Five names you like, but would never use?
Well this is such a complex topic, so let me expand it a little bit. Hm, we can look at this questions in two ways in my case, ’cause I just have so many favourite names from various cultures. I would never use most of them in Poland, while for example if I lived in an English-speaking country, even being Polish myself, I would probably hesitate giving a Polish first name to my child that is difficult to use outside of Poland.
But well, since I live in Poland and don’t plan to change it in the near future, let’s look at this from the Polish perspective.
a few years ago there has been a new law set here, regarding baby names. Before, the baby naming law was pretty strict here, it wasn’t like in English-speaking countries or some others. The name for your child had to indicate their gender (so for girl it had to end with a, as most of feminine nouns end in a in Polish, there are some exceptions that have been widely known or used for ages as feminine names like Beatrycze (Beatrice), Rut (Ruth), Carmen, Ines, Michelle, Doris or Nicole, and yes, no unisex names!, for most people over here even an idea of a unisex name still seems to be a little confusing or even ridiculous), it couldn’t be ridiculing – and the civil registration clerk or however such person is actually called was deciding about whether the name is ridiculing or not, and what may be even more shocking for some, apart from some exceptions they couldn’t be diminutives. Also, because Polish is a phonetic language and actually everything is pronounced how it’s spelled and phonetic rules are always the same, not as changeable as in English for example, there was also a rule that names should be written according to Polish spelling rules so that a child wouldn’t have to explain everyone how their name is spelled and so that everyone seeing it written would know how to say it. So some clerks would have the right to question whether the child can actually be called Nicole, because the way it’s spelled, in Polish it should be pronounced nee-TSAW-le, which sounds weird, doesn’t it? 😀 Besides, giving your child more than two names was also rather not possible. These rules wouldn’t regard children of mixed couples or citizenship.
However, since a few years, the laws aren’t so strict. Now, parents can freely choose almost any foreign name they’d like. You also don’t have to choose the name indicating your child’s gender, so you can freely call your daughter Krzysztof, and your son Anna, if you only fancy. You still can’t choose more than two names though, but you can use nicknames.
That being said, although I think it’s good that people now have more freedom in naming their children, as it paradoxically seems to decrease the amount of weird names given to children, I personally would rather stick to some rules, just to make my child’s name fit here.
While I believe in erudition and intelligence of my compatriots and that they know that Jessica should be spelled JES-i-k? and not yes-SEE-tsah, I also think that not everyone has to be a name/linguistics nerd and know how to pronounce such names like Kärstin. There are lots of beautiful names, so why make your child unhappy naming them with a name that no one around can spell/pronounce correctly? That can be really frustrating, I believe. Unisex names can be something really cool, but since they’re still not really popular here, I wouldn’t rather think about naming my child with a name used for the opposite gender, the more that although there are some English unisex names I like for either both genders or for the gender that it’s rarely used, I still prefer to use names traditionally, rather not calling boys Elizabeth and girls Richard. 😀 Also, my personal opinion is that often such very extravagant, very foreign names with Polish surnames sound a little pretentious or even snobbish. My surname isn’t indigenously Polish, but anyway, I wouldn’t like my child to be perceived snobbish, even though I like for example the name Liselotte. I could use it for a book character, not necessarily my own baby.
Then there’s the thing with nicknames. I love lots of cute nicknames, but most often it is so that I much prefer them as a nickname of a longer name, than a name itself. It just looks more classy. And gives us more possibilities. Look at one of my favourite English nicknames – Lizzie. You give it to your daughter as a full name. And how can you call her? Lizzie, Liz, maybe Liza… but that’s pretty much all about it. You can get bored of it quickly, plus if your Lizzie will want to think about some really serious job, like, dunno, being a scientist, just Lizzie will look a little bit unprofessional. That’s my opinion. ANd now look at ELizabeth. At home she can be Lizzie, at school – Ellie, Ella for her boyfriend, ELizabeth at her job, Lisa for people from other countries, Betsy for her grandparents, etc. whatever comes to mind. Isn’t that much much more creative?!
Plus, the rule about ridiculing names was very reasonable imo. That takes a lot of responsibility off the shoulders of people who are unexperienced with names and don’t really know what they want from the name of their kid. Often people think that giving their child a distinguishing name will make the child successful, but the effect might be just the opposite, and very distinguishing names can be also ridiculing. There is a website of The Council Of Polish Language, they just give opinions about names, or were giving when the laws were more strict. And oh gosh if you could see loads and loads of just so ridiculous names that people were asking for opinions on. TO give you a few examples – Kermit, Strawberry, Legia (Legia Warsaw is the name of a Polish football team)…
So finally, I think I would try to not be too strict or narrow-minded in choosing names for my kids, but also would still try to adjust to the Polish culture and I think I’d like to go at least a bit with the tradition.
I was mentioning some names, most of which were just examples, I do like Kärstin and Liselotte, but they’re not my most favourites. So here’s the list of the 5 non Polish names I would never use living here for my baby, but could take into consideration in different conditions.
1. Jack (because we have Jacek here, which isn’t the same etymologically, but looks and feels quite the same, plus, because people here have a very annoying and for me weird habit of pronouncing it as Jeck. Grrrrrrrrrrrr I hate it! I can’t understand it at all.)
2. Melissa (it could be perfectly usable and ait’s beautiful, but it doesn’t have any history here and the only thing it would be associated is the plant and its sedative effects, plus I have an inkling most people would think it’s very snobbish. Not like I would care so much personally, but wouldn’t like people to think this way about my kid).
3. Evangeline (too strong association with the Gospel, which is called Ewangelia in Polish, it would look a little bit sanctimonious on a daily basis, I’m afraid, no matter if spelled Evangeline, Evangelina or Ewangelina, plus pronouncing issues, as there are actually two ways to pronounce it here, with hard or soft G, and both are correct).
4. Misha (I guess obvious 😀 but really, I wanted to call my child so, Misha is such a cool name. For either gender, but paradoxically more usable for a boy here, because of Russian associations, Misha Barton doesn’t seem to be popular over here, I suppose, although I’m not an expert as for that).
5. Oisin (also pretty obvious, it’d be troublesome in any part of the world except for Ireland, or so I guess. And there are so many Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Cornish names for both genders I’d love to use, but that would be completely inappropriate here).
Very curious to see your favourite but not usable names. 🙂