Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name

First, let me take a moment to thank everyone for their very kind thoughts. I should definitely try to keep things in perspective, but it is hard sometimes when you are tired, overworked and looking at your thighs in a fitting room mirror. This too shall pass as they say.

Part of my mood is definitely to blame on the pregnancy. I do not want to blame Little Dude because I do not want to give the kid a complex before he is even born. However, pregnancy hormones are . . . well . . . tons of fun.

Speaking of Little Dude, we are 112 days away from the Big Day and it is time to get serious about some baby names. This is the one issue that is proving difficult between the German and I.

There is one big requirement. The name must work in both German and English. This would seem to narrow the list of possible names and make the process easier, however, it does not. Everything the German likes, I do not and vice-verse.

The struggle for baby names is made even more complicated by the fact that there is a list of German approved names. I have never actually gotten my hands on this official German names book, but I hear that it actually quite thick. On the other hand it is also full of names I would never use (i.e. Adolf, Fritz, Siegfried). I knew an African woman of Liberian descent who wanted to name he son after her grandfather. She had to petition the government for permission and prove that it is an actual name.

We have decided on a middle name: Charles. This is a big name in my family, which is why I wanted to use it. However, the German says that Little Dude needs a first name that can be used in German schools. We are leaning towards a first name, but I will not reveal that just yet.

So, I am opening the floor for suggestions. What should we name our baby?

_______ Charles Sch. . .

Remember, it must be a boy's name (I am now 99.9% sure that it is a boy given the pictures in last week's ultrasound) that works in English and in German. Also, you should know that the German and I are pretty traditional when it comes to names. Let's see if baby's first lesson in popular referendum is a successful one.


J said...

How about Sebastian? Granted, it's more European than American, but it works in both languages (as well as Polish).

Isabelle said...

Alexander, Erik, Elias, Lucas, Thomas and of course, Michael. Those are all popular names for boys in Deutschland and they work in English too. I guess you have to decide if any of them flow with the last name.. Alexander Charles is a mouthful (in both languages).. Erik Charles is the one I really like.. Elias Charles & Lucas Charles (too much 'S' for me, although I like Elias).. Thomas Charles is totally traditional, and so is Michael Charles.. We can't wait to hear when you guys decide! And if you can't, then don't stress it.. you can give him up to 5 vornames, right? :)

Isabelle said...

Sorry.. vornamen!

Carol said...

The guys names in our family almost all work in both English and German (which was also my parents' requirement): Thomas (my father), Michael, Stephan (who Americans tended to call Stephen, but I still love the name!), and Christopher (my brothers)... and our boys, Alexander and Peter (I love the name Peter, who, coincidentally, was also Tom's father's name).

Tom and I had a little routine that might work for you: we each devised a list of names we likes, then traded, and crossed off names we opposed on the other's list. The resulting names were up for discussion.

Good luck! And I agree -- it can't be Dirk or Andreas...or Austin or Blake.


Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Really? A list of approved names? That's rich...

As for names...well, my great-grandfather was German - Dietrich...

That's my two cents for now...

ChristinaG said...

Rainer had the additional criteria that the name had to be pronounced the same in English and German. That eliminated names like Michael, making things even more difficult!

christina said...

NOT Sebastian (ask Jen why), Alexander, Maximillian or Kevin (a sturdy German name, right?) because there are already SO many boys out there with those names.

The baby name rules say that the name you choose has to be instantly recognizable as either a boy's or a girl's name and if it's not, the middle name has to make it clear. The only exception is that boys in Germany are allowed to have Maria as a middle name. Go figure. We gave our younger son a Scottish first name and a Welsh middle name and had no trouble with it. Well, except for the way people pronounce it.:-)

Names I like: Martin, Nicholas, Richard.

Adèle said...


I'm having the same problem (having a son in Germany - actually at any time now - and married to a German). I agree with Christina in that it seems like every other boy I meet is named Sebastian. My midwife said that Leon is really popular right now (but of course the love of my life, being the German that he is, isn't too keen on any name that is even remotely "French"). I like Lukas or Markus or Daniel (and Nikolas), but I am hopelessly boring.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I like reading your blog and I hope that you are feeling better. No one should have to give up cake (especially during pregnancy). Have you tried substituting the butter out for either applesauce or bananas? That makes it healthier, at least, and you'll get more magnesium. Good luck with the names and I hope that you arrange some sort of a meet-up further north, as I would love to get together with more American women!

