Saturday, January 24, 2015

Get to Know!: Anna from "Waltzing More Than Matilda"

Since Australia Day is being celebrated on January 26th, I thought we would take a moment to learn more about Australia's best baby-name blogger Anna from the blog "Waltzing More Than Matilda."  If you aren't Australian, don't worry, she explains exactly what the title of her blog really means.

Anna is a wonderful blogger with great insight into names. She always has interesting and informative articles complete with opinion polls. If you enjoy voting for your favorite names, Anna provides plenty of opportunities for that on her blog!  She often shares names from local birth announcements and she also keeps up with celebrity baby news from Australian stars and footballers.

Read below to learn more about Anna, her favorite names and her thoughts about the differences between names in Australia and names here in the US.

What are your first and middle names?

Anna Vivian.

Do you like your name, or would you ever want to change it?

When I was younger, my biggest problem with my name is that the names Anne and Mary are traditional in my family. Being an Anna whose mum was Anne, and sister was Mariana, with a cousin named Anne-Marie, second-cousins named Annette and Anita, and a Great-Aunt Annie, sometimes it felt like my name had just been chosen to be part of a pack. But now I'm older, I appreciate being part of a family tradition a lot more.

My middle name has already been changed; I chose it myself when I was twelve, with my parents' encouragement (they didn't like the middle name they picked for me).

If you had to change your name, what would you choose?

My preference would be for Alice – simple, sweet, and enough like Anna to not be a hassle. Unfortunately, my husband has a traumatic association with the name, so I couldn't do it. Every other name that seems suitable either clashes with my surname or a family member's name, or is the name of someone I know well, so it would seem like weird creepy “name stealing”.  I guess I'm not going to change my name any time soon.

When did you first become interested in names?

I think almost as soon as I understood what a name was, I was fascinated, and names had a very powerful effect on me. My interest was surely given impetus when my parents allowed me to help name my younger brother, which I have written about.

Our family dictionary had a section on the meanings of common names at the back, and I remember getting terrifically excited to find that names had meanings. From the age of around seven, I read that dictionary section until it practically fell to pieces.

Why did you begin a blog?

I loved reading name sites and name blogs, but wished I could find one from an Australian perspective. Eventually I realized this mythical Australian name blog was never going to materialize, and if I wanted to read it, I would have to write it myself.

What do you try to accomplish with your blog?

I try to give full and accurate information on featured names, to the best of my ability, and to do my own research. I try not to sugarcoat names, and to point out any potential problems attached to them, even if I don't think the issues are a big deal. I always swore I would never be a “real estate agent” type name blogger that sold people names that I thought were great, but I'm afraid I have got a bit too enthusiastic in some cases and foisted them on people as if I was pushing door-to-door mobile data plans. So I haven't always lived up to my ideals.

Where can we find your sites? 

As well as, you can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

What is the significance of your blog's title?

"Waltzing Matilda" is Australia's national song, rather like an unofficial national anthem, and an immediate signifier of Australian-ness. The title of the song is a slang term: to "go waltzing matilda" means to go for a long walk carrying your belongings. In the same way, I planned to meander my way through the landscape of Australian names, accompanied by my own cultural "baggage".

I have heard people use the phrase "more than Waltzing Matilda" in several ways, often vaguely, always humorously:

  1. to provide more than the basics, to make a big effort ("They will be putting on a major event, it will be more than Waltzing Matilda").
  2. to provide something other than what might have been expected, a possible surprise - not always a good one! ("If you keep behaving like that, I'll give you more than Waltzing Matilda to think about").
  3. to indicate that something questionable is taking place ("I think he had packed a bit more than Waltzing Matilda for the trip").
Likewise, I planned to cover more than the standard or stereotypical Australian names, but with a certain amount of ambiguity as to what that might mean.

What are some of the biggest differences in naming styles between Australia and the US?

