Friday, December 30, 2011

In Defense of Kreeaytiff Nayemz and Youkneec Spellings

If you're different, you stand out 5
Image credit suvodeb on Flickr
Confession is good for the soul, so I am going to let you in on a secret.  I think that unusual names and nontraditional spellings are cool.   Why is this a confession, you ask?  After all, the people I spend time with are pretty tolerant, by and large.  We make choices that are a bit outside of the mainstream and look at the world though our own individual lenses.  So it never fails to surprise me when I see posts mocking unusual names or non-traditional spellings.  I am not talking about parents naming their kids something degrading, like Poopy.  And, of course, some of the criticism is gentle ribbing, noting the poster's accidental flubbing of pronunciation.  But a surprising amount comes across as a bit malicious, and I just don't get it.

I'll acknowledge up front that I am biased.  My own name, although common in Mexico, is very unusual here.  Few people get it right on the first try.  I have been called everything from Dooley to Doushay (yeah, really) and pretty much anything else that has any part of Dulce in it.  We used to get telemarketers calling for Dulcky.  I get that it can be aggravating for both sides to have a name that isn't easily pronounced on the first try.

And yes, I remember feeling disappointed at times when I couldn't find mass-market personalized items when I was a child. But that was a fleeting thing

Even more, though, I remember vigorously nodding along as my favorite literary heroine insisted that "Anne-with-an-e" looked much better than "Ann", that a "K" was much more alluring than a smug-looking "C" and that she could see all the sharp angles and corners in a "W" when it was spoken. 

I feel the pleasure of recognition when someone recalls my name or makes the effort to pronounce it correctly. 

I am also a teacher who learns a large number of names every semester, and it is actually very nice to see or hear names that stand out a bit.  I find that they stay in my mind much more readily than common names with conventional spellings.  I always ask my students to introduce themselves as they prefer to be addressed in the beginning, and it is never a problem.

Names are important.  We thought and prayed long and hard before choosing our childrens' names.  We gave careful consideration to the meanings behind them, how they would come across in both Spanish and English, and yes, even to the spellings.  And although none of them are in recent top 10 lists, none are particularly unusual.  But each of their names beautifully reflects the child.  They have made their names even more lovely to me because now I see them when I hear that name.  And that is every bit as true for kids with creative spellings or simply unusual names.

Whatever names you have given your children, however you have chosen to spell them, I celebrate the meaning, beauty and uniqueness of your child.  Of you.  Of your own way of seeing things and the way that is highlighted in the way you address your child.  And I believe that other people will, too.  (If you have gotten the argument that your child won't be taken seriously with an unusual name, let me say that in my experience, true leaders are open to innovation and creativity and are unlikely to judge your child negatively).

Please give your child a name that reflects how you see him or her.  One that speaks a blessing over your child each time you say it.  One that demonstrates exactly who your child is called to be.  You and your children are one of a kind.  It is OK if your names show that.  I will be cheering for you.  And I will have the courtesy to learn how to pronounce it and spell it correctly.  :)


Randy and April said...

We named our daughter Violet. It doesn't mean anything other than purple, but it suits her and we love it! Oddly enough, because it's an old-fashioned name, we got some funny looks when we told some people what we were naming her. You just can't win!

By the way, I think this is the first time I've commented, but I love your blog. I don't remember how I found you, but I've been reading for some time, and you are one of the reasons we have chosen not to spank our daughter. Thank you for putting yourself out there even if it's not always make a difference!

Loving Earth Mama said...

I couldn't agree more,
Gauri - hahaha!

arwen_tiw said...

None of my children have *very* unusual names. Yet Jenna gets cards addressed to Gemma and Gina (from close family) and Talia is only two weeks old - yet already her grandad has given up trying to spell or say her name and is calling her by a nickname that Officially Drives Me Batty. *sigh* Seriously.

Yes, name your children something that sings to your soul! And forget everyone else as far as possible. There are people who insist on calling me Saz (which I hate) and who consistently forget that my Sarah has an h. ;)

Sheila said...

