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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Y-Spelling Phenomenon

Steph writes:
I'm wondering what people think of what I like to call "The Y-Spelling Phenomenon". This is the trend of using the letter Y when spelling names that typically have no Y in them.

Examples (these are ones I've actually seen):

-- Ryver instead of River (which I have trouble with, because I keep wanting to pronounce it "Rye -- ver" ("Rye bread")
-- Madisyn instead of Madison

Some names I personally love spelled with a Y ... for example Alyson and Kathryn ... but I wonder if that's because they are more widely used spellings now, and so I'm okay with them because I've been exposed to them all my life? Is the "Y" substition the baby naming wave of the future or just a current fad to go along with the need to make popular names "unique'? I'm wondering how many of us who read the blog like this trend, or don't personally find it to be their taste? Also, what are some of the "Y Spelling Phenomenon" names that other readers have encountered?

I don't mind it for some names (in fact, I do think at times it can look down-right great!), but I am beginning to feel this is naming fad that's overused and not necessarily necessary.

How far is it going to go?? "Mykynzy" for Mackenzie??

This whole thing is a future teacher like myself's nightmare!!

Just something I thought we might ponder!



Good one, Steph! Let's talk about it! Do you guys like Y spellings and think they make a name "a different name" (that is, you'd say that the name Madison is way overused, but the name Madysyn is a different name and not overused)? Or do you think of it as taking an overused name and making it ALSO difficult to spell? And what Y spellings have you encountered?


[Poll results: What do you think of Y spellings?
I call them "misspellings": 127 votes, roughly 95%
I like them: 6 votes, roughly 5%]

57 comments:

Sherry said...

I don't really see the point of spelling names in funky ways. Even if the names are spelled differently, it doesn't change the fact that there are still many people with that popular name. In elementary school on year we had a "Stephanie" and a "Steffanie" or something, and differentiated by their last names, not by the "f" or "ph."

Generally when I see names with funky spellings I do not like it, and I just think the parents shouldn't have been so worried about being unique.

Amy said...

Generally I dislike the use of Y in every other name. If the sound is the same, adding Ys doesn't make a new name. And people don't always know how to pronounce a Y either. I know a little girl whose name is spelled 'Ayvee' and is pronounced 'Ivy' but one would probably lean to 'A-V" as the way it's pronounced.

Firegirl said...

Hate, hate, hate "misspellings". I realize that the purpose is uniqueness but it is crazy-making for teachers & administrators. "Is this supposed to be Mackenzie or McKynzy or Mackennzy?" AND, while I'm on a rant, I think Mackenzie is the most overused & abused name EVER.

Also, learning to spell is hard enough. Let their name at least be easy. (:-D

So, please for the love of God and all things Holy, spell it correctly and let your child be unique in a more natural way, one that THEY choose.

Alison said...

I agree with the above comments. I HATE "creative" spellings of names. I don't even like Alyson or Kathryn. Some variations in spelling are legitimate, like Allison and Alison (Alison is the spelling used by Chaucer, for example) and Philip and Phillip (depends on the country). But this business of switching out vowels with one another, using Y's all over the place, and adding and subtracting letters is SO annoying. It makes me cringe every time I see it. To be honest, I usually think of he parent as being uneducated. Call me a snob, but it's true. That's my first thought. Fortunately, my husband agrees with me on this. Traditional spellings for us all the way!

Mayberry said...

I don't care for them at all. If you want to be unique, choose a less commonly used name -- don't misspell a common one.

The worst I've seen was probably Alyvia (Olivia).

d e v a n said...

My niece is Kameryn, which I like spelled with a y because it's actually a boys name and that makes it more feminine in my eyes. Usually I don't care much one way or the other, but would err on the side of no y if I were spelling it.

Jennifer said...

I hate it. In my kids' school there is a set of sibs -- Sybastyen and Tristyn. I think it says a lot about the parental units -- and IMO none of what it says is good. It just makes things more difficult for the kid and everyone they encounter.

ZestyJenny said...

Hate it.

