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They Say My Name is Wrong!

Dear Name Lady, I was wondering how you feel about spelling variations on baby names? Whenever I've asked people on name forums I've been told that my name is "spelled wrong," "it's trying too hard to be different," and the most hurtful, "it's a boy's name." For a while, I was embarrassed to even share my name anywhere near a baby name forum. I didn't want people to think my parents were uneducated because they liked a different spelling. The odd thing is I have never had a big problem with insults and things about my name when I introduce myself in person. I usually get compliments on it's uniqueness and even the "funky" spelling. Are spelling variations ever okay? - Jourden

Of course spelling variations can be okay. Is there anything objectionable about Catherine or Katherine? Granted, all variations are not created equal. The Katherines have a leg up by dint of tradition. Other twists are also well accepted, like the -ine to -yn seen in names like Madelyn and Jaclyn. The more unusual the twist, though, the more opinions will be divided.

That's not to say ultra-creatively spelled names are "wrong" or "bad." They're just aggressively, deliberately unconventional.

Whenever you make a strong fashion statement, you know what you're in for...right? You're following your own bliss, and not necessarily pleasing the masses. Most parents who choose an unorthodox spelling want to go out on that limb, seeking the little something special that will make their baby's name stand out.

Some children with unconventional names embrace their distinctiveness. Others wish they didn't have to keep re-spelling and explaining themselves. And some hover in between, not quite certain of their own feelings about their names and nervous about how they come across to others.

I suspect it's that uncertainty that led you to seek name affirmation from the anonymous internet. But, honey, you have to step away from the messageboards. You're just cruising for a bruising. When you ask for opinions, you get them -- and when it comes to your own name, one mean-spirited comment in a sea of politeness can be enough to leave a bruise. Worse yet, unmoderated baby name forums can attract nasty little trolls who exist only to insult. (Thank you, dearest readers, for keeping this site and our sister site largely free of the insult plague.)

Jourden, the plain fact is that your name is unusual. A dozen other spellings of Jordan are more common. So what? It's not unappealing, it's not confusing to pronounce, and you've always had a good experience with it in real life. What you need now is to accept your name and embrace it yourself. Your own good opinion of yourself is an essential foundation for going forth and facing life's trolls. Be Jourden, and be happy.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

September 6, 2011 9:09 AM
By Kristin (not verified)

I agree with the Name Lady! Anyway, once a name is bestowed, there is no point criticizing it. If you are trying to warn a mother-to-be away from a potentially awful name, it might (depending on the circumstances - like whether she ASKED for your opinion) be acceptable to POLITELY mention some drawbacks. But to insult a name already given is just tacky, no matter what. And anyway, Jourden is not nearly as unusual a spelling as many that are popular right now.

September 6, 2011 11:26 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Jourden is fine. It is spelled uniquely, but you still know how to pronounce it. I actually sort of understand why they did it--it looks kind of pretty that way. I saw a name on a baby name board once that was "Knykole." It took me forever to figure out that it was supposed to be pronounced like "Nicole." I can't say I was a fan of that one.

September 6, 2011 11:51 AM
By Allison (not verified)

I can't say I like the name, but it's easy to figure out... like Anon above - I once saw a "Khenydi" and it took me a long time to get "Kennedy" out of that.

If it bugs you that much, you can change the spelling easy enough. Otherwise, I agree - leave the messageboards alone!

September 6, 2011 11:53 AM
By kiki (not verified)

The spelling Jourden makes me think of the word journey, like "the journey of life" or something. I don't know. It's not necessarily the spelling I would choose but it certainly has an understandable appeal.

September 6, 2011 12:12 PM
By Jenn (not verified)

Agreed! The spelling is visually pretty, I like the 'journey'-connotation and I LOVE the name - years ago, Jordan was at the top of my list for a girl! So yes, FORGET about the messagboards that are full of hates and people who need to make other people feel bad to make themselves feel good. And seriously forget anyone who tells you that you have a man's name because they are obviously rigid, stunted people who can't think outside of the box. It's high time you OWN your name and it's spelling and just shake your head at people who think you need their input on it. I would absolutely wear your name with major pride - I love it!!

September 6, 2011 12:13 PM
By Paula (not verified)

Jourden is close enough to more common spellings that it shouldn't draw rude comments, etc. In fact, there is NO EXCUSE for rude comments about a person's name - a name that individual's parents gave him/her, meaning the individual with the name has no control over it!

