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Evolution of names.... misspellings that might work...

(27 Posts)
Cimcardishan Tue 29-Dec-15 17:44:04

So have seen several threads, troll and genuine, about misspelled names.

Please inform me onomasts about names that have evolved?

For instance is Margo a name in its own right or an alternative spelling of Margot?

Also which one is the correct spelling of Isabel, or are all the variants valid?

I know a baby Irenie whose mother wanted to honour her mother but didn't want her child to be called Irene. Would Irenie be frowned upon on mumsnet?

Am quite curious about this.

Disclaimer my children are already named so this thread is just for my own curiosity and I don't mean to wind anyone up so this is not about names like Eliviah for Olivia, etc...

BondJayneBond Tue 29-Dec-15 18:00:49

I suppose a lot depends on how long the names in question have been around.

Names like Isabel and Margaret (I believe Margo(t) was originally either a nickname or version of Margaret) have been around for centuries and variants of them have been used in a number of different countries and languages, so there are a lot of well established variants and nicknames.

So IMO e.g. Isabel doesn't have just one "correct" spelling, and Margo and Margot are both names in their own right, which aren't necessarily pronounced the same - I read on another baby name thread that while Margot is usually pronounced in the French way without the 't', in Germany (I think) the 't' would be pronounced.

JakeyBurd Tue 29-Dec-15 19:45:11

In my view, correct or valid spellings don't really exist. There are traditional spellings, most of which I favour, but I would never declare any spelling as "wrong".

Even after the spelling of general English words was standardised, names continued to be spelled in various ways, hence the many variations of names like Catherine/Katharine, Steven/Stephen etc.

I am currently research into historical Scottish names and have found 176 different spellings of Alison and 129 of Annabel. All spelled phonetically according to the various local accents, so who was to say which was "correct"? If some modern mum came up with a "yooneek" spelling of Alison today, chances are it's already on my spreadsheet and was used anything up to 400 years ago! Hence my never saying any spelling is wrong.

The example you quote, Irenie, could be classed the same way - a phonetic spelling of the desired pronunciation of the name, which would otherwise be pronounced I-reen. In this case the spelling makes sense, although it looks "wrong". So yes, I guess it will be frowned upon here!

As far as Isabel, Margo etc. are concerned, every name has its own story. Between Isobel and Elizabeth (both evolved from Hebrew Elisheva) I have identified 14 variants which appear to have been unique in Scotland but have mostly died out now, so names and spellings will always come and go. But as BondJayneBond says, such names have been used in many countries for centuries and all have their own variations.

If you are looking for information about any specific names then I'm sure there are plenty of people on here who can help you out. Otherwise it's an enormous topic, and, as I said every name is different.

Cimcardishan Tue 29-Dec-15 20:00:40

Thanks both! Great to have such informative answers!

For some reason I find the baby name threads incredibly interesting.

There are so many new names traditionalists balk at but which are incredibly popular right now.

There was s thread on Esmae recently and I realised I knew several.

Esme was originally a guys name, right? I suppose when it started being used for girls there were a few raised eyebrows. And now there are raised eyebrows for this new spelling, which in time will also become the norm.

Fascinating stuff.

JakeyBurd Tue 29-Dec-15 20:29:12

In the case of Esme there probably weren't any raised eyebrows when it was used first used for girls. As you'll have seen from the thread, the name originated in Scotland, having been created by a French mother from the the past tense of the mediaeval French verb esmer, meaning to love. (Esmer in modern French is aimer, so it is really a mediaeval form of Amy). But 'unisex' names were far more common and acceptable in Scotland than they were in England in the mediaeval and early modern periods, so nobody would have batted an eyelid at Esme for a girl.

But, yes, in general straying from the norm usually provokes gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, but give them time and they will, as you rightly say, become the new norm.

Fascinating stuff indeed - names are just so incredibly interesting!

Drquin Tue 29-Dec-15 20:40:09

I guess, as the research others are doing would seem to back-up, there are quite a lot of variants of names we use today. Depending on how far back in history we go (a few, dozens or hundreds of years) and how far from "home" you look, there's some that seem more "traditional" than others and some that seem more "yoooooooneeeek" than others.

Whether something like "arleeesonne" is already in the list of 124 variants of Alison, or whether it's the 125th, is interesting. Should it be confined to history, embraced or never accepted by a Registrar?

Drquin Tue 29-Dec-15 20:41:17

(Sorry, 176 Alisons smile)

Cimcardishan Tue 29-Dec-15 21:51:07

Oooh... learnt something new about Esme!

I wonder what the future of names will be, say in 200 years

TaliZorah Tue 29-Dec-15 22:18:19

I find this interesting. DS has a name I thought there were only 2 spellings of and so far I've had to spell it every time and he's had it misspelt on doctors letters and personal texts from friends. I've since learned there are about 9 ways of spelling it although DSs is the more traditional way.


JakeyBurd Tue 29-Dec-15 22:25:11

Interesting question Drquin about embracing old/variant spellings or confining them to the dustbin of history. I'm do long for uniformity when you read some names and realise you haven't a clue what they're supposed to be (this applies to historical spellings as well as modern yooneek ones!), but then again it would be boring without a bit of variety.

