Yesterday evening, I was fortunate enough to have dinner out with the mother of my child following the rugby, and were joined by some old boys of the club who gave us some interesting insights...
One particularly, a Frenchman, gave us an intriguing sounding board.  There are all the usual tips about selecting names, but these guys' unique world view made for some great conversation.  
One of the girls names we have been discussing, Ava, was met with a look of disdain from our Frenchman... 
Frenchman: You mean like Eva Braun?
Meg: Who?
Frenchman: Hitler's girlfriend.  Well, mistress, actually.  You want to name your child after Hitler's mistress?
Chris: No, Ava, like Ava Gardner.
Meg: Who?

While we haven't totally scratched Ava from our list of potentials yet, it did get us thinking about what names sound like to foreigners.  What else did these people have to offer?
I don't remember how it came up, but the name Jade was discussed, with our Frenchman beautifully enunciating it in the classic style that only the French can...  I think in IPA it would look something like this: ʒədɛ.  In our harsh Australian accents, however, the name Jade comes out incredibly different. And if you've ever heard a Frenchman taking the piss out of the Aussie accent & trying to pronounce "Jade", you'd know juts how different - and hilarious - it sounds.  
So we started thinking about French names, and as we both speak French, it wasn't a far cry of the imagination that a French name was worth considering.  Our mate dropped another few classic French names, like Gaelle and Solenne, which sounded so effortlessly cool when coming from him.  I have to admit how disappointed I was with my thick Aussie twang, which murdered the classiness of these two names.
We also discussed faddish trends with names, and apparently, they apply to the French just as much as anywhere.  "If you meet a Frenchman who is named Eric, you will know that he is born in the '70s.  If you call your child Jacques, he will be born in the 1990s".  There goes the name Jack...  

Our little one will be born here in the Philippines, but will be raised as an Australian, and thus will have an Australian name.  Now we thought this would be a fairly straighforward task; we just have to make sure it doesn't sound too absurd in any other language.


03/11/2013 12:11am

Good Afternoon Expat Dad, What a decision.... your child's name! I actually like the girls name Ava. I find it very interesting how far people subconsciously read into the meanings of another persons name. Furthermore how far will it take them in life. I recently read freakonomics ( an interesting read ) which studied the direct academic and success from a simple name. Example; there were 2 resumes submitted ( exactly the same ) for a vacant job position, one of the resumes was submitted with a " Successful white mans name" and the other a " typical black mans name". Lets just say one received an interview and the other nothing. Obviously, that was a very strong change in names, but the principal was the same even in the same culture. Anyway good luck! MJ


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