But really unusual spellings/pronunciations are bound to bring on raised eyebrows, which is why I wish parents would THINK about their child's feelings before getting too "out there" with names. The popular Brittany has plenty of spelling variations - Britany, Britney, etc., and I've even seen it with a "ee" or an "ie" on the end. But I once saw it spelled "Brytny," and all I could think was "poor child"! And it seems like not too long ago, I saw something on one of these websites about a child's name spelled Bethany but pronounced like Brittany! That sounds more like parents who couldn't spell than just wanting to be original! Over the weekend, I saw something on TV about someone who's name was spelled Alyssa, and reading it, I'd guess it to be pronounced "Ah-LISS-ah." However, the narrator of this TV show (this was on Investigation Discovery - sadly, Alyssa was a murder victim) kept pronouncing the name "Ah-LEESH-ah," as if it were spelled Alicia. Sounds like the parents of Bethany-called-Brittany and Alyssa-called-Alicia needed to check their spelling!

September 6, 2011 12:55 PM
By moonlady (not verified)

I've noticed that some name enthusiasts are sticklers for spelling names in a traditional way. For example, there is the insistence that how you spell the name Leslie/Lesley determines whether it is a masculine or feminine name (honestly I forget which is which, I only learned about it by reading these posts). There are plenty of names that people think need to be spelled a certain way to be "correct".

Maybe the problem is that, once a name is bestowed, it is officially a name, whether others like it or not. In my opinion, that means it can't be "wrong", it simply IS.

September 6, 2011 1:21 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My mother named me Pamala (instead of the more conventional Pamela). I always tell people that it has made me be a person who is not afraid to speak up and nicely correct others who misspell it. It's most frustrating when they are looking at it spelled correctly and copy it wrong. I enjoy my unique name- it's been a conversation starter and makes me unique. By the way- I named my daughter Anna- but it's pronounced in the German fashion- "Ah-na"

September 6, 2011 2:01 PM
By charly (not verified)

If I met you in person I'd initially pronounce it à la française: zhourDEN. "jour" means day in French, and -en is a common suffix (Adrien, Vivien)

September 6, 2011 2:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I don't care for it, but it's not my baby. If you love it then go with it. The only opinion that matters is yours and the baby's daddy. So do what makes YOU happy and forget about all of those internet people that you don't know and will never meet.

September 6, 2011 7:06 PM
By Kelcee (not verified)

I don't classify many names as unisex. However, if there were ever a name that would be on the list, Jordan would be it. I don't really go for the 'unique' spellings, but I don't see yours as horrible. What I don't like is when people add unnecessary y's and k's and h's. I wish my name were spelled properly, but I know that if I legally change the spelling it is going to create alot of confusion and it would upset my parents. I especially like the previous suggestion of pronouncing it zhour-DEN.

September 6, 2011 8:05 PM
By Juulie with two u's (not verified)

Your name can only be wrong if YOU think it's wrong. Ultimately there is no right or wrong (well, I suppose there might be, but not basically), because your name means YOU and no one else. So if anyone criticizes you should feel sorry for them, since they just don't understand how wonderful you are! Stay away from asking others' opinions. Just decide how YOU feel and act accordingly. At least in the area of names. I kinda like it, though. But then I planned to name one of my babies M'Wren if it was a girl. How do you think people would have felt about that?!?!

September 6, 2011 8:19 PM
By Maigen NOT Megan (not verified)

I so feel your pain. My parents didn't even set out to be unique or anything - they were just trying to avoid me being called Meg. Ugh, it used to piss me off! I used to ask, so, the reason you didn't choose a different name entirely was??? Mom said, We just LOVED Megan, but hated MEG!

Own it, love it and who cares about the haters. I like to think to myself how cool is it that I'm one of only a handful of people with my first name. And combined with my common but oddly spelled surname, I may be the only person in the WORLD with my name. Now that's cool.

September 7, 2011 2:08 AM
By Kathryn (not verified)

To Anonymous:
It's not her baby's name, it's HER name!

September 7, 2011 9:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I honestly don't understand the point of creatively spelled names. They sound the same as the standard spelling, so when they are spoken there's no way to differentiate. The teacher is still going to have to resort to adding the last initial so everyone will know who they're calling on. When it's seen in print it tends to cause confusion, and sets the child up for a lifetime of spelling and explaining. What's the point? If you like the way a name sounds, then spell it correctly. If you want your child's name to stand out, then use an uncommon name.