I think, OP, that the name pool will continue to get wider as cultures becomes more globally accessible, new names enter our collective consciousness and parents throw off restrictions and traditions about their choices.

One small example (Scotland again, but the principle is the same across the Western world) - in 1850, the name pool in Scotland consisted of 363 girls' names and 492 boys' names. In 2013 it consisted of 4,396 girls names and 3,410 for boys (University project - I'm not sad enough to do all those stats for fun!).

Then when we run out of 'proper' names we'll just start making them up. Like Tallulah does the Hula From Hawaii.

NorksAreMessy Tue 29-Dec-15 22:29:19

jakey that is absolutely fascinating research. Thank you for sharing it

Sum314 Tue 29-Dec-15 22:33:43

I think I privately think, oh good on you when somebody spells their name in a more phonetic way but when somebody changes a perfectly normal spelling to be more creative I mightn't get it. But I'm only one person. I know a linzy and I think it's so much more instinctive than lindsay. jmo though

JakeyBurd Tue 29-Dec-15 23:47:24

You're welcome Norks!

I agree to an extent, Sum314 but that would mean different spellings for different accents again! We already have 176 Alisons for Scottish accents - imagine if we had a different spelling for every other accent as well!

ridingsixwhitehorses Tue 29-Dec-15 23:50:31

Oh wow jakeyburd I would love to be a names researcher. What a great job. Do you know (and love) the American blog site Swistle?
Do you browse mn names sites for fun or to aid the research?
So many questions. Will you meet me for coffee and name chat...

Sum314 Wed 30-Dec-15 00:02:47

oh I guess that's a point, about accents. I can't imagine how Alison can be pronounced 176 different ways confused

Have you heard of a poster called CK Evans? I used to consult him (yes, him!!) when I was choosing names. He didn't have personal opinions on the names, just facts and figures about whether they were rising or falling, their origins, their usage according to demographics, their evolution. I wanted names that were unusual choices for their year of birth without sounding obviously dated or being too out of synch with what other people were picking. Neither of my dc had another in primary school with the same name.

JakeyBurd Wed 30-Dec-15 00:12:07

Hi riding

I'm afraid I'm not a professional name researcher. It's just a hobby, although I managed to incorporate it into my thesis for Uni., which gave me access to a lot more data that I'd otherwise have had (and they let me keep it! smile).

I'd not heard of Swistle, but I just had a quick google and it looks like it's worth keeping an eye on!

As the research is fun then I browse for both! But I just focus on Scottish names, as it's been an interest for 20+ years. I am very slowly building a Scottish baby names website which will hopefully be quite in-depth and contain historical name data rather than just the standard meaning and pronunciation guide.

I hang about here as I'm always on the lookout for Scottish names I might have missed. Amazingly, still finding new ones all the time.

(Sorry OP, I didn't mean to hijack your thread!)

kirinm Wed 30-Dec-15 00:14:02

I hope the posters who made fun of the lady who had given her daughter a 'made up' name feel suitably shamed by reading this. Really interesting research smile

ridingsixwhitehorses Wed 30-Dec-15 00:15:20

I was addicted to Swistle for my first two pregnancies. Then she answered my email for number two which was v v exciting. And I found it all a bit meh for third pregnancy and now I am not having any more children I m not remotely interested in it. Bet she'd put a shout out for Scottish names though. Loads of her readers - mostly American - will have had Scottish ancestors.

Sum314 Wed 30-Dec-15 00:20:08

One thing that I find interesting about scottish and Irish names is how American parents will just use them because they like the sound of them. So they might truly have scottish ancestry but they will use Finn for a girl, or they will use sur names as first names. And then, the names come back to us with different usage.

GiddyOnZackHunt Wed 30-Dec-15 00:27:59

I do a lot of family history research and the names are interesting. On the census returns you have the illiterate giving the names verbally to tellers who were hazzarding a guess at the spelling. My favourite and very common misspelling is Emme for Amy. The local accent would explain it.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 30-Dec-15 00:37:09

Sum Americans do it to Welsh names too. Bryn is apparently a girls name there.

I do think a bit of cultural appropriation goes on with some names, particularly Celtic ones.

JakeyBurd Wed 30-Dec-15 00:41:18

At the risk of sounding like a nerdy know-it-all, Sum, that is how the names were used in Scotland, back before the US existed. Not sure about Ireland though.

One example of a name I see frequently dismissed as "American, surnamey, non-traditional" etc. is Brodie. Although its precise origin is unknown, it is considered to most likely come from the Pictish personal name Brude, and therefore more than 1,000 years old. In more modern times, it has been used as a given name in Scotland since 1745 for girls, and 1767 for boys, based on available records (damn, I AM a nerd!).

So really, a lot of these names are just continuing their existing use, it's just not that widely known! Because of course, for every one Scottish girl called Brodie there will be 1,000 American girls, so they are the ones you hear about.

riding will bear her in mind for when my site goes live!

Sum314 Wed 30-Dec-15 02:44:43

wow, is it? I didn't know that. You are a nerd, but that's ok. Keep talking. You know your stuff


Cimcardishan Wed 30-Dec-15 07:07:30

jakey hijack away! Your answers are fascinating!

ApplesAndPears1234 Sat 23-Jan-16 23:02:19

Just place marking for later

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