Baby Names

***Why name spelling matters***

This is a topic that comes up often here on the Baby Name Board. Creatively spelled and made up names are not well received here, and for good reason! Recently our fabulous Baby Name Board regular, @bromios, wrote out a wonderful explanation! Before you decide to invent or misspell a name please read this over.

Names are parts of language, and the way language functions is governed by rules and natural laws of phonetics. People who say, "Well all names started somewhere" are correct, but if you go back to ancient languages (Greek, Sanskrit, Akkadian, etc), you find that most names are comprised from meaningful phonemes that recur throughout the language. So there was no random flinging together of sounds at any point. This meant that there was a time when most people were wandering around with names that literally meant things like "victory of the people" (Nicodemus) in the language that the person wearing the name spoke. There were linguistic conventions about how words were combined into a name, and that is how the spellings were determined. So there's one factor. Then there is the fact that people speaking different languages with different phonetic inventories were in frequent contact. The result is that you might have a speaker of a language that has a v sound in contact with someone whose language has a b sound. Phonetically, those two sounds are extremely similar, and so a name like Basileios (Greek) might get adopted as Vasilii by speakers of Slavic languages (to name just one example). In a period of extremely limited literacy, this is how spelling and sound changes occurred and how legitimate variation in the spelling of names came to be. Also, languages have rules about how words have to end, how verbs have to be conjugated, etc, so a foreign word would be remolded to fit into the phonetic and morphological parameters of a given language.

The important thing to understand about this process is that none of it was arbitrary or anyone deciding, "I like the way this sounds/looks better." There was no individual creativity involved. Another important thing to realize is that we no longer have the excuse of being a primarily oral culture with very low rates of literacy. Also, as speakers of English, we have a massive phonetic inventory because English is such a mutt of a language. So there are really relatively few names of Indo-European derivation that we don't have the right sounds to be able to say. Random stylistic choices of individuals are not legitimate reasons to change the spelling of a word as long as it is phonetically comprehensible in the language you speak. For example, Jackson is extremely straightforward to pronounce in English and has a meaning (son of Jack). Replacing the cks with an x is completely phonetically unnecessary for pronunciation purposes and is therefore just a misspelling. It would be like someone deciding they prefer the way sed looks to said and proceeding to misspell the word in all subsequent formal and informal written communications. This decision would make that individual look like they were poorly educated and/or didn't understand the concept of spelling. The same principle applies to names. If someone were to say, "I want to name my child Sharlot," I would assume that they meant Charlotte but found the spelling to be unintuitive or too common. In the former case, this would clearly indicate a lack of quality education. In the latter case, they would be making a change to the language based on a desire to be different, which is not how the rules of language evolution work.

So that is why it matters to us how a word is spelled and not just whether we could sound it out and end up with something that sounded like a real name.
 
                            - @bromios

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Re: ***Why name spelling matters***

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  • Well said! =D>
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  • I wish I could "love it" 500 times.

     

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  • Curious... Would you consider the spelling "Elenore" as opposed to "Eleanor" a made up spelling?

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  • bromios said:



    Curious... Would you consider the spelling "Elenore" as opposed to "Eleanor" a made up spelling?


    No fair asking about your existing (and totally adorable) DD's name! Is she named after the song by the Turtles?

    Looking back now I think I would have chosen to spell her name the original way. My original thought was that the spelling "Elenore" made more sense phonetically.

    I first thought of the name after listening to "all the lonely people" from the Beatles but we didn't name her after the song.

    We like the meaning of the name and we also liked that it was a less common/ old fashioned name. Although now everyone seems to be naming their kids old fashioned names.

    cutest ever copy Mom to Elenore(5), Solomon(3), and Rosalie(6 months)
    britlane30dinofreak
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  • @MrsMechanic1, you could always just throw up the link in the thread....  :P
    Done :)

    (And I'm sure now I'll get flamed or something)
    You've got an entire board over here backing you. At least 95 people judging by the love its on this post.

