Okay, here’s a more…

Okay, here's a more cheerful note. Baby names! Kev and I are planning right now on a Tamil first name, more American middle name, and the last name of Whyte. So: Something Something Whyte. Given that, we've started trying to find good Tamil names, which is surprisingly difficult. (We figure that we'll figure out a first name first, and then find a middle name that goes well with it.)

We're vetoing all family names, which, given that I have seven aunts with multiple daughters, knocks out quite a few names right there. And we're trying to avoid the super-long Tamil names, of which there are quite a few. "Mangaiyarkarasi" is one example. It might be good to choose a longer name though which has a short version, esp. if that short version can pass for an American name, for that phase when she's trying to be like all the other kids. Then she can reclaim the longer version when she gets older. That seems to be a common pattern. :-)

With all that in mind, suggestions are welcome. Here are some that have been suggested so far that I kind of like -- what do you think?

  • Amara (immortal)
  • Iniya (sweet)
  • Isai (melody)
  • Kaviarasi (queen of poetry)
  • Kaaviya or Kavya (heroine)
  • Maina (a type of bird that sings at night)
  • Mayil (one who is beautiful like a peacock)
  • Sarala (fluent)
  • Thendral (beautiful breeze)
  • Tarani (daughter of the Earth)

19 thoughts on “Okay, here’s a more…”

  1. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I think I like Mayil better than Maya, and it’s not nearly as common, so I suspect Maya has been cut. 🙂 But I reserve the right to change my mind…

  2. “Mangaiyarkarasi” could without much imagination easily shorten to “Mandy” or maybe even “Gaia”; I think it is pretty. I really like it, although I am having trouble figuring out how to pronounce it.

  3. Of the ones that you list as acceptable, my favorite is “Amara”, perhaps since I know an Amara who is a delightful person.

    Is “Surita” a Tamil name?

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Heh. Well, the problem with really long names is, among things, that they don’t fit on U.S. government forms. My father’s first name is Navaratnasingam, which is just too long, sadly. Also, it’d be a pain for her to write out, I think.

    As for Surita, I have no idea. Part of the difficulty is that *I* don’t really know what Tamil names are — I’m reduced to googling and asking older relatives…

  5. Mary Anne, how lovely to be choosing baby names :)!

    I fell a li’l bit in love with ‘Minnal’ and ‘Roshan’ from your work, but i guess you don’t want to hear about names you already know…

    Here are a few that might appeal to you:

    Anbu (love)

    Nayagi (heroine–Kavya is usually translated as Epic)

    Sneha/Sneham (friendship)

    Chitra (pretty as a picture)

    Alli (flower)

    Kalai (art)

    Amudham (sweetness/nectar)

    Arul (grace)

    And my top two classical Tamizhnames:
    ThenMoli (Her Words are Honey)

    MuttuPechey (She speaks like pearls)

  6. P.S.

    And umm, i’m not heartbroken that my name’s ‘common’. It comes coupled with a classical Sanskrit name so i really can’t complain that much :).

  7. The great thing about “Mangaiyarkarasi” is that it would easily be abbreviated to “Manga,” and if Japanese comics continue to grow in popularity, this would no doubt endear her to the other kids. 🙂 (Joking!)

    I like “Amara,” but it half-reminds me of something I can’t quite think of, perhaps something from a fantasy novel? Or maybe it’s just that I once wrote a story in which there was a culture known as the Amari.

    I also like “Tarani” and “Kavya,” though both of them also have something of a high-fantasy-name flavor.

    I’m not sure whether “Maina” is pronounced like “mane uh” or like “mynah,” but either way I suspect she’d get more than her fair share of teasing about it. Though I suppose kids can find something to tease about in just about any name.

    Fwiw, I’m also fond of the name “Maya.”

  8. Sarala and Tarani can be “shortened” to Sara and Tara, which are nice for that “short version” phase. Amara is the one that speaks to me, though. Exotic, but still easy to scan and pronounce. (It reminds me a little of Inara from Firefly, too.)