There aren't massive differences, but we tend to be fonder of British-style names, especially Scottish and Irish ones. Hamish and Maeve are more popular here than in the US, for example, and we're maybe a bit more likely to choose a nickname as the full name. The trend for “boys names on girls” isn't as pronounced here, although definitely gaining steam. And we don't have a big Hispanic population, so Spanish names aren't nearly as common here (we tend more towards Italian ones).

Can you think of any names that are popular in Australia but less common in the US?

Boys: Angus, Archie, Billy, Campbell, Darcy, Fergus, Finlay, Fletcher, Flynn, Hamish, Harry, Harvey, Heath, Koby, Lachlan, Lenny, Lewis, Louie, Luka, Nate, Sam, Theo, Toby, Tom, Zac

Girls: Adele, Allegra, Amelie, Amity, Annika, Asher, Billie, Bonnie, Bronte, Charli, Estelle, Evie, Florence, Frankie, Freya, Harriet, Imogen, Indiana, Indie, Indigo, Lara, Matilda, Milla, Millie, Neve, Pippa, Poppy, Tahlia, Tilly, Zahra

Are there any popular American names that you'd like to see used more often in Australia?

Camden for boys – it's quite rare here, yet Camden is a rather nice semi-rural area in Australia, and it would make a great alternative to Cameron or Campbell. And Nora for girls: it's almost unheard of here, yet it's so hip and on trend.

Favorite girl names in US Top 1000? 

Astrid, Coraline, Esme, June, Lilia, Magnolia, Margot, Nancy, Paloma, Virginia

Favorite girl names on Australia's Top 100?

Audrey, Elsie, Harriet, Hazel, Lucy, Matilda, Phoebe, Rose, Ruby, Violet

Favorite boy names in US Top 1000?

Alfred, Apollo, Conrad, Duncan, Ephraim, Harold, Jericho, Magnus, Thaddeus, Winston

Favorite boy names on Australia's Top 100?

Angus, Felix, Gabriel, Harry, Henry, James, Jasper, Jude, Oliver, Sebastian

How would you describe your naming style?

I've come to realize that deep down I prefer sensible, wholesome names for girls, and something slightly more romantic and flamboyant for boys. I tend to like girl's names to be gender-specific (I'm often not even that keen on girl's names based on male ones), but don't mind unisex names on boys. As a result, I've found it relatively easy to get my husband to agree to my ideas on girl's names, and very difficult indeed to reach consensus on boy's names. If we ever have a boy, we have agreed to choose from classic, retro, and family names to avoid arguments.    

Which names did you choose for your children? How did you make the decision?

Elizabeth and Rosemary – they both have family names in the middle. Elizabeth was something of a compromise choice between my husband and me (we both had a “favourite” name that the other vetoed), but we ended up mutually loving it. My husband picked the name Rosemary, and almost at once I thought it was perfect too.

If you were suddenly adding boy/girl twins to your family, what might you name them? 

If we were being sensible, I think they would be named something like George and Adelaide (two names we've managed to agree on that sound quite nice together), but we might go a bit mad with the excitement and choose our “guilty pleasure names”, so they would be Harold (nicknamed Harry) and Lavender.

Do you have any naming pet peeves?

My perennial complaint – not enough name data in Australia!

Are there any current trends that you enjoy or dislike?

Favourite current trend would be for retro and vintage names, and I like that parents are being more adventurous now (also a throwback to times past, I believe). A modern trend I'm not getting on board with is names created from initials, like Emjay or even just MJ. Nothing wrong with it, but with so many names in the world, it puzzles me why you would need to just pick initials.

What advice would you give to expecting parents who are trying to find the perfect name?

Probably to stop searching for the perfect name. Often the name that seems perfect on paper isn't really right for you, and you might end up crossing off an awesome name you love because it breaks some “rule” you made up.

I want to thank Anna for graciously allowing me to interview her. Take a look at my interview on her website from August 2014!  Be sure to show Anna some love by visiting her blog and social media pages! Thanks for reading!


Anna said...

Thank you so much for the interview, Kara! :)

Kara | The Art of Naming said...

Thank YOU! :)

Nancy said...

Loved reading this!


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