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Is Aoibhe a step too far in the UK?

(257 Posts)
mika2 Thu 09-May-13 23:09:36

I'm Irish, living in the UK and due DD1 in 4 mths. I really want to give the baby an irish name - DH has reluctantly agreed - and had come up with an extensive list of boys names i liked (and was convinced it was a boy!) but now i know it's a girl I'm still struggling. Not helped by the fact that a lot of them (Ciara, Tara, Niamh, Beibhinn, Saoirse, Siun) have already been taken by my very extended family. At the moment this is the best we can come up with;

Clodagh (klo-da) - but DH is insisting on nn chloe (which defeats the purpose of giving the baby an Irish name IMO)
Aoife (ee-fa) - pretty, but v v common in ireland and getting more so here?
Caoimhe (quee-va) - I love, but DH isn't so keen
Aoibhe (eva) - alternative to aoife, but a bit more "out there" than the others as even Irish ppl seem v confused on how to pronounce. And with such an obvious english alternative, can see DH/DD giving up and spelling it Eva eventually

Thoughts on the above for a baby growing up in the uk? And any other suggesions gratefully received!

DamsonJam Fri 10-May-13 23:52:49

MummyBurrows - I used to work with a Gemma who has the same problem so it was the first name I thought of with the G or J issue (although also worked with a Gill who had the same issue so that was a contender too), but when you said M for Mother not N November, that nailed it. (am now feeling super sleuth clever though! :-)

Picoo Fri 10-May-13 23:54:30

Aoife is lovely and means beautiful as far as I can recall. what about Aoibheann which I think can be pronounced evanne or aveen?

Or totally screw people's minds and call her Sadhbh or Orfhlaith!!! :-)

forgetmenots Sat 11-May-13 00:02:57

I only meant ignorance quangle if people don't learn how to say it after being told, and I'd be happy to learn any name (written and spoken forms!) in the Latin alphabet, I'd learn how to pronounce any name written in Cyrillic by asking and learning the sounds and would genuinely give the writing a bash! It's someone's name after all.

I think we can all learn how to say any name when we have been told it and as you've said that might take a few attempts (spelling is less important to me), but it's manners - to rule out all names that aren't phonetic in English is lunacy to me.

Perhaps it's harder having this discussion in the abstract, when it's real people I genuinely can't imagine people making it an issue.

MummyBurrows Sat 11-May-13 00:04:38

Hahaha! Yea I guessed that part would of nailed it for people! Worst part is that I worked with a Jemma at one point,can you imagine the confusion that caused! Especially when we were both on shift and somebody needed one of us to deal with a specific customer or go somewhere but could only call us using a tannoy system?! And to make it worse we both worked on the same 2 departments so they couldn't call Gemma/Jemma from X either!

MsJupiterJones Sat 11-May-13 00:10:58

I think it's great. People are used now to the Aoi in Aoife, also the bh in Siobhan. I'm sure they can get their heads round a combination of the two.

Clodagh is also lovely (and Bronagh to whoever suggested that).

Quangle Sat 11-May-13 00:28:51

I tend to think its a bit intrinsic to the function of a name that it's vaguely attemptable without help by the majority of people coming across it. Its primary function is to be your label after all, for use by other people. Once it's done that job it can also be pretty or expressive or culturally significant or whatever.

On that basis Orla and Dervla yes. Some of the others no.

oscarwilde Sat 11-May-13 00:32:10

What about Labhaoise (Lee-sha)? grin for the unspellable or Dearbhaile/Dervala (der-vlA)
I like Aisling/Ashling myself for a UK based Irish baby. Or Aileen

BlackBlackBlack Sat 11-May-13 00:34:20

Wow - a lot of of ignorance on this thread. Verging on the offensive, actually. Irish names 'ridiculous'? Bosses choosing subordinates depending on how 'pronounceable' their name is? Nicknames in order to fit in? How depressing.

