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(139 Posts)
working9while5 Sat 08-Oct-11 11:05:32

For a variety of reasons, if we have another boy we would like to give him this name.

It's pronounced Oh-lee-uv, and is the Irish version of Olaf. I am Irish and we have strong Norse connections, and this is a family name on my side.

However, clearly is it a NON RUNNER for a baby living in England, to be honest I doubt many Irish people can pronounce it.. so, we are trying to think of a way of incorporating it that will not lead to torture for any baby boy we have.

My granduncle Amhlaoibh had Humphrey as the English version of his name (back then, births had to be registered with an English name) and was called Uncle Free when the family spoke in English. Where they got Humphrey from Amhlaoibh I have no idea, but I'm not sure about it! Possibly thinking (randomly) James Amhlaoibh or Amhlaoibh James and we might do what my family did and call him James. It is common in both our families to have children known by their second name but have an alternative first name, so I have a nostalgia for this even though it makes sod all sense really!

Unless someone can think of a better alternative??

MelinaM Sat 08-Oct-11 11:13:26

Oliver or Olivier perhaps?

sparkle12mar08 Sat 08-Oct-11 11:13:40

I's just go with Olaf frankly, it's strong, simple, distinct, likely to be the only one in his peers etc. Really nice. If you have decided already on using the name full stop, I'd use it as a middle name. It's pointless having it as a first name at all if you're not going to use it on a daily basis...

MummysLittleSunbeams Sat 08-Oct-11 19:38:15

It's a lovely sentiment but tbh it looks like a bunch of scrabble tiles have just been thrown on the table!

working9while5 Sat 08-Oct-11 19:41:04

I know Mummys! smile.

I love how it sounds too though, Oh-lee-uv. I wish there was some way of writing it that wasn't so scrabbly yet didn't look like Oh-lee-uv either! I love the sound of it and the sentiment but why, oh why does it have to look like that!

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 19:42:29

I'd go with Olaf - lovely name!

Trills Sat 08-Oct-11 19:44:15

It looks like you just hit the keyboard randomly, TBH.
Go for it as a middle name - he can use it for "I bet you £5 you can't guess my name and I'll give you 100 guesses".

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 19:53:23

it's a name in a language that isn't english so of course it just looks like a load of scrabble tiles thrown on a table hmm (drives me up the wall TBH- cant pronounce it so lets belittle it.)

i think it's lovely. if you want other people to be able to pronounce it without difficulty i would go with Olaf which i think is beautiful. i personally dont understand naming a child something when you have no intention of using that name so i dont get the using the middle name as his first name thing but then names are such a very personal thing that i wouldn't take much heed of what strangers think. but that's just me grin

<happy with her non-english DC names>

Lonnie Sat 08-Oct-11 19:58:16

I would just use it people get used to the names and you get used to being called odd things even with fairly common names. Spelling can happen with perfectly ordinary names (think of Claire/Clare Sarah/Sara Sofie/Sophie and lets not even get into how many ways you can spell names like Nicholas and Timothy)

dd3 is called Aoife people regularly cant spell it and dont know how to pronounce it first time they come accross it (and that is not even that unusual these days) but they remember it.

SheCutOffTheirTails Sat 08-Oct-11 20:04:45

I love it! Never come across it before, but it's great.

I would pronounce it Owl-leev.

Just use it. There's nothing particularly hard about the pronunciation. People will learn how to spell it.

It's quite rude and ignorant to say that a perfectly spelled name in another language just looks like random letters.

tralalala Sat 08-Oct-11 20:13:41

I love it - he will hate having to spell it but apart from that I would go for it. My name is hard to read and pronounce for some but it never bothered me, in fact I quite like it.

My mate has a kid with a very unusal irish name (that I can't spell) and people have reacted really well to it (in dublin)

tralalala Sat 08-Oct-11 20:16:09

also it can be a runner in UK, about names in my sons reception class are unreadable (lots of different nationalities) the only one he had trouble with was the new girl (not from nursery) called the unusal name of 'natasha'!

tralalala Sat 08-Oct-11 20:16:25

about '5' names

working9while5 Sat 08-Oct-11 20:17:35

SheCutOffTheirTails, my pronunciation is from Coolea (West Cork). I would have thought that from reading it that the "amh" was more of an "ow" too if I just read it and to be honest, I don't know how they spelled it (expect it was the old Irish system of spelling). I grew up hearing it as there were a number in my father's family who had it, but my father's family (all native speakers) all took their English names when they grew up e.g. Tadhg became Tim, Diarmuid became Derry, Donal became Daniel and both Amlaoibh's became Humphreys! So I have never seen it written down, searched for it for my last baby at one point but didn't know how to spell it. My father couldn't even help as he has never seen it written either! Definitely they say it as Oh-lee-iv (if anything with a bit of velarisation of the lee.. which I have no way of writing, in phonetics it's called a dark l and is the sound that Yorkshire people often use for 'l' at the end of words). Perhaps an O with a fada, like Olaoibh? Not much better looking in terms of decodability!

