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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Four-Syllable Girl Names With the Emphasis on the Second Syllable

This list is mostly for my own reference: I frequently need such names when, for example, the parents like Elizabeth and Olivia but find them too common, or when the first and last names seem like they'd go well with a middle name of this length and rhythm. So then I think, "I know I've looked for such names before---I will look through my archives for lists." But then the lists I find are partial, because I've sorted the names for the ones that work for that particular family. SO: now I will have a full list to refer to---and so will other people who need the list. The list is (clearly) not complete yet, but we can add to it: if you think of another, mention it in the comments.

Elisheva (maybe--having trouble finding consistent pronunciation)




Katie V. said...

Great idea! Keeping these lists makes so much sense now that you mention it...

Dulcinea (if pronounced dull-SIH-nee-uh)

Ashley said...

I love 4 syllable girl names!

Here's a few more:
Graciana (3.5 syl)
Zenovia (same as Zenobia, just a slightly diff spelling- lends to Nova and Via nns)

Clarabella said...

I'm a little curious about a couple pronunciations. Down here in Mississippi, the "Magnolia State," Magnolia is 3 syllables: Mag-nole-ya. That said, a best friend couple have a daughter named Magnolia, and I simply love the name.
Similarly, the names in the 3.5 category are generally pronounced with a 3rd -ya/-sha syllable: A-cay-sha, A-zail-ya, Ewe-jean-ya (although I hear this one both ways) among my friend set. Curious whether they're pronounced significantly differently in other parts of the country or if I'm reading too heavily into that .5 syllable.

Anonymous said...

Clarabella, in Arkansas Magnolia also only has 3 syllables. Interesting! I hadn't thought of these names being pronounced differently regionally.

AirLand said...

3.5- Camelia

Swistle said...

Clarabella- I say Magnolia with four. I say the 3.5-syllables ones with the "ya/sha" syllable you describe--but with a slight hesitation that makes it not quite "just 3" syllables--and I could see someone drawing them out to 4 or almost 4, as I do with Magnolia.

Adey said...

Our daughter's middle name - Emmanuelle

Elle said...

How about Juliana and Liliana? Pretty!

Clarabella said...

I have never heard anyone actually say Magnolia that way (4 syllables)! It needs to be on that regional dialect video meme going around.
Now I want to know where you are even more, Swistle! Quick, someone else who says it Mag-nol-ee-ah chime in & tell me where you're from :)

Anonymous said...


I said Mag-nol-ee-ah before moving to TN/GA! I mean, it's not like we're going around saying it slowly like that ("hello, mag-nol-ee-ah!")...we Americans have a tendency to slur things together. But there's definitely a "leah" sound in the word when we Chicagoans say it (probably because we draw out the middle "nooohl" sound more than Southerners), rather than just a "yuh" ending. I might put it in the 3.5 syllable category, though.

Clarabella said...

Check it, Swistle; I believe you're my friend on Facebook. Look what I started: this.
Incidentally, it doesn't seem to be "regional" in any identifiable pattern.
Also, have you seen the video meme going around the internet on regional dialect/terminology? Google "regional dialect video" or look it up on Youtube. Interesting.

WV: brogge
How would you pronounce that? I KID.

Clarabella said...

Crap, that link didn't work. Let me try again: Here.

Anonymous said...

CA here. Magnolia is definitely 4 syllables, with "leah" being the last two. I also say Antonia with the stress on the 'i' (3rd syllable), not on the 'ton.'

British American said...

I'm British and I'd say Magnolia with 4 syllables. I'm pretty sure that my midwest American husband does too.

Anonymous said...

Elisheva is a beautiful name, but doesn't quite fit this pattern---it's pronounced eh-lee-SHEH-vah. (At least, that's the correct Hebrew pronunciation, though it's an uncommon enough name that you might be able to get away with adopting your own pronunciation, since a lot of people won't have encountered the name before.) Still, I think it's a lovely alternative to its English form, Elizabeth, if you want to mix it up a bit!

Swistle said...

Anonymous Feb 7 11:59 a.m.-- Do you have a source on that? When I was researching, I found very split opinions even from equally good sources.

Anonymous said...

Sure, it's a Biblical name so you just look at the Hebrew characters, since Hebrew is spelled phonetically---not sure if this will work but I'll try pasting! The name in Hebrew is אֱלִישֶׁבַע which gets read right to left. The letters tell you what the consonant sound is, and the lines and dots underneath tell you what the vowel sound is. The first letter, reading from the right, is an alef, which is silent and takes the sound of its vowel. In this case, the two dots tell you the vowel sound is "eh" or "ey" like "e" in red or "ey" in they. (You hear both and though "ey" is traditional I think they're both considered right at this point.) The second letter from the right is the "L" letter, and the single dot underneath followed by what looks like an apostrophe after means it's an "ee" sound. The letter that looks like a "W" is shin, which makes the "sh" sound. Underneath it are three dots in an upside down triangle, which are the "eh" vowel as in red. Hebrew words are accented on either the last or second-to-last syllable (though some names with common English usage have shifted to English pronunciations over time). This one is second-to-last.

That's a very long answer to a short question! The much easier way is just to ask someone who has that name because of its Hebrew/Jewish origins how they say it, since I've rarely heard anything other than Elly-SHEH-vah. Elisha, usually a boy's name in Hebrew, is spelled almost the same way, but without the final consonant/vowel pair and with the "ah" vowel in place of the "eh" vowel under the "sh" letter, which is why in Hebrew the accent for that name is on the middle syllable (Eh-LEE-shuh)---as it's still the second-to-last. A little complicated so I hope that all makes sense! (And, of course, there's no reason you couldn't modify the pronunciation to suit your own style if you're not using the name for its Hebrew/Biblical meaning and roots, too---has happened to plenty of other names from other cultures as they've gone mainstream, and generally works out just fine.)

Anonymous said...

(Or, alternatively, you can just use Wikipedia's far simpler page of Hebrew name pronunciations, where they manage to explain all this much more concisely! ;)

Peace said...

My daughter's name is Camelia, although she hears a lot of people calling her Camille and Camilla. We pronounce it both CAH-MEE-LEE-AH and CAH-MEEL-YAH. I often tell people it's like the flower and they pronounce it properly, or I tell them it's just like Amelia, but with a C in front (if they are having trouble spelling it this usually works).

Sarah said...

As a once-fluent now-proficient Hebrew speaker, I will second Anon on the Elisheva pronunciation. Elly-SHEV-uh, definitely. Uh-LEESH-uh-vuh is not something you would ever hear.

Anonymous said...

Magnolia is pronounced Mag-no-lee-ah where I live in Northern England. I don't see it as a name though, more a colour of paint. Also we say Azalea like az-ay-lee-ah not az-al-ya