Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg

Sorry for another quick review. One day my life will shift out of crisis mode.

I've used The Baby Name Wizard as a writing resource for years. It's not the usual name dictionary that gives a name, alternate spellings, and the traditional meaning. Instead, there's a huge amount of information for each name, stuff not available anywhere else.

For instance, I just turned to the name Terry in the Girls' Names section. It tells me the name was the 97th most popular in the 1950s but is rather rare today (there's a little chart with that information for each name). It gives me the pronunciation, spelling variants, and gives a short list of "sister" and "brother" names--names that are stylistically similar. There's also a short paragraph about the name itself.

The Sister and Brother lists are incredibly useful, incidentally. If I have a character named Terry but I want to rename her, I can look at the sister names and make a choice from Jackie, Lynn, Sheryl, Connie, or Trudy. If I want to give Terry a brother, I can choose from Rick, Garry, Danny, Steve, or Bruce. That keeps the same feel of my original Terry while giving me a lot to choose from.

There are also a bunch of lists in the second half of the book, everything from Nordic names to Literary and Artistic, from Timeless names to Saints. It's useful for a writer, and I suppose it's probably also useful for parents-to-be.

B&N link

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