I just think about all the thousands of times in their little lives they will have to spell their names to teachers, customer services people, etc. And how their names will be forever "misspelled". And how many times they will have to have the lame and annoying, "Well, that's an unusual spelling:, "Yes, I know." - coversation.

Lara Jane said...

I completely agree with Alison.

Frazzled Mom said...

Variant spellings are like nails on a chalkboard to me. The exception is classic or established variant spellings, such as Alison and Allison and Katherine and Catherine. The Y thing drives me crazy, and can easily get out of hand.

vague said...

The "Ryver"-type examples seem silly to me, but Kathryn, on the other hand, isn't a "creative" or illegitimate spelling, as some have implied. It's the traditional Welsh spelling, and has been in use for centuries.

vague said...

You know what, though? I think the welsh spelling is actually Cathryn, now that I think about it. They don't have a K. But the Y is still there, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Jennifer. Those names are a bit WT.

Clarabella said...

You beat me to it, Vague. Not that I'm surprised.

Jenn said...

Hate it. It smacks of "cutesy-ness" and the names with an extra or substitute "y" never seem like grown-up adult names to me. I have to agree with the uneducated comment. It's a lame attempt to make a common name more unique, but if you are pronouncing it the same, it's not unique, IMO. Just like Emmaleigh still = Emily! Grr!
The worst I've seen are Eryn, Alyvia and Sylver. Yes, Sylver. (Silver is unique enough isn't it?!?)

Joceline said...

Tacky. As Swistle said, it just takes over used names and makes them weird. Traditional spellings of a less common name are a much classier way to be "unique" than a made-up spelling of a common name.

Rayne of Terror said...

Damn, blogger ate my comment. I'm the lone Y cheerleader. My name in Rayne and I LOVE it. I hated being 1 of 1 million Jennifers. I think the Y makes a noun name look more namey. I don't mind spelling it all the time either. My parents were not uneducated, they were hippies and are artists. I don't love the Y in every case and probably wouldn't use most of the above examples.

Rayne of Terror said...

I notice one of the haters is a Jenny who benefits from a Y where an I would be more fitting to the original spelling. So Jenny is okay, but Ryver is white trash? I think it's a case of new v established use of the letter Y.

Linda said...

I think there are always 'a few' exceptions as in Rayne's example but for the most part, I think the unique spellings indicate a lack of education on the parents behalf. In fact, I think there was a chapter written about this very topic in the book 'Freakonomics'.

Mairzy said...

The Y is to this generation what IE once was (Billie, Jodie) and then I was (Randi, Brandi). Obviously the impulse runs deep in our culture. Plus, in names like (as one commenter mentioned) Kamryn or Camdyn, it signals a traditionally male name used for a girl, so it can be handy.

You could say that it's lack of education (that is, ignorance) that leads to unique spellings. You also could say that those who didn't go through the system are less conformist. Depends on your take.

Sybastyen and Ryver do stick in the throat, though.

Mairzy said...

The sentence where I wrote "...and then I was (Randi, Brandi)..." should have quotation marks around the "I." I'm referring to the letter I, not to myself!

Dallas said...

I think you should start using Swysyl for your blog name. :)

I guess it's a case by case situation for me. I like random Y's and mispellings in some names that are a little more common, such as Rayne - great name by the way. But I have a harder time with Mykynzy or Ryver. With that spelling, I'd pronounce it Rye-ver. I heard an interesting mispelled name today - Jorja for Georgia. At first I liked it because I thought it might be foreign, but from what I've found online, it's just a creative spelling.

Swistle said...

Rayne and Mairzy- I think of "nickname endings" (-y, -i, and -ie) as being a different naming issue than "letter substitutions," but I could be wrong on that---it's the first time I've thought about the two issues as being connected.

jaime said...

For a while as a teenager, I fancied spelling my name Jayme instead of Jaime. I mean, if it's already spelled weird, I might as well go all the way!

The fancy passed.

The Ys only really bother me when they *look* like they've just been thrown in there for the heck of it, and not because the name should actually be spelled that way.

Simone said...

