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Baby Names: Does Spelling Count?

“Everybody has such weird names these days,” says Steve Martin’s character in the movie “L.A. Story.”

He’s relieved when he finally meets Sandy, a girl with a normal name (played by Sarah Jessica Parker).

Then she spells it for him: “Big S, small a, small n, big D, small e, big e and then there’s a little star at the end,” SanDeE*explains.

That was nearly 20 years ago and name spellings have gotten increasingly creative since then. Some parents strive to create a memorable spelling for their baby’s name, while others are irritated by the popularity of kree8tive spellings.

I’ve know of kids named Christen, Madelynn, Jayde, Cayleigh, and Kady. I’ve even heard of a Zachary who spells his name Xaqueri and a Shayla who goes by Xela.

But I can’t complain. I named my older Jesse, using what some folks might call the boy’s spelling.  And my younger daughter’s middle name is Shaye, which we pretty much made up on the spot. Not surprisingly, neither Jesse nor Shaye are featured on Babble’s list of baby names for girls.

I never thought of myself as someone who would spell my kids’ name creatively, but we liked the names, so we went with them.

But not everybody is so tolerant of kreatyv misspellings.

“Parents shouldn’t impose cryptic, incoherent or foolish spellings on their own children, nor on society as a whole,” wrote author Paul Schmitberger in The New York Times’ “Complaint Box” column last month. Schmitberger’s rant was inspired by a birth announcement for a baby named Madicyn.

Over at CafeMom, Michele Zipp defends unusual name spellings saying the world would be boring if everyone spelled their names the same way.

“Why does anyone have to abide by some name rulebook that doesn’t exist?” asks Zipp.

Schmitberger blames the trend in creative name spellings on parents who want their child to feel “special and unique” with their “special, uniquely spelled name.”

Despite favoring Jesse and Shaye, in general, I’d say I fall on the side of classic name spelling — mostly to spare the kid a lifetime of spelling their name. Then again, nowadays, having an unusual name or a popular name spelled in a distinctive way isn’t so unusual.

What do you think? Should it be Brittany, Britnee, Britany, Brittney or none of the above? Are unusual spellings charming or annoying?

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyleesilver/

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