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With Baby Names, Everyone's Got Something To Say

Ashley? Francis? Taylor? Who are you, baby? hide caption

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Ashley? Francis? Taylor? Who are you, baby?

Baby names — and, thus, the names we carry with us through childhood and adulthood — is one of those perennial topics, the kind of conversation that gets everyone talking. We even did a show on it a few years ago, featuring guests Strawberry Saroyan and Gayman Wong. Yup. That show aired in the days before commenting on stories, but it certainly would have prompted a ton.

Right now, the story drawing eyeballs is on the Motherlode blog at The New York Times. There, Lisa Belkin poses the age-old question, "What's in a name?" and lays out some of the possible pitfalls when selecting a name for a forthcoming child. What if it has an unintended nickname, what if the relative whose name we choose is not a great person, what if it just doesn't fit the baby who arrives? There's a small gift in the comments, from Piet S. from Berlin. Per his comment, he and his wife were torn on what to name their second child. Piet prefered Bijan, his wife, Zev.

So we compromised with Zev-bijan. My problem is, I still think of him as Bijan, even though we never use it. Two other problems arose with the name, both of which should have been forseeable, but I chalk it up to the stress of the time. The first is, that Zev-bijan sounds like an western Russian province, but that is mitigated by the fact that we almost always use the shorter Zev. The second is that Germans pronounce a Z as TS and a V as our F. So his name in the mouth of every German turns into Tseff, which is much harder and percussive and, frankly not what we intended.

And then, Piet makes a lovely little discovery:

But in the end, I've learned to like Zev, and call him Bijan just between he and I, which, as I realize for the first time right now, is kind of beautiful.

It really is.