September 7, 2011 12:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a friend whose daughter is about 20 yrs old. Her name is Jourdan... so you're not alone (unless you are her).

I think on a female the U is a nice twist to the 'unisexness' of the name from the 90's popularity.

Some people are just rude. Ignore them! IF they want to think your parents were uneducated, let them... IF they want to think you're trying to hard, let them (You didn't name yourself).

*To Maigen... If I have a second daughter she will be Mehgan. I get people telling me the H is in the wrong place but it has meaning for me to be there.

September 7, 2011 2:32 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You might want to reconsider that spelling. "Meh" is pretty universal slang for "eh, whatever." It's an expression of apathy, indifference, or boredom.

September 7, 2011 8:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Alternate spellings are fine as long as they are linguistically based - meaning, they come from different translations of the same name or root word in different languages. Both practically and aesthetically I am not a fan of "creative" spellings just because or just to be unique. If you want to be unique just pick a name that's less popular; there are a million lovely choices without resorting to spelling murder.
I knew someone named Thersa (pronounced "Theresa") b/c her mother misspelled it on the birth certificate. All the creative spellers out there are in danger of being lumped together with the actual misspellers: choosing to be different = actually not knowing how to spell. Just my opinion. By the way, in your original post Jourden, it should be "its" not "it's."

September 8, 2011 10:55 AM
By Lauren (not verified)

When I moved out west, I didn't realize that there would be male Loren's out there who pronounce their name just like mine (verses the feminine "La-ren" sound) and had some people say I wasn't pronouncing my name correctly either. There just isn't pleasing some people.

September 8, 2011 12:20 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think it's just a fact that "kreativ" spellings make parents look less intelligent. People are glossing over this, but that is just what most people's gut reaction is when viewing a "kreativ" name spelling, and no amount of sugar-coating can change the fact that this is, indeed, the most common perception.

September 8, 2011 6:44 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Regardless of whether the people disparaging her name are meanie poo-poo heads, the amount of angst this poor girl is going through because of it should serve as a warning to anyone considering a gender-bending and/or "creatively" spelled name for a future child.

September 21, 2011 1:53 PM
By Alison (not verified)

Jourden, I agree with Laura - it is probably best to stay out of the messageboards. In person, people will generally be polite. If you were named Shythead, most would coo about how pretty and unique it was to your face. On a messageboard, you get people's true feelings. If you don't want to know how most people would feel about a name (especially those who are really interested in names), don't ask!

September 29, 2011 8:46 PM
By Sasha (not verified)

I'm in agreement with Charly; your name just looks like a French variant of "Jordan" to me. Which of course means it looks interesting and fine as a name:)
For some reason I don't like androgynous names (I mean for my own children; they are fine on friends and other people). But I really love giving girls boys' names. So if someone told me my name was a boy's name I would say "thank you!"

October 12, 2011 2:06 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think jourdan is lovely! Keep it with confidence!

Ive had one or two people think I gave my child a "made up" version of Aaraon - my boy is Arran - and Ive had to explain that no, Arran is a Scottish Island, a a name of its own right - but its unique and I love it!

October 15, 2011 2:07 PM
By Shawn (not verified)

Being a female named Shawn I can sympathize. I was teased mercilessly as a child, and still get some guff as adult. Most spelling variations are do to language differences, like changing a hard C in the Celtic language to K in the German language. Standard spelling wasn't common back in the day, but it is now, so I don't see people's reactions changing regarding your spelling.

October 16, 2011 2:43 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have a name that is spelled creatively, but changes the way people pronounce it when they see it written out. It has been so annoying my whole life. I have started the steps to change the spelling, but got to an obstacle that I just don't have the energy for right now.

Bottom line, I wish parents would realize that their child will have to get a job and put their name on applications and resumes! In an attempt to be different, we are giving babies names that would just be terrible to grow up with. I am not referring to Jourdan.

For spelling, I say if you are using a name that is common or traditional, just go with the common/traditional spelling. Spelling a common name in a unique way does NOT make you more creative or your baby's name any better than the original. I wish people would stop adding y's everywhere. And think about how the name looks to other people. Just make sure that if it's something that will be mispronounced, that it will at least be an acceptable name still to be called.

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