I have always loved having a less-common name. People have usually heard of it, but I'm usually the only Sheila in a group.

The downside is that no one can spell it. It's not that hard. It's the standard spelling of that name. And it's pretty much how it sounds. But whatever I do, I always end up being spelled Shelia. That would not even be pronounced the same! It happens a lot of Facebook when I'm talking to people I don't know ... seriously, my name is on my comment. It's right above yours. Is it so hard to check and make sure you got it right?

I think every single one of us has a strong desire to see our name remembered, spelled right, and pronounced right. When people take the trouble, it means a lot. When they don't -- it shows.

I have lots of names picked out for my future kids (the first one was decided by my husband before he met me, and I agreed to it). I want each to be meaningful and uncommon though not unheard-of. And each one has to sound nice. They also need to have good nicknames, because I'm incapable of not nicknaming.

GrammyK said...

I love that I am Kris with a "K". It's funny how many times someone will have to write my name and they will automatically write "Ch" even when I tell them it's with a "K". Many times it ends up being Khris. :-) I think it's just hard for some people to wrap their heads around something different.

One of our children have the middle name of Dalyn. I LOVE it!! You won't find it on any personalized items!! But we're ok with that.

After becoming Christians we gave careful consideration to each of our children's names and the Lord has almost always given me a name in advance of birth--and usually in advance of the pregnancy. We are always amazed at how well He names our children. ;-)

Blessings to you and praying for an amazing New Year for you and your family.

MK said...

I'm a Kris with a K too lol. And have gotten the Kh... its actually on my Baptismal certificate that way :-D

My daughter has a non trad spelling too... She's Kalila instead of Khalila. I don't mind when it gets mispelled that way but my own mother refusing to learn how to say or spell it (comes out Kalia) irritates the living daylights out of me. Our son we purposefully spelled Zavier to keep it from being mispronounced and that still happens too. Oh well...

Leslie said...

What are your children's names? So curious! Mine are Kai, Ezra, Jude and Koa. I totally get the teacher thing- being a teacher made it really hard for me to choose our children's names. Because every name we considered would remind me of a child. I needed a name that I didn't know anyone else named that. Of course after I picked the names, I would find other children with the same names on the playground, etc. My family gave me a really hard time when we named our first son Kai. The nurses in the hospital did too. Even saying, "Are you SURE you want to name him that?" as we're filling out the birth certificate!!!

dulce de leche said...

Randy and April, thank you so much! That gave me happy tears. And I think Violet is a lovely name! <3

Guari, you and your name are beautiful. <3

Sheila, I love nicknames, too! :)

(((Arwen))) I feel your pain. We had some similar issues early on with Ariana's name.

Grammy K! (((hug))) I have been thinking about you and missing your posts! Are you still blogging? And you are definitely an alluring lady. :)

MK, those names are lovely! <3 And sorry about the certificate--that is a shame.

Leslie, I love the names you chose! Our kidlets are Ariana Elisa, Joel David (but pronounced in Spanish, never English), Elena Raquel and Veronica Amaya. :)

Lorna Johnston said...

aha I get all sorts of spellings for my name which isn't terribly unusual but like Shiela I'm usually the only Lorna in the group. I get called Laura (argh) and some people spell it Launa lol. My kids are Zoe, Joseph and Jacob but Zoe spells her name Zoee and uses her middle name Louise combined to be Zoee-Lou which I LOVE! Joseph and Jacob are shortened to Joe and Jake, but people even get these wrong sometimes!

Jacquelyn said...

I agree! Our daughter's names are Adelina (pr. Adeleena) Teuta (pr. Tay-oo-ta) and Albulena (pr. All-boo-layna) My husband is from Kosovo and while these names are rare if not nonexistent in the States, they are very common in Kosovo (where we recently moved back to to work as missionaries.) I've gotten a few raised eyebrows and some mispronunciations, but their names completely fit them and our girls love their names and so do we :)

Anonymous said...

Ezekiel Xavier, Naomi Alice, and Ezra Marz...(our three little ones) I couldn't agree with you more!