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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Middle Name Challenge: Archer ____ Carson-with-an-L

J. writes:
After passing the 37 week mark and having no final name chosen, I decided I better start e-mailing you for some help!

My husband and I are due with our first baby, a boy, in just over 2 weeks. Our last name sounds like Carson, but starts with an L!

We are fairly satisfied with our first name choice — Archer. Although, now I'm not sure if it's because we are both in love with it, or if it is simply the only name that we could agree on. But, I'm willing to stick with it, unless you have a suggestion you think we might love.

Where we are really struggling is in the middle name department. This is the first grandson on my husband's side of the family, and he would love to have the middle name be a family name, which I am totally fine with. (On my side of the family this is the 11th grandbaby!)  The trouble is, I sort of hate all of the name choices on his side of the family, as does he. 

Here are some options (and reasons why I don't think they work): 
Archer Jens — (This is probably our current top pick. It's my husband's middle name, but I just don't like it.  I also hate the idea that the baby could be called A.J. as I have a bad connotation with that name.) 
Archer Marlan — (My husband's late grandfather's name.  Again, just don't care for the name) 
Archer Wayne — (My husband's father's name.  I feel it really doesn't go with the "style" of the first name.)

So, after scouring family records and coming up with nothing, I suggested that we look into Danish names, since that is my husband's heritage.  This way we could at least incorporate some history, or family "meaning" into the middle name, which is really important to him.  

I researched a bit and suggested Archer Dane.  I really like this name, however my husband despises (as do I) Dane Cook and is afraid he's ruined that name. I sort of agree, but the more I say Archer Dane and write Archer Dane, the more it grows on me.  

I would love to hear if you have any middle name suggestions that are Danish that perhaps I haven't come across, or maybe a whole new name combo that we could fall in love with. Thanks in advance!!

It does sometimes happen that we'd really, really like to use an honor name, but it just won't work. Sometimes it's best to finally say, "Well, this was our ideal, but it's not working, and the only things that kind of work are too big a stretch to be worth it. Let's get some Danish artwork for the nursery instead."

Other times, it's a matter of accepting the compromise that comes with using an honor name, which is that we often don't like the name as much as one we'd have chosen from the baby name book. The people we'd like to honor have already been named, and sometimes we don't like those names at all---but that's part of the deal.

For our first son, we used an honor middle name that I actively disliked and is a different style than his first name, because it was more important to me to honor the family member. For our second son, Paul wanted to use his grandfather's name as the middle name, and I agreed even though I didn't really like the name. (We have also come down on the opposite side and decided it was more important to choose a name we liked than to use an honor name.) With time, I find I no longer dislike the names---and I still feel happy and satisfied that we used them. And happily, our second son's middle name came into style, so now I actively like that one! We don't see the middle names very often anyway, and it's a common place for people to have unfashionable names.

I think it can increase the struggle if you're trying to find meaning just for the sake of meaning. If you don't care particularly which family member you're honoring but are just looking for a name that means anything familyish, it's harder to gather up the affection and motivation necessary to help you choose a name that isn't a favorite. It might help if your husband thinks of which family member he would like to honor for that person's own sake, and then see if that name is usable. Even if you actively dislike the name, there will be such a good reason behind using it---and with time, you're likely to like it more.

My fingers are itching to get my hands on your family tree so I can take a look for more options! Husband's mother's maiden name, husband's other grandfather, husband's grandmothers' maiden names, husband's uncles, husband's brothers, husband's great-uncles, first ancestor to come to the United States, name of Danish town they came from?

Archer Jens is the one that stands out to me as the best pick: Jens sounds Danish, it enhances the sound of Archer and of the whole name, and it has direct and obvious family meaning. You don't love it, but I think that falls within the reasonable sacrifice that comes with it being very important to your husband to use a family name, and with you being willing to go along with that preference: the odds of a beloved family member coincidentally having a name we love are slim. Unless your families have already shown a tendency to call a child by his or her initials, I doubt anyone would call him A.J.; if they did, you could shudder a little and say, "Oh, we'd really rather not call him that---I have such a bad association with an A.J.!"

Archer Wayne is my second choice. I don't think the style of the middle name needs to coordinate with the style of the first name, and also again I think this is within the expectations for using an honor name: the people we want to honor are typically of a different generation than the child (and named by parents who likely had a different naming style than our own), so their names will generally not be of a coordinated style. I think Archer Wayne has a good sound (even a bit of a superhero/crime-fighter sound, I think, probably because of Bruce Wayne), and a grandfather's name is such a nice choice for an honor name: the grandfather tends to get a bit choked over it, and that's pleasing for everyone. (As I thought repeatedly of the name while writing it, I found it grew on me more and more, and now it may be tied for me with Archer Jens.)

