When Dominican actress, Dania Ramirez, named her twin boys in December, she picked names from Greek mythology: Aether (the personification of rare air only Gods could breath) and Gaia (the goddess of the earth). The star of “Devious Maids” explained that Aether and Gaia “were actually siblings in Greek mythology. My 12-year-old stepson’s name is Kai, which means ocean, and we wanted to connect them all. So now we have water, earth and air.”
In concept it makes a fascinating story. But because I like to use celebrity baby names as “teaching opportunities,” permit me to mention a few issues with the names she and her husband John Beverly Amos Land picked: John Aether and Gaia Jisssel.
1) I suggest that parents use thematically related names for siblings, especially in the case of twins. Naming one of them John Aether and the other Gaia Jissel doesn’t seem “well-balanced” to me, even though Ramirez said they won’t use the name John often.
2) Giving one of the twins the name of a goddess also disturbs the balance of the naming process. The inequality would come across more clearly if she had named one of her sons Arthur and the other son Venus, because that’s, in effect, what she did.
3) My guess is that most friends and family members probably won’t be familiar with either Gaia or Aether—whether they speak Spanish or English. Ditto for the children the twins meet in daycare. In that case, their names won’t win them warm welcomes from their classmates either in kindergarten or in college. Many people who meet them won’t know what to make of the Greek names.
In short, I’m impressed by the intellectuality of the Ramirez-Land name choices but I suspect that one or both boys will wind up with a nickname that’s a lot easier and more fun for them to use. Too bad Ramirez didn’t provide both boys with both Anglo and Spanish alternative options.
You may recall that Uma Thurman give her daughter five names, most of which were unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce. Six months later she decided to forget about those long, complicated names and call her daughter Luna. The Ramirez-Land twins may eventually wish they had different names, too.