I'm also not a fan of creative letter substitutions. I think they look silly, and they often lead to mispronunciations. I'd say that 'y' makes a different sound than 'i' (or which ever vowel is too straight-laced for a given parent), so they shouldn't be substituted willy-nilly (wylli-nylli?).

The worst use of a creative 'y' that I've ever seen (not in real life, on a blog) was.... Alyzabeth, and I believe it's intended to be pronounced the same as Elizabeth. (while I'd be inclined to say it as two separate names "Alyza [like Eliza] Beth").

Can you imagine?
Person 1: "what's your name?"
Alyzabeth: "Elizabeth, with an 'A' and a 'Y'".
Person 1: "Ummmm. An 'A' and a 'Y' where????"

jaime said...

Dallas -- My mom had a friend named Jorja. Maybe it's just an older spelling?

DirtyHippy said...

I detest the Y-infestation. It makes me feel like the world is getting more and more stupid. Can someone please explain what is it about the letter Y that magically makes a name feminine? Is Wyllyam all ribbons and bows? I really don't get it.

Don't boys have the Y chromosome anyway?

Some atrocious misspellings I've been forced to read:
Soyer (no, that's not a new brand of soy milk . . . it's Sawyer on a girl)

Emmalee (c'mon . . . who do you think you're fooling? You gave your daughter the most popular name in America, suck it up!)

Aidyn (this one is an ulcer's worth of crazy vowel madness)

Kayte (Katie? Kate? Who knows? After a certain point, who cares?)

Catelein (because the 8004 ways to spell this name just weren't enough)


I will say, though, that I know a little Yvie (Evie) and at first I was ready to throw her name in with Y-mania, but it's actually a nickname for Yvette (and she's named after her grandmother, which I think is sweet), so I learned my lesson to not be too quick to judge with that one.

Kate said...

I really don't like it when people choose to use the letter 'y' instead of 'i'. I think it is widely overused and drives me crazy! I have to agree with some of the previous posters who have stated that it makes the parents seem uneducated, but this does depend on the name itself.

I know someone who is going to name her baby boy Aidan except she is spelling it Ayden. I'm okay with the 'an' or 'en' ending for it. I love the name Aidan (for other people's use) but not this spelling.

Mairzy said...

Swistle: Billie and Randi are nicknamey, but I threw them in with the Y trend because they use an alternate spelling to change a boy name into a girl name.

But you're right -- the Y trend goes beyond just changing gender. Why bother changing Madison to Madisyn, after all? I think those who like the Y see it as frilling up an otherwise ordinary name. Trouble is, like most decorative trends, the frills show their age far sooner than the basic name. All of today's Madisyns and Aidyns run the risk of looking like an 80s country blue kitchen.

Linda said...

Sometimes it is okay, like my coworker with a daughter named "Camryn." I guess that's fine, although it wouldn't be my choice. I recently saw an Olivia spelled like Alyvia and um, NO. And all the Madysons and Addysons and Aidyns look DUMB to me. I can't stand it because they're perfectly fine names and now they're all messed up.

Kristi said...

When I was younger, I wanted my named to be spelled Krysti instead of Kristi so badly. I'm glad that phased passed!

I think there some cases when the "y" is ok. I think it's cute at the end of names, but I don't like randomly adding it into the middle. I have a friend who spells her son's name Austyn, and I hate it. (she doesn't know that though!!)

Pocket said...

I think this blog post is an excellent discussion on language. We're dealing with a letter, "y," which could be considered a vowel OR a consonant. That just begs for trouble to begin with, and that's where all this hoopla starts. Forget about how you would go about pronouncing the "y," once you stick it in a name where it doesn't usually belong, you have to come up with a reason for doing it. Either you think it looks nice, sounds nice, or has some sort of deep meaning to you and your family. The way I see it, it's a bold choice in most cases.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness people have strong feelings on this issue. I never really realized that I fell in this group - my daughter is Aynsley - but the spelling is taken from a surname in our family. Not like I am going to change that, just because 'Ainsley' is a bit more common and easier to pronounce upon reading. My other daughter's middle name is Alyce, named for her grandma, and spelled exactly as her grandma spelled it. I hope people don't detest the names I chose and assume I am trying to be trendy.
BTW I'm a Kathryn (born in the '70s)
-Katie

Jill said...

