Monday, September 05, 2011

maman ISO nickname for new baby

I have created French-inspired nicknames for three of the most important children in my life, and did so without even thinking about it.  Their nicknames appeared organically and just fit them!  I have realized that having such a nickname is important to me because all of their given names are quite anglophone, which kind of interrupts the flow when I'm speaking French to them.

Carl: I called my nephew "Carlicot" (don't pronounce the T) because "Carl" seemed like a  very grown-up name for such a little guy.  The extra C brought with it fun alliteration, and the diminuitive ending -ot rounded the sound of it, evoking French nicknames (Pierrot, Jacquot) as well as a cheerful red flower (coqlicot).

Eleanor: Family members dubbed my niece "Ellie" early on, so when I noticed her fascination with a wind-up music box on top of which ladybugs (coccinelles) spin, it was an easy jump to "Coccinellie."  It's hard not to smile when you say it aloud: Coccinellie!

Griffin: Because of his mighty roar (well, mighty for a newborn), my husband and I thought of our baby boy as a bear or a lion.  In French, amour is love and ourson is a baby bear, so I combined them to turn him into Amourson, my "love cub."

But nothing has come to mind for Gwyneth!  I'm looking for a French-ish, appropriate, affectionate nickname for my little girl (even though her name isn't French at all and thus would be pronounced "gwee-net," which doesn't roll trippingly off my tongue).

Please help!  I'll even award a prize to the person who suggests a name that I adopt!

Here's what you need to know about her:  she's still small (not even nine pounds), her disposition is sweet (although she spits up more in one day than Griffin did in his entire infancy), she appears to enjoy music, and she has dark blue eyes and brown hair and very long fingers and toes.

Anyone have an idea?  Even if you don't, please comment and share your nicknames for your young'uns, whether they bridge two languages or not!


  1. No ideas, sorry, since I don't know French. But speaking of nicknames... When we told our family that we were going to name our little boy Elliot, my teenage brother-in-law said that they'd call him "Smelliot"! And they do, sometimes, when appropriate, but the name that has been more fitting is "Belliot," used both when he was in my "belly" and now that he has a large belly of his own.
    Sometimes I try to Spanish-ize his name, since that's the language I speak with him, but "Elliotico" is often cumbersome. Most of the little names (in Spanish) I give him are things like little bird, caterpillar, monster, baby, handsome, cutie, etc. :)

  2. I'm not sure whether it would suit, but my mum's nickname as a child in France was "Ginou" (a fairly common diminutive of Genevieve, her full name).

    It kind of fits with Gwyneth.. there's a G and an N, and possibly a slight etymological connection several centuries ago :)) or maybe I'm clutching at straws..

  3. There's always 'Guillume' (how is that spelt?). ;-)

    I'm not sue if the system does automatic pingbacks between wordpress and blogspot, but your post inspired me so much I wrote my own on the subject.

  4. Thanks for your ideas and stories!

    @Karolena--"Smelliot" and "Belliot"--those will be fun to slip into toasts at his wedding reception! Yes, one of the downsides of choosing a cool name for your children is that it doesn't always "work" in the second language. Oh well--I'll figure out what to call my little "Gwee-net" in French sooner or later.

    @Sophie--See, this is why I blog! I never would have known "Ginou" existed. You're right, it does feel like it could be a French diminuative for "Gwyneth." (Of course, it makes me think of "genou"--knee--but perhaps that's just because my vowels are getting sloppy.)

    (Better than my bowels, though, eh?!)

    (Er, sorry about that. Sleep deprivation is making me punchy.)

    @Solnushka--Thanks for linking and making me feel inspirational. Your idea of using the word for "Turtle" caught my attention, because I have frequently thought that her tiny face, upturned eyes, and toothless beaky mouth makes her look like a turtle!

  5. Well, I don't speak French, so I can't help you there. But it's a fun thing to think about!
    We named our son Aleksander, which works in English, German and Dutch (my husband's native language). I actually use his name more when I speak German to him than when I speak English! I like the sound of it with a German accent. My German nicknames for him are rather lame: Süßer (sweet one) or Kleiner (little one). In English I gave him a nickname the moment he was placed in my arms: Sweet Pea. I'll probably call him that for the rest of his life (much to his dismay!). Somehow I also came up with Pooka Bear - I think it was kind of a combination of Pooh Bear and kookaburra (do you know the song?). We'll see how long that one sticks.
    Good luck finding your French name for Gwyneth! Love the picture. She's SO adorable!!

  6. First of all, félicitations pour ta petite nenette!!! Makes me wanting for another baby :) By the way, it is really cute to have nicknames! I also give nicknames to my little boy but it is in Indonesian. My husband does not like nicknames in all languages, he said c'est ridicule! Oh Well! But he calls our boy "petit gazon" since our boy pronounce the word garçon without the "r".

  7. mention that she has brown eyes...what about 'noisette'? it's cute, feminine, small and delicate and of course delicious : ) not to mention delightful to say for everyone!
    I have nicknamed my daughters french names too, since like you i am a french teacher. wish i could have made it to your garage sale : )a bit far from seattle though..................
    and a very happy congratulations to you too on your lovely!
    xo valerie

  8. @German--Thanks for sharing! How great that you found a good name that works in all three languages. (He might not be so keen on "Pooka Bear" when he's a teenager.)

    @prkemby--I hope you'll be able to convince your hubby of the joy of nicknames! "Petit gazon" is awfully cute. make a strong case for "noisette"! That's a word I associate with eyes, but hers are blue. (Her hair is brown, though.) I wonder if "ma petite noisette" would work regardless. Must check with the native speakers at playgroup! (Or perhaps you are a native speaker yourself, in which case I'll consider the nickname approved!)

    So you're a French teacher in Seattle? Nice to "meet" you! Do you speak French with your kids, too?

  9. My mom always called me "Ma Petite Chou" growing up. You can always join it with Chouette Gwynette! Great-cutiepie-Gwyneth! Bon chance!

  10. "Chouette Gwynette"--que c'est mignon! Ou bien, "Gwynette la chouette!" (Or would that make it seem like she is an owl?)

  11. Or else, what about "minette"? It's baby talk for "kittycat" or "girl," but I don't know if there are any unsavory connotations if we use it for a baby girl.

    If we did adopt it as a nickname, though, would it sound better as "gwynette minette" or "minette gwynette"?

    Could I throw a "mignonnette" into the mix as well?