You're smart to zero in on the point where first and last names meet. Like intersections in a roadway or joints in a body, name junctions are natural trouble spots. The key is to recognize possible sources of friction.
As you suspected, some names twist the tongue when they bump up against each other. Trying to pronounce a name junction like Herb Frumkin puts your mouth through its paces. Other junctions can lead to letter transfers, in which the listener mistakes where one name ends and the other begins. Kent Racey, for instance, will frequently be heard as Ken Tracey.
I don’t know what middle name to use with Jessimine. I've also considered Juliet as a first name. I want to stick to a J name. I know that I am young to be making this decision on my own, so I need another opinion. Should I change my name, and what should my new name be?
- Just Jessie
You sound like a wise young lady and, after much time and consideration, you’ve come up with a very reasonable plan. Better yet, your parents are on board too. That is lovely; many would-be name-changers don't enjoy that kind of support. So I think you should go for it.
- Junior without a Senior
Juniors, 3rds and beyond are all about tradition. That makes them the most rule-bound corner of the baby name world, a place where a George W. Bush is decidedly not "George H. W. Bush Jr."
Most of the namesake rules are throwbacks to an old patriarchal social order. So not surprisingly, these old rules have little to say about your very modern family naming dilemma. The good news is that even in the hidebound world of namesakes, "rules" are trumped by the dictates of love, kindness and common sense.
No matter how much you have in common with your partner, there will always be places where your tastes diverge. Perhaps you're more of a sports fan; perhaps he's more of a meat eater. Most often, we learn to accept our differences -- sometimes even enjoy them. And we find ways to compromise (barbecue with the game, anyone?)
When it comes to naming a baby, though, consensus is required and compromise can seem impossible. You're choosing a single name to represent your child to the world. You either like it or you don't.
- Making it All About Me?
In naming, the lines between family traditions and narcissism can get a little blurry. Some people think naming a son Junior is unforgivably egotistical, others that it’s classic and charmingly old-fashioned. But until we cross over into George Foreman territory (five sons named George!), it’s pretty clear that differences of opinion on family names are just that—opinions. Everyone’s entitled to one, no one is objectively right.
--North Carolina Mama
It’s true that two-for-one first names are still much more common in the South than elsewhere in the U.S. So if you think you’ll be staying in the region, a double name will not likely draw any double takes. Even outside the South, Americans are certainly familiar with these double names, thanks to celebrities like Mary-Kate Olsen and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Halle Berry even gave her son a hyphenated double name, in the French style.
- Hopefully Not a Thief
Like many emotional "crimes," name thievery is a highly subjective business. Some people are flattered when friends and family choose their name, while others are outraged. Even my most standard advice -- when in doubt, just ask -- isn't foolproof. The most name-sensitive among us can be offended by the mere question.
Yet even on this slippery ground, there are some rules of thumb:
--Who’s On First?
I see a couple of solutions to your dilemma. A simple way out would be to switch the babies’ first names only. The "firstborn" would be Dexter Blayz, and his brother would be Calder James. Everyone wins: the tradition is upheld, and the boys’ first names match with your sense of each one’s look and personality.
But...is the stigma about Benedict Arnold still too strong? Would people assume he's named after the former Pope? Would people think I'm jumping on the celebrity bandwagon because of Benedict Cumberbatch (coincidentally I'm a big fan)? Where does the name Benedict stand today?
- No Stigmas Please
It's a funny thing about name "stigmas." The more of them you have, the less they stick.
Benedict has long conjured up two different images: turncoat general Benedict Arnold, and breakfast classic Eggs Benedict. That's a powerful pair of associations, neither of which do the name any favors. Then Pope Benedict XVI brought Benedict into our daily news. His 2005 inauguration prompted a small spike in baby namesakes, but it also discouraged some parents who did not want their child's name linked to the pontiff.
- Coach's Mom
So, your husband didn't mention that legendary coach Tom Landry was the inspiration for the name Landry? Not to be a tattletale, but that's not the only football name he slipped past you. Cade took a huge popularity leap in the late 1990s thanks to quarterback Cade McNown.