From Asher to Zed: Unusual names for Singapore babies

From Asher to Zed: Unusual names for Singapore babies
Housewife Nadine Soh has given creative names to her sons - (from left) Zayden Asher Eng, Kaien Asael Eng and Reuel Axel Eng.

When Ms Nadine Soh, 29, was thinking of a boy's name for her first child in 2009, she was attracted to popular names such as Jayden and Caden. "They sound really nice but they are a bit common, so I decided to throw a 'z' in," says the housewife.

Her son Zayden Asher is now five. His name is a combination of the names Zane and Jayden.

Her other two sons have interesting names too: Reuel Axel is three and Kaien Asael is 10 months old. Reuel is taken from the Bible while the Japanese-sounding name Kaien was created after Ms Soh and her husband cracked their brains for an interesting name for their third child.

It was only later that they realised Kaien was also the name of a manga character, Kaien Shiba.

"My husband and I didn't want common names because we want our children to appreciate their unique names and the meaning behind them," she says.

She is not alone in digging deep for unique names for her children. Many other Singaporeans are like her, including actress Fann Wong, who has given the name Zed to her son born on National Day.

Eager parents pore over countless baby name books and trawl the Internet for interesting names. Some combine different names to fashion a unique monicker for their bundles of joy.

The bottom line: They do not want their children to have ordinary names.

Ms Nur Lyzma Wati, 26, an early childhood educator, says: "I've heard so many names - there can be three Kaylas and two Rachels in just one class."

Her daughter, now almost a year old, is called Aara Xandra.

For some other parents, more regular- sounding names are given a twist in their spelling.

Ms Sherry See named her daughter Gyselle. She liked the name Giselle but found it too feminine for the girl, the eldest of three children.

"A name is like a persona for a child. My daughter is fun and funky, and the way her name is spelt is a bit different so it really fits her personality," says Ms See, 33, who is self-employed.

She also has two sons - Gyllen, three, and Gyven, six months. Gyllen is a variation of Julian, while Gyven is a play on the word "given" because she and her husband had not expected to have another child.

There is a downside to having an unusual name, however - mispronunciation is par for the course. Ms See's sons have been called "guy-len" and "guy-ven" when they should be called "jee-len" and "jee-ven".

Unusual names can also be tough for the children's grandparents to grapple with. Ms Soh says her Chinese-educated father tends to misspell his grandchildren's names.

As for little Aara Xandra, she started off being just Xandra, until Ms Nur Lyzma Wati's mother raised concerns that the name was too modern for a Muslim child.

They added the Arabic name Aara, which means adorable, one week after the first name was registered.

After parents put in so much effort to give their children names that stand out, the children may find they do not necessarily want to stand out from the crowd after all.

Ms Avonda Lim, 26, hated her name when she was growing up. "Everyone just made fun of it, calling me avocado and anaconda. I went by my Chinese name for most of my primary school years," says Ms Lim, an assistant manager at Resorts World Sentosa.

She warmed up to her name only in her late teens after learning the story behind it - her mother named her after the Avon River in New Zealand, where her parents had their honeymoon.

Another person who felt the negative consequences of having an unusual name was Mr Little Ong, whose name went with him often being the shortest kid in class.

"The bullying was so bad that I'd often go home crying," says the 43-year-old, who is 1.58m tall.

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