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from Thursday, October16th of the year2008.

So, my spam filter has been working overtime lately. I did this whole series of projects in England recently, and as a result, my inbox has been filled with people named Imogen Carter and Bryn Ormrod and so on; I must have a hypersensitive spam filter because those people’s emails go right to the trash! I can’t turn it off! I have to search through pages of spam until I find that Kindly Imogen and Awesome Bryn are, in fact, for real, and have written to me real words about real things, rather than the usual:

“A marchioness.” “Why, woman it silky experience does not much concern us, back do you think it
“You must see bump nail that to be tail an utter impossibility,”

Now, this morning I got an email from somebody called “Eithne Staunton.” The spam filter got it, but I’ve been checking in there every day and dug it out. And I realized that I might have to call her! Eithne. Now, in my town in Vermont, we had a woman called Ethna Blow, no kidding, whose mother was also called Ethna Blow; they were Big Ethna and Little Ethna, despite the fact that Little Ethna (the daughter) was a power-lifter. Ethna ðnudóttir? I’m not even going down this rabbit hole. Anyway, it occurred to me that I don’t have the adequate command of the Ancient Tongue to make my way through this woman’s name. So, I took myself to Irish Baby Names Dot Com, and lo and behold you can listen to Frank fucking McCourt read the names to you, along with cute stories about their origins! So, it turns out that it is pronoucned “Enya” just like the singer, because it’s the same name. This is the best website ever. Oonagh! I wonder what the ability of, like, Average English People is to see Blathnaid and know how to pronounce it. I feel like Siobhan I’ve come across enough to know, but really not Dearbhail or Eibhleann so much. Anyway, any English readers of this space, let me know what’s going on. Also: is there a resurgence in Ireland of naming kids Old-School? I have some Icelandic friends who just went really oldschool with their baby, which I think is totally great. I’m excited for America to get back to the puritan names, I have to tell you. Lamentation! Learn-Wysdome! Safe-on-Heighe! Celerity! I think I should have been named Celerity Franksson, honestly, but I’ll make do with this old rag.

But now my new fantasy is “People Who Have Won Pulitzers Prize Pronouncing Words Attendant Either To Their Nationality or Profession.” Or really, Pronouncing Anything Just Because. Wouldn’t you pay good money to have, like, Oscar Hijuelos reading out the names of the parks in New York? Or Ned Rorem reading the Examples of Hanky Code? Or, like, Annie Proulx reading the recipe for Chasseur Sauce?

And finally:


  • Yeah, there has been a big resurgence in recent years, especially in the upper-middle class, of giving children names as Geailge (in Irish).

    I have the least Irish name in the history of Ireland. I’m surprised they didn’t deport me. Oh, wait…

  • Hi Nico,
    Average English People have no better an idea than you about Irish names. However, Average Irish People do, I think, because they have to learn Irish in school. I’m totally mystified as to why they ever came to use the same alphabet, when the letters bear no resemblance to the way they’re pronounced in most of the rest of Europe. Fascinating, though…

  • I love La Pequena, she did an awesome Hilary Clinton, and an even better Amy Winehouse, though La Pequena Palin sounds even better…

  • Frankly I expected more from La Pequena Sarah Palin.

  • Niamh is also a really good Irish name. One of my all-time favorites. But I refuse to go with a phonetic spelling and I could never subject a child to the constant name-butchering.

    If I had born just a few years later, I would have been named Roisin. Wouldn’t have fit my personality, but it would have been light years better than one of the other choices–Tiffany.

  • I love La Paqueña Sarah Palin!
    The dance she does at 0:12…
    And at the end (1:10) when she touches her glasses à la the Palin….
    I mean, PERFECTO.

    And didn’t I just write about the musical use of typewriter? 😉

  • OH MY GOD. That video. I don’t even know what to say. When she starts rubbing her crotch I begin to realize the beauty (or is it the perversion?) of YouTube.

  • Is that the same “pequeña” that does little Amy Winehouse? I find the whole schtick rather odd…

  • JERRuv-ull and EV-lunn!