Breaking the rules

My other post (and endless quest for the perfect name) got me thinking about this. There are a few commandments that most berries try to follow when creating whole names:

  1. Avoid too short (lacks substance) or too long (clunky, cumbersome for the child, difficult to create good flow) of a name.

  2. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t end the first name with the same sound that begins the middle name (or surname). The sounds will run together and create a muddled mess.

  3. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t use too many of the same sounds (alliteration, assonance, or rhyming). You don’t want your child’s name to sound like a tongue-twister or a limerick.

For the most part, I never thought about this stuff before I came here, but I am a rule-following type of girl, so I immediately revised my list to accommodate all these points.

But then I started noticing some quiet exceptions: in real life, on the forums and in my own quick brainstorming lists.

  • Celebrities inevitably drop parts of their full names in order to make shorter, catchier monikers, and they don’t seem to have any issues with substance. On the other hand, one of the boys in my primary school had a very long name (by our standards): [name_m]Christopher[/name_m] + a Polish surname beginning with K. And yet it’s one of the few full names I remember all these years later, because it was interesting and very very fun to say.

  • Someone with a W- surname posted about a son called [name_m]Wesley[/name_m], mentioning that he had a W middle as well. She assured us that the combo sounded good, and she seemed like a pretty classy sort of namer. I tried out a few combos to myself- [name_m]Wesley[/name_m] [name_u]Walker[/name_u] [name_m]Wood[/name_m]? Oh yes. A celebrity/writer name if I ever heard one.

  • One of my just-for-fun combos the other night was [name_f]Maple[/name_f] [name_f]Lorelei[/name_f]. At first, I didn’t even realize it broke the rules. Then I started thinking about pronunciation and how all sounds are not created equally in our mouths. Vocalization is pretty complicated, and I’m actually not sure why this one works to me (and maybe not to others), but it does.

What other exceptions have you come across?

[name_f]Do[/name_f] you think these rules are useful guides, or sometimes a little bit oppressive?

One of the things I find really cool about this site is that, because you have so many people who, though they have different tastes, have given quite a lot of thought to names, names combos, and sounds. Through that, a sort of consensus emerges as you’ve described with the “rules.” The rules are guidelines that seem to develop as people form independent (though similar) impressions regarding sounds that are pleasing and flow from one sound to another. I think it’s fascinating that so many people from so many different places still end with many similar sound preferences!

I think that some people go way overboard with rules. I honestly wonder how some people will even name their first child, let alone second, third, fourth, etc. [name_f]Non[/name_f]-name nerds most likely haven’t even heard of these so called rules. I assume most people fall in the catagory of non-name nerds. Choose the names that you love, that honor, that have special meaning to you and your family. [name_m]Say[/name_m] the names and combos out-loud and see how they sound. I, gasp, have lots of names that end in N, ER, EE sound, and A sound. There is nothing wrong with naming all your children with names that end with the same letter, that have the same letters in them, etc. There is also a big difference between naming real children and creating lists.

I don’t think anyone should have to follow “rules” to name a child unless it is really something that is important to you. I am an alliteration baby with a fn, ln combo of KK, my husband is the same with a JJ. We didn’t have issues growing up, haven’t had one in my adult life yet, and I don’t foresee any problems either. I actually like it, but if you don’t like alliteration, don’t use it. Personally, I feel the fn, mn combo needs to flow nicely together, but it’s not a rule and even if it was, it’s subjective. I think as long as you, SO, and baby can work with the name, so be it. I also agree with lovemysweeties, naming a real child and coming up with a list of names you like are completely different.

I agree with much of what the other posters have said. I think it’s pleasing to the ear and eye to vary the syllable count in the first/last (and maybe middle) but that becomes really restrictive and there are plenty of great sounding names that break the rule ([name_u]Jude[/name_u] [name_m]Law[/name_m], [name_f]Isla[/name_f] [name_m]Fisher[/name_m], [name_f]Jennifer[/name_f] [name_u]Connelly[/name_u]) so I don’t dig my heels in too hard. There are also plenty of names that fit the “rule” but don’t sound very nice.

I think these rules just came up because you need help explaining why you do or don’t like the sound of a name in that particular case–not why you don’t like ALL names that fall under that rule.

I view the rules more as guidelines to a good name, and they can be broken. In fact personally I love alliteration. One of my favorite combos is [name_f]Mabel[/name_f] [name_f]Madeleine[/name_f] :slight_smile:

I think the “rules” can be helpful in avoiding a lot of names that can sound comical or can lead to teasing for one reason or another, but you’re absolutely right that they aren’t hard and fast rules that are always right or can never be bent.

[name_f]Maple[/name_f] [name_u]Marble[/name_u] Marple sounds like a character in a kids show about animated rodents, but [name_f]Maple[/name_f] [name_m]Matthews[/name_m] is sorta nice and pretty.

[name_m]Ty[/name_m] [name_m]Bo[/name_m] Cox sounds like a bad karate movie title, but [name_u]Sam[/name_u] [name_m]Fox[/name_m] despite being very short is a really nice name.

[name_f]Evangeline[/name_f] [name_f]Andromeda[/name_f] [name_m]Montgomery[/name_m] is a whole lotta name, but who’s to say that [name_f]Evie[/name_f] [name_m]Montgomery[/name_m] won’t adore her name and never have any problems with it.

So, in general I think rules like that can be good rules of thumb, but shouldn’t be strictly enforced. I tend to really like names that have a nice cadence to them or are a bit rhymey. To each her own.

Five Important Things to [name_f]Remember[/name_f] about “Rules”:

1 Rules are “guidelines” only. They’re not written in stone. They make you think about things you would never have thought about in the past (flow, blending, alliteration etc…). They give parents the “tools” to allow them to make educated and informed choices.