    [Deleted User][Deleted User][Deleted User]
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  • I spelled my daughters name the way I wanted it to be pronounced. All I really did was replace an E with an A. It's gone over pretty well but like I said it wasn't anything drastic, just a vowel change.
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  • bromios said:
    Curious... Would you consider the spelling "Elenore" as opposed to "Eleanor" a made up spelling?
    No fair asking about your existing (and totally adorable) DD's name! Is she named after the song by the Turtles?
    Looking back now I think I would have chosen to spell her name the original way. My original thought was that the spelling "Elenore" made more sense phonetically. I first thought of the name after listening to "all the lonely people" from the Beatles but we didn't name her after the song. We like the meaning of the name and we also liked that it was a less common/ old fashioned name. Although now everyone seems to be naming their kids old fashioned names.
    Hindsight and all that. I'm glad you didn't name her after Eleanor Rigby (since the character in the song is super unhappy)! It's kind of funny for me because names that were very common over in England when I lived there were virtually unused over here (Charlotte, Isobel, and Eleanor, for example), and are now getting extremely popular. When I lived in the UK back in the 90s there were so many Eleanors that there were always at least two in every single class I took. I still love the name (and my best friend from the UK is an Eleanor).
    I've been thinking about that with my daughter's name since she was a few months old. We named her Allyson because the name Ally has special meaning and growing up the only person with that name I knew spelled it Allyson so I never realized it wasn't the "correct" spelling. I mean, I knew that there were multiple ways of spelling it, I just didn't realize this way was particularly incorrect. Everyone misspells her name as Allison and sometimes I wish I could just change it, but at this point I know that's silly. I'll just make better choices with my next little one.
    :P
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  • KaseMyLoveKaseMyLove member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    edited June 2014
    lauralew said:



    Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax
    I like Jax better ;;)

    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.


    True.
    Eta Although when someone who reads the name Jackson (say a teacher)and decides to call that person a nn, they are more likely to say jack rather than Jacks.
    arondadelaina419
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  • KaseMyLoveKaseMyLove member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    edited June 2014

    lauralew said:



    Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax
    I like Jax better ;;)

    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.
    True.
    Eta Although when someone who reads the name Jackson (say a teacher)and decides to call that person a nn, they are more likely to say jack rather than Jacks.
    This argument is completely invalid. No random person will be giving my child a NN. A NN is decided upon by the parents and/or child.


    My sisters son is named Nicholas. But he goes by his mn at home. At school they call him by his first name, of course. Well they often call him Nick for short. Happened at camp also. Nobody in are family calls him Nick. It's not a big deal to my sister. But she wasn't there when they started calling him that, she didn't even know for awhile. He never said anything because it doesn't bother him. So who knows. Maybe your child will end up with a nn you didn't give. It happens. ;-) ok I'm done here. Have a good day.
    ETA now my mom, that's a different story. She didn't want us to have nn. So she would definitely say something about it. But I like when I'm called Liv, although it is something I've only gotten used to as an adult.
    macchiattodestinyd8
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  • lauralew said:



    Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax
    I like Jax better ;;)

    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.
    True.
    Eta Although when someone who reads the name Jackson (say a teacher)and decides to call that person a nn, they are more likely to say jack rather than Jacks.
    This argument is completely invalid. No random person will be giving my child a NN. A NN is decided upon by the parents and/or child.
    My sisters son is named Nicholas. But he goes by his mn at home. At school they call him by his first name, of course. Well they often call him Nick for short. Happened at camp also. Nobody in are family calls him Nick. It's not a big deal to my sister. But she wasn't there when they started calling him that, she didn't even know for awhile. He never said anything because it doesn't bother him. So who knows. Maybe your child will end up with a nn you didn't give. It happens. ;-) ok I'm done here. Have a good day.
    ETA now my mom, that's a different story. She didn't want us to have nn. So she would definitely say something about it. But I like when I'm called Liv, although it is something I've only gotten used to as an adult.

    The child is not getting a NN without his/her consent. If they are being called Nick it's because they want to be. No one just gives someone a NN and says "I'm going to call you this whether you like it or not."
    My name is Katherine. People ask me all the time if I go by Katherine or Kate, Katie, Kat, Kathy. I choose to be called Katherine. If someone calls me something else I don't respond. Period, end of discussion. 
    A teacher would ask a Jackson, "What do you want to go by?" not " I'm calling you Jack. Deal with it."
    And a child named Jaxon can still choose to go by Jack anyway. If you don't like Jack don't name a kid Jackson, Jaxon, or Jaxson.


    I wouldn't. My dogs name is Jack.

    kepooleauntieembabes
  • Joy2611 said:

    lauralew said:



    Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax
    I like Jax better ;;)

    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.
    True.
    Eta Although when someone who reads the name Jackson (say a teacher)and decides to call that person a nn, they are more likely to say jack rather than Jacks.
    ***********

    Many of the nicknames you listed have legit historical and etymological reasons for existing. Jaxon does not.

    But, you have fallen backwards into an excellent argument against yourself. Spell the name Jackson and his nickname can be Jax. Not all the letters need be present in the name for a nickname (like Katie and Kathryn, for example.). Win-win.