PerfumedPonce Sat 11-May-13 07:23:56

Totally agree BlackBlackBlack. As usual on Mumsnet, a load of anti-Irish/anti-Celtic sentiment emerging whenever a more unusual Irish or Welsh name is mentioned. If the spelling or pronunciation if your name actually held you back at work then you would have a fine case for discrimination. Fwiw I work in a field with a good number of people from all backgrounds and a variety of names and non-English spellings. The idea that it would have held anyone back or prevented them from getting the job in the first place is just ridiculous.

EeyoreIsh Sat 11-May-13 07:34:36

I used to work with a Caoimhe. lovely lovely name, and really easy to learn how to say. my struggle was with trying to spell it. But go for it if you like it grin

AThingInYourLife Sat 11-May-13 08:01:03

I think there is some validity to the complicated spellings argument.

I'm an Irish speaker, and my daughters all have Irish names.

And their spellings won't be straightforward in England.

I chose them so that they would be easy to say for their English family - so no Caoilfhinn or Líadan.

But with the spelling thing I think simplicity for English speakers is important.

Why choose Orfhlaith instead or Orla?
Or even Orlaith instead of Orla?

The more modern spelling is more standard, more straightforward, and completely acceptable in Irish.

Choosing to make a simple name very hard to spell seems kind of dickish to me.

If I were living in England I might even choose Maeve over one of the many Irish spellings.

I would consider Dervla ahead of Deirbhile.

I would definitely pick Finola over the uglier and more complicated Fionnuala (and no way would I dream of using Fionnghuala.)

Aoibhe falls under the pointlessly complicated spelling rule.

It's just a way of giving a nice, simple English name an Irish spelling.

I don't see the point of it in Ireland. But why would you lumber an English child with what is effectively Eva but with complicated spelling?

I feel the same about Éabha and Eimile. Just use Ava and Emily FFS. Emily is a far more traditional name in Ireland than giving your child the name of a town in Offaly and then mangling the pronunciation to make it sound like Emily.

I love Irish names, but pointlessly complicated spellings irritate me.

Sadhbh basically has to be Sadhbh (although Sive is OK), Róisín has to be Róisín. And they are both easy to say for English speakers.

But Orfhlaith? No
Aoibhe? No

PerfumedPonce Sat 11-May-13 08:15:04

Found your post quite depressing, AThing. You are calling the correct spellings of Irish names 'pointlessly complicated'? hmm Are we really heading towards the anglicisation of all Irish names in case, shock, the person might meet someone who is unfamiliar with the name or spelling? So all traditional and, yes, proper, spellings should be allowed to die out of usage. How depressing to think that this is what an self-proclaimed 'Irish speaker' would advocate.

forgetmenots Sat 11-May-13 08:18:20

Agreed blackblackblack, and perfumedponce. Depressing.

I totally agree with you too AThing (I'm going for Orla I reckon and I agree with you about the older variants not even being needed in Irish), but if it was a name that needed the Irish spelling I wouldn't even mention it on here, such is the tone of the chat.

forgetmenots Sat 11-May-13 08:21:17

Perfumedponce I think AThing means that in some cases it isn't necessary, whereas some names need it - which I think is true. That doesn't mean people shouldn't use the older (richer? smile ) spellings in my book - and it certainly doesn't mean they should get crap on here for doing so, but there's a similar thing going on in Scotland where people spell English names using Gaelic phonetics to Gael it up a bit which can be confusing for everyone!

intheshed Sat 11-May-13 08:40:00

Well one good thing is that since having this in my active convos for the last couple of days, the name Aoibhe looks completely normal to me now!

AThingInYourLife Sat 11-May-13 08:54:21

"You are calling the correct spellings of Irish names 'pointlessly complicated'?"

No. I am not.

I am calling the use of archaic spellings (Orfhlaith, Iarfhlaith etc) pointlessly complicated.

The modern Irish spellings of those names are Orla and Iarla.

I also think the recent fashion for taking standard English names and giving them Irish spellings a horrible affectation.

There have been generations of Irish women called Emily. Eimile doesn't even sound like Emily. Terrible.

"Are we really heading towards the anglicisation of all Irish names"


I really get a pain in my face listening to people who never speak a word of their 14 years of school Irish whingeing about anglicisation.

Irish barely exists as a spoken language in Ireland. That's the anglicisation that matters.