I'm not a fan of the random 'y' spellings, but I generally like more traditional names so that's not surprising. I also don't like boys' names used as girls' names, so I guess I'm just crazy and old fashioned like that.

Hope said...

I went to elementary school with a girl named Lynsey. She was CONSTANTLY having to correct teachers on the spelling. I would never want that for my kid.

I wish, as someone said above, that people would realize that spelling an ordinary name "uniquely" doesn't make it any more unique. It sounds exactly the same when they are called on in class.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Thanks for posting my email, Swistle! I'm glad to see it created so much discussion, and that people have such strong opinions on this topic!

I will say, the "Madisyn" that I knew... her family does live in the less financially stable area of our community. I'm not sure that has a lot to do with it, but in some ways I totally understand the whole "looks uneducated" side to this topic. However, I really think that depends on the name.

Also, I was mostly thinking of Y substitutions in regular names; not really variant spellings of nicknames since I think that "-y", "-i" or "-ie" at the end of a name is a different thing, since nicknames are almost expected to be spelled all different ways. Just IMHO.

The Ryver that I've encountered is actually a teacher's son, who is entering JK at the school I was working at last school year. So she's definitely educated. Just an odd duck, I suppose. lol.

I feel that a lot of this "y Phenom." has to do with thinking you're "trendy". And it irks me! There are lots of gorgeous names out there, no need to randomly change the spelling of them!

What do you guys think, should I change my two favourite baby names to "Sopheya" and "Zachyry" ??? That's hot, non? ;-)

Elisabeth said...

This phenomenon really has gotten out of hand! I agree with most of what has been said, that it does not make the name more original or feminine to spell it with a Y, but there are a host of lovely Y names that are authentic spellings. I also worry that some old male names will not only look feminine to the general public, but people will presume they are misspelled, like Rhys, Drystan, and Welsh male names ending in -wyn.

I wrote about this on my name blog here:

http://youcantcallitit.com/2008/05/28/the-seven-deadly-trends-part-6-substytutes/

Also doing an informal survey of the first 20 children's names or so that you encounter this week and where you are located geographically. The response so far has been overwhelming, but we need your help:

http://youcantcallitit.com/2008/08/04/international-poll-calling-your-top-20/

*Swistle, I'm a fan. I love what you do.*

Paige said...

I don't mind it necessarily. Unless it is a huge stretch or it confuses me. I have a friend who named her daughter Scottlynd.

Anonymous said...

Ah, good topic. The worst example I've seen (and this was published in "The Baby Name Bible")was Kaylyb. That's Caleb (nice, trad biblical name). Kaylyb.
What I wondered when I read it at the time was "are the authors making this up, or does this variant actually exist?" Is it irresponsible to plant such ideas?

Leah said...

HAAAAAAAATE.

For me, the worst part--about this phenomenon as well as other trends popular right now--is that they seem to come out of parents wanting so badly to be unique. What those parents don't realize is that there are thousands upon thousands of other Madisyns out there, all of whose parents thought, and quite earnestly, that they were also unique. "Look at me! I'm unique just like everybody else!" Makes me nuts.

Same goes for people who say, "I want to give my son an unusual name, so we've picked Aiden." I never know quite what to say to those people.

Lisa said...

My daughter's name is Camryn. I actually insisted on that spelling, so visually it would look feminine (like Kathryn). My husband was the final say in her name and I insisted on the Y spelling. We also call her Cami. I like the Y in her name.

But I agree on the Ryver, Sylver, Kaylyb. The changing of a name to be unique, when it just seems odd to me. But maybe people say that about my kid's name, too. And also that I'm a boy name stealer! LOL

Mairzy said...

Lisa, here's your medal as a courageous Y-supporter (Rayne gets the other one.)You braved stormy waters here. :)

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Lisa -- I'm more accepting to certain "y" spellings; and if you're going to name a girl "Cameron", I agree that "Camryn" is a much more feminine spelling. Like Kathryn and Alyson, I can get on board for that one.

