Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I'm fascinated by names...

I'm fascinated by names, and have been since I was a little girl. The way they sound, their origins, their meanings.

I've loved the names of my three children--Jonathan, Justin and Elizabeth--since I was literally a child.

Why do people choose the names they choose for their children? I'm intrigued by the process, although I've gone through it myself, with my husband, three times. A given name is so important, so major.

I teach a Sunday School class of third-grade girls, most of them African American. One recent Sunday, I was amazed when I took the roll and found:


Oh, and there was also a Kayla and a Maria. Boring in comparison, huh?

I've noticed that many names once considered "old-fashioned" are resurfacing and being considered cool--Sophie, Isabella, Ava--partly thanks to movie stars. Will Julia Roberts' "Hazel" and Gwyneth Paltrow's "Apple" launch a trend?

I am Cynthia Susan, named for my mother Cynthia Anne, and she was named for her aunt Cynthia Pearl. I used to think "Pearl" was so passe, but now I think Cynthia Pearl sounds really lovely.

Just as I'm drawn to all things Irish, I love names of Celtic or Gaelic origin. Granted, they often sound nothing like they look--Sean, Siobhan, Tighe, Aislinn. But I'm a sucker for anything with an "O'" or a "Mc" or "Mac" in front of it, and love the way they roll off the tongue: McDonough, McCullough, McNamara, O'Shaughnessy.

My husband is a Chicago Cubs fan, and there used to be a player named Kevin Tapani. I once thought it would be funny if he had a daughter named Tiffany. Tiffany Tapani. And then, on my recent travels, I saw a sign for a town called Parsippany. What if that's where she lived? Tiffany Tapani from Parsippany. Am I weird, or what?

What names do you love? How did you select your children's names? My inquiring mind wants to know.

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