This sentimentality about archaic spellings of names is part of an admission that Irish is just a dead piece of cultural junk people wheel out to brand themselves as Irish.

"So all traditional and, yes, proper, spellings should be allowed to die out of usage."

You mean like what happens in most languages?

I'm going with yes.

Otherwise why not ditch the Roman alphabet and start using the old style dot séimhiús?

That's the "proper" spelling after all.

Not Sadhbh, but Sadb. Not Niamh, but Niam.

mika2 Sat 11-May-13 11:40:01

You're prob right stokes Aoibhe a bit softer than Eva so more eev-uh... Tbh there's so much debate/confusion on how to pronounce it (i.e. lots of pp, insisting it's Ava) it's totally putting off!! Can't bear the thought of this for the next 20 yrs!
Thanks for all the suggestions. I do love Caoimhe, but just can't convince DH - just sounds way too foreign to his English ears.
I like Sadhbh, but DH almost choked when he saw the spelling!
I used to hate names like Orla, Una etc. as there were bucket loads of them in school back in the day, but warming to Orla recently, although every time I saw suggest it DH says "as in Orla kiely"!
The meaning of the name Bronagh does put me off, as wouldn't like to be explaining to my daughter that her name means "sorrow" in a few yrs, although it is nice, same goes for Aisling, which I always heard meant "sad dream".
Aargh it's so bloody hard!! smile
Aoife seems to be front runner at the moment, but every time I google it, get about 20 pgs on Una from the Saturdays (who I'd never heard of before! blush) so not sure if that should put me off or not??!

mika2 Sat 11-May-13 12:20:40

Just saw a lot of the later posts! I really don't agree that an unusual, i.e. Irish name, would hold someone back in the workplace. DH has been worrying about this though and hence suggesting (what I would consider) typical middle class British names, but i just cannot imagine myself as a mother to a child called Isabella etc. Speaking from experience (with a fairly unusual Irish name that's definitely unpronounceable here) I've always found it made me more memorable at work and was a great conversation starter - hopefully my daughter will feel the same and be proud of her heritage!
Also I grew up in a Gaeltacht, went to all Irish schools and don't agree that Irish "barely exits" as a spoken language in Ireland - all my family in Ireland regularly speak Irish to their children

DamsonJam Sat 11-May-13 13:24:49

Sive is an alternative spelling for Sadhbh if you like the name but your DH worries about the spelling

lovesmileandlaugh Sat 11-May-13 16:21:32

My DH is a dubliner and felt that a Gaelic name would be really hard work for kid in the UK. I really really wanted to call DD2 Roisin, but used it as a middle name instead. I regret it, but every grown up Roisin I've met since has said I did the right thing!

JennyMakkers Sat 11-May-13 16:27:04

I really liked Clodagh but an english friend's reaction to it put me right off it. She said 'what, like the ring?' and I thought 'what ring, a Clodagh ring, what?' and then I realised what she meant! I went right off Clodagh then. (for use in the UK that is) It's a beautiful name though.

Smudging Sat 11-May-13 16:33:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JennyMakkers Sat 11-May-13 16:37:44

Athinginyourlife, I couldn't agree with you more wholeheartedly. Choosing to spell Irish names that have a well-established simplification in a more complicated fashion, when you are living outside of Ireland, it is a bit misguided dickish. I can get to grips with Maedhbh but there are several different legitimate Irish spellings, and only one English form, so yes, I would pick Maeve every time.

AThingInYourLife Sat 11-May-13 16:42:24

"I really liked Clodagh but an english friend's reaction to it put me right off it. She said 'what, like the ring?"


Reminds me of (English) DH ruining the name Laoise for me by saying "as in Port Laoise (prison)"?

EleanorFarjeon Sat 11-May-13 16:45:51

I showed your names to my Irish parents and they have no idea how to pronounce most of them!

If I am honest, I am really not keen on the archaic spellings of most of these names. To me, they look ugly and most people would struggle to pronounce & spell them. I say that as a sister of a Siobhan, and even this very common name gets mis-spelled & mis-pronounced on a daily basis.

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