Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spelling Variations: Which are Legit and Which are Excessive?

Some names only offer one or two simple, accepted spellings and very little room to be creative. Short names like Ruth or Hope are not easily tweaked, but other names like Caitlin, Catelyn, Kaitlyn, Katelynne, etc, can have many different potential spellings.

The question is, which of these are easy to live with and which might only lead to confusion?

If you think about it, the Top 1000 chart contains fewer than 1000 distinctive names. Hear me out. Take for example the name Madelyn.  It ranks at #59, which is even higher than the more standard spelling of Madeline (#90).

However just within the Top 1000, there is also Madeleine (#301), Madilyn (#315), Madelynn (#415), Madilynn (#497), Madalyn (#570), and Madalynn (#685) which are all essentially the same thing.  They sound alike but they are spelled differently. Those add up to making the overall name much more popular out-loud than the data suggests on paper.

While all of these spelling variations are legitimate, (meaning they have been used, are being used, and will be used in the future), how necessary are they? Could the world get by with fewer variations? Or does "the more the merrier" apply here?

Pause for a moment and ponder how you feel about spelling variations. Sure, one or two options can be a great thing, like Nora and Norah. How do you feel about names that don't really give you a specific image in your head regarding its spelling? If someone says "Hi, I'm [kay-lee]", which spelling pops into your mind first?

Kaylee? Kayleigh? Caylee? Caleigh? Kleigh? Khailey? Caelee? Khaylee? Cayle? Cailey? Kaley? Cailie? Keighley? Kaylea? Caeley? Okay, I think you see my point. I could have listed more. In all, there's more than 70 possible spellings of this name on record, according to the data pulled together in 2015 by Name Nerds. You can download the data here. It really is fascinating to browse the spellings that people come up with.

However, male names are not immune to Multiple Spellings Syndrome. There are plenty of boy names that I could list, or you could take a look for yourself at Name Nerd's boy list too.  Right off the top of the list, though, is Jackson. Or do you prefer Jaxson, Jaxen, Jaxxon, Jaxsyn, Jaxzon, Jaksen or maybe Jacksin?

The same thing happens to many more boy names. Even traditional ones can't escape "creative respellers". David becomes Deyvid; James becomes Jaymez; and Nathan becomes Neithen. Are these really all that creative though? To me, they look wrong. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would think that the parents either couldn't spell or tried too hard to be "unusual".  This is not the first time that I've discussed the advantages of choosing statistically uncommon names over mangled respellings of common ones. Spelling really is a big factor to consider when searching for a name.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Which spellings do you think are acceptable and which do you think are a bit too excessive? Where do you draw the line?

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