I wrote recently about mash-up names and feminine first names with a masculine middle and this is related but yet a different angle — how does one deal, on paper, with having double names? By which I mean, if you were going to give your child two names that he or she would always go by, how would you decide to spell it and why?
I mean, I know a MaryAnn and a Mary Beth, a Roseanne and a RoseAnn, even an Elisa Beth; I’ve seen Marykate and Mary Kate, Marylee and Marilee. Maybe the daddy of them all for us kind of namers are the little boys honoring JP2 — I’ve seen JohnPaul and John Paul and John-Paul and Johnpaul. It all kind of makes me a little crazy because I love the idea of double names and could totally come up with some pretty fab combos, but (and maybe this is writer/editor me) how names look on paper — either written out on top of a school paper or signed on a check or filled out on a form — matters to me. I just want to know how am I *supposed* to do it?
Mary Beth, on paper, could result in a person getting called just “Mary” (perhaps assuming the “Beth” is a middle). (Actually, this happens even when hearing it out loud too, so …)
MaryAnn will forever confound people who, like me, want to get it right. (I do now with the MaryAnn I know, but it took a while.)
John-Paul’s hyphen is meant to keep the elements together, but may end up being more of a headache — do forms even take hyphens? Does it come across as overly stuffy or too particular, especially for a boy?
I know a little Marie-Therese, which I just love, but if I were her mother and I’d carefully selected such a beautiful name for her, I think I’d really hate people assuming they can shorten it to just “Marie.” Or maybe little Marie-Therese would shorten it herself when she got older, not because she wanted to but because she was tired of the hassle?
And how would you write your initials, if you had a hyphenated name? Would Marie-Therese McMahon be M-TM? Or MM? Are two names connected by a hyphen considered two names (hence initials M-T) or just one big one (initial M only)?
These are the questions that keep me up at night. 😉 Or at least, they knock out certain name contenders for me, because I just can’t come to a peace about how to write them. I really wanted John Paul (I think that spelling?) for one of our boys, but my husband’s a convert and he thought it might be a bit much for his mom to handle (especially since the boy I particularly wanted to name John Paul was born only a couple months after my husband became Catholic) — now I think, maybe I dodged a bullet? Would I have always been unsettled about whichever spelling of John Paul we decided on? Would he have finally succumbed to being called just John? (Nothing wrong with John! Just … it wouldn’t have been his name.)
This is when it’s somewhat burdensome to always be considering every aspect and angle of naming. This crazy mind of mine, it’s a blessing and a burden. :p
Please tell me, how do you handle names like these? Or what have you seen others do?