-A-N?"*

It almost made up for the time, when unable to catch someone's name on a bad connection, I finally gave up and asked him to spell it, and got the disbelieving reply "S-M-I-T-H"...

*Obviously not a tough one if you're Irish, but judging by her reaction she wasn't used to Americans knowing it.

#151 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:40 AM:

Xopher @ #125: I occasionally will introduce myself as Leoghann (and I give it the Gaidhlig pronunciation), but only when I know I'm in the presence of someone who loves to call everyone by their most familiar nickname, and I want to force them to call me Mr. Otherwise, I'm Mac to nearly everyone who knows me, and I just use that for introductions, although it occasionally confuses people when the first two syllables of my name are the same. Everything (bills, etc.) is listed as LMB, so I have a good time with telemarketers.

Terry Karney @ #148: I initial lots of stuff, from drawings and proposals, to invoices, and even shrink-wrapped pallets of stone, and have sort of a trademark that I've used for years, based on my nickname. I'm afraid I'd get tired of it quickly, too, if I had to print LMBM or LMBMA on everything.

Hope you enjoyed that baby-holding interlude. I noticed you had to brag.

#152 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:46 AM:

LMB MacAlister: I am very fond of that kid. He's the one I was talking about here last week, when he was just born.

I like kids, and he's the child (first) of a dear friend. I spent the evening babysitting, while his mother was taking a class at CSUN (education, students with special needs).

I expect/hope to be around to help him do lots of things I will brag about his success in.

#153 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:46 AM:

A friend's boy thought, until grade school, that his "real" name was "TRIG-Vee-T-R-Y-G-V-E" because that was how she responded to questions about what his name was.

#154 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:23 AM:

Victoria @98: I go by Vicky. No real choice-my only explanation is that my parents didn't understand the idea of nicknames yet (they'd only been in the US for a year or so) because my sister, born two years later, got the full name and then addressed within the family by the nick.

Also, I managed to get saddled with an androgynous Chinese name, thanks to a fortune-teller consultation. My grandfather insisted that all of his grandchildren, like all of his children, had the same character for a middle name.

And while I'm delurked! I think watching you all and drinking in the air here has made me want to name my not-yet-anytime-soon daughter Villanelle. She could go by Anne, Elle, or when she hits her sexy siren phase, Villain.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 03:27 AM:

I wonder how Poesy would do in a future version of this expermiment?

#156 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 06:44 AM:

Xopher@125: That reminds me, I've been wondering how to read "Xopher". I think of the X as a Z, as in "Xylophone", but it occurs to me that it might be intended as "Christ" as in "Xmas".

R.M. Koske@116: I'm like you touching preferences; I introduce myself as "David" and prefer that, but if someone decides they want to call me "Dave" I'll let them. Though I will express the preference if asked. (Nobody has ever tried to call me "Davy"; that would cause me to kick.)

#157 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Marilee @144 - my mother-in-law is named Merrily! And she always says, "Yes. Just like 'Merrily we roll along.'" Her older sister was Betteye. (Pronounced "Betty". I don't know where the extra e's came from.) She went by Mimi when she was little, and now is our daughter's "Me-Me." (Kind of like a MeMaw, but slightly northernified.)

When I was really little (before I knew what spelling was) I thought my last name was MeadorsM-E-A-D-O-R-S. So we were really careful to give our daughter a name that we thought couldn't possibly be misspelled or mispronounced. We thought wrong, apparently, but at least people have to work really hard to mangle it.

(Tip for people naming babies-to-be - do not share the chosen name(s) until the actual birth, because someone will be guaranteed to make an unpleasant comment about it, but they're less likely to do so once the paperwork's done. We told everyone we were going with "Broccoli" for a boy after I found it in a list of baby names under "Flower names: male". And actually, it works really well with the last name. Plus you can shorten it to Brock, which is all kinds of leading-man. And if you've convinced folks that you're going to name your child "Broccoli", then no matter how ridiculous a name you do pick, they're all for it.)

#158 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 10:25 AM:

Fragano (#105): Nothing so romantic. She just told me that "Cynara" means "artichoke", so I occasionally give her things related to that as presents. But, knowing the boredom of a common name, she has named her daughters Kaetlin -- I *think* I spelled that right, since everyone calls her Kate -- and Tamsin.

Meanwhile, my husband's (grown) niece and nephew are Ashley and Justin, and will just have to live with it.

