Bruce Lansky Launches New Baby Name Blog with an Appearance on “Twin Cities Live” (KSTP-TV)

For Immediate Release:

Bruce Lansky was writing an article for a new baby-naming blog when publicist Sara Lien called him to say, “‘Twin Cities Live’ wants you for an interview next week. Can you do it?” Lansky responded, “Let’s delay the TV show until our new blog (BabyNamesInTheNews.com) is ready for public viewing.”

Now Lansky’s new blog site is finally ready, with seven new articles plus some of his most popular material (with more content being published almost every day) about:

  • Advice on picking a great name for your baby
  • Unusual baby names in the news
  • Celebrity baby name reviews
  • The latest baby-naming trends
  • Baby-name research

In addition to new celebrity baby name blogs (on Shakira, Uma Thurman, plus William and Kate’s royal baby-to-be), Lansky launched a “Dear Bruce” Q-and-A column based on questions sent to him by blog-site visitors and savvy media contacts.

What else is new? Lansky’s latest articles are fresher, edgier and more entertaining. When asked about his style, Lansky opined, “I used to have four editors who thought the #1 author of baby-name books should play it safe. Now, I only have one, and we’re both willing to take risks to create blogs that are fun to read.”

Lansky’s sense of humor and practical baby-naming advice are both on display in the “Twin Cities Live” video that can be found in the “Media Appearances” section of the blog.

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
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Uma Thurman Gave Her Daughter Five Names

Six months ago, Uma Thurman and her boyfriend, Arpad Busson, named their baby Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson. I read this news in a recent “Us Weekly” article titled “Why I Gave My Daughter Luna Five Names.”

After reading the headline, I immediately read the five names that Thurman and Busson had selected for their daughter. I was surprised to discover that Luna wasn’t on the list. So they actually gave their daughter six names!

Most babies are given two names: a first name and a middle name. The middle name functions like a spare tire—it comes in handy if the first name “gets a hole in it.” Thurman and Busson gave their baby girl a first name and four middle names. Unfortunately, the first name had a hole in it, and so did the four “middle names.”

A few questions come to mind:

Did Thurman and Busson give a lot of thought to finding a name their daughter would actually enjoy living with? Probably not.

Will anyone but the family remember all five unused names? Probably not.

Does the probability that this could be Thurman’s last baby provide a good reason  for weighing the baby down with five names, including three that read like alphabet soup? No. (No “probably” needed.)

With the benefit of hindsight, here’s a more credible rationale for picking those five names: They couldn’t find a single name they liked well enough to settle on, and once the baby was born, they needed to come up with something.

But to me, the amazing part of this story is that Thurman and Busson didn’t wait until Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson came home from school crying because she’d been teased cruelly and wanted a new name. They realized the five names they’d picked for their daughter were working against her—not for her. So they moved on. To a sixth name: Luna.

I’d like to praise Thurman and Busson for their courage. They learned from their (five) mistakes and were smart to come up with a loony-moony nickname of Altalune as the real name they will use for their six-month-old baby daughter. I think Luna will enjoy that name and so will her parents.

I have to give the first five names this verdict: Two thumbs down.

But I’m happy to add this additional verdict for the sixth name, Luna: One thumb up.

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
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Introducing Shakira’s Latest Hit: Milan Pique Mebarak

Spanish singing sensation Shakira and soccer hunk Gerard Pique just announced the birth of their baby boy, Milan.

Milan is a place name that celebrates the busy northern Italian city Milan and, in Italy, suggests “a northerner” in the same way that the name “Vermont” would suggest “a New Englander.” Place names (such as Austin, Brooklyn, Frisco, and Dallas) are becoming increasingly popular in North America, but it makes sense to look at this name from a European perspective, because Shakira and Pique live in Barcelona.

The couple was thoughtful enough to explain what the name Milan (pronounced MEE-Lahn) means in several different languages: “dear, loving, and gracious” in Slavic; “eager and laborious” in Latin; and “unification” in Sanskrit. Frankly, I’m impressed by all the research they did on the origins and meanings of the name they selected, though I’m surprised they didn’t pick up on the obvious connection with the city of Milan. That’s like naming a child Cleveland, giving the origin (English) and meaning (“land of cliffs”), and not mentioning that it’s the largest city in Ohio, located on the banks of Lake Erie.

Do I like the name? Yeah, it’s kind of cool. Milan’s a happening place, with a pretty good soccer team, and the name has other positive meanings and associations.

In North America, the name would lose a little luster, though, because it would be pronounced mi-LAHN and mispronounced my-LAN. The European pronunciation would sound, to us, like a Japanese name from Gilbert and Sullivan’s delightful operetta The Mikado.

Let’s imagine what life would be like if Milan grew up in North America. One day, he heads to the motor vehicle bureau to get his driver’s license. They call his number: “A-58—my-LAN? Or is it mi-LAHN?” The motor vehicle clerk is probably not connecting the name with the city or the soccer team in Italy—which is what’s most cool about the name.

