November 12, 2008

What's In A Name?

I've noticed a new trend to spell your children's names in a unique way. I don't get it. It just makes it harder on the kid. I'm all for unique names but why make up new spellings for common names? What difference does it make when there are three boys with the names Aiden, Ayden & Aedyn in one class or three girls named Kaylee, Kayliegh & Kaelee. The name still isn't unique, its just spelled weird. I recently read on a mom's board that a woman's son was named Nzoah..."Like Noah but the Z is silent" What? Why put it in there in the first place? Maybe it's a cultural thing but it would behoove the parents to remove the silent Z(?) for the sake of the child.

As a Muslim growing up in the US I was glad that my name was easy to spell and pronounce even if it was an uncommon name. Thankfully my parents gave my siblings easy names too, Eman and Omar. No way to mispronounce them. When my kids were born I tried to give their names the best spelling so they'd be pronounced correctly. Dawood, Zayneb, Salwa, Safiyah. Dawood's teachers sometimes spell it Dawoud or Dawud. Zayneb's is the most troublesome, the Miss actully tried to tell her that she was spelling her name wrong. She'd write Zenab or Zeineb. I finally sent a copy of her US birthcertificate so she'd believe this was the correct spelling. Salwa's is easy and no problem. Safiyah gets Safya or Safiya, I want her to learn to spell her name correctly, so I keep changing it on her books where the teacher writes it wrong.


  1. assalaam alaykum,mona! new reader dropping by..hope you don't mind.
    i share the same sentiments as you. i wonder why make it hard on the child to spell their name,& even harder for people to pronounce them?!
    i,too,spell my kid's names as how it would be correctly pronounced;only to have their teachers mis-spell or mispronounce them (deliberate or not,wallaahu 'alam.)
    i do get a little agitated having to correct five names every now & then. or maybe i should bring a copy of their birth cert like you did? ;)

  2. LOL i agree. my husband's family all have nicknames bc most people here have trouble pronouncing them. rezza=ray, imran=ron, muneer=mo, etc. Z in Noah thoug? cmonnnn

  3. Belle, Glad I'm not alone in that, just keep persisting!

    MJ, Sometimes it just easier to give a nickname but if people really opened their minds and tried those names wounldn't be that hard to say at all.

  4. Mona I have same problem with my oldest ...when I write her name I pronounce it in fusha...but teachers keep writing as pronounced in 'ameya....the thing is my DD says we should stick to what her teachers say...they know best....urgh...

  5. Umelbanat, I know what you mean. My kids say the teacher says MASS not MATH ...I'm like "The teacher is WRONG."

  6. I also hate this trend! The "Z" in Noah is ridiculous! I tried really hard to find a normal, classic-style name for my daughter that would work well in English, French and Arabic. Her name is Nora. I think I accomplished my goal! :D I had considered Norah and Nura or Noura but Nora seemed to be most suitable. To English people, it's an English name, to Arabs, it's Arabic. Other spellings would have made it either English or Arabic only to me.

  7. I gave my daughter a unique name and I thought I made it easy to read but people are always getting it wrong. Its Kya like 'ayah' with a 'k' but people always say Kia (like the car!) or Kay-uh. I guess I didn't do a very good job!

  8. my name is Khadra, and I understand your post more than you know.

    silent H...why????

    I realize in Arabic the H is significant, but in the USA and Canada I am

    Ka Draw

    so why do we need the H?? I wasnt weird enough??! (and let's not even talk about what my last name was, but it included an illegal drug lol!)

  9. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Salams Khlatoo Mona,
    I know , this annoys me too.cuz my name is Mariam and people spell i in other ways like Maryam, or Miriam, or Meriam or Marium.My mom told me that she chose to spell my name with an i (in the right way- Mariam-)because when i was young it was easier for me to write an i then a y. do you get what im sayin??lol.anyway, this post was very interesting!