C N Heidelberg said...

Very nice choice for a middle name - pretty much anything will go with it. I like that Germany has limitations on what you can name your child. That way it can't take the nearly abusive direction that some naming has taken in the US.

Leo, Felix, Philip, Paul, Linus, Niels, Eric, Patrick, Lukas, Adam, Oscar, Daniel, Dorian, Markus

Here's a short article on "international naming":

Good luck!

Maria said...

Max ... that works in both, right?

We lucked out. They looked at what we wanted to name The Boy, and said, "They're Americans. Let them do what they want."

Anonymous said...

My parents, who are from Bavaria and now live in New York, had the same requirements. They chose Erik.

- A Brooklyn lurker named Erik

Renate said...

I'm with Erik or Eric. That's my son's name and has worked well both here in the States and in Germany.

Guy Davis said...

Best of luck with your search. My wife and I (expecting in April) are still continuing with ours.

I built a map of popular baby names around the world to help us. You might find it useful as well:

The map doesn't have Germany yet, but I hope to find some German statistics soon. If anyone has a link to German popular names (by gender and year) please send it to me. Thanks.

umarah said...


christina said...

I just looked at a site called and they had a list of the most popular boys' names in Germany for 2007:

Lukas / Lucas
Luca / Luka
Finn / Fynn
Luis / Louis
Tim / Timm
Niclas / Niklas
Jannick / Jannik / Yannic / Yannick / Yannik
Philipp / Philip / Phillip
Nils / Niels
Erik / Eric
Nico / Niko
Jakob / Jacob
Jannis / Yannis / Janis
Marvin / Marwin
Marc / Mark
Lennard / Lennart

Nicolette said...

Dear Claire,

what about Adrian? That should work in both languages... and Adrian Charles has a nice flow, too, I think.
As for popular names: As a child I was mad at my parents for giving me a name that no-one knew how to spell or pronounce, but today I am not sad that I am not one of a million Sandra, Julia, Katrin or Stefanie!

C N Heidelberg said...

The problem with the "Beliebte Vornamen" site is that they aren't official statistics, but just a sampling. (Does it strike anyone as funny that there isn't a single Turkish or Arabic name on the list?) As far as I am aware the German government doesn't put out first name statistics like the US does.

I had an entry about this a while back:

christina said...

Yes, cn is right. There are no official statistics for Germany. I guess they just make it up as they go along.

Anonymous said...

How about Upton. Then for short he could be known as Upchuck. Now, ain't that cute???!!

Love, Me

Carrie said...

There's realy an approved name book? Seriously? Um, I'm not going to ask which reign that came from....but I kind of like the idea. My only advice is to pick a name that you can't think of any teasing related to it....Remember that kid I taught? His mother named him ShiThead? Yes, ShiThead...thead is pronounced with a th sound, but ultimately his name was shithead...Now imagine me caling roll the first day with the roster in all caps...JACKSON, SHITHEAD. I mean really! So, I guess a book of approved named would have been good for his mother.

I like Charles. How about Mathew? That's kind of Mattias's name, but different enough that you wuoldn't get them both running if you called for the same name. Know what I mean? I get Aaron and the dog when I call for Honey, and that gets annoying sometimes.

Gardner said...

Edgar is another good one that works in both lands.

I've also heard some very "American" names at our kids German school near Düsseldorf. I ask my kids if they are American and they say no. For example, Davis.

Names are tough. My wife and I had some battles on names. I gave up after a while and settled for picking the middle names.

Anonymous said...

Forget about it working in German and go with Seth. It will be a constant source of amusement for years when Germans try to say the name and it just comes out as SET. And then you can correct them and crack up internally as they struggle to get their tongues to make a th. It is the least you can do as a good American to pay them back for gender, declination, and general use of werden as future, passive, etc., etc.
I'll send a gift if you go with Seth.

Megan in Munich said...

I'm nowhere near having kids but the name issue will be a real one for us as well. For the sake of my parents - who are hopeless at pronouncing anything 'exotic' - it has to be one that is in use in both German and American cultures and pronounced the same.

I had one in mind and then it was taken by a friend. Oskar is now my husband's godson and I'm on the lookout for a new name.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. It was actually my German ex-husband who through pronunciation precaution to the wind when naming our son. German's have a heck of a time pronouncing "Sean" correction, but the Americans seem to have equal problems pronouncing my daughter's name - Saskia - to I guess it balances out in the end.