It’s probably a pretty cool name in Europe, but here I’d have to mark it down for spelling and pronunciation and the city of Milan’s fairly low profile in North America. Austin or Frisco, it’s not.

Verdict: One thumb up.

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

Dear Bruce: How Do I Pick a Name for a Second Child?

Dear Bruce,

I am 37 weeks pregnant with a boy on the way. We do not have any boy names picked out. We have a son named Gabe and we know that we want the middle name to be Craig after my father. Do you have any suggestions that will go with Craig for a first name?

 

Bruce: In my article about naming siblings, “Names That ‘Go Together’ Create a Sense of Unity,” I suggest using themes as a creative strategy for connecting the names of the siblings.

Two quick ‘n easy themes are: starting both names with the same letter (G) or using the same origin or source for both names. Since Gabriel is an Old Testament (Hebrew) name, try that. Two 5-star Old Testament names that would work are David or Daniel. And your son would have the benefit of very cool initials: D.C.

If that doesn’t do anything for you, think of names that start with G like Gordon, Gary, Garrison, and Gomer (just kidding), until you find one you like. Using that theme, your son’s initials would be G.C. (Not quite as cool as D.C., but not bad.)

If you’d like to submit a question, please leave it in the comments section here.  

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

What Will William and Kate Name Their Royal Baby?

I’m writing this article so a local talk show producer will think I know something about naming British royalty. I hope she’s not turned off by my iconoclastic approach to a subject that has already motivated thousands (or tens of thousands) of pundits, commentators, and self-proclaimed experts to ramp up the speculation about what William and Kate will name their royal baby.

My plan is to bring you up to date on some of the ideas flying through cyberspace and then come up with an angle that might get me on TV.

Some experts point out that the next royal highness diapered by the royal nanny will be third in line to inherit the throne, so William and Kate will have to stick closely to royal “protocol”—meaning they’ll have to use names previously used by royals, like William (the Conqueror), Arthur (of “Round Table” fame), Alfred (the Great), George (who wasn’t invited to the Boston Tea Party), Henry (VIII and all the other Henrys), Victoria (who gave us the Victorian era), Mary (who gave us a transatlantic luxury liner), and two Elizabeths (the latest of whom seems to have been queen for several centuries).

Other experts and bookmakers suggest Kate and William should stick with “relatives.” That opens the door to the names of commoners who married into the royal family, such as William’s mother Diana, Sarah (aka Fergie), Anthony (a photographer who took naughty photos after marrying Princess Margaret) and many others, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, Wallis Simpson, and Camilla Parker-Bowles).

Now that you know what just about everyone else knows about the name to be given to the future king or queen (if Queen Elizabeth ever decides to vacate the well-padded royal throne), here’s something of value: a way for Yanks, Canucks, Aussies, Kiwis, and Brits completely out of the know, to “bet” on the name William and Kate will select, without risking either your money or your reputation should you fail to select the correct name (which is pretty much a foregone conclusion).

I’ve created two pages on Ranker.com (“What Will William and Kate Name the Royal Baby Boy?” and “What William and Kate Name the Royal Baby Girl?”) that provide the top twenty boys’ and girls’ names based on the current betting odds in London. When you go to the lists, you can bet on (vote for) the boys’ and girls’ names you like best, in the privacy of your bedroom, office, car or wherever you and your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone happen to be. You can also re-rank the entire list and add any names you think English betters should choose—solidly British names like Jack (the Ripper) or Bridget (Jones).

Your bets or votes will change the rankings on the list, as if by magic. Cool, huh? (This is called “crowd-sourcing,” a way to tap into the wisdom of the masses—as though any of them know a thing about how royal names are really selected).

The only thing I could accomplish by hazarding some predictions myself would be sullying my dimming reputation as an expert on baby names. But I’m happy to give you some advice (which is what I do best): Stick with the well-known English kings, queens, princes, princesses, and those parvenus who were beautiful or handsome and well-connected enough to have married into a life of luxury, leisure, and boredom.

Be conservative. Very conservative. Who do you think will have the last word on the royal baby’s name? William? Kate? Me? Think again. Who refused to let Prince Charles marry the love of his life, until he showed her the AARP card he had received in the mail?

Now that you know who’s in charge of most things “royal” in Britain, you’ve got a chance to pick a winner. As they used to say in Chicago when Mayor Daley was running that town: “Vote early and vote often.”

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

Dear Bruce: How Do I Start Thinking about Names?

Dear Bruce,

I just found out I’m pregnant. What’s a good way to get started thinking about names for my baby?

Bruce:  Your first goal should be to make a big list of names that have special meaning for you and your partner. Look through the top-100 most popular names to see which names call out to you. Look through lists of names from around the world to see whether a name from another culture might be of interest. If you speak foreign languages, look at names from that country. If there’s a place you love to visit, think about whether the name of that town or mountain or river could work as a name.

