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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Names Blending With the Surname

Michaela writes:
I am due with our first baby (a boy) on the 29th June.
I had "my" boys name in my head for years, Leonardo (after da Vinci, not DiCaprio), with Leo as a NN. It was the only name I had found that I like that I thought sounds good with our surname.
Unfortunately, by complete coincidence, my sister loved the same name, and my beautiful nephew Leo was born a couple of months before I got pregnant. She had no idea how I felt about the name when she chose it, so it is sadly a case of first in, best dressed and no hard feelings.

I thought about using Leo anyway but my sister and I are very close and our kids will spend a lot of time together. I want my bub to have his own name, so have regretfully had to let the name go.

My problem now is that I can't find another name that my husband and I both like that goes with our surname - Evans.

Seems like a simple enough name to match, but I feel that every name I think of sounds like it runs into our surname, e.g Lucas Evans sounds like Luca Sevens, Kieran Evans sounds like Kira Nevans. My husband and I both like classic names but want to steer clear of anything too on trend or super popular. I have an (until recently) unusual name with an unusual pronunciation and have spent my life correcting people on both spelling and pronunciation and don't want to subject my little one to the same inconvenience. (in case you are wondering, is spelt Michaela and pronounced Mic Carla, not Mic Kayla)

A surprising finalist (the only one we have so far) is Joseph, which I was happy to see wasn't as popular these days as I thought it would be. However, I am still concerned about it running into our surname. Does Joseph Evans end up sounding too much like Joseph Fevans, or am I just overthinking this waaaay too much?

Our little one's middle names will probably be William (after my grandfather) and also maybe (a very uncertain maybe) Glyndor after hubby's grandad. That gives us a 2-2-2 or 2-2-2-2 rhythm, which I know isn't ideal but considering how much trouble we are having just finding a first name, it is a whole other issue I'm not quite ready to worry about just yet!

I would love to know your thoughts on run-on sounding names - do you use a full name enough to make that a deal breaker?

The main thing I worry about with run-together names is the inadvertent creation of an incorrect (and sometimes embarrassing) name or word---as with your example of Kieran Evans becoming Kira, or with the classic example of poor Ben Dover. But even when a name could/does create a new name, it's still not necessarily an issue: Faith Evans could be misheard as Fay Thevans, and yet I never did mishear it that way.

With Joseph Evans, no incorrect or embarrassing name is created. If the surname is sometimes heard as Fevans (and I think there is low risk of this, since Fevans is a very uncommon surname while Evans is familiar), that seems like a very minor issue: most people have to spell their surnames when giving them, and most surnames are regularly misspelled or misheard. And this particular mis-hearing isn't embarrassing in any way.

As for the syllables/rhythm, it's a matter of personal taste. I myself like the 2-2-2 rhythm to the point of gravitating toward it, so I think Joseph William Evans is a great name. The only issue I see is that he will not be able to use his monogram if he does the old-fashioned style (first initial, surname initial, middle initial). But I am not seeing much of that monogram style in my own circles, and perhaps you don't see much of it in yours either. It's rare for me to even remember to check for issues there.

Because you liked the name Leo and felt that name worked well with your surname, I'd also suggest Milo. Milo William Evans.

Hugo is another similar choice. Hugo William Evans.

Or there's Arlo or Nico or Matteo or Theo.

I also like William in the first name slot. William Glyndor Evans.

Even if you did choose a name that ran together a little, it would be okay, I think, as long as it didn't create a name that might embarrass him: that is, I wouldn't use Kieran/Kira, for example, but I don't worry so much about Lucas/Luca. You would introduce him carefully: "Hello, I've brought Lucas for his appointment. Lucas [pause slightly longer than a space, not quite as long as a period] Evans." It would quickly become habit, that tiny extra careful spacing. I do it myself, because I've found that people can hear my name as Krista if I'm not careful to pause, and because I used to work in a pharmacy and found that almost all first/last names blend together when they're not familiar to the person wondering whose prescription she's looking for.


Anonymous said...

I think Joseph works and sounds great. I like all of Swistles suggestions for you too. And I think the middle names flow nicely. The 2-2-2 pattern works with these names to my ear. Congrats on your son and all the best

Mj said...

