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Should Twins Share an Initial and a Birthday?

I am expecting identical twin girls in my third pregnancy and am stuck on the names Isla and Ines. They are names we love individually and were second choices for our older children (Zac and Ava). They fit well with our family style. However, I'm worried about the girls sharing a first initial when they will also be identical and share a birthday.

I have studied baby name websites, twin forums, and books. We like some other names (Hazel, Ivy, Violet, Esme) but not as much as Isla and Ines. Am I setting them up for unnecessary conflicts as they grow up with confusion over their names along with other twin problems?

–Twin Mom-to-Be

Your hesitation makes sense. Both Isla and Ines are short, foreign-feeling, and breezy in addition to sharing that striking initial letter. There's a certain matched quality to the pairing that's reason for pause. You may be envisioning one elementary-school teacher after another struggling for nine months to tell your girls apart. Or worse, that you'll unwittingly communicate to the world and to your daughters that they are, first and foremost, a set, interchangeable and paired rather than individual.

That said, being a twin, especially an identical twin, is an important bond that your daughters will share throughout their lives. It's okay to acknowledge that unusually close tie through linked names as long as you make an effort to avoid creating unnecessary confusion and love each name independently, as I've written before.

To my mind, Isla and Ines pass this test. Yes, they look quite similar, even down to the same number of letters. But, crucially, they sound very different. Isla is a liquid raindrop name, Ines more melodious, almost hummed. Isla charges forward with a stressed first syllable while Ines lingers, coaxing her way to emphasize her final syllable. They also feel very different. The Scottish Isla is right in fashion, zooming up the name charts over the past five years, but the more contrarian Ines (the Portuguese and Italian spelling) hasn't featured in the top-1000 names since the 1920s. Check out their graphs in the NameVoyager for a clear visual demonstration. And imagine swapping Ines for Ivy, also on your list. It's much more akin to Isla in both sound and feel.

Similar but different, Isla and Ines are in some ways the perfect twin names. But it's your equal love for both of them, together or apart, that really sells me on the duo—and I'm guessing it will also convince you, too.

Comments

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August 28, 2017 11:18 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm generally not a fan of matching first initials for twins, primarily based on negative feedback from twins I've known IRL. However, I don't think it's the worse thing in the world either. The twins I've known with matching initials didn't like it, but it tended to fall pretty low compared to other twin things they weren't happy about.

What I noticed initially with Isla & Ines is you have one very trendy/flowy name with more modern usage in the U.S. and another that is much less trendy, perhaps even a bit "fusty/old lady" still. Looking at all of the siblings together, I think Ines is the odd man out as far as current usage of the name.

Looking at your longer list, I'd probably group Isla with something like Esme. Ivy & Violet sound too similar to my ear. Hazel could work, but sounds a bit harsh next to the more flowy, syllable heavy Isla.

From your list, I'd say Hazel feels closest to Ines for me, but not quite a match. Hazel & Inez could be cute, I like that the shared Z is a more subtle link between the names. However, Hazel is more vintage revival, while I think Ines/Inez is more vintage/not quite ready for a comeback. I'd probably group Ines more with names like Vera, Mabel & Irene. Vintage, but with a diner feel-and leaning perhaps a bit more hipster than the other names on your list.

August 28, 2017 1:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think it is a big deal; then ones I know with same initials don't really care. If those are the names you like best then I think you should go with them, rather than give one twin a "second best" name.

August 28, 2017 8:51 PM
By Juli (not verified)

If you're pronouncing Isla as /eye-la/, then perhaps you could spell it Aila instead? Either that, or use Agnes instead of its Spanish form Ines. Aila and Ines, Isla and Agnes. Yes, this way one twin would share an initial with her older sister, but at least they wouldn't also share a birthday.

I'm an identical twin, but thankfully our parents always treated us as individuals, starting with our names. However, as the older daughter (by three entire minutes! ), I got my mother's all-time favorite name ever: her own. This means that I Know All About bureaucratic identity confusion, and the importance of birthdates in sorting them out. I can very well imagine the absolute nightmare that would result from names as visually similar as Ines and Isla attached to the same surname, address, _and_ birthdate. What if they needed different prescriptions at the same time (say, an antihistamine for one and an antibiotic for the other) -- would you be willing to trust that the pharmacist got them right? I sure wouldn't.

