I am 37, almost 38 weeks, pregnant with our second (and final) babe- a little girl. We are 90% settled on calling her Vivienne, nn: Viv or Vivie, but I am feeling nervous about which spelling we should choose. My dilemma is this...my husband, bless him, feels very strongly that we should not share our name choice or even finalists with anyone we know- a combination of not wanting to be judged, wanting to give people a surpise (since we've shared everything else about the pregnancy to date) and just wanting to make sure that this is "her name" when we meet her. I am more or less on board with this plan, but it makes it hard to get feedback along the lines of...does this work? is this weird? etc. Which is why I'm coming to you and your readers...
My question is, do people generally percieve a disctinct difference between the pronouciation of Vivienne and Vivian? I prefer the first spelling, but would want to pronouce it: "VI-vee-uhn", which I think may be more associated with the spelling Vivian? I guess what I'm wondering is, is the French spelling only associated with the French pronouciation, or can it go both ways (as I hope). I prefer the French spelling for a number of reasons: I studied and speak French, I think it's prettier/more feminine and I feel like that spelling is potentially more versatile/recognized in other cultures. I worry though that, since she's growing up in the US, she will spend lots of time explaining the spelling/pronouciation difference, "Yes, with an E-N-N-E, but it's pronouced VI-vee-uhn not vi-ve-EHN" Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? My first name is Megan, and I frequently have to specify that it is spelled without and H or other extra vowels...and it really doesn't bother me. Anyhow, I would love to hear what other folks think. Maybe a poll?
Oh! I have wondered this TOO! I see Vivienne and I hear it in my mind "viv-vee-EN"---but I am aware that people are using both pronunciations, so if I encountered a Vivienne out and about, I'd expect it to be pronounced either like that or like Vivian (VIV-vee-en). The Baby Name Wizard's listing for Vivienne shows both pronunciations.
So yes, I agree with you that you could use the spelling you prefer combined with the pronunciation you prefer, and that the hassle level would be comparable to your experience with the name Megan or mine with the name Kristen: not a huge deal, just something we've gotten accustomed to dealing with when it's a name with more than one spelling/pronunciation. If the name Vivienne continues to increase in popularity, that will help her out as well.
Let's have a poll, too, because I'm still interested to know how many people would think of Vivienne as being pronounced only the French way, and how many think of it like the name Madeline (i.e., aware of two possible pronunciations, as in the middle three poll options). (Sorry the poll options are so LONG! It proved challenging to put those concepts succinctly!) [Poll closed; see results below.]
Poll results for "The Pronunciation of Vivienne:" (508 votes total):
I would say it French and be surprised if it were like Vivian - 144 votes (28%)
I would first guess French, but wouldn't be surprised if it were like Vivian - 163 votes (32%)
I would expect either pronunciation - 79 votes (16%)
I would first guess like Vivian, but wouldn't be surprised if French - 87 votes (17%)
I would say it like Vivian and be surprised if French - 35 votes (7%)
Name update! Megan writes:
Many belated thanks to you and your readers for weighing in on our spelling/pronunciation conundrum...hopefully this extra cute fall photo makes up for the belated update! Born on the 4th of July, it's hard to believe our Vivenne Leymah is 5 months old already. We decided to stick with our guns on the spelling of Vivienne, but are surprised to find ourselves pronouncing it more like the spelling (vi-vee-ehn), though usually, we just call her Vivie.