  10. People should stop torturing their kids. Wassup with the Z in Noah, are you serious? lol!

  11. My oldest daughter is Leila, I kinda wish I had gone with Layla for the spelling, but, haven't had any problems except for one doctor who kept calling her Leela...Oh well.
    A 'z' in Noah? What was that mother thinking?!

  12. Candice, yea it really is ridiculous! I think your daughter's name is just perfect.

    Muslimah, that's how I'd read it too but it's ok. If it really bothers you, you could change it but it's probably a big hassle.

    Khadra, You cracked me up and from the short visit I had to your blog, you seem like my kind of girl!

    Mariam!! I get what you mean, thanks for the comments, always!

    Hijabee, yes, it's child abuse! and Yes I'm serious!

    Melissa, I think both work. Layla's my favorite name, My husband didn't agree but I always wanted a Layla.

  13. I feel the same!! I agonised over my girl's names because I wanted something simple and short in both arabic and english. I called my eldest Hana but in all her birthday cards etc (even from family) they spell it Hannah and it really annoys me!!

    My youngest, Sara, got her name bcz it is the same yet again in english and arabic. I preferred not to put the 'h' at the end so that she is not called 'serra' but rather 'saara' bit thats not working!! She is 7 wks and everyone is already calling her SERRA.

    WHat's one to do?
    growing up I got many variations on my name, but the one that has stuck is Hoooooda (when the d is pronounced as an 'R') and it drives me insane. Houda in arabic is just so beautiful.

    Anyway ... but Z in Noah? that's just too much

  14. some people, they do cares for 'unique'. thats y we get the NzOAH @nZoah???

  15. MyHijab, You spelled your daughters' names the best way for the right pronunciation, but people are used to the typical spellings of Hannah and Sarah, and assume that's you're girls' names.

    Redannna, yea why not be unique and name them a different name?

  16. Anonymous2:12 PM

    hehe.this is a fun topic!rather interesting i would say. Keep up the good work M.M!

  17. Well thanks Anon!

  18. Sonali3:04 PM

    I know a little bit of english and i think that a name being a proper noun can be spelt in mutliple ways.

    Like for example, ALLAH can be spelt as ALLAAH or ALAH or even ALLEH.

    Names are just proper nouns and have many spellings. Hope that answers some doubts.

  19. Sonali, I didn't say people can't spell names as they choose. I chose the spelling of my kids' names I'm just saying that people changing the regular spelling of a child's name just in an attempt to be unique, while that's their prerogative, It's still not unique and makes it confusing for the child and others.

  20. Sonali3:12 PM

    I agree

  21. I'm with you on this. Actually, my hubby and I went to a good deal of trouble to pick names for our boys that work in English and Arabic and have standard spellings.

    For my sister, it wasn't so easy. She had to pick names that work in Arabic, Turkish and English. Turkish came first since she married a Turk and we weren't so much raised as Arab as American. Anywho, they chose Turkish spellings (Sumeyye, Safiyye) so that people would say it right according to their household.

    Well, my dad's an Arab, and this frustrates him. He fought on the spelling and said it should be a romanized Arabic spelling rather than the actual Turkish spelling because they were Arabic names first and so on. Hahahahaha! He's over it now, for the most part. I think he feels his culture has been rejected. And it's hard for my sis (she has a weird name that she's dealt with all her life--a feminized, Franc-ified man's name that is only recently acceptable for Arab women in the mainstream). Ah well. It's such a frustrating thing.

    I should say that I LOVE the names of your dear ones. Esp Salwa. Salma is what we have looked at for a girl, but I actually like Salwa better because people are more willing to not mutilate the pronunciation of that first "a".


  22. Shawna, I think the Turkish spellings make sense phonetically, even if the double y might throw people off.

    Glad you're Dad's over the name spellings, hee! I am now trying to guess your sister's name.

    Thanks for the compliment on the names. We loved the names and 2 of the girls' names happen to me our mothers' names.

  23. What's worse though is hearing a word you think sounds nice and naming your child with it. I remember in the 70s people were naming their kids "Qiana"--you know what qiana is--a type of material!!! Bleeeck!