August 29, 2017 2:10 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Juli makes some good points, ad she would know! I like your style. Maybe there something in your family tree that would solidify meaningful choices... I would keep honing in on your options. Though it's hard to predict the future, Isla seems like it will get more attention and be more popular and I would be torn more so at creating such an outlier with who ever makes an entrance second. Maybe it's that you like Isla and Inez together like first and middle name. Now since you know your tastes, think of another combo as strong and keen. I know you can do it! :) There's a lot of good reasons for sure!

August 29, 2017 2:11 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Juli makes some good points, ad she would know! I like your style. Maybe there something in your family tree that would solidify meaningful choices... I would keep honing in on your options. Though it's hard to predict the future, Isla seems like it will get more attention and be more popular and I would be torn more so at creating such an outlier with who ever makes an entrance second. Maybe it's that you like Isla and Inez together like first and middle name. Now since you know your tastes, think of another combo as strong and keen. I know you can do it! :) There's a lot of good reasons for sure!

August 30, 2017 12:20 PM
By AnneV (not verified)

Ines & Edna
Ines & Esme
Ines & Etta
Ines & Eula

Sorry, I am just not a fan of the trendy Isla. Even Ines & Iris would be better, although much more "matchy."

Good luck!

August 30, 2017 1:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I would vote Ayla and Ines

August 30, 2017 2:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with the Name Lady's advice. Superficially the names are similar, but they don't seem matchy at all.

Changing the spelling of Isla is a smart idea, but unfortunately I don't think there are any alternate spellings that would definitely indicate the intended pronunciation.

Adjusting Ines to Inez might help, though, as long as you like the 'z' (I prefer it, personally).

August 31, 2017 7:38 AM
By Juli (not verified)

More on the topic of spelling /eye-la/: while Isla _should_ be pronounced this way, it isn't always, so the fact that Aila (a Finnish form of Helga) may be mispronounced is hardly relevant.

I really, really don't recommend two four-letter names starting with I for twins. It's a recipe for Big Hurt.

September 2, 2017 10:48 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

(...Changing the spelling from the forefront Isla to Ayla is not going to make this whole thing any *less* confusing, I must say.)

September 5, 2017 10:30 AM
By Christi with an i (not verified)

I'm not sure where everyone is getting the Ayla pronunciation of Isla. I have always pronounced it IS-la.

September 5, 2017 1:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Christi with an i: The name Isla comes from Scottish, not Spanish, and is pronounced eye-la.

Ayla doesn't get that pronunciation either, though.

September 6, 2017 9:34 AM
By Juli (not verified)

In Spanish, Isla is /eez-la/, derived from Isabella. In English, it's /eye-la/, derived from a Scottish placename or the word 'island'. Hence my question and suggestion above: if the OP intends the /eye-la/ pronunciation, then a variant spelling like Aila would be a good option, especially because it would remove the matching initials problem.

Ayla is not as good as a respelling, because Clan of the Cave Bear strongly associates the /ay/ like in 'say' pronunciation with it.

Yes, Aila's pronunciation can be ambiguous, but demonstrably, so can Isla's, so that's not a reason to choose one over the other.

September 14, 2017 7:10 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I claim no knowledge of pronunciation elsewhere, but, in the southern US, I pronounce Isla as EYE-la and Ines as ee-NESS. So, to me, there's no problem with matchiness. One starts with a long I sound, one a long E. One is accented on the first syllable, one on the second. Technically, they both start with the same letter, but there the similarity ends. If you didn't see them written, they'd be completely different.
I say, if these are the favorite names, go with them.

September 14, 2017 10:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The pronounciation is more what gets me: I'm struggling over is it Eyes-la and Eyens, Is-la and Eeenes? Some parents love matchy-matchy twins, others are into emphasizing their differences. It's just a personal preference and no one should get worked up over it.

September 14, 2017 10:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I also wanted to note that Isla does sound feminine and Ines sounds more masculine. Almost like naming them Isabelle and Ira. So the problem may not be they are too matchy but that they might not coordinate enough?

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