Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Especially to my Italian-heritaged readers! What a wonderful feast day, what a wonderful saint!
We considered Joseph for our third son before we decided to give it to our fourth, and when we were first thinking of it, when #3 was on his way, we considered spelling it Jozef (or was it Josef?), because Pope Benedict’s name had been spelled that way. Of course, now that I look it up, in order to provide a link to Jos/zef Cardinal Ratzinger, I’m only seeing the Joseph spelling. So maybe I’m crazy? I just looked it up on behindthename and Josef and Jozef are listed as variants of Joseph in Czech and Polish and Dutch … but not German. So now I have a memory coming back that maybe we liked the Polish version (Józef)? Because my father-in-law’s family is from Poland? (We would not have used the accent.)
Anyway. We did consider that spelling, and when we got to #4 we had abandoned the unusual spelling for the usual, and all has been fine, and I’m very happy with the spelling Joseph.
I was thinking last night about spellings of names, and how spelling really really makes a difference to me. Does it to you? I mean, on the one hand, in day-to-day life, the spelling of one’s name barely matters. You hear what you hear, and who cares if your best friend’s name is Kelly or Ckelleigh? It all sounds the same, and that sound is what you associate with your best friend, and it’s a pleasing sound because of it.
But we’re not an audio-only society, and the visual adds a whole dimension to names, doesn’t it? For example, I’m not a huge fan of the name McKayla. I can definitely see its appeal — it’s kind of cool and kicky with the Mc- beginning — it’s got an Irish feel, it’s got a surname feel. The Kayla part is pretty and feminine. Put cool and kicky with pretty and feminine and it’s sort of obvious why it’s spread like wildfire all over the country in recent years. It’s just not my style, you know? But you know what name I looooove? Michaela. Or Micaela. I’m good with either of those spellings. Guess how I pronounce Mic(h)aela? Exactly like McKayla.
Off the top of my head, other names that have totally different feels for me based on their spellings are:
John and Jon
Julia and Giulia
Sara(h) and Sera (like Serafina)
Even Juliet and Juliette
And not only do the names have different feels for me based on their spellings, but I get a different impression of people themselves based on the spelling of their name (before I get to know them. After that, I find spelling doesn’t influence me in regards to how I feel about them one way or the other). If I was reading over two resumes, one for a Jon and one for a John, I’d have a totally impression of each, exclusively based on the spelling of their name. (So unfair, right? It’s not Jon/John’s fault, this one’s on Mom and Dad. Parents, beware!)
Swistle had a post somewhat recently where I first really took notice of this: the older child, a girl, has a first-middle combo that are both nouns used as names, and her husband really wanted to consider the name Noel for their second if it was a boy. It’s not really my favorite name for a boy, and I find the pronunciation NOLE (which is what they intended to use) sort of … something. I don’t know, maybe hard to say? I know that’s weird, because it’s such a simple sound, and especially considering that a reader suggested changing the spelling to Knoll, to fit better with the nature-y noun name the big sister had, and ohmygoodess I was blown away by the brilliance of that suggestion and what I considered to be the perfectness of it for that family. Why on earth would Knoll strike me as so fabulous and the sound of it not bother me at all — in fact, I thought it *sounded* pretty cool with that spelling — but Noel, with the exact same pronunciation, was not really doing it for me. There was also an interesting post on BNW just the other day, where a reader was asking about the name Ceilidh for a little girl, which is a noun (the name of a dance-party type thing in Irish), and it’s pronounced just like Kaylee. I don’t love Kaylee, but I kind of love Ceilidh!
What about the rest of you? Do you find that knowing the spelling of a name influences how you feel about either the name and/or the person with the name?