Wednesday, June 08, 2011


My wife and I are expecting our third child later this year. Third. That makes me think of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, one of the few books I’ve read more than once.

We don’t know whether we’re having a boy or girl yet, and I would honestly be pleased either way. My main pre-birth thought around any child is what to name him or her. Actually, I take that back. I’m only concerned when it’s a him rather than a her.

My criteria for names (which may differ from my wife’s) is that my wife and I both like the name and that it isn’t common. Yes, my son’s name is William, which is common, but few people actually go by William (which is what we call him), so in that aspect, I consider it uncommon. An added bonus is if the name has familial significance or touches on pop culture interests of ours (for example, my daughter Elora’s name ties to the princess in the movie Willow).

Girl names are easy to match to the main criteria. There are a lot of names that sound great and are uncommon. In fact, I could probably invent my own word and end it with a suffix of -elle, -anna, or -een and come up with an original girl name. Either that, or I’d end up with the name of a new pharmaceutical drug.

With boy names, a lot of names that I like are common. If you have a common name, as I do, you either end up being referenced as First Name plus Last Name Initial (Matt W), or you take up a new name, perhaps a middle name or a nickname (I went by my last name throughout high school and college). So the cool name has a good chance of getting lost by the need to actually identify the boy uniquely, and there’s a fair (or perhaps unfair) chance that you won’t choose your own soubriquet.

My first thought was to try to repeat the process of how we chose Elora’s name. Unfortunately, referencing the movie Willow for boy names leads to horrific outcomes like Madmartigan or Rool. Referencing other fantasy material also does little good, I’ve found. In fact, I consider Tolkien’s works to be a foundation for high fantasy, yet the most normal name I recall from his works is Samwise. Samwise, really? Oh, there are some cool names in Tolkien’s fiction, but I would never punish a child for life by actually using them. Of course, if I’m pressed to come up with something, dragon names might command attention. Or ridicule.

At any rate, stay tuned much later in the year for the grand announcement when I introduce little Glaurung or Trimethylneen.

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