  24. Lol CW, A new popular name is Nevaeh. Cause it's heaven backwards. It sounds ok, just weird to give a name cause of what it spells backwards. Why not just name the kid Heaven?

  25. "Why not just name the kid Heaven?"

    Ties back into that whole "being unique" thing

  26. Sonali7:18 AM

    By the way, is the ancient Egyptian language and egyptian names no longer in use by the Egyptians, For example, names such as Cleopatra and Tutankhamun.

    It is a little sad if Egypt has come under the influence of Arabic imperialism after having been under the Ottomans for so long.

    Is there a program to revive the Egyptian language or is there no chance?

  27. Yea we should start writing in hieroglyphics too.

  28. sonali - go back to india and worship your elephant god with 6 arms, not eat cows and live under a strict and prejudicial caste system. when you do that we will all go back to worshipping crocodiles, jackels and the sun god Ra before those nasty arab imperialists came and gave us one God..

  29. Sonali2:46 PM


    Ok, i will take your advice.

    What i was trying to get to know is if the egyptian language and culture is no longer in use. It helps to preserve native culture. For example in Australia, even though the europeans were the cause for the extinction of Aboriginal culture, the Prime Minister says "Sorry".

    Any chance of an Arab Representative or an Ottoman Rep saying 'sorry' to native Egyptians if at all they are not completely extinct.

    And Ange, It will help if you lessen your discrimination against people who dont concur with you. You speak about discrimination against the Hijabis; Dont you think that you are discriminating against Indians or Native Egyptians.

  30. Sonali, You are either really stupid or just acting that way. One thing is clear, you are an attention whore with too much time on her hands. Do us all a favor and go away.

  31. Maybe Sonali, just maybe Ange was making a point. Stay with me here. Maybe she was giving you a taste of your own medicine. Bitter isn't it?

  32. native egyptians? WTF?

    srini / sonali (we know u r the same person) - you have far too many a screw loose. im not even bothering and from now on i will delete any comment you make on my blog because you annoy the shit out of not just me, but everyone on my blog.

    dont bother replying back to me because i wont reply back. and when i see your name i will not even bother reading the comment.
    think what you will - i dont give a crap anymore.

  33. Sonali3:29 PM

    Native Egyptians - just like native Australians. What do you mean? Do you mean say that Arabic culture should be the defacto culture througout the middle east, colonize everybody using the name of God and eradicate local cultures.

    I asked an egyptian taxi driver about the native egyptian culture and he told me a lot about the Egyptian language and dynamics of politics over the centuries.

    Anyway, what is WTF? Whatever it is, looks like an important part of yourself.

    the discrimination is not bitter. iam used to it when i speak in extremist islamic circles. iam immunised, so dont even bother. i like it. Motivates me. Bring it on. Moreover, i dont live on dole.

  34. You should really pick one name and stick to it. This makes you seem skitzofrenic, look into it.

    It's obvious you just like to cause trouble and need attention so I'm not going to humor you anymore. If you were seriously looking for answers you wouldn't approach people this way. You've gone completely off the topic of all of the posts you've commented on. If you were really curious you would contact me by email or ask questions in a normal way, but you just want to cause divide and get attention. I won't give you any more.

  35. Mona,

    I have been looking for serious answers. But you seem to have an attitude like "what i say is the final word" and that is blind belief.

    I had a few simple queries which you people are not inclined to think about, because you think that Islam is being questioned. Nothing wrong in questioning Islam or anything else the human mind can percieve of. To question is a characteristic of any free thinking spirit.


  36. Mona, although no one spells my name wrong in general, you wouldn't believe how many people have trouble pronouncing it! You'd think it'd be quite easy, considering there are only 4 letters, but noooo, I get all variations on Jenna, Yana, Jay-na, Jannnnnah (from Muslims), etc. So annoying!

  37. Alhamdulillah, my name is easy to pronounce and spell. Odd thing is, the ones that do have difficulties to spell it are mostly my friends. It can be Haja, Hajja, Hajjar ... :)



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