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British/Scottish naming rules for expats? (Inspired by the wrong cafe thread and a terribly insecure person called Hopkins)

(31 Posts)
WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 11:40:24

I'm pretty sure this is British cultures influencing me (and mumsnet... the "wrong cafe thread". It's interesting, it seems like you think all this middle middle, lower middle stuff is simply entertaining. But it might also be that you're simply pretending, because you actually do take it seriously but are unwilling to admit it... and if this is actually taken seriously. Sure, we're expats. But it isn't like teachers or employers will know that when they see our baby's name)

So, baby names. Seeing as we do plan to stay in the UK (preferably Edinburgh, but we also liked London) the baby name should be fine for the UK.
The internet lead me to a very insecure woman called Katie Hopkins... which as very unhelpful 😐 !

My spouse is in favour of using family names. Sure... but her family names are American (Southern), and British and American naming culture is different.
I'm Swiss, and although there are names with a bad reputation back home (like Kevin) for example I'd usually be secure enough to not care about things like this.

So, the names we like
Tara Ylva Millicent
Clarissa Millicent
Clarissa Ylva
Louisa Ylva Clementine

Nathaniel Jason or Erik
Henry Jason
Erik Nathaniel
Alexander Henrik

Sophronia Fri 28-Oct-16 12:07:55

I like Clarissa Millicent and Nathaniel Jason best

Chinlo Fri 28-Oct-16 12:10:42

So wait... what's the question?

The boy's names are all great. The girls are okay but I don't like Tara. Louisa is nice. Clarissa is not my style, but is okay I guess.

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 12:12:25

The question (which was admittedly not clear) is: is there an easy way to easily sum up British naming rules? Because that stuff is complicated.

And thank you for the answers smile

FranklyMeDeer Fri 28-Oct-16 12:20:59

Don't worry about the cafe thread, it's (largely) tongue in cheek.

As for the names, if you love a name, use it. It really doesn't matter what we think, if you browse the baby name topic you'll find that pretty much how every name has been both loved and hated by posters on here.

From your list I love Nathaniel and Louisa. I don't think it matters what the middle names are unless you plan on putting them into daily use. I'd spell Erik, Eric though. But again, that's my preference which doesn't make yours any less valid.

florascotianew Fri 28-Oct-16 12:29:17

OP - probably you are aware of the Scottish and English government websites that provide statistical data on the names that people in the UK actually use. They don't tell you any unwritten class-based rules, but they do show very clear real-life trends and preferences, and so you might find them useful to look at if you have not seen them already:

This site is also excellent for documenting fashions in baby names over the past 20 years or so:

alltouchedout Fri 28-Oct-16 12:36:13

Just call your dc names you like, honestly. You could argue forever over what 'class' any name is. And as neither of you are actually British (?) the 'rules' don't apply in the same way... I think. Not that there are any actual rules. Not really, anyway.

Of your lists, Louisa and Alexander are my favourites smile

Chinlo Fri 28-Oct-16 12:38:40

is there an easy way to easily sum up British naming rules?

Oh. Not really no.

I would also point out that the frequency of discussions (obsessions) on class on mumsnet is roughly 400000000000x greater than in real life.

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 12:42:56

That's a relief.

I didn't think the rules would apply to us, but it's not like we'd send the kiddo to school with a placard saying: "child of expats, don't judge!"
And my wife's last name (she's American) sounds English. It's actually a moderately common name in the U.K...

I think it was actually the Hopkins person that made me go "eeeep!!". I mean, she seems horribly insecure. But I did keep wondering if she was expressing some kind of underlying truth (also because some people seem to agree with her).

florascotianew Fri 28-Oct-16 12:49:41

Posted too soon. Meant to say that today in the UK - compared with 50 years ago - there is a much, much wider range of names in use from several different naming traditions.
IMHO, sweeping class and culture difference is an easy topic for journalists-at-a-loose-end to write about - and pretentiousness is fitting target for light-hearted satires such as the cafe thread. Again IMHO, differences in income and employment and educational opportunities are much more important and worrying than simple class.

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 12:50:50

But your comments are a relief, and useful. I didn't know the dark greener website. This is really useful! Thanks smile

Back home I'd also use any name I'd like. I mean, my friends from back home have names like Aglaia, Svenja, Astreia, Milo, Yorik... and I personally actually love names like this.

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 12:56:19

One of my personal favourites has always been Nektaria, but DW says it sounds too much like neck...:/

So... Flora (btw, what a pretty name!)... uhm, do you think the name one chooses has an influence on employment opportunities etc? Or... that our employment should influence the name we chose? Or... were you saying something entirely different? blush

WyfOfBathe Fri 28-Oct-16 13:13:07

Hopkins is a "journalist" who says controversial things to get a reaction. I wouldn't take her too seriously.

And I'm a teacher, and I can't tell what class kids are from by their names and definitely don't judge their parents (okay, unless they were called something clearly made up like "Shanaeeeyaahhh-Yoonique")

All the names in your list sound fairly middle class to me, but it's not as clear cut as that - the chavvyest family in the world might name their kid Victoria Alexandrina while an upper middle class family might give their kid a made up name (just look at celebrity baby names for proof)

You honestly can just go for a name you like. And don't be afraid of using Swiss (French/German/etc) names or American names if you prefer them - schools and employers are used to dealing with people with names from all different backgrounds and names to match.

OlennasWimple Fri 28-Oct-16 13:17:28

I think the simplest MN baby name rule is to avoid names beginning with J and K

The only one on your list that might raise an eyebrow is Jason (which I think will change over time, given its classical roots), but middle names are scarcely used these days.

