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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Duggar Challenge

The Duggars are a family made famous by reality television. They had a number of TLC specials, and then eventually a TLC show, following the (very planned) "adventures" of their "Quiverfull" family. "Quiverfull" is a religious philosophy of reproduction in which no birth control is used (with few exceptions). The idea is to accept any children as gifts from god. Not everyone's cup of tea, but what it does mean is that they choose A LOT of baby names. In the case of the Duggars, they also chose to stick with a letter them. All J names. They currently have 19 living children and one deceased child (stillborn at 20 weeks). Their eldest son has also started a family already and appears to be going with an "M" theme.

Thus, the Duggar challenge is to choose 20 baby names that start with the same letter, and do not get confusing or sound bad together. Oh, and you have to like them! After all, these are your kids names.

Here are the names of the real Duggar children.

Jackson, Jana
Jason, James
Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jessa, Jennifer
Jill, Jinger
Joshua, John, Jordyn (f),
Joseph, Josiah, Johanna, Josie

Did you figure out how they are sorted? It's not age.

What this "challenge" really got me focusing on was phonetics - how the same first letter can fit together with others to make very different sounds. Thus the above list is sorted by vowel sound - short A, long A, short E (long E is absent), short I (long I is absent), Short O, Long O, Short U, Long U, Diphthongs (oi/oy, au/ow). These various vowels mean that for almost any consonant, you have at least 12 different "sound" options. Any consonants that can be paired offer additional options - (ex:  Bl, Pr, Ch, St, etc). Some consonants make multiple sounds - C can sound like K or S,and here J can take on a Y sound (Johanna).

The above sibset is relatively varied, but has a lot of repetition around the long o, I mean Joseph, and Josie are variants of the same name and Josiah is not far off. Joy-Anna and Johanna are also a bit too close for my comfort. I would like to see a Jane, Jade, Jewel, Jean, or June instead.

But could I do any better?

I started playing around with some letters. I started with B, since I already had a Benjamin, and found that while I easily could get ten boy's names I like that start with B, I could get almost no where with girls. So, onto some other letters. The first letter I was successful at turned out to be "L"

So here is my answer to the Duggar Challenge:

Lazlo, Landon, Laurel
Lane (g)
Learner, Lester, Lexi,
Lief, Leander, Liesl
Lily, Lydia, Lisbeth, Lincoln
Lola, Logan
Lucian, Louisa

I think this list is pretty good - no repeated root names (no Lucy to match my Lucian), no sound alike names (no Lorah and Laurel), and they are pretty spread out in terms of vowel sounds. My biggest remaining concern about it is that Lexi is more of a nickname than I would normally prefer. There are a few names in here that I LOVE (Lazlo has been a favorite since I read The Alienist), but most of them are just names I like, not love. And that is really the problem with a naming theme like this, you are locked in to finding the best of names you like instead of that one name you love.

This post has mostly been for my amusement. What do you think, could you name 20 kids with the same letter? Can you even imagine having that many kids? I am not sure I can....


  1. I honestly don't know if I like enough names to be able to do it. I started with N and got 10 names. I'd also think that there's no way that you LOVE 20 names with the same letter.

    Nolan, Noah
    Nathaniel, Natasha

    1. Other N names on my list would be Nona and Neva for girls (which gets pretty touch when Nina is in there already), and Nigel for boys (which I really like!). N is hard for me!

      E is hard too because all the names are related. How many EL names are there? A TON. But not much else I feel like!

  2. Kasmira
    Katja, Kajsa , Kaarlo
    Kendra, Kjeld
    Kerwin, Kearney, Kirk
    Kyra, Keena, Keanu
    Kaija, Kiadra, Kyros
    Kora, Kyoko, Koby

    I'm not 100% sure I have them correctly grouped by vowel sounds (I overthink things!) but pretty darn close. Maybe I'm just crazy... :-)

  3. Wow Laurelyn! That is quite the list.. I think I need some pronunciation help! And your "y"s haha...

    Its strange to have a Kyra and a Kyros with such similar spellings, but have the pronunciations be so different (I assume you mean Kyr rhymes with beer for Kyra and Ky rhymes with guy for Kyros?). I know you love your Y's! I would spell Kyra as Keira or Kira. I am unsure of Kyoko, how is it pronounced? I would say Kee-yo-ko"

    I really like Kyros, Kipp (as a nickname though), Koby, and Kaarlo.

    Some other K names to consider - though you might find them too boring :)

    Kiersten (come on, its an American Girl!)

  4. haha Yes you're right with Kyra and Kyros. I had Kari and Kara on the list originally but decided that it would be WAY confusing with a Kara (care-a), Kari (Car-ee), Kyra (kee-ra) and Kora... haha

    I had Kronos on the list, along with Kendrick (too similar to kendra?!), Kenji and Kelby. Keegan's good, I had Kellen and ditched it too..

    I was thinking Kai-o-ko, but what do I know?!

    I like Kodiak, though it's similar to Koda and I was trying to avoid that... Kruz is close to Kruess to me, which is a horse ;-)

    1. RE: Kara, Kari, Kora, Kyra...

      Yes I had to make some choices on my list because I would have liked Lola, Leila (Lay-La), and Lela (Lee-La), but I had to choose so I went with Lola, mainly because I had no other Long O names.

  5. you're in trouble. I'm hooked. I had a majority of these on a favorites list, so figured I'd answer the challenge.

    Adelaide, Antonia, Aldon
    Atara, Athena, Atreyu
    Anja, Amilee, Andre, Angus, Axel, Akeno
    Ayla, Ainsley, Aeson, Aileron, Aiden
    Auberta, Aurelia, Audric

  6. I will never like Antonia thanks to 8th grade lit....and Aileron was a restaurant in Kirksville, so couldn't swallow it either.

    Atreyu is AWESOME! I had not thought of that.... wonder if there are any other decent names in that movie/book...

    Some of my "A" names that did not make your list -


  7. I missed this response somehow. I really like atreuyu. I don't remember other names from the book, but someone mentioned coreander... Ooh and bastion... Though sebastion it's better...(unfortunately half the country seems to agree...)