Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Finding a name for a boy

SR and I are not the only couple in the history of the world to have had trouble deciding what to name their son. But I wasn't expecting it. Even before I got pregnant with The Lorax, SR and I had the following discussion: "What is your favorite boy name?" "Christian." "Really?! That's mine, too!" End of discussion. I can't remember who said what, but I don't think we fully appreciated the coincidence that two people from different continents would share the same favorite boy name.

But finding a name for our second son has been a huge challenge. I amm trying not to see it as some sort of sign - that when we fell in love, we were in this harmonious state, simply agreeing without much discussion and now, well...

But the truth is, it's even more our parents and families that can't agree. Names that work in Denmark don't work as well in the US and vice versa. Of course we could choose Jakob, Thomas, Daniel, Oliver, Erik or Jesper, but we just can't get ourselves excited about those names. We like somewhat unusual names. We had actually decided on the name Vitus (after Vitus Bering, the Danish explorer who discovered the strait of his namesake). SR's parents loved it. And then we mentioned it to my family and we realized a big problem: though it's pronounced VEE-toose in Denmark, as my sister said, everyone would call him Gingivitis in the US. And that's probably not good.

There are many Danish boy names that simply would never work in the US: Egon, Jerk, Thor, Kim, Toke, Knud, etc. And typical American names tend to sound low-class in Denmark. I did have to laugh, though, when I saw Chastity-Hope was one of the top female names in Germany right now!

My favorite names are simply set-ups for rejection in both countries. They are, after all, very gay: Jean Michel, Sufjan, Orlando, Clair, etc.

The best men's names, in my mind, are unique, musical and fitting of the person, place and time:

Orlando Bloom
Jackson Pollack
Christian Boltanski
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Plaxico Buress
Sufjan Stevens
Gabriel García Márquez
Ambrose Bierce
Brice Feillu

Perhaps our biggest problem is we don't have a "place". If we were staying in Denmark, we'd call him Vitus. If we were permanently in the US, we'd call him Sofus (also a Danish name, but just not as cool here - often used as a name for bunnies, etc.).

But isn't it also fitting that we would finally come to an agreement today on a run together? Somehow The Lorax put up with over two hours in the jogger - maybe because the weather was nice and his parents were in a good mood. Part of it was definitely that we did hill repeats in the woods and SR treated it like a roller coaster. The Lorax screamed and laughed. The name we decided on was actually a name I stumbled upon, not realizing it was a name invented by Astrid Lindgren in the book Ronia the Robber's Daughter. It's not certain we'll use it, but it is nice to be in agreement! Oh yeah, I didn't write the name on purpose, people. The biggest question is whether or not we should ask the opinion of others.

I have to add that SR and I both went on to run almost 4 hours. It was a great day of preparation for the Chippewa 50k, though maybe a bit much considering our marathon next weekend.

Now a music video simply simply because it's beautiful:

Cançó de l'alba - BEDROOM from Compañía Volcánica on Vimeo.


mmmonyka said...

I cannot even imagine deciding a name for a child! It is a huge responsibility, although a kid can always change a name if s/he does not like it. I know a girl who changed her name from Martine to Julia when she turned 22.

Whether I like a name or not depends on whether I know a person with such name and whether I like that person. Actually, that's not totally right. It is more like this: hot guy= I like the name, not so hot guy= don't like the name. (and no, I'm not 14...) So I like Erik, Mattias, Benjamin, Peter, Alexander...
I haven't found a way to "like/dislike" girl's names yet. I hope I have only boys:)

The Chapples said...

If it makes you feel better, we are right there with you. NO name in sight (well, he has a middle and last name but no first name). We have a couple of names we're so-so on but the rest either I love and Jason hates or vice versa. Baker's name kind of fell out of the sky and we're hopeful that will happen again. Hey, we've got 18.5 weeks for that to happen, it just might!

sea legs girl said...

mmmonyka, interesting you mention Mattias because that was our favorite before my mom said "just like Matthias?" (pronounced with a "th" sound and then I was like "oh, no!" We also like Erik but there are a few too many of them in both of our families.

The Chapples, well, it is good to hear we are not the only ones. Though the idea of a name falling out of the sky at the last minute scares me because what if like a month later I think "that wasn't such a good idea after all"??

mmmonyka said...

I have no idea what the difference between Mattias and Matthias is. I would have to ask someone pronounce them for me and see whether I can hear a difference.

But I am sure it is kinda fun to be deciding names for your child! Isn't it one of the best parts?

Diana said...

If we ever have a boy, it will be so hard to find a name that sounds good in Dutch and in English. Since I read a lot of early-modern documents, I come across names that sound cool to me but sound old-fashioned to most Dutch people. Not a lot of boys named Constantijn walking around the streets of Amsterdam these days.