Oh Swistle! So glad you offered Milo. Its the first thing i thought of- Milo William Evans is divine. I dont think Theo or things that rhyme with Leo, as you will spend lots if time with your nephew. William is also great for first spot and has loads of nicknames, Will and Liam, are my favourites. Then you can use the Glyndor middle name and it sounds quite regal. Milo William and William Glyndor get my vote!

StephLove said...

I also don't think the blending is a problem for most names, but if you like that ends in O sound, there's also Arlo. Arlo Evans is a great name.

gail said...

Not to be forgotten on the names ending in "O" is Arno. There's a well known boatbuilder named Arno Day. Arno has some of the same sounds as are found in Leonardo, yet it's completely different. It's also the name of a river in Tuscany.

All of Swistle's suggestions are great....

Anonymous said...

I was going to suggest Milo as well! :)

Anonymous said...

What about Oliver? Oliver Evans.

Anonymous said...

I think Joseph Evans sounds fine-and I don't hear Fevans at all. Both names are familiar enough I think the majority of people will robably get it right away. I also like the 2-2-2 and even the 2-2-2-2 if you want to use Glyndor. If you want to use Joe as a nickname, then I think Joe Evans is even less likely to run together. I notice I naturally put more of a pause between names ending in O and Evans, so I wonder if that is part of Leo's appeal. If that is the case, then Joe would be a good way to get the extra pause. Any of the ending in O names already suggested would work as well. I particularly like Milo.

Nicole Trager said...

My first thought was if Leo and Lucas were off the table how about Nico. I think it combines many of the similar sounds and is still unique yet familiar.
I also like the suggestions of Milo and Hugo for you.
As for the 2-2-2 or 2-2-2-2 I dont think its a problem at all.. My name is 2-2-2-2 and I love the way it flows, I also love that I have 2 middle names.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks of William as a 3-syllable name? In my part of the country, at least, I feel like it is generally said Will-ee-um, not Will-yum. I think Joseph William Evans sounds great!

Clarabella said...

I see someone's already mentioned it, but my son's given name is William, but we call him Liam, which occurs to me is very close to Leo, if you want similar sounds. Liam and Leo are cousins with similar names but still different *enough*.
Also, I was going to suggest Nico, which someone already has as well. So here's my seconding of those two!
Good luck.

Alice said...

When I was considering names for my daughter, I went back and forth a million times because I loved the name Maeve but when I used it with my last name, which starts with a f sound, it blended to sound like Mae. After stressing about it for ages, I finally just went with it. I'm glad I did. When I say her name now, I always pause a bit between first and last for clarity and it's fine. Also, as my husband pointed out, that actually makes her first name even more special because we are all forced to give it some breathing room. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can see why you would want to use Leo - what a fabulous name. Equally fabulous is Joseph Evans! Maybe even more so. There seems to be a trend toward long "o" names - Milo, Nico, Cohen, Owen - so in using Joseph, you side-step this trend, have a name that is so classic & familiar yet manages to sound *fresh* again, & you can always use the nn Joe! It seems like perfect name to me.

The Mrs. said...

Joseph Evans sounds nice. If you both are diggin' it, use it!

Other suggestions:

Marco William Evans

Carl Glyndor Evans

Royce Willaim Evans

Matthew Glydor Evans

Philip William Evans

Best wishes to you all as you anticipate your little mister!

Grace said...

I didn't read all the comments but I really like Maxwell/Max with Evans.

Max Evans. No way someone will hear Ma xevans. Makes no sense!

Maxwell Evans Maxwe Levans? Again, not happening.

I also think it fits your naming style.

Alexander Evans and Alex Evans also fit the criteria for not forming a run-together name.

Other "x" names: Braxton (Brax), Lennox, Felix, Maddox.

Or what about just Luke instead of Lucas? No run-together there.

Here is a "classic" boys name list. Going down it, quite a few did not have the run-together issue with Evans.

Overall though, I think your pick of Joseph will not cause a problem with names running together at all.

SF said...

I know a Joseph who goes by Joey. I think it's a great nickname if you want to use it.

Some other suggestions: Louis (LU-ee or Lewis depending on your preference), Joshua nn Josh. Troy also goes well with the surname.