Getting From There To Her

Shakespeare

A man became a woman – and it wasn’t even Caitlyn Jenner.

Even though English is not technically a Romance language, many of the rules apply to the usage and formation of words – including names. In French, Italian and Spanish, names ending in O are male, and names ending in A are female. In English, numerous male names are made female, by adding an A. Don becomes Donna. Robert becomes Roberta. Shawn becomes Shawna. Paul becomes Paula.

(Paul & Paula who were actually, neither Paul, nor Paula was a 1960’s pop music duo with one, million-seller hit, Hey Paula. Click, if you’d like to reminisce.)

We all probably know several of these, but I’ve run into a few less common ones that you may not have seen. Most Dons are actually Donalds. For those who think of themselves, formally, in that way, a few have daughters named Donalda. I’ve met two.

The name Donald is reasonably common, at least among my Scottish relatives. The name Samuel is currently less common. I recently met a Samuela. Like Samuel, Simon tends to be a Jewish name, and fairly rare in English. I recently ran into a Simona. The less common man’s name, Roland, has the even rarer Rolanda, female equivalent.

Shakespeare is accused of creating more than 50 new words for the English language, a few out of whole cloth, but many by merging other words, or adding suffixes. He also added at least four new female names. He created the name Perdita for the daughter of Hermione in his play ‘The Winter’s Tale’ (1610). It is a Latin word, which means lost. While first produced in England, this rare name is most often found among Spanish-speaking people. Kenneth Bulmer used it as the name of an evil villainess in The Key to Irunium, and several other books in this series.

Derived from Latin mirandus meaning “admirable, marvelous, wonderful”, the name Miranda was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’ (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. Modern baby-name books now say that it means ‘cute.’

He constructed the female name Jessica from the Jewish male name Jesse, the father of David, meaning God Exists. The female version is now taken to mean, God beholds, or God’s grace. He gave it to the daughter of Shylock, in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596/1599). The original Hebrew name Yiskāh, means “foresight”, or being able to see the potential in the future.

Olivia is a feminine given name in the English language. It is derived from Latin oliva “olive”. William Shakespeare is sometimes credited with creating it. The name was first popularized by his character in ‘The Twelfth Night’ (1601/1602), but in fact, the name occurs in England as early as the thirteenth century. In the manner of extending the olive branch, the name indicates peace, or serenity.

All of these names end in the feminine-indicating final letter A. Not a Chloe, or an Amber, or a Summer, or a Robyn in the bunch. What did your parents name you…. Or, what did you name your daughter?? Are there any regrets?