It's names that just look TOTALLY made-up when they throw in the Y that irk me really badly! LOL.

Anonymous said...

I think some people are confusing the spelling of a nickname to the spelling of a name. Using Jenny or Jennie or Jenni and Katie or Katy is different than Ryver or Madyson.

I tend not to like the use of y instead of an i. But I don't know that it is all together new trend though. For instance, I know a Lynda and a Cyndi who are in their 50's. Same idea is Ryver or Madyson.

And I think it is kind of classiest to assume that those using the creative spellings are the poor people in the city that just don't know how to spell. In my expirence it is just as often the college educated that decided to name their daughter Ryley instead of Riley.

Anonymous said...

Most annoying "creative" spelling of a perfectly lovely name: Alyjah (Elijah)

Some "Y substitution" names are okay, but I don't care for most of them.

Becky said...

My friend and I were just discussing the ridiculousness of her cousin naming her daughter Alykzandria. HATE.

Lylla's Mom said...

My 7 week old daughter is named Lylla pronounced "Lil-ah" not Lie-lah" we went with the Y b/c she is named after her grandfather Lyle who passed away a few months before she was born.

So I "misspelled" my daughter's name, but I did it for a reason.

Missy said...

Grrr. Irritating is my opinion. I looked after siblings (syblyngs?) Jaryd and Ysobel for a while. Why complicated perfectly lovely names like that?

Anonymous said...

Addisyn is the latest addition to my circle of friends. Don't like it. Not a real fan of the "y" movement.

Lindsay said...

I'm a Lindsay and I get frustrated with people not hearing what I say when I pronounce my name. They always hear Lizzie or Leslie. As a result my kids will not only get names difficult to misspell, but difficult to mishear. I love the spelling of Lyndsay probably because I was friends with one and I hate Lindsey probably because the one I knew wasn't that nice. So, in the end for me what I think of a person is influenced by the individual themselves. However there are times in life where we won't always get a chance to make a deeper impression. Sometimes people will make a decision based on what is on a piece of paper. If I were an employer and there were two resumes where the candidates had equal experience but one was named Jasmine and one was Jazzmyn guess who I would call? Socioeconomics aside, crazy spellings seem like an obnoxious call for attention.

Carolyn said...

Wow, strong feelings! My daughter's name has a y. We turned a traditional name's nickname into a name, and used a y to help with pronunciation. I love it and think it is beautiful.

Katie said...

I'm personally not a fan of "creative spelling" because to me it just looks rather....ummm...illiterate or something. But, my name is Kathryn...and that was one of the original misspellings, I guess!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is named Camryn as well... it's funny, never before have I seen anyone else spell it that way, and just on here I've seen it twice! My husband made it up and I liked it. Some names with y's are okay, I like Jayme a lot. But most of them are unnessecary.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have contributed to "y" time. :) We have Dylan James, Arryanna Kay, Wyatt Matthew, and Rylie Grace. Thank goodness I have a husband that goes with my flow!!! :) There are other things in the world to worry about then the spelling of names, guys!

Anonymous said...

I believe that it depends upon the meaning of the name.
For example, my Mother (born in 1950 mind you) was named Stephany. This was not to make her name 'unique', but instead to honor her maiden name of Sawatzky. Which unto itself was a miss-spelled name. Her anscestors had changed the spelling of thier name in order to escape the Czar from Russia. She chose to name me Brian, instead of Bryan. However, to honor my Mother and her ancestory, I named my son Tristyn.
A previous post specifically identified Tristyn as being a terribly spelled name, however, it is actually the old Celtic spelling of the name (a nod to my wife, who is Irish).
It is true that some people clamor for attention when naming their children, but dont be too quick to judge a name. Who knows how strange someone might think your name looks?
I would be more concerned about a kid being named Dweezel, Moonunit, or Blanket!

Anonymous said...

I named my daughter a unique name with a y in it and it's beautiful. All this hating on other peoples baby names is just silly. You can all name YOUR kids what ever you want.

Anonymous said...

I am Kim, you won't believe the amount if people who spell it Kym even after seeing it written down :/