Nothing seems to cause quite as much division between couples as choosing a baby name.

You would think two adults could reach an amicable compromise for something as important as naming a child 🙂

Well, for some, choosing a name can be one of the hardest tasks in preparing for a baby.

Some couples have lengthy, not to mention heated, discussions over the dinner table for weeks on end.

Whereas others are so organized that they have their names worked out even before their baby’s conception.

But the latter situation is quite rare.

It is usually a lengthy process which needs to be thought over carefully.

And when you factor in two parents of different nationalities, coming up with a bilingual baby name can be even harder.

Our daughter is Russian and English, so obviously we wanted a name which sounded nice in both languages.

Not an easy task I can assure you, and this made the process a lot more challenging!

We came up with Yesenia, Liliya, Sasha (which is also my wife’s name…this was one of her suggestions, which I quickly dismissed!), Andrea and Mia.

My wife liked Yesenia a lot, as this name had a connection with her family, but to me, it just didn’t sound right in English.

In the end, we settled on Mia.

It translates easily into the Russian Cyrillic alphabet (мия). This will turn out to be very useful when we apply for a Russian passport, as well as her UK one.

If you are lucky and come up with a name quickly, then I say hats off to you.

And to be honest, I feel the process for coming up with some bilingual baby names is essentially the same as in monolingual households. You just need to pick something which sounds nice in both languages.

So are there any specific methods to help you in the baby naming process?

The following tips will hopefully help you…

a) Compiling a list of the best bilingual baby names

Your first task should be to form some sort of list. Try to limit you options to first initials, ending sounds, or any names that connect you and your other half to memorable experiences, personal history or traditions.

You can try to list some locations you’ve visited and see if they work as names e.g. Paris, Sydney or Alexandria.

Using these methods, you may be able to easily form a list of 20-30 names.  However, if you find this narrows your options too much, try widening your search by using more first initials, ending sounds etc.

You can also try http://www.nymbler.com to generate an initial list.  You simply enter one name and it intelligently works out a similar set of names based on your taste. It generally works quite well for most common names.

Failing that, ask friends or family members if they can offer any suggestions. However, only go for this option as a last resort. Depending on your relationship with the in-laws, this can certainly lead to more arguments over the dinner table!

bilingual baby names | photo

b) Some important considerations…

1) Make sure it sounds good with your last name

When you are thinking of some meaningful baby names, make sure you like how it sounds with your last name. You often wonder what Mr and Mrs Dover are thinking when name their son Ben, or when Mr and Mrs Greene call their baby girl Teresa.

I’ll leave you to say those names out loud.

I’m sure we’ve all met or heard people with similar ridiculous sounding names.

2) Does the name age well?

Tastes change remarkably quickly, but you don’t get many pensioners called Chloe or Ethan and you don’t find many babies called Gillian or Charles. However, names like Michael and Elizabeth have been consistently popular (in the US) for the past 50 years.

Ask yourself. Can I picture my baby as a middle-aged Jack, or pensioner called Jill? If so, then you might be on to a winner.

3) Can the name be shortened?

Think of all the possible nicknames for those on your list. Do you like the sound of them by themselves and with your surname?

Would you like to hear your baby Elizabeth called Lizzy, Libby or Liz?

baby photo

4) Are there many different ways to spell the name?

Some names have some common variants in terms of spelling.

If you decide to go with Ashlee, then you may have to correct people from time to time. You might see the name written down as Ashley, Ashli, Ashleigh or Ashlie.

Nowadays, it has become fashionable to use unusual spellings for baby names. Parents don’t want their child to have the same name as another. If they can’t think of a unique name, then it seems an unusual spelling is the next best thing. For example, Danyal instead of Daniel, Melyndda instead of Melinda,  and Caytie as an alternative to Katie.

5) If you’re expecting twins, do the names sound good with each other?

You don’t want them to sound too similar but they should definitely complement each other when you say them as a pair.

6) Do you want your child to have the same initials as you or your partner?

Ok so this is a fairly minor point, but if a boy has the same initials as his dad then receiving letters addressed to Mr J Smith might become annoying once he starts to receive his own mail.

7) Think about the school bully!

Finally, you should need to think about the one person who can make your child’s life a misery, the dreaded school bully!

There’s always one in every class and they will look for any weaknesses in the other pupils, and having a name which rhymes with a rude or funny word is asking for trouble!

Poor old Ben Dover might be in for rough ride!

baby photo

Making a final decision

Once you have formed some sort of list, what then?

Well as you can imagine, compromise is key.

The matching list method can work well in reaching a decision and uses the process of elimination to come up with a result.

Make a list of 5-10 names in order of preference (use a separate list if you don’t know the sex yet).

You then simply remove any names that your partner objects to and then you should, hopefully, be left with a name that occurs on both your lists.

What bilingual baby name did you come up with for your child? Was it an easy decision between you and your partner?