As a Danish/Dutch observation: a lot of common American names also have a low-class association here in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, my own name tends to carry that distinction here, too.

I say don't ask other people what they think of a name once you choose it. I'm excited for you that you may have found one you like!

SteveQ said...

SR's blog mentioned trying to find a name that would be a reminder that he was born in Denmark. My latest suggestion: Cartoon Mohammed.

Kate said...

I'd add Javier Bardem to your little list there. : )

SteveQ said...

Someone fast's list of running songs:

Hit and miss.

sea legs girl said...

mmmonyka - yeah I didn't make it obvious. The way my mom said it was MuhTHIGHus - and I was like wow, no chicken thighs, please! But after your comment yesterday, I asked them about Mattias again and they said it right and figured it wouldn't be too hard in the US afer all. Hmmmm. It's only one letter different than the name SR and I agreed on on our run.

Diana, I love your comments because we have such a fun common perspective. I don't know if my name is more low class or confusing. For those who don't know my real name, this comment will make it obvious. I was Trackoo in France among adults and here in Demark I'm Twacie. There is a middle generation, about our age that happily is familiar with Tracy Chapman and they say it right.

Steve, um nice name idea. But seriously, thanks for the fast song list. I love lists like that.

Kate, now I need to figure out who Javier Bardem is. Funny that my mom mentioned her favorite name was Javier. It is quite nice.

Karen said...

I really love Mattias. I personally know a Mattias and he's never had a problem with pronunciation, and his is without the "H".

It's kinda funny, I'm not really thinking about having kids yet, but I have had a girl's name picked out since I was a teenager. Boy's name though? haven't the foggiest idea. Hopefully I have one girl so I can use the name.

But I REALLY love Mattias.

Kirsten said...

We also have this dilemma of two countries and the names accordingly difficult. But we went for something that suits the country where we actually belong (Israel) and my family learned some new names...
The usual cobination for the names to suit both countries are Jonathan, Daniel, Adam, Marcus - but we also went for something totally different. You are the ones to have to say the name and all that (read: Your sole decision) - so go for it!!

sea legs girl said...


Well I am really glad to hear that both about your friend and you loving Mattias because it has moved back to the top of our list. And who says we shouldn't ask for opinions :)? So, can I ask, does he say the "ti" like "tea" (and coffee) of like "tai" (food)? I happen to be partial to the former...


I always love your comments. Had no idea Israel was considered home for you guys. I don't think I mentioned to you that I just started reading The Good Earth based on your recommendation! I DO take your comments seriously :).

Karen said...

ti, as in tea and coffee.

Kirsten said...

I do admit that I don't really consider Israel my home - only lived there for 22 years, took my BA and MPH at Tel-Aviv uni, my kids were (mostly) born there....But you know, born in Denmark - you are always a Dane! And since we move around with the job sometimes, everything about belonging and roots get a bit confusing. I usually present myself as Danish living in Israel.
You BETTER take my comment seriously, I'm a very serious person - when I sleep..;-)

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Vitus [...] it's pronounced VEE-toose in Denmark, as my sister said, everyone would call him Gingivitis in the US. And that's probably not good.

Yeah, yer sister's right. When I was in second grade, there was this kid named Erik and we all called him "Erectile Dysfunction" because we were all pre-med students in second grade and we of course made that connection, as any normal 7-year-old would. In any case, Erik went on to make a fortune selling Cialis online which makes me so mad I can barely get a boner because that kid was a total wiener.

But the point is, these things all work out in the end.

Not everyone can be as lucky as I am and have the perfect name: "Glaven".

SteveQ said...

Ooh. Almost forgot: to add to your list of names that are musical and fit the person, place and time...
Soupy Sales.

PiccolaPineCone said...

don't have much to offer regarding name (I tend to the old testament names myself - Adam, Samuel, Jonah, Noah figure among my favorites) but I do have a strategy for when a couple cannot agree on a name. One person choses 5 names with which they would be 100% perfectly happy and the other person choses among those names. Eminently fair no??

SteveQ said...

I've been holding off on this recommendation for a while, because the song got overhyped here last year: "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons. You'll love the banjo.

@PPC: You're assuming that the person choosing the five names doesn't choose five names the other finds horrendous (in which case, they probably shouldn't be having kids together anyway).

sea legs girl said...

OMG Steve Q. Your comment to PPC was pretty much word for word what I said to SR when I read PPCs comment. Or rather, I was like "I would just chose four names I know you hate and then one that is my favorite, which you find better than all the terrible ones." Yeah, so, all in all, not that fair! But I like the attempt at justice PPC! Now I need to go hear some banjo.