Thursday, April 17, 2008

Name that girl

I have a few friends who are currently choosing baby names, so the topic has been on my mind lately.

Not long after I met P, he told me that his favourite name for a girl was Gladys. As soon as he announced this, the trace on my internal incompatibility sensor was jolted into action and jumped right off the screen: in a split second I realised just how deep some cultural differences might run. For him, Gladys (or rather Gladees, for that is how it is pronounced in French) called up images of trendy little girls but for me — and the entire English-speaking world — it meant old ladies who smelled of mothballs and pan drops.

When I was sifting through the detritus in the attic for that vide grenier a couple of weeks ago, I came across a page that I'd pulled out of my old filofax in 2002. It was a list of alternative names that I had come up with for the baby girl gestating in my tummy that year.

I offer it up to any of you who may be having babies this year - unless of course you're more of a Gladys sort of person, in which case I suggest you just skip the pram and go straight for the zimmer frame.

Lois
Ashley
Esmé
Ailie
Clara
Ailsa
Iona
Imogen
Eulalia
Leila/Lelia
Anya

(Oh, and it isn't on the list but we called her Éloïse, in the end. Certainly not Eulalia — what was I thinking?)

21 comments:

Ms Mac said...

I still love thinking about baby names. When I was very young and foolish I thought that I liked the name Courtney for a girl. I grew out of it thankfully, but Patrick would have been a Georgia, I desperately wanted James to be a Róisín and Ewan to be a Cleo or Rosa (My mother's name is Roasleen which heavily influenced both James and Ewan's girl choices). Georgia was the only name Craig and I agreed on though so it's a good job I was a baby boy factory only!

Ms Mac said...

Oh and, when my friend was having a baby back in '94, she liked the name Claudia. Her husband said he didn't like it because it reminded him of his Grandmother's name, Ursula. We both boggled at his thinking and then I moved to Switzerland where there are more Claudias and Ursulas than you can poke a stick at and I can see why he said that.

Vivi said...

Well I think you picked the loveliest name of the bunch, personally. Esmé's not bad, though...

Sarah Mackenzie said...

I had a friend called Eulalia – Lali for short – so I have only good vibes about that one. Her sister was named Zuleikha (Zuzu) and I loved that name. I always thought I would name my child that although at that stage I was in the "if I ever actually manage to hamstring and trap a man for long enough stage". But then I had a boy and heigh-ho the problem was shifted away from an exotic frou-frou but potentially Peckham High Street girl's name to the dull and boring world of boy's names.

Pan drops. You never cease to amaze me with your encyclopaedic knowledge of seventies sweeties. Did you know that macaroon bars were made from potato? I think you do because I read it in the Oor Wullie recipe book and I think you may own a copy. If only my mother had known; she could have cut out a portion of unneccesary vegetable matter from my plate and replaced it with a potato and coconut bar – 2 vegetables! (?).

Anne said...

Thank God, not Eulalia. Eloise is very nice (apologies for absence of accents etc.). Does she like the Eloise books?

Frankofile said...

My husband is not allowed to forget his comment on the arrival of our daughter. 'OMG the hardest thing was choosing the name'. Mind you, he had a point.

Rosie said...

oops yes it is difficult to get names that work in two countries. Bertie seemed quite a good name in England 1990 (after Bertrand Russel to annoy the creationist relatives) but when we got to France we found Bertrand was a very old fashioned name...he has changed it to Bertho!

Rosie said...

I forgot, a family name we had to bestow is Ughtred Ramsden...Bertie is lucky he got called Ramsden as his middle name instead of putrid Ughtrid...just couldnt bring myself

Lesley said...

Ms Mac : I love Róisín: maybe you could have one last baby just to get to use that one?? The boys would love a baby sister.

Vivi : I think I was thinking of that Salinger short story "For Esmé with Love and Squalor".

Sarah: I had a student called Eulalie a couple of years ago and said her name probably much more than I needed to, just because I loved the sound of it. Zuleikha, now there's a name to conjure with! (Off to look up that recipe in my Broons cookbook).

Anne: Yes, she does like the first Eloïse book, but she actually says she prefers her middle name, Iona.

Frankofile: I think I might have been tempted to pull your husband's fingernails out ..... slowly.

Rosie : Ughtred! Do you have Mongol ancestors?

ronnie said...

Les, did you know that your sister in law's sister is called Gladys and so was their mother?
" Auntie Gladys look what Auntie Lesley's put on her computer"

spentrails said...

Bet you can't imagine her now with any other name.

I like Clara so much that it's in my email address.

Lesley said...

Ronnie: Exception to every rule, cough, splutter.

Spentrails: Yes, I still like Clara too. I also liked Chiara but P said it sounded too much like a rude word in French (chier).

Alisa said...

Thought you might like this one....we have a student who comes to us..her name is Sullivan and everyone call hers Sully. Her parents live in LA but her dad is scotish. I love that name!

Anonymous said...

Glad you didn't choose second on your list otherwise would always be reminded of that wimp Ashley Wilkes as played by Leslie Howard in Gone with the wind.

So that is how you pronounce Chiara ... hum, just when I thought my Italian was improving ready for my next trip!

ciao!

beaverboosh said...

So what, names like Moonunit and Tiger Lilly are not in anymore?

Lucy said...

Eloise Iona is just fabulous, I can't imagine anything better, given I have fondness for the story of Abelard and the former and the Isle of the latter.

I like Amandine as I think it would be really cool to call your child Marzipan. Fanny seems to be highly popular for French girls; I've never yet had the courage to explain to any French person why it might be less than advisable in English.

Mo said...

I find the same with Agnes. It sounds lovely in French but really horrible in English.

meredic said...

What indeed!
I had a goose called Esme once.
My name arises because my Lord Of The Rings obsessed father forgot how to spell Meriadoc. I think frink was involved.....

Le laquet said...

I liked Jonathan Ross and Gwyneth Paltrow's conversation about her reasons for calling her daughter Apple on his Friday night show - very funny.
My father calls me Gladys when he's trying to get a rise out of me ... it's surprisingly effective - you'd think I'd have learnt by now!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Rosie, check out the history of the Ughtred name. You might be impressed.

baby names list said...

Great list of names..She has a nice nick name Eloise..try to find some more names..to fit a name you want for the child..and try to think to insert the name Gladys that your partner want.