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Baby Names (Collins Gem)From Aisha to Zander, Mary to Robert...All the Names You'll Ever Need
By Carol Wallace
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Carol Wallace
All right reserved.
How many options do you need to find exactly the right name for your baby? This book is a condensation of a much longer volume, 20,001 Names for Baby. When my sister was pregnant for the first time, we went through that entire book to make a short list of potential choices. After considering the thousands of names I'd collected, we could only find three candidates, none of which she used.
Which made me wonder, why use a baby name book at all? Why not just sift through all the names you can think of and make a list of possibilities?
The answer came to me pretty fast: because you can't think of all the names. You're bound to forget some of the good ones. And chances are, you'll need more possibilities than you thought. The second time I got pregnant, my husband and I knew we were having a son. We liked the idea of a family name and remembered a great-uncle named Hugh. So after the baby was born, the orderly was taking me down to my room at 3:00 a.m. and said, "What's the baby's name?"
"Hugh," I answered proudly.
"What?" he said.
"Hugh. His name's Hugh," I answered, a little testy.
"You? You named your baby'you?' "
Needless to say, our son had a new name by dawn, but I sure wished I'd packed a baby name book in my hospital bag.
I tell this story to make clear that naming a baby is not a scientific process. You do need lots of possible choices and you do need a book to remind you of potential options you've forgotten. The virtue of this book is its compactness. I know as that ninth month ticks by any extra weight you're carrying will feel like an imposition, so I see this as a big plus. And though lots of other baby name books offer many times more possibilities, you've got plenty here. To bring 20,001 Names down to this size, I took out some of the more unusual choices and trimmed down the number of variants I offered. Often these were just new phonetic spellings. For this book I limited myself to a few of those and a few international variants, but there are still well over 5,000 names here.
Of course, having been in the baby name business since 1990, I have opinions and observations on the subject and this is my chance to share them.
Boys are harder to name than girls. For some reason, we're still more conservative about boys' names. I don't want to think too much about why this is, but it seems okay to give a girl a traditionally male name, whereas you very rarely see a name going the other way. Parents may make up a name for a girl or adopt a word that has not traditionally been a name (Sierra, anyone?), but they wouldn't do that for a boy. The names here are divided almost evenly between girls' and boys' options, but the boys' selections are more traditional.
Beware of the trendy name. Some names are standards and stay well used for years on end. Others go into and out of fashion in a kind of long curve, whereas others are simply rare. But the names that will sound dated are the ones that shoot into popularity out of nowhere. The U.S. government maintains a wonderful website that allows you to check the popularity of any given name. You really don't want to saddle your child with a name that is going to be passe ten years from now.
Think hard about the most popular names. Carol was hugely fashionable the year I was born. In most gatherings of more than twenty women, there will be at least two of us in the room. I don't like this.
Consider the unusual name pretty carefully, too. Your child may not enjoy the constant confusions or explanations. "Actually, I'm named after the city where I was conceived" has always struck me as more than I want to know about someone.
The middle name gives you a place to put something a little less user-friendly, like a slightly peculiar family name. Just watch the initials so that they don't spell out an awkward three-letter word.
You should be able to find a wonderful name for your baby here, even though this book is small. But if you want more options or more information, maybe you should turn to the original version, 20,001 Names for Baby, or even the expanded edition, The Greatest Baby Name Book Ever. In the end, you're sure to find exactly the right name for the newest member of your family.
Excerpted from Baby Names (Collins Gem) by Carol Wallace Copyright © 2006 by Carol Wallace. Excerpted by permission.
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