2 Rules shouldn’t be constraining…they should make baby naming easier, not more difficult. You learn about what things to look for and what pitfalls to avoid in order to find the “ideal name” for a human.

3 If many Berries from different cultures and walks of life “follow” the rules and the same “guidelines” are often mentioned in numerous baby name books by “experts in the field”, I figure there must be something in them.

4 The best thing about rules is … they’re made to be broken. :slight_smile:

5 The BEST “rule”: ALWAYS choose a name you [name_f]LOVE[/name_f].

[name_u]Mischa[/name_u] is wise.

Personally, I love short and/or one-syllable names and alliteration (my son’s initials are NHH), so those naming rules are too restrictive for me.

@shujayra had it right. I don’t think the rules are necessarily set in stone, but guidelines to a decent name. The only firm rules that I think should apply to naming:

  1. Think of initials. [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] [name_f]Stella[/name_f] [name_m]Smith[/name_m] will hate her parents for life. So will [name_f]Stella[/name_f] [name_f]Francine[/name_f] [name_m]Hart[/name_m]. [name_f]Stella[/name_f] F. [name_m]Hart[/name_m] will look like [name_f]Stella[/name_f] Fart on paper, because we rarely use our full names. You’re usually known by First M.I. Last. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t name your daughter [name_u]Kimberly[/name_u] [name_f]Kaitlin[/name_f] [name_m]King[/name_m]. She’ll hate you for life, too.

  2. [name_m]Don[/name_m]'t make your kid’s name a joke (a la [name_u]North[/name_u] [name_u]West[/name_u]). I went to school with a few kids with joke names, and even the teachers had to try not to laugh at the poor kids. So if your last name is [name_m]Dover[/name_m], don’t name your son [name_m]Benjamin[/name_m], no matter how much you love the name. [name_m]Ben[/name_m] [name_m]Dover[/name_m] is just cruel to inflict on a child.

  3. If you have a weird last name, a la [name_m]Duke[/name_m] University’s Coach K, don’t give your kid a super unusual and/or long first name. [name_f]Persephone[/name_f] [name_f]Andromeda[/name_f] would be a mouthful/ eyeful/ earful with that last name, but [name_m]Christopher[/name_m] [name_m]Jefferson[/name_m] would not be. If you have a very Anglo last name, such as [name_m]Smith[/name_m], it makes much more sense to give your kid a name that stands out, so they’re not one of 1600 [name_m]Daniel[/name_m] Smiths the IRS has to deal with every year. However, [name_f]Persephone[/name_f] [name_m]Smith[/name_m] is a serviceable name.

If this were Twitter I’d retweet this. :smiley:

One other rule I think needs to be set in stone:

STOP the kree8f spellyngs. I’ve seen on the forums here Luxxx (yes, 3x’s!!), [name_u]Taylor[/name_u] spelled something like Taieylerr, and my favorite, C’Mon (pronounced [name_u]Simone[/name_u]). There’s a big difference between [name_f]Megan[/name_f]/ [name_f]Meghan[/name_f] and [name_f]Brittany[/name_f] / [name_u]Brit[/name_u]'Tani. It’s not unique, it’s ridiculous. People will assume the kid came from ignorant, uneducated parents. Kree8f spellyngs will hold the unfortunate bearer back in life, because most people will make that assumption. Mykhul is still pronounced [name_u]Michael[/name_u]. Jaiymz is still pronounced [name_u]James[/name_u]. Enough already!

I disagree on “loving” a name. I don’t believe people naming their kids “[name_f]Peaches[/name_f]” or “[name_m]Audio[/name_m] [name_m]Science[/name_m]” actually like those names. [name_u]North[/name_u] [name_u]West[/name_u]? [name_m]Ben[/name_m] [name_m]Dover[/name_m]? Come on! Or should I say, C’Mon? I don’t care how much you love the name [name_u]North[/name_u]. If your last name is [name_u]West[/name_u], NO. I think [name_u]North[/name_u] is an awesome name… just not with the last name [name_u]West[/name_u].

[name_u]Marble[/name_u] has been my name for 30 years & my mother’s name for twice as long. Not once, in our combined 90 years experience in having that name has it been made fun of or caused a problem. On the contrary, it’s been an incredible conservation starter. I can go to a job interview or audition and by the time I leave I’ve been asked about my name, what it means, how I got it… by the time I finish telling them about it being a family name we’ve built a memorable connection. I love unique names.

Totally agree with everyone’s points about not being a slave to the “rules.”

Have to add one final point though: Yes, berries do seem to converge around a similar set of rules. But to assume that means there’s necessarily something “right” about them is, in my opinion, erroneous. Berries are NOT representative of the general public - in fact I would argue they flock here to bounce ideas off people who think in a similar way. So yes. There are “Nameberry Rules” (a few of which I disagree with), but for the most part I think they are far from representative of what the average person would value when naming their kid.

And to the earlier point… you better believe my imaginary name list differs from my actual kid name list!!

When you are putting together a name, you are creating an audible piece of art. It should be beautiful, thoughtful, but also practical.

[name_m]Just[/name_m] like with traditional art, there are rules you can follow to teach you the basic mechanics. But it’s when you know and understand these rules that you can artfully break them. I believe its in that moment when the true gems are lovingly crafted.

It’s not just a name to put on paper, it’s someone entire life! And you are the one responsible for giving it a label.

Any “rules” put in place for naming are simply guidelines to keep you from naming your child Macaroni Friendship or Alyxzandyr Kewldude. Rules must go hand in hand with your own originality and thoughtfulness. And sometimes your personal style can trump the rules!

That’s probably the most flowery way possible to describe my rules of naming, but I feel like fellow name lovers will truly understand.