As many of you that visit this board know, I am considering the name [name]Viola[/name] for my daughter to be born in Oct (sidenote the other name I am seriously considering is [name]Scarlett[/name]). I recently read on some posts here that some people would not use [name]Viola[/name] b/c it means “to rape” in Spanish/French.
Of course, this terrified me. I am not a native Spanish speaker…however I majored in Spanish, studied abroad in Mexico, and spent the last 2 years conversing with my “to die” for Domincan nanny. So, did I just miss this connotation b/c I am not a native speaker? I know “violar” / “vee-oh-lar” in Spanish means to rape or violate. It is closely related to the verb “violate” in English. Obviously, I am familiar with the word “violate”, but never associated it with the name [name]Viola[/name]. Is that just me?
[name]Viola[/name] in Spanish is also the name of the instrument as it is in English. The word is actually Latin and means “small purple flower” or “stringed instrument”. So, what do native French, Spanish, & Italian speakers think of when they hear this name? The instrument? The color [name]Violet[/name]/Purple? The flower? or “To Rape”?
The situation reminds me of when my nanny came back from the Dominican Republic and was apalled that one of her family members named a new baby girl, “[name]Lacey[/name]”. She said, how could they name their baby “Lazy”. She obviously, didn’t realize that difference in spelling and it sounded the same to her. Obviously, no one in the English speaking part of the world would think twice at [name]Lacey[/name] b/c of the connotation with Lazy…well at least I don’t think so.
Anyway back to [name]Viola[/name]. Luckily I have a bunch of friends who speak native languages other than English (specifically French, Spanish, and Italian). I have sought their advice and thought I would post as I get it. That way I can help anyone else who loves this name and is worried about the International connotation… as I am. The name [name]Viola[/name] was very popular in the Victorian era…it hit #44 at one point. However, maybe Americans were not as International then as they are now? Also, [name]Shakespeare[/name] used it in his play… and I am guessing he was attuned to the Latin language…but who knows? Please, feel free to add to this if you are a native Spanish, French, or Italian speaker and have some more feedback.
French Response (French Canadian):
“NO, I don’t think it reminds me of the word for Rape, that’s like saying [name]Ray[/name] sounds too close to Rape, it’s [name]Vi[/name]-oh-la ([name]Viola[/name]) versus [name]Vi[/name]-oh-lay (Violer) The spelling is completely different and the emphasis isn’t even on the same sylable. It is not the same word at all.”