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Bianca and Daniel are expecting their second child in a few months, a brother or sister for their son Arlo. They have a name list in place which they are pretty set on, but as the pregnancy progresses, Bianca finds herself thinking them over more and more, until she begins to wonder if she is overthinking them.

They have several possible names for boys selected, including Eli, Ezra, Remy, and Chet. Daniel loves the name Eli, and that’s the name they will probably choose. However, Bianca worries that Arlo and Eli might be too matchy as a sibset. Bianca likes the sound of Ezra with Arlo, but is worried about people’s reactions to it, as she thinks it is very uncommon in Australia.

For girls, they love the name Elke, but now Bianca is starting to worry about spelling and pronunciation issues. Bianca likes the traditional spelling of Elke, but not the traditional pronunciation, which is rather like EL-ka – she prefers EL-kee.

Bianca wonders how most Australians will read the name Elke if they see it written down – as EL-ka, or EL-kee? Should they change the spelling to Elkie to avoid confusion? And does Elkie look okay, and not like a made up name?

Other girl names considered are Nell, Edie, Romy, and Ayla. Nell has been Bianca’s favourite name for many years; Daniel won’t agree to it, however. Bianca also likes Edie, and thinks it might be a better option than Elke. However, Bianca and Daniel have a niece with a name that ends in -die, such as Sadie, and she wonders if Edie and Sadie might be too much alike.

Bianca isn’t quite sure about Romy, but does love its spunkiness. She worries it might sound a bit funny with their surname (which is slightly similar in sound to Google), and Daniel isn’t quite sure about it. Daniel loves the name Ayla, but Bianca isn’t quite as keen, and feels it is too close to Arlo.

Bianca would love some suggestions for more girls’ names, as she isn’t sure about any of their choices. Her favourite girls’ names are short, simple, and sweet – and not too common.

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Gee Bianca, I would love to tell you that you’re over-thinking things and to stop worrying about it all. The trouble is that would be very hypocritical, because if I was in your position, I would be thinking and worrying about exactly the same things. Maybe I’m an over-thinker as well (a blog on the subject could very well be a symptom of that).

I can see what you mean about Arlo and Eli – they both start and end with a vowel, and have an L sound in the middle, so they sound a little alike. However, I don’t think they necessarily sound too matchy, and from what I’ve seen, parents who like Arlo often like Eli as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other brothers named Arlo and Eli out there.

I tend to agree with you that Arlo and Ezra are an awesome match. They sound great together, and have a cool, intelligent vibe that’s rather hip. Ezra isn’t that uncommon in Australia – it’s not popular, but you definitely see it around. It’s already Top 100 in New Zealand, and is rising very steeply in the US and UK, so it feels ready to take off (maybe like Arlo a few years ago?). I can’t promise you will never get any negative reactions to it, but I think overall it might be better received than you think.

However, if Daniel loves the name Eli then it might be hard to get him to change his mind. And I wouldn’t blame him – if I really loved a baby name, and my spouse and I had both agreed on it, I would be a bit miffed if the name was changed to something else. Loving a baby name is something that could trump a name being hipper or making a better match: giving your child a name that you love over all others is a wonderful gift.

So that’s something for you and Daniel to discuss together, but I think either Eli or Ezra would be fine. You can’t go wrong whichever you pick.

I can see that Elke is giving you some problems with spelling and pronunciation, and I’m not really sure which pronunciation is more common in Australia. I often see people spelling the name Elka or Elkah, as if they’re more worried about people trying to put an EE sound on the name. It’s less common for me to see the name spelled Elkie but I have a few times. I don’t think it looks terrible or anything, but to me it looks as if Elkie means “little elk”.

The trouble is that you prefer the Elke spelling, and I can imagine it might grate on you to see your daughter’s name spelled in a way that seems wrong to you. On the other hand, having people sometimes pronounce it EL-ka would no doubt be an annoyance to you.

I must admit that my own prejudices are at work here, because I’m the sort of person who doesn’t mind names with alternative spellings, but balks at ones with alternative pronunciations. I wouldn’t have any problems explaining again and again that it’s Stephen not Steven or Isobel not Isabelle, but would become almost instantly stressed about Louis said like Louie or Emmeline to rhyme with Caroline. In my experience, people are much more likely to not understand or “hear” a pronunciation they’re not familiar with, or even to tell you that “you’re saying it wrong”.

If you decide that Elke is too much of a hassle, I think Edie would be an excellent alternative. It’s a sweet, hip little name, and makes a great match with Arlo. I don’t think a cousin called Sadie or Bridie should be an issue – it’s hard enough trying to co-ordinate sibling names without having to worry about “cousin sets”! However if the cousin is named Addie, that might be just close enough in sound to Edie to cause some mix ups.

I also love Romy as a match with Arlo, and I can’t see anything wrong with Romy Google. I agree it’s very spunky. To me Arlo and Ayla are perhaps a little too much alike – I can see that Daniel really likes vowel-heavy names with a strong L though, but not Alice!

Some other girls’ names that seem like a nice match with Arlo:

Thea – last year blog readers voted Thea and Arlo their favourite baby names from the Name List category. I have to admit, they seem like natural siblings.

Willa – it’s another name with a L sound in it, but less vowel-y. It seems hip to me, but might occasionally be confused with popular Willow.

Nora or Norah – I think Arlo and Nora sound adorable together. I guess another set of parents did too, because when I did a web search for “Arlo + Nora”, I found that Arlo Guthrie has a sister named Nora, a music producer. At least you know it works in real life!

Iris – I love the sweetness of Iris, and how it sounds with Arlo. I wonder if it’s too much like Alice for Daniel?

Sylvie – another sweet name I’m seeing more and more of. It’s another name with an L in the middle. Arlo and Sylvie almost seem characters from an urban fairy tale.

Elva – this vintage name is coming back into fashion. It has an Irish connection, like Arlo, and struck me as a possible alternative to Elke. Etta would also be nice, but I wonder if Arlo and Etta is too much of a musical theme for you – it feels as if the next child has to be Miles or Lulu.

Well Bianca, I don’t know if I’ve helped with your over-thinking, or just given you more things to think about! I think you are pretty much right for boys’ names, having two good choices at least, while I agree that you might need to consider girls’ names a bit longer. Luckily you have a few months to make a final decision.

UPDATE: The baby was a boy, and his name is Ezra!

80% of respondents didn’t think Arlo and Eli were too matchy as brothers. 47% thought they were a bit matchy but still usable, 20% thought they were hardly matchy at all, and 13% thought they weren’t matchy in the least. One-fifth of people were sure that this combination was too matchy, and overall that made 67% of people who leaned towards thinking it was matchy to some extent.

There was a slight majority of people who preferred to say the name Elke as EL-kee, and it didn’t make a huge amount of difference whether you were Australian or not. 59% of Australians said EL-kee, while 41% said EL-ka; 53% of non-Australians said EL-kee, while 47% said EL-ka.

The public’s choice for Arlo’s sibling was Ezra for a boy, which gained 53% of the vote, and Edie for a girl, which got 43% of the vote.