If there’s a food or wine you love—consider whether it might work as a name. Think about historical figures, movie stars, literary characters, or sports heroes who appeal to you. It can help to use a name book, which will provide you with hundreds of interesting lists of names to consider. Write down all of the names that you love.

The second project is to narrow down your list of potential names by considering which of them are most likely to work well for your child. I suggest you consider practical issues such as: Does the name make a positive first impression? Is there a risk it will be misspelled and/or mispronounced? Will people be able to guess the gender of your child when they hear the name? Is the name versatile enough to work on formal and informal occasions? Consult a name book that provides you with practical information and star ratings to help you decide which names will work well for your child and which ones may cause problems.

If you’d like to submit a question, please leave it in the comments section here.  

© 2009 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

Hashtag, Tweet, and Facebook

Knowing that I was thinking of writing a new blog, a friend sent me a recent article from TV Guide about an American baby girl who had been named Hashtag. If you don’t already know, a hashtag (which looks like this: #) is a way folks on Twitter refer to the topics they are tweeting about.

The same article mentioned an Egyptian baby girl who had been named Facebook and an Israeli baby girl who had been named Like. Apparently parents’ fascination with social media is causing them to pick names that reflect that interest.

I suppose it might be fun to dream up original or unique names related to social media, but coming up with a name that most children would be happy to live with isn’t easy, as I hope to demonstrate. As an experiment, I started making a list of the most popular social media sites and posed a simple question: How likely is it that a child would like to have any of these social media names as a first name?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Google Plus+
  • DeviantART
  • LiveJournal
  • Orkut
  • Pinterest
  • CaféMom
  • Meetup
  • myLife
  • Badoo

After a quick look, I realized that most of the social media names combine two words, like face and book into Facebook or linked and in into LinkedIn. The ones that only use one word, like Badoo and Orkut, sound a little more like names, but not much; what’s more, they aren’t particularly pleasing.

My next question was: What can someone interested in social media learn about baby-naming from the names of these sites? Let’s return to the idea that many social media names are combinations of two words, such as my and space. I posed this question: If both those words were names—for example, a first and middle name—might it be helpful, in baby-naming, to combine the first and middle names like Facebook, MySpace, or DeviantART?

I plucked the first name and middle name combination of Grace Olivia out of thin air and decided to explore different ways of combining the names to give them a “social media twist.” Here’s what I came up with:

  • Graceolivia (like Facebook and Meetup)
  • GraceOlivia (like LinkedIn, MySpace, LiveJournal, CaféMom)
  • GraceOLIVIA (like DeviantART)
  • Golivia (like Pinterest)
  • graceOlivia (like myLife)

I can’t see how any of those options are much of an improvement on Grace Olivia, can you? So let’s try another experiment and look at a variety of social media sites that suggest naming options worth considering.

  • Tweet (for Twitter fans): A cute but silly name. The poor girl is likely to be called Tweety Bird or Birdbrain. Not a happy thought!
  • Link (for LinkedIn fans): Not bad, but I’d prefer Lincoln, a proud name that would give the parents and child the option of using Link as a nickname.
  • Changing Dexter to Dextr (for Flickr and Raptr fans): One of the better ideas I’ve found by looking at social media names, but likely to be misspelled by 99% of the people who hear the name. How annoying!
  • Wizz (for Goodwizz fans): A catchy name; too bad “taking a whiz” is something boys do to water trees when a toilet is too far away to be worth the effort.
  • Crunch (for Crunchyroll fans): Crunch is a name I’d give to a powerful wrestler who’d take pleasure in twisting my arm into a pretzel if I looked at him funny; but I wouldn’t give it to a baby boy who hasn’t learned how to make a fist yet.
  • Add “ster” to common names to get Brucester, Chuckster, Rickster (for Friendster fans): Believe it or not, when I was in my thirties, I was called Brucester at a squash club where I used to hang out. I liked the name, so it’s a reasonable option—and, given a choice, I’d spell it Brewster. Before we finish considering the “ster” idea, I hope you’ll agree it’s a good way to come up with a nickname that would be fun to use in a macho environment, but it doesn’t give us “cool” names for baby boys, as far as I can tell.

I could go on, but by now I hope you’ll agree that picking a popular social media name for a child doesn’t work very well. And looking for names with a social media twist takes time and doesn’t seem to yield many results worth considering. If you want to make a splash with a potentially unique and charming name that your child and his or her friends will like, try looking at a menu in a posh restaurant (and consider Brie—but not Gorgonzola) or looking at a road atlas (and consider Carolina or Dakota—but not Hoboken or Oshkosh). Or spin a globe (and consider Siena and Chelsea—but not Turkey or Greece).

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.