MMM: What’s in a Name?

One of the exciting things about having a baby is picking out the name. Although it’s a fun task, it also holds a lot of importance being that you are picking a piece of your child’s identity. A name also says a lot about you. It tells a story, describes where you are from, what your parents’ interests are, and can even offer a piece of family lineage.

Nowadays, most people opt to know whether they’re having a boy or a girl as soon as possible. Usually around the 20th week of pregnancy, they have an important ultrasound that gives all that information away. Therefore, choosing a name suddenly becomes half as easy. I on the other hand, (as mentioned in previous posts), did not take this route. We decided to wait until the final moment to find out. So for us, we had to think of both a girl and boy’s name. It bares mentioning that after running the name by 2 or 3 people, we decided to keep that a secret as well. People can be critical of these things, and then it ruins your whole feeling about it in the first place. Best to keep everything a big secret until the end.

When examining names, it’s interesting to see what the trends are. You have some people that stick with the classics like William or Elizabeth. Another group that goes with the yuppie names like Madison and Tyler. And of course the people that choose from the top ten list like Emma and Aiden. You also have a group of people that try to go ethnic, but it just doesn’t work: like, Sofia, Isabella, or Ava (actually spelled Eva, but we won’t go there). It’s overall trendy. But then again, at least it’s not Apple or Brooklyn, right? In Spain, people don’t experiment so much with names as they do in the US. Most guys I know are named Carlos and Javier, and the girls are Marta and Alicia.

For us, one of the most important factors in name choice was the pronunciation. Would both our parents be able to pronounce the name? In other words, let’s not choose something with too many “r” sounds, since my family wouldn’t be able to roll those easily. And let’s not choose anything that starts with a “J” or ends with an “s” because it’s just too awkward when pronounced in Spanish.

Girls’ names came quite easily for some reason. I’m not really sure why, but for us we were able to choose without much difficulty. Personally we liked Violeta (not Violet), because it was a spring time flower, for a spring time baby. The color was pretty, and it had a musical ring to it. It’s also a name that is not that common, which I like. It’s basically easy for Americans to pronounce (although I still have family members who say, “Veye o let a”). They don’t seem to understand that the “i” is pronounced like a long ee sound. It also reminded me of a time when we first moved to Spain and we were walking past a florist. I saw a bunch of violetas outside on the sidewalk and I remember saying, “that’s a pretty word in Spanish. If I ever have a daughter I’d like to name her that. “

Now that we’ve covered first names, let’s move on to middle names.  I, like my fellow blog writers; Erica and Rachel, do not have a middle name. I know, this is HUGE!  All throughout my childhood I felt like a weirdo for not having a middle name, especially when it came time to take standardized tests. I remember having to fill in the empty bubble where it indicated middle initial. When I asked my mother for an explanation, she’d always say something sarcastic such as, “Isn’t it enough to have to choose a first name? I have to choose a second name too? And one that you’ll never use?” I remember thinking that that was a poor excuse, but now that I’m older, I totally agree. What purpose does the middle name serve other than a conversation starter followed by a horrible face made as a reaction to the answer? Let’s face it, most people have ugly middle names. But then again, they get to fill in the bubbles on the test sheet. People don’t have middle names in Spain, unless you’re one of those families that gives loads of names to the child in order to honor every family member they’ve ever met.

Finally we move on the surname. I think it’s great that Spanish people take both parents’ last names. Everyone has 3 names, the first name, and 2 last names. The first surname is the father’s, and the second is after the mother. It’s a great tradition because it acknowledges the mother as well as the father. In addition, it is also a way to see how people are related, such as cousins. I know some people in the United States that have their mother’s maiden name as their middle names. This custom is nice too, but as I mentioned before, the significance of a middle name just isn’t the same as a last name.

We have our names forever. They are a piece of our cultural identity. Treasure them, for they tell your story.

- Nicole



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