Alternate vs. kreatyv spylyngz

There’s nothing necessarily wrong about using a different spelling for a name. What matters are how established the alternate spelling is, your reason for choosing it, and if it makes phonetic sense.

There are some names I’d assume most people are used to seeing spelt different ways, the kind of name one would ask someone to spell over the phone. For example, Allison, Alison, Allyson, Alyson; Megan, Meagan, Meghan, Meaghan; Demian, Damian, Damien; Elizabeth, Elisabeth; Phillip, Philip; Allen, Allan, Alan. There are also foreign variations that might look strange if one isn’t familiar with them, such as Krystyna, Szymon, Katarzyna, and Ryszard. (You can probably guess I have a liking for Polish names!)

A kreatyv spylyng is the type I often see on Maury, or in birth announcements. Letters are stuck in or substituted willy-nilly, as though they’re just there to look pretty. People believe a y mykes a nyme fymynyne, when it’s really still a male name with an odd spelling. Don’t get pissed at me when I pronounce your cherub’s name phonetically instead of Magickally, intuitively knowing it’s supposed to be pronounced differently.

For example, take the massively trendy name Aidan, which I now no longer like as much as I used to thanks to its obscene oversaturation and how it spawned the whole -aden trend. If I see the spelling Aiden, I’ll want to pronounce it Ay-DEN, not AYD-an. I always want to put the emphasis on the nonstandard vowel in kreatyv spylyngz like these, like Dylon, Jordyn, Jonathon, Emalee, Madyson, Kynzie.

At least with names with several established pronunciations, you can inform someone up-front that, say, Ivan is pronounced the Russian and not Anglo way, or that Hannah is pronounced with a long A.

I can even take some non-traditional spelling variations if they look literate, don’t swing too far from the original name, and still make the pronunciation clear. I know many name nerds would disagree, but I’ve always liked the spelling Cera, and I don’t mind Sarra or Sarrah. Obviously, they’re not my preferences, but they’re not anywhere near something like Saiyrah or Seighraigh.

I’ve grown to love Irish names in the last few years, and don’t recommend using Anglicised spellings just so people aren’t confused. It’s not your fault if people don’t know how to spell your name. For example, Aoife and Saoirse look so much more dignified than Eefa and Seersha. If the person cares enough about you, s/he’ll learn to spell and pronounce your name properly.

I’ve never understood the plethora of misspellings for Isaiah. Granted, I didn’t always know how to spell it properly either, but if I’d been using for a child’s name, I would’ve made sure of the spelling before writing it down, or would’ve chosen a name I was more familiar with. I’d assume that if you’re naming your son Isaiah, you’re religious enough to have a Bible in the house. No excuse for not cracking it open to check the spelling. I cringe at misspellings like Izayah, Aizaya, Izaih, Isaih, Isiah, and Eizaya.

Finally, what’s the big deal with Caitlin? While this isn’t one of my favourite names, I don’t hate it, but I still don’t get why it’s SO beloved it merits at least 144 spelling variations. Seriously, there are that many documented spellings for this name, plus a few others you could think of it you were creative, like Quaitlynne. It all sounds the same when you yell it on the playground. Kaitlyn, Caitlin, Katelin, Kaitlynne, and Katlan will all still turn around.

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