Saturday, December 17, 2005

Selecting An Exotic Baby Name

While there certainly is nothing wrong with the traditional Anglo-Saxon name, some parents want to give their babies names that will make people remember them. One option when you are considering names for your baby is to go beyond your own cultural boundaries to explore names from other cultures.

There are a number of reasons to seek out a perfect name. One possible reason is that you want to honor your own heritage, however distant, with a name to represent it. Another reason may be that you respect the culture or beliefs of the people of another nation; naming your child with one of their popular names is one way to show that honor. You also may simply like the sound of a certain name. Though I am not of Greek heritage, for example, the name Aleni is a beautiful name to my ear and one I would seriously consider were I to have a daughter. Another reason may be that you want to give your child a name with meaning. Many American names, because we are such a melting pot, do not have a precise meaning. They may be made up, or they may have such a muddled heritage that we have lost what they meant. You can search through names from other places in the world to try to find a name that means what you want for your child. Here are some names to help you begin your search, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Take it and run with it. Use it as a guide.

One example would be Greek names. These names are particularly appropriate for intellectual families as many of the Greek names we know, such as Aristotle, are the names of popular philosophers and mathematicians. Many Greek names also lend themselves to nicknames in the English-speaking world. Some Green girl names to consider are Aleni, Daphne, Dimitra, Angeline, and Katina. Choices for boys include Christos, Kimon, Nicos, and Elias.

Swedish names also work well in largely English-speaking areas. While some of the names sound odd to the American ear, most of them are simple enough to spell and pronounce. In fact, some Swedish names, such as Anna and Christina, already are popular choices in the United States. A few male names from Sweden include Erik, Anders, Gunnar, Hans, Oskar, and Lars. Beyond Anna and Christina, you can select Eva, Erika, Kerstin, Helena, Elisabeth for your daughters. Norwegian names are similar in geographic origin and in sound to the Swedish choices. Here are a few for you: for girls: Anne, Astrid, Grete, Camilla, Kirsti, Kari, Marianne, and Trine; for boys: Andreas, Hans, Jan, Jens, Jon, Petter, and Simen.

Moving beyond the Western world, try out a Filipino name for your child. These names often have an Anglo influence, and many of them will be pronounced slightly differently in the United States than in the Philippines. For boys, you can try Antonio, Armando, Ramon, Raul, Domingo, or Carlos, and give Aida, Aurora, Carmen, Consuela, or Eveline a go on your girls' list. If you want something a little tricky and fun, look to the Japanese. Many of their traditional boys' names, such as Hiroshi, Kenji, and Toshio, are interesting and have distinctive sounds. Their girls names, too, are fun: Junko, Reiko, and Kameko. What is more is that while there is not a large Japanese population within the United States, video gaming and animation have brought their culture and language to this country, making these names a better choice now than ever.

If the sounds of Russian languages are appealing to you, as they are to many Americans, you have numerous choices. Selections from Russia proper for girls include Anya, Galina, Marina, Mila, Natalya, and Vera. Boy names are Aleksey, Georgi, Boris, Ivan, Leonid, and Oleksandr. Moving outside Russia, you can try a few Polish names, which sound very similar. Here are some male choices: Adam, Josep, Michal, and Franek. For girls, think about Aniela, Beata, Eugenia, Stefa, or Joana.

These names are only a few of the thousands out there from non-Anglo areas. Try some of them out. Do not be afraid to experiment with names. You may find the perfect name for your child if you expand your horizons.

By Julia Mercer

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