    (As I get older, fewer and fewer people seem to pronounce my name right. You’d think “Dayle” would be obvious, but I get a lot of “Daily” now. And my husband, whose last name is “Meese,” gets “Messy.” So I can see where some of the other names, which I think are easy to pronounce, but I can see other people choking on.)

  9. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    No offense meant, Maya! I do think your name is lovely. And who am I to talk about common, given that ‘Mary’ and ‘Anne’ are so incredibly common! 🙂

    Maybe you can answer a question for me? The names that have a capital in the middle of them, like ThenMoli — would you always write them that way? I noticed that a lot of Tamil names have that, and I wasn’t sure if there was a reason. I kind of like Thenmoli, but not with the middle Cap, I think.

    I’d feel a little weird using names from my book, I think, just because I already have such a strong sense of those characters associated with the names — at least for the names of main characters. 🙂 Also, some of my characters have terrible things happen to them, and I wouldn’t want to wish that on my child…

    Of the others you mentioned, I think I most like:

    Amudham (sweetness/nectar)
    Arul (grace)
    Chitra (pretty as a picture) — though I think that’s also fairly common?

    Jed, Tarani does remind me of Taranis, from a McKillip (?) fantasy novel. 🙂 But I like it anyway.

  10. Mary Anne,

    I was kidding!! 🙂

    And i totally understand what you mean about not using names you’ve used in your work–some of them are just so beautiful, that’s all..

    The Tamil girls i grew up with didn’t spell their names with a middle cap at all! I think it comes from trying to maintain the integrity of the contributory words. For instance, “Then” = honey and “Moli” = words– so “ThenMoli” somehow (at least visually) acknowledges origins.

    Chitra *is* quite common and also more Sanskrit than Tamil. The Tamil version might be “Chitram.”

    If you like “Amudham,” you might also like “Amritam” :).

    My all time favorite names are NayanaTara (Star of my eyes) and RoshanAra (Light of the World). One is classical Sanskrit and the other Persian and i’m waiting for twin daughters born to a Hindu-Muslim couple to pass those on…

    I’m also retracting “Anbu” (good you didn’t like it anyway!) and reserving it for my personal use…

    And i think when i have a daughter, my favorite pet name for her might be “pattu-kutti” (li’l silky one).

    Mary Anne, i’m so excited for you!

  11. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I ran through the whole list with Kevin last night, and he said he liked most of them fine, but was a bit hesitant about Kavya just because it was so close to Kevin. Hmm… “Hello, I’m Kevin Whyte, and this my daughter, Kavya Whyte.” Does it sound egotistical, like those folks who name their kids Joe Bob Jr.?

  12. They’re all really good names. Why not hold them all in mind, and wait and see who it is that comes out? You’ll know when you meet her what her name is.

  13. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Heh. I don’t think I can hold that many in my head; I’d like to narrow it down to a few, I think. We took a poll at the California baby shower, just to see what folks thought. Results:

    Most popular:
    Amara, Isai, Kavya, Mayil, Sarala, Tarani

    Least popular:
    Amudham, Thenmoli

    The rest had divided responses…

  14. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    It’s interesting, though — I think with a mostly-white group, it looks like the names they like are the ones that sound least ‘foreign’ in some sense. At least to my ears, Amudham and Thenmoli were the most traditionally Tamil-sounding of the names suggested so far. I don’t know how important that is to me, though…

  15. Mary Anne,

    Have to agree with your baby-shower-name poll. Amara and Isai, in particular, are beautiful.

    I also have to agree that Amudha and Thenmoli are more “Tamizh” sounding than the others and that this seems to generate some trouble with acceptability. Although i think that this is an important to heed–after all, the task at hand is to name your lovely baby girl with a beautiful name that suggests her heritage, not to make a statement of ethnic pride :).

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