Archer Marlan Carson is my least favorite: the three repetitions of the "ar" sound feels like too much.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see everyone else's favorite. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update! J. writes:
SO, six months after the fact, I am finally getting back to normal and my brain finally remembered that I needed to e-mail you!  Our sweet baby boy is here.  He was born June 25 and weighed a whopping 9lb. 10 oz. We ended up choosing the name Archer Jens. Honestly, my feelings towards Jens didn't really change, but naming him after his father became more important. And now, I sort of love it. It fits him perfectly, and he is such an amazing little love.  Thanks to everyone for all of the advice/input.  It was SO appreciated!



Abby@AppMtn said...

Would you consider Archer Way? It is sounds a little bit like a street name, but I like the idea of honoring Wayne while updating the style.

LiciaLee said...

I say go with Archer Jens if that's what you like. My daughter is Clara Juliet and for I don't know what reason I have a relative or two (thankfully far off ones..) who think its amusing to call her CJ. Every single time I say that we are not using her initials as a nickname, her name is Clara, or Claire, or .

Anonymous said...

I agree AJ is not a likely nickname unless your family has a history of using nickname initials. Kids he goes to school with probably won't even know the middle name (or won't care about it if they do know) so I don't see it evolving naturally from his friends. Archer Jens isn't bad, and I like the connection to his father. For sound alone I like Archer Wayne. Something about one syllable with that strong A just sounds nice after Archer. A word of warning about Archer Wayne though, AWL is the UK version of AWOL (absent without leave). Probably not a problem unless you are in the UK or come from families with strong military traditionsl.

AirLand said...

Of the namesake choices, Archer Jens sounds the best to me. I just don't care for the name Wayne. Does it help to think about the fact that your baby will be (in part) named after his father? Maybe that would give you more warm feelings toward Jens.

I do like Dane though, also. I honestly can't say whether I would have thought of Dane Cook since you mentioning it made me think of him... But hey, if anyone asks, you can say why you chose that middle name.

Anonymous said...

I love Anders as first or middle. Archer Anders carson. AAL are ok- I kind of like the repeated initial as the sounds are different - Arrrr versus And. If you dont like the two 'A's', then stick with Jens. Piet is also nice- Archer Piet Carson.
Or look up names from YOUR family and see if they have a Danish equivalent which you can translate them into. Then you can honour someone you love from YOUR side. This baby then ties both families.

liz said...

What about changing his first name to Gunnar? Gunnar has some of the same feel as Archer, same rhythm, goes better with Jens and gets rid of that AJ problem.

Gunnar Jens Carson-with-an-L.

Martha said...

Our two year old son is Archer and his middle name is his dad's first name. It wasn't my favorite name, it is a pretty 80s/early 90s jock name (rhymes with sadly) but it was a family tradition in my husband's family (his middle name is his dad's name and so on) and it meant a lot to him. I've come to like the name a) because it is my husband's name and b) it flows well with Archer and it has a nice meaning, broad meadow, that balances the warrior nature of Archer. What I'm trying to say is that even if you don't love it you may grow to love it with time, as I have, and I love that it connects my son and my husband, who have an amazing bond. I like Archer Jens and I doubt that AJ will ever be an issue. We place a great deal of importance on middle names but they are used very, very rarely in our culture. We don't monogram much anymore and the names we give our children are often unusual enough that they don't have to be distinguished by their middle name. The AJs that tormented our youth were probably the third Andrew or Aaron on their class and AJ became a way to separate them. With Archer that is a lot less likely!

Laura said...

I've got a few Danish name examples from my husband's family as well as my travels/studies in Denmark:

Frederik (means Peace King - I love this name)

Here are the top names for new babies born in Denmark in 2011:

And here are the top 20 names of all time in Denmark ("drengenavne" means "boy's names"):

Based on the list above, my favorite combos for you are:

Archer Jens (C)arson
Archer Valdemar (C)arson
Archer Viggo (C)arson

Anonymous said...

I think the similarity between Archer Dane and Archer Wayne might be a sign of Wayne's potential to grow on you with time. The sound is very good, and Wayne is uncommon enough these days that the style might not end up being that important overall (or might change with the next famous Wayne who appears). The most significant context for the name in your life would be that it's the name that your son and your father-in-law share.

StephLove said...

I voted for Jens, but I would have voted for Dane if it had been in the poll. I like that name a lot and I had google Dane Cook to see who he was. It seems like a very appealingly direct way to nod to his Danish ancestry when actual family names aren't doing it for you.

rosamonte said...

I like the pp's suggestion of Anders, and like Andreas even more. Archer Andreas.

Joanne said...

I have an idea and forgive me if it's been mentioned. How about you use Jens for the first name and make his name J. Archer Lastname? That way you still give the honor and still use the first name you want and avoid the AJ thing. I have an Anthony Joseph AND I live in Indianapolis and I was constantly asked if I had named my firstborn son after AJ Foyt, as if! When he was teeny tiny, some people would call him AJ but now he's almost seven and it hasn't happened in years.