I love Ylva, by the way - is it pronouced "Ill-va"? And I would have loved a son called Erik but hoped he wasn't as wild as Mr Bloodaxe

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 13:21:02

Wy middle class is good, I think smile I don't think we're chavy. Maybe a bit more into outdoor stuff and guns than the average Brit, but what would one expect from a Swiss/American couple? grin

A journalists... bloodsuckers. I don't think there are any "Swiss" names. The "traditional" names here are usually German, French or Italian.

Well, the Rumantsch names are probably kind of exclusively Swiss. But the only name that comes to mind is Flurina (a version of Flora. And yup, I'm not from the Rumantsch speaking part grin)

The really "Swiss" thing are probably nicknames. From surnames, people butchering surnames, or nicknames like Stefan=Stöggu, Sebastian=Baschi/Bäschteli, Franziska/Fränzi etc...

museumum Fri 28-Oct-16 13:21:49

If you're American in the U.K. just don't call your ds Randy.
That's the only rule I can think of.
Or maybe Gaylord.
Or "anyname the third"

florascotianew Fri 28-Oct-16 13:23:14

Thank you! I really like Astreia and Aglaia...

What I was trying to say was that while class cultural differences certainly do exist in the UK I think that they are of increasingly less importance than economic or employment or educational inequalities.

For example, a child with a good education (or, to be brutal, wealthy parents), has a much better chance in life than a child who has missed out on education or whose family is desperately poor, whatever their name might be.

Whether names affect future prospects is a perennial topic of discussion on Mumsnet. Some people do judge names, but I honestly don't know how many. As a previous poster said, I don't think that comments on Mumsnet are always representative of wider public opinion. (And most young children accept their classmates' names without really thinking about it.) I've met doctors, university lecturers etc etc with what some judgemental people might call 'lower-class' names; it hasn't harmed their careers. Surely many/most of us nowadays - especially when we work with and meet people from all round the world - have learned take people as we find them, not to categorise them on the basis of a choice of name made by their parents probably decades ago?

DanicaJones Fri 28-Oct-16 13:26:43

The names in your op are all "naice" except maybe Erik which doesn't really fit into any class.

NotDavidTennant Fri 28-Oct-16 13:37:27

Class is a funny thing in modern Britain. You will have lots of posts on here telling you that we don't care about class anymore in this country and and there are no class-based naming conventions. And yet if their DCs came home and told them about two new boys in class - one called Wayne and one called Sebastian - those same people could immediately tell you which one of those boys came from a middle class background.

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 13:39:45

"Naice" as in...? Misspelled?

Olenna Ylva is Swedish and means she-wolf, I have a Swedish grandparent... the Y is a Swedish Y, it sounds a lot like a German "ü", not sure if this is helpful. However, "Ill-va" is a good and nice pronunciation. DW pronounces it that way as well smile

Flora: I also like Astreia and Aglaia. I don't mind "weird" names. A friend of mine is called "spunky" grin it's her nickname... she's a successful woman, so yeah. True, wealth probably does matter. Back home we had a saying: "one doesn't talk about money, one just has it" (i think British people seem to have a similar attitude... or maybe I'm just too dense to get the hints they're dropping).

muesum don't worry. No Randy, Fanny or a

FlyingGaribaldi Fri 28-Oct-16 13:40:49

Comments on Mn are revealing of how much social class is still a live issue in this country. The people who claim that Mn is unrepresentative do so because in general social class isnt talked about in RL the way it is on here, but of course it still exists and has a significant impact on people's lives, educational attainments, expectations etc. Whereas Mn is generally just giggling about class markers on threads like the wrong class of cafe thread. But there are places where the Mn obsession with class markers intersects with real life, and those are on the education forum, and on Baby Names, where most posts are implicitly if not explicitly 'Is this chavvy?' or 'Is this try-hard/pretentious?' Everyone is familiar with the middle-class 'Could a High Court judge be called this name?' Test.

And yes, unfortunately, research has shown that identical CVs are read differently depending on the name attached - but this is racial as well as class-based. Jessica and Miles might get a call when EmmaLeigh-Mae and Mohammed don't.

You don't need to worry as foreigners. You get a pass because your class markers will code differently, and people won't be able to 'read' your accents etc.

Sugarpiehoneyeye Fri 28-Oct-16 13:52:19

From your list, I like ;
Tara Ylva Clementine, and Alexander Henrik.
Also love Astreia and Milo.

OlennasWimple Fri 28-Oct-16 14:11:51

I love Ylva even more now - a she-wolf daughter would be awesome!

"Naice" is a MN phrase, derived from a poster finding a shopping list in the bottom of a trolley that included the phrase "Naice ham". Hard to describe what it means (Brits know instinctively, I think, because class is deeply ingrained in us), but it's something along the lines of the posh stuff you would serve if someone important was coming over for tea.

(Have you ever watched "Keeping Up Appearances"? Hyacinth Bucket would serve "naice ham" to the vicar)

WeArePregnant11 Fri 28-Oct-16 14:12:28


I don't worry people about people reading me. if they think I'm too chavy or whatever then that's that.

But I do worry about our LO. I mean, I'd expect the LO to speak English without an accent... And I don't think the LO would be read as an expat, right?

FlyingGaribaldi Fri 28-Oct-16 14:31:59

I don't know, OP, as DH and I are also foreigners in England with an English-born child! In fact it's a good question. DS, who is four, sounds quite English to my ears, and I doubt he's regarded as 'foreign' by his classmates or teachers... On the other hand, he has a name which is so unusual it didn't appear at all on the naming stats for his year of birth (which I think means that fewer than three, or maybe two, were registered. grin

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