1. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

    May 20, 2018
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    Need help with a unisex "Na-" name

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Andi. Just Andi., Jun 22, 2022.

    I honestly wasn't sure if this went here or in general writing, but here goes.

    So, I have a genderfluid character who's recently confided in a parental figure about their identity. I was thinking that it would be cool to write a scene in which this character and their parental figure are discussing a new name for them. I then thought about giving them three names: a feminine name, a masculine name, and unisex name. For the feminine name, I have their birth name, Nassandra. For a masculine name, I have Nathanial. However, I haven't been able to find many interesting unisex names that also start with "Na-". So far, I have Narcisse and Nazaret from Behind the Name, but not many others that catch my eye.

    So, any ideas on a unisex name that starts with "Na-"?
  2. Madman

    Madman Life is Sacred Contributor

    Jun 26, 2012
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    I kinda like Nazaret.
    Some suggestions:

  3. evild4ve

    evild4ve Contributor Contributor

    Oct 17, 2021
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    The OP could perhaps say more about the setting. Is this our world, where many languages' grammar relies on binary gender, and where names like Nathanial and Nazaret may situate someone in the culture that first said 'God created them male and female' ?

    It's also a world where readers get lost quickly if anything has multiple names. Is the idea to portray a negotiation commonly arising between genderfluid young people and their parents, and which the readers could relate to? Or is it to set up wordplay, or a plot twist that wouldn't work otherwise?
    Or is it that the OP wants to explore it as a solution to a real-world issue? Is this a utopian project: will the parents' liberal delight at their child's coming out be shown via the shared activity of advanced speculative philology?

    It's a serious problem. Everyone starts with a name. In most of the world there's a strong likelihood that their birth name (BN to use the lingo) is very deeply-designed to mark out their gender - and often also their culture, possibly their religion, possibly their social class, and if not their age then the generation they come from. The BN might have alternate male and female forms - and there's a force at work in English that pushes unisex names into different spellings for their male and female holders (e.g. Francis/Frances: "I's for E and E's for 'Er"). When someone starts to sometimes use the opposite of the two forms, they're going to find out who their friends are. In their presence their friends have to juggle to use the right name-form, and in private their friends invariably either revert to the BN, or use the new name with a roll of the eyes and some extra syllable-stress. It's as if gender-fluidity within the self demands linguistic gender-fluidity from the surrounding milieu.

    But returning to the OP, some of these problems will become apparent in the Nassandra/Nathanial/Na-something name-cluster for this character.

    Cassandra is an ancient Greek female name meaning "excels-for-man"/"shines-upon-man". Name a kid that and you're pretty much dooming them from the crib to be objectified.
    What does changing the C to an N do, other than make it sound weirdy and new-age? Nasso=to stamp down? Yikes - if it's not one thing it's the other.
    The shift from Nassandra to Nathanial takes the speaker across a cultural boundary as well as a gender one - from Greece to Israel. 'Gift of God'. It has a female equivalent in Hebrew - Natania/Netanya - but then Nassandra is left floating.
    What's very unusual is for names to have a neuter form as well as a masculine and feminine. Neuter words are usually confirmedly inanimate objects. So I'd suggest to start with a neuter word in whatever language - and try to produce an original male and female form from it. Fum > Fo+Fae
    (I won't attempt to analyze unisex names - because they're often nouns being repurposed as names (e.g. Onyx) with this being obvious to listeners/readers, and other times they were gendered in their original language but using an ending that happens to impart the other gender to the listener)

    But even that's quite difficult. A neuter word starting with Na- might be...
    Napu=mustard. Napon=masculinized mustard. Napia=feminized, slightly Latinized mustard.

    The OP might find a prettier one - especially if they're willing to trawl through many and obscure word-lists. Napu/Napon/Napia at least shows it's conceivable.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
  4. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

    May 20, 2018
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    Yeah, I would say that out of Nacisse and Nazaret, I do like the sound of Nazaret more. But thank you for this whole list!
    Nata sounds really simple, but lovely and easy to remember. Aside from that, Naveno, Nalero, and Naudio are also some favorites. I'm gonna try writing with them and see how it goes. Again, thank you!
    Madman likes this.
  5. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

    May 20, 2018
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    You've given me a lot of elements that I haven't really thought about and that I should consider more.

    To address your questions about the setting, this is a fantasy world that's heavily based on the world of DnD. So, there's several different gods and religions, some more laidback with others being a lot more strict. There's also several planes of existence with much of this story taking place between the Material Plane (the closest thing to our world, just with magic) and the Feywild (a plane of 100% saturation and chaos).
    Nassandra is originally from the Material Plane.
    For added context, Nassandra is also a mermaid. In my interpretation of merfolk, merfolk are all genderfluid due to how fish can change their gender in response to the population. Although Nassandra was not raised around other merfolk, they still have this ability and discovered it at a young age. However, they were told that it was wrong due to it being seen as abnormal and strange, so they've hid up until now and haven't been able to freely discuss it.
    As for their parent, they're from the Feywild where everything is in a constant state of change and chaos, so genderfluidity is a normal, everyday concept to them that they can explain and help Nassandra come to terms with. Also, to be clear, Nassandra is adopted from an older age, so this change in culture is encountered later in life.

    I wasn't aware that Cassandra was the original spelling, so thanks for pointing that out. But, the gendering of an original unisex name does sound like a great place to start.
    But for the cultural boundary-cross in regards to names, the closest base culture is specifically France during the Rococo era (excluding focus on the French Revolution). So, I'm trying to keep in-line with the grandeur and "fanci-ness" of that era.

    You do have a point. Even for me, remembering three names that're only related by "Na-" may be a bit much to remember. But, if they're more closely related, that make the transition between names more fluid while making it easier to remember and link.
    Maybe I can start with "Nereis" as a base/unisex name and branch off from there.

    Overall, you've given me a lot to think about, so thank you.
  6. Vrisnem

    Vrisnem Member

    May 6, 2015
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    If you cannot find a given name that strikes your fancy then you might want to look into nicknames (or even surnames) rather than traditional given names. Short names that are ambiguous, or with gender-neutral diminutives, are common and realistic choices among people who are non-binary. For an Na- name, something like Naz could work - it is a common nickname for various masculine and feminine names that start 'Nas-' or 'Naz-'. If the character is young, they also might consider a less common name or a word not commonly used as a name (which their parent will probably disagree with!).
    evild4ve likes this.
  7. Louanne Learning

    Louanne Learning Senior Member

    Jun 9, 2022
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    A take on Nirvana - Narvana

    Here are some Japanese names that begin with Na- ... Nagisa, Nami, Nanami, Nao, Naoki, Naoko, Naoya, Nara, Nariko, Naruto, Natsu, Natsuki, Natsuko, Natsumi
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

    Aug 24, 2015
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    “Nat” might work, since it appears as both a male name and a shortened form of some female names.
    SquirrelFisher likes this.

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