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Baby’s name sparks issue within family

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My family is Irish and my brother and his wife named their baby daughter “Aisling,” a rather traditional name. The name is pronounced similar to “Ashley” traditionally, but they are pronouncing it “A-zling.” My father insists on using the traditional pronunciation, arguing that it’s important for a connection to the Old Country and family heritage. He says that when she grows up and has friends he will call her “A-zling” in front of them, but that it’s OK for our side of the family to call her “Ashley.”

I haven’t talked to my brother about this, and I know it’s their call, but my father has asked me whether he’s way out of line.

Baby Name Clash

I wouldn’t call this a “clash” – your father is asking whether he’s out of line! If names are an EQ test, he’s at least in the upper quartile.

Because this isn’t a disaster by any stretch, I think it’s fine to give an opinion you’re being begged to give. For what it’s worth, what you have already told your father – that you see his working it out with his son as the highest priority, above any issues of heritage or pronunciation – is, in fact, an opinion. But you can certainly go beyond that and say what you think of his decision to act unilaterally as spokesman for the Old Country.

I do hope someone is speaking up for the child, since her opinion is the one that counts most here, and she will eventually be old enough to voice it.

Re: Name: The kid’s name is “A-zling.” That’s what you call her. You don’t get to pronounce it however you want. I think Jennifer should be pronounced Jen-ih-fer, but if Jennifer’s parents pronounce it Jeh-knifer, who am I to say any different?

Anonymous

That’s your opinion, which you are welcome to convey to this father.

I am so naming my next dog Jeh-knifer. As spelled.

Re: Name: My name is Annah. I added the “h” to the end but my mum doesn’t add it when she writes to me – no hissy fit from me. My grandma pronounced it as “Aaaana” – no hissy fit from me. When I moved to the United States, co-workers pronounced it the American way using an American accent – no hissy fit from me.

Anonymous 2

Re: Name: I thought the idea of the Grandpa being the only one who calls her the traditional pronunciation was sweet and charming – like having a special, private nickname that’s not something weird or embarrassing.

Anonymous 3

If grandpa is one for power plays, it’s a power play, and if he’s one to find a way to make everyone he loves feel special, then it’s sweet and charming.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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