I am in two minds about the importance of decoding etc, I suppose here there are so many different children with such a wide variety of names that children are used to it, there is a Gorgeous, Lao, Ali Shan, Myrto and Shephard in my son's nursery and no one would ever give it a second thought... I am just worried he would hate me for a name no one can ever say or spell! (Had a friend called Aislinn at uni who was not at all impressed with her name!)

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 20:34:02

oh working i love it spelt with an Ó. and i do think it would help people to pronounce it properly spelt like that!!

purpleturtletoise Sat 08-Oct-11 20:40:43

I think I would get closer with the O spelling. (I'm sorry, I know it's not a straight O, but I can't get the thingy). I had no idea at all where to start with Amhlaoibh, and have little knowledge of Irish names, but I think I would manage your 'revised' spelling more easily.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 20:51:04

for a fada it's Ctrl + Alt + O= Ó

Bunbaker Sat 08-Oct-11 21:02:53

"There's nothing particularly hard about the pronunciation."

Maybe not in the actual pronunciation, but when I first saw the name I thought how on earth do you pronounce that? The problem with unpronouncable names, apart from people not being able to spell it is that a teacher who hasn't been primed might call out the name in a different way and the child won't know that the teacher is referring to him.

I am currently reading the Lemony Snickett books to DD so Olaf, being the evil baddy, is not a name I would want to use, but that is totally irrelevant to the OP.

Booooooyhoo Sat 08-Oct-11 21:08:03

"The problem with unpronouncable names, apart from people not being able to spell it is that a teacher who hasn't been primed might call out the name in a different way and the child won't know that the teacher is referring to him."

1)you say 'unpronouncable' as if it is a property of the name. just because you cannot pronounce does not mean others will also struggle

2) the teacher would not have difficulty in approaching the child and asking them to clarify the pronunciation of their name. it would take all of 10 seconds. it is really a non-issue.

aswellasyou Sat 08-Oct-11 21:17:48

I think it's lovely and interesting. Ólaoibh would look right for those of us with Irish family who don't actually read Irish properly, but I'd still happily spell it properly.

My sister's called Saoirse and hasn't been bothered by spelling or reading her name to people I don't think. My name is extremely unusual but fairly phonetic and I do have to spell it and often pronounce it for people. It has never bothered me in the slightest bit. In fact, I much prefer having such an unusual name. It's been a real ice breaker many times because there's a bit of a story to our names too, just like Amhlaoibh would have for your son. smile I completely get the idea of using the middle name for tradition/sentiment.

In conclusion, do it! grin

working9while5 Sat 08-Oct-11 21:18:35

Yes, it probably is better with the Ó!

Dh is now thinking Finbarr Ólaoibh or Ólaoibh Finbarr.. I'll bet you it will now be a girl! We have always had loads of ideas for boys but a name for a girl is a whole nother story! Here we will NOT be going with my family where the female equivalent is Gobnait (Gub-net). We don't like it!

SheCutOffTheirTails Sun 09-Oct-11 00:02:54

LOL @ Finbarr Ólaoibh - you'd definitely know that was a Cork man grin

I can certainly see the argument for that spelling too, although it seems a shame with a family name with all that history to change the spelling. BTW wasn't calling your pronunciation into question, just saying that I would say it differently. It's funny that you put in the -uv and later -iv, because I've been saying it over and over and it's a sound that is barely there, but you're right. The second part of the name definitely has one and a half syllables smile

Also grin at Gobnait. We have girls, and I managed to convince DH to go with Irish names (he is English). The one name he was adamant that we were not having (not that there was any argument from me) was Gobnait. He refuses to believe that anyone in the history of the world has ever had a little girl and thought "we should call her Gubnet". I tend to agree.

Finbarr is a good name, and definitely a name you could bring anywhere without any trouble.

But Amhlaoibh is so great.


"Maybe not in the actual pronunciation, but when I first saw the name I thought how on earth do you pronounce that?"

Yes, I know and I do understand that. What I meant was that there aren't any sounds in the name that a native English speaker with no Irish would struggle with.

Of course you would have to explain that those letters make those sounds to someone who doesn't speak Irish - but at least they wouldn't struggle to make those sounds. There are plenty of Irish names where the basic sounds that make the name lovely aren't used in English and so the name will always be mispronounced (or underpronounced).

MummysLittleSunbeams Sun 09-Oct-11 08:06:01

Booooooyhoo how very rude & presumptuous of you to suggest I was belittling the name when I was doing nothing of the sort. angry

I was simply saying what the name looked like to my mere English eyes if you don't mind. Just because a name is not English doesn't mean that it looks like a bunch of scrabble tiles. Yes I'm English but I have no trouble pronouncing names from many different countries. Irish names I do struggle with though because they don't look how they sound - hence the scrabble tiles analogy.

As for saying to the op that she 'shouldn't take much heed to what strangers think'.... well she's just asked a bunch of strangers for their opinion so that's exactly what I was doing - giving my opinion!

Trills Sun 09-Oct-11 11:08:50

Just because a name is not English doesn't mean that it looks like a bunch of scrabble tiles.

I agree.

I think the trouble with this one is that (to me) it isn't immediately obvious that it is an Irish name so I don't even know where to start.

giyadas Sun 09-Oct-11 11:17:38

I think Finbarr Ólaoibh scans better.
lovely name.

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