    That's the point I was making...I think the quote boxes got messed up. :)


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    [Deleted User]issy934
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  • Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax I like Jax better ;;)
    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.
    True. Eta Although when someone who reads the name Jackson (say a teacher)and decides to call that person a nn, they are more likely to say jack rather than Jacks.
    This argument is completely invalid. No random person will be giving my child a NN. A NN is decided upon by the parents and/or child.
    My sisters son is named Nicholas. But he goes by his mn at home. At school they call him by his first name, of course. Well they often call him Nick for short. Happened at camp also. Nobody in are family calls him Nick. It's not a big deal to my sister. But she wasn't there when they started calling him that, she didn't even know for awhile. He never said anything because it doesn't bother him. So who knows. Maybe your child will end up with a nn you didn't give. It happens. ;-) ok I'm done here. Have a good day. ETA now my mom, that's a different story. She didn't want us to have nn. So she would definitely say something about it. But I like when I'm called Liv, although it is something I've only gotten used to as an adult.
    The child is not getting a NN without his/her consent. If they are being called Nick it's because they want to be. No one just gives someone a NN and says "I'm going to call you this whether you like it or not."
    My name is Katherine. People ask me all the time if I go by Katherine or Kate, Katie, Kat, Kathy. I choose to be called Katherine. If someone calls me something else I don't respond. Period, end of discussion. 
    A teacher would ask a Jackson, "What do you want to go by?" not " I'm calling you Jack. Deal with it."
    And a child named Jaxon can still choose to go by Jack anyway. If you don't like Jack don't name a kid Jackson, Jaxon, or Jaxson.
    I wouldn't. My dogs name is Jack.
    Further proving that you don't get the point. You is a general you.  8-|

    Seahorse85
  • Joy2611 said:
    If you don't like Jack don't name a kid Jackson, Jaxon, or Jaxson.
    ********** Woah, woah, woah... No one should be using Jaxon or (god help us) Jaxson!
    ______________________________-
    You know what I mean @Joy2611!

    [Deleted User]
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  • KaseMyLoveKaseMyLove member
    25 Love Its 10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    edited June 2014


    Further proving that you don't get the point. You is a general you.  8-|

    So because it was a general you, I can't respond to as why I wouldn't use the name? Um ok :-@
    auntieembabes
  • edited June 2014
    Further proving that you don't get the point. You is a general you.  8-| So because it was a general you, I can't respond to as why I would use the name? Um ok :-@

    __________________

    Yeah, trying to make a deal out of my general you instead of acknowledging the point at hand. :-q

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  • Further proving that you don't get the point. You is a general you.  8-|

    So because it was a general you, I can't respond to as why I would use the name? Um ok :-@




    __________________

    Yeah, trying to make a deal out of my general you instead of acknowledging the point at hand. :-q


    Yeah oooook

  • Sometimes people are given a nn even if they don't consent. I have a friend named Jennifer. She joined our youth group in high school and we already had a Jennifer, Jen, and Jenny. We started calling her Jenna. No one else calls her this except the few of us. To everyone else she is Jen or Jennifer.
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  • Joy2611 said:
    hopanka said:
    Jackson nn Jack- Jaxon nn Jax I like Jax better ;;)
    You could easily call Jackson Jacks.  Same sound, correct spelling.

    Also, Kathryn (and all it's variants) have Katie as a nick name...even though there is no hard T sound in Kathryn.  Same goes for Margaret/Maggie/Peggy, John/Jack, Robert/Bob, Elizabeth/Betty/Betsy, Kathleen/Kate, James/Jim...I'm sure there's more.
    Isn't Kathryn a butchered version of Catherine?
    Behindthename says it's a "contracted form of Katherine."  I'm not sure what I should be taking away from that.

    Katherine is the English form of the name while Catherine is the French form.  All the etymology of the name comes from the Katherine spelling.

    I know you didn't type this, but I wanted to point out that many the nicknames listed above (like Jim for James, Jack for John, Bob for Robert, etc) have historical or etymological reasons for existing.  People didn't just dream them up. 
    Kathryn is how my family members spell it, so I'm used to it.  I know it's an unpopular spelling on the board, but it's just what comes out when I talk about the name Katherine/Catherine/Kathryn.

    I seriously think people missed the point I was making re: those nick names.  I was saying that nick names do NOT have to be spelled exactly like the original name.  I know those all have specific reasons for being nick names for those names.  So to say you have to spell it Jaxon to get "Jax" is faulty reasoning.  You could technically call a kid Jacks/Jax when he is named Jackson because the sound is still there...though I know there probably isn't any etymological history backing up the nick name Jacks/Jax.

    image Image and video hosting by TinyPic image

    Justin + Laura 10.18.08
    TTC #1 09.10/Dx PCOS 12.10/BFP #1 12.29.10/EDD 9.10.11/Missed m/c 2.3.11/D&C 2.15.11
    “Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”-Kahlil Gibran
    Cycle #1 4.2.11 + Clomid = BFN/Cycle #2 5.9.11 + Clomid + Trigger Shot = TWINS! 
    Walter Allen and Eleanor Joan 1.15.12
    Another baby on the way! 8.25.14


    [Deleted User]Knottie50965924mekdeswondialmostpriceless
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