Trying to find the perfect baby name for our little French American girl has been quite a challenge. What is current in one country does not seem to be current in the other.
Since she will be growing up in France, we placed a higher priority on giving her a name that will help her fit in here. Luckily, many French baby names are trendy in the USA – just agreeing on one is the problem!
French mothers throughout history have had strict requirements for naming their babies. They are still not able to have complete freedom of choosing a baby name in France. In the 18th century, children could only be named after saints in the Roman Catholic calendar, such as Jacques, Jean, Michel, Pierre, Jean-Baptiste, Marie, Jeanne, Marguerite, Françoise and Élisabeth. In some cases they could be named after famous historical French men or women.
The government started allowing parents to name their children after mythological, regional or foreign names in 1966. Then in 1993, parents were finally able to name their children freely as they wished – unless the name was considered to be detrimental to the child’s future. The birth registrar has the power to refuse names that he thinks will be harmful to the child. In the event of rejection, parents have to go to local court in order to plead their case.
First names consist of either one or two names. The first name gives indication of the gender, while the second can be of the opposite sex. For example, a boy’s name can be Jean-Marie or a girl’s name Marie-George.
Short names are gaining in popularity. We are seeing less children named Alexandre or Nathalie, and more names like Lucas or Clara. Girls are increasingly given names that end with an “a,” and boy with an “eo.” For example, girls names like Emma, Léa and Lina; and boys names like Léo, Théo and Mathéo.
American names are no longer popular, as they were overused in the 1990s. In fact, some American names are considered to indicate the child comes from a lower class family. There goes some of my top choice baby names! Italian, Greek, Spanish and Irish names are becoming increasingly common. This includes names like Carla, Yanis, Lola and Kylian.
There is some debate on whether using a foreign first name could hurt the child’s chances for finding higher positions, or receiving higher pay when entering the workforce. I am not saying to bypass foreign names, just that it may be wise to reconsider any name that it too unique in France.
Trendy Girls Names: Emma, Chloé, Clara, Sara, Léa, Inès, Jade, Manon, Maëlys, Lola, Lina, Camille, Lilou, Lucie, Louise, Maud, Romane and Inaîs.
Trendy Boys Names : Lucas, Maël, Mathis, Mathéo, Enzo, Nathan, Noah, Raphaël, Louis, Kylian, Théo, Yanis, Gabriel, Evan, Maxime, Clément and Arthur.
It is common in the USA to have a middle name, whereas in France there can be one or more “middle” name. Traditionally the middle names are those of the child’s godparents. Now they usually either honor family members, or are names the parents could not decide between when choosing the first name.
Middle names do not have to be sex specific. For instance, it is common for men to have middle names, such as Anne and Mairie – especially if keeping with the tradition of using the names of the godparents as middle names.
The middle names are only used for official documents, otherwise they are kept private. It is common to use middle names in the USA, or to use its first initial. Emma Mairie Depardieu would be simply Emma Depardieu in France.
Only since 2005 have parents been able to choose which last name the child will carry. The child always took the last name of the father, except if father was unknown or unwilling to recognize the child. In those cases, the child was given the mother’s last name.
Now children can be given mother’s last name or a hyphenated combination of both last names. If the parents cannot agree on the last name, the father’s name will be used.
Our Princess’s French Baby Name…
We are about 90 percent sure on what we are going to name her, but still searching for additional choices. We would like to have about 2 to 3 names selected by the time she is born, then opt for the name that fits her the best. After some debate, we decided that we are going to keep the first name a secret until she enters this world.
While I love how in the USA a middle name is used to really add to the first name, such as with my niece Sophia Margaret, I do like the idea of two middle names to honor two people in our family. We decided that they will be the first names of our mothers. The order will be determined after we choose her first name so that it sounds as smooth as possible. Her middle names will be Carolyn and Genevieve. Two strong women for her to look up to.
Since I decided to take my husband’s last name when we were married, her last name will simply be my husband’s as well. At least we had one easy decision there!
Image Credit: _Nezemnaya_ on Flickr.com