Taylor R said...

I always vote for honor names. My children all have middle names that I wouldn't have picked for style, but I agree with Swistle that the names have not only grown on me; I've come to love them.
For example, I preferred the middle names Grace and Mae for my daughter b/c of the sound. I even toyed with "Kae" and "Katherine" as variants of my mom's name (Karen) to honor her without using a dated "mom name" like Karen. We ended up using Karen anyway, because I didn't feel like a version of her name was really honoring her...and I am so glad I did. I LOVE the sound and style now; I can't imagine my daughter with another name. In fact, those other middle name options sound pretty but generic to me now! And its such a special bond between my mom and daughter, too! So my vote is to use Wayne. I really believe you will come to love the sound in time.

Patricia said...

I voted for Archer Jens, but after saying the name out loud several times, switched to Archer Wayne. With Archer Jens, the J sound directly following Ch (Cher/Jens: Chuh/Juh) doesn't work well for me, whereas Archer Wayne comes across more distinctly. Too, I agree with everything Swistle wrote about naming a boy after his grandfather and honor middle names not needing to be in the same style as the given name. Archer Wayne C(L)arson would be a strong and meaningful name for your son.

Anonymous said...

I pronounce Jens With a Y sound, not a J sound. Yensz. That's how our German exchange student pronounced his name. So that could minimize tendency to call him AJ. But I also like how Archer Wayne sounds.

Giselle said...

I have an Andrew John who is 8 ...and even with so many Andrews running around he has Never been called AJ. Not once. I just don't think nicknames are the standard anymore.

Patricia said...

Having voted for Wayne as your son's middle name, I wanted to know more about the name. From an American authority on personal names: "Wayne - Old English waegen, "cart, wagon," a nickname for either a driver or maker of carts. Between 1934 and 1958, Wayne was one of the top 50 names for boys born in the United States. Wayne was later exported to England, where it was one of the top 50 names for boys born between 1970 and 1986."

From an English (British) dictionary of names I also learned that Wayne became a popular choice of first names in the 1940s due to the "popularity of U.S. film actor John Wayne... who took his stage name from Anthony Wayne...a general in the American War of Independence."

SSA records show that Wayne is an ever-present name, consistently ranking in the Top 1000 names given to baby boys from 1880 to the present. Wayne entered the Top 100 in 1915 when the future John Wayne was an 8 year old called Marion Morrison -- thus the name was popular before he was. Wayne remained a Top 100 name through 1971, peaking at #29 in 1946. While not currently in fashion, ranking at 704, Wayne could be called an American classic.

While all of this is interesting, I'd say the most important factor for your son is that Wayne is Grandpa "Carson's" name.

We named our first son for my dad -- Edward "Ted" (how pleased Dad was) -- and gave our second son my husband's name David as his middle name. A generation later, Ted's second son is Ethan Edward, and John David's first son is named David. We're happy to see these names that are special in our family carried on.

Best wishes -- and please let us know what you name your son.

Jessica said...

I haven't read the comments, so don't know if I'm redundant, but I'd definitely steer clear of the initials AJ. I feel like anyone could start using it at any time, not just family, but friends or even your son himself. If you have a bad connotation with it, don't take the chance.

Janelle said...

I like Archer Wayne, not so much for the sound, but because it seems so wonderful for your little boy and his grandpa to have this in common. Not only will your father-in-law feel honored, your son will have a special connection to him through their shared name.

And I agree with the above poster-- Wayne and Dane are SO similar in sound; this might really grow on you in time.

Marilyn said...

We used the middle name "Dane" as a (generic) honor name for our Danish heritage. It doesn't have the emotional punch of honoring Grandpa or whoever, but we weren't really looking for that, just a nod to the heritage. And now that our boy is 6, we tell him about his middle name: "You're named Dane because we're Danish. Your Grandma came here from Denmark when she was a little girl. Her Daddy lived on a farm in Denmark and . . ." etc etc etc. We hope it will at least connect him somewhat to his roots.

gail said...

It seems to me, presuming that (L)Carson is your husband's surname, that your last name already honors your father-in-law, so the honoring thing is pretty much covered. Nonetheless, I voted for Jens, agreeing with the previous poster that its pronunciation, Yens, absolves worry about AJ. (I've never understood this initial thing supplanting actual given names.....)

Good luck!

Fran said...

I didn't vote because my choice was for Dane. I do not make the Dane Cook association at all. I think it is perfect because you are looking for a Danish name. But since it rhymes with Wayne, I wonder if you would like the sound of that name with time. My middle son has it for his middle name (after my father-in-law) and I love it.

Marina said...

Would you consider Archer Jenson? I don't know if you would like it any better, but it would most likely mean "Son of Jen(s)" I really like and hope you will consider it!

Rachel said...

Congratulations on the birth of Archer and on choosing a middle name. He is gorgeous!