#159 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 11:35 AM:

#148 - Juli Thompson

I graduated from high school with a boy named Henderson McKenzie Fortescue Bridges IV, for example. He was universally known as Pete.

I know only one person (that I know of) in that boat, and the reason for the nickname is because the child was named after both of her grandfathers. The paternal grandparents divorced during the pregnancy, and the paternal grandmother "couldn't bear" to hear her granddaughter called by "his" name.

I'd have told her to suck it up, but they came up with a nickname. I suppose it is better than risking any coldness from grandma. Maybe.

#157, David -

I shouldn't let people call me by whatever, I know. I really genuinely prefer to be corrected when I get other people's names wrong, so I'm doing no one any favors. But still I don't say anything.

#160 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:31 PM:

#159 ::: Faren Miller
... Tamsin.

Lovely name. My association of it does, however, resonate strongly with one of the women in the Donner Party.

#161 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 12:49 PM:

B. 145: One of the times I worked checkin at AIDS Walk New York, a young woman came up and handed me her sheet. I took one look and said "Wow, Melpomene! That's a great name!" She was astonished, delighted, and amused* that I knew who Melpomene is (well, one of the nine, not which one, but she cleared that up), and in fact pronounced it exactly as she did herself. She walked away with a spring in her step, which was probably helful to her that day.

One of my sisters has never gone by her first name, that being Mary.

I knew a woman in college whose whole family went by their middle names. They kind of had to, because all the boys were named Joseph something, and all the girls were named Mary something.

LMB 152: I occasionally will introduce myself as Leoghann (and I give it the Gaidhlig pronunciation)

LYO-γuhn? (I can't make that lowercase gamma look like anything other than a 'y'; I mean a voiced velar fricative.)

I want to force them to call me Mr. Otherwise

Pleased to meet you, Mr. Otherwise. (Abbreviations at the ends of simple declarative sentences are one thing I haven't yet figured out how to disambiguate, so I have fun instead.)

David 157: I did the regular substitution as in Xmas, but then used normal English pronunciation rules on the result; so you were right on both counts. It's pronounced X as in 'xylophone' -opher as in 'gopher'.

Cat 158: I had an online friend whose new baby cousin was about to be named, no kidding, 'Vanilla'. "We saw something in her," said her dopy parents. "What did you see in her, an icecream truck?" said Grandma. (This being a big Indian family, it was a negotiation, not a fait accompli when the relatives found out) My friend said that his mother was annoyed because they didn't name her after HER grandmother, he himself was annoyed because 'Vanilla' is a stupid name for a girl, and his kid brother was annoyed because they absolutely refused to name her 'Optimus Prime'.

I told him to suggest they name her Uma Parvati Kali-Durga. He passed this suggestion along, and his grandmother loved the idea! The parents wound up naming her something innocuous (vanilla, as opposed to 'Vanilla').

*Why no, I don't believe I do have any shame at all. I could have sworn there was at least half a jar left.

#162 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Faren Miller #159:

The name 'Cynara' makes me think of Dowson's poem addressed to a lady of that name.

#163 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Oh yes, telling names before the child is hatched is a great way to have a name you loved turned into a name you can't bear. When my youngest was still a bump, I thought to call him Jane, if he was a girl. It's a name I like a lot, has some nice diminutives if you like that sort of thing, isn't too fashionable, has good associations for me. Until we told my then mil, who would ask me, every single time we spoke or saw eachother, "And how's Jaaaaaaane?". Blah. Name removed from list.

When my oldest was born I wanted to name him Thomas Aurelius. His father wasn't so into it, but I must admit I still mentally think of him as Thomas Aurelius.

#164 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Cat Meadors, #158, was your mother born roughly between 1950 and 1960? I thought I had the only Marilee in the world until the internets showed up and I started looking. Every year I find more, and we're all within about a ten year range. My mother said she made it up, but she had to have heard it somewhere. So I wonder if your grandmother also heard it and spelled it differently.

#165 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:11 PM:

You know, I'd really like to see someone write a post saying that if Patrick's names were Fibonacci and Nautilus, he would not have the power to transmute metal and fight crime. It would be a tough case to make in prose.

#166 ::: Tom Whitmore still sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2010, 05:31 PM:

@168. You got 167!

Patrick does have the ability to fight crime (though seldom the inclination). Transmuting metal -- not so much, at least for the lighter ones. Though I wonder whether the heavier unstable ones transmute themselves only through Patrick's intervention (which managed to affect some metals before he was born, in a sort of psychic precursion).

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