Some American first names can be very confusing. Take Pat for example, is it short for Patricia or Patrick? How can you tell? Then there is Toni or Tony. Yes, for a native that’s simple. For me, it is a little more difficult.
After a friend explained that “i” works for the female version and “y” for the male as a nickname for Anthony I felt like I have Anthony under control.
But what about Miki, Mickey, or Micky? Where did the “y” come from in this case? What about Sam? And Blair, Morgan, Jaime, Marion, and dare I ask? Paris. Are these boy’s or girl’s names?
Then you have last names that are really first names. How confusing is that? There’s Lynn David, Andrew Lawrence, April Rose, Kim Lindsay, Tom Arnold, Ricky Martin, Tina Louise, Marc Anthony, Marc Grace, Darryl Hannah, Dave Barry. I bet you could add a dozen more to this list.
When I was growing up in Italy, everybody had to have the name of a Saint.
There is a Saint’s name next to every calendar day and Italians like to celebrate their name day. Maria was probably the most common name. It was Maria this and Maria that. Maria isn’t so common anymore. However, Italian first names are easy to distinguish because male names end in “o” like, Mario while female names end with an “a” like Maria. If I stopped writing right now, you’d probably all go on thinking how simple it is to tell if it’s a man or a woman by their Italian name. But, wait. There are exceptions. Quite a few actually, like Andrea; in the United States this is a girl’s name and since it ends with an ‘a’ you would assume the same of the Italian counterpart. You’d assume wrong. Andrea is a boy’s name.
And we have other exceptions. For instance, both boy’s and girl’s names ending with an “e”, like, Cesare, Dante, Davide, Beatrice, and Clarice.
I named my first-born in the Italian tradition, using the names of his two grandfathers: David, Augusto. I had hoped he would use these names proudly, but pretty soon he became just Dave, and at his high school graduation, he bribed the announcer not to mention his middle name. So much for tradition. With the next boy I decided to find a name that couldn’t be abbreviated. Fat chance. Brian Swan quickly became BS, you all know the common meaning of that acronym.
As for myself, my given name was Maria Grazia. In a perfect world, it would translates to Mary Grace, but we live in the United States of America, so, when I grew tired of people calling me Mary Thank You, I began to use Maria, just plain Maria for my first name. It’s hard to shorten or change that. So far.