Dani or Danielle

by DaniGirl on December 15, 2009 · 25 comments

in It IS all about me

My mother named me Danielle Monique. The joke was that if my father had gotten to the birth certificate form first, I would have been Monique Danielle. I’m not sure I ever asked where Monique came from, but Danielle was from a book my mom read when she was a teenager. In fact, Danielle was such a rare name in my anglo southern Ontario town in the early 1970s that a neighbour of my grandmother named her daughter Danielle after hearing my grandmother call it out for me. My folks went to Paris when I was 10 or 11 and I still have the necklace pendant they brought back for me — the first time I’d ever seen any kind of name souvenir with Danielle written on it. Of course, now that I live in the bilingual national capital, there’s a lot more Danielles around.

When I was 12, I was desperately in need of a reinvention. I’d changed schools, and wanted an even fresher start, so I started calling myself Dani. It was my dad who first called me that, but by high school just about everyone — except my mother — did. I’ve used Danielle professionally through the years, using the longer name formally and Dani informally. All my documents say Danielle, but just about everyone — except my mother — still calls me Dani.

As you can see, I’ve made quite the online brand for myself as DaniGirl. It was my friend Heather who first called me that, in my early 20s. And Beloved calls me DaniGirl, too. It still makes me smile.

As I’ve become a woman of a (cough) certain age, I’ve wondered whether the undeniably perky name Dani still suits me. When I changed jobs last month, I introduced myself as Danielle. Seems more, um, managerial than Dani. And it took about two e-mails before I was signing off as Dani, if nothing else because it saves me four keystrokes each time! Beloved and I were invited out to a social gathering on the weekend with some of my new colleagues, and it resonated in my ears when they called me Danielle. I introduced myself to strangers at the party as Dani. It’s habit now.

Names have been an interesting challenge for me throughout my life. When I got married at 20, my “practice” marriage, I took his name, even though it was so French that my little anglo tongue had to practice it for ages to get it right. And long before I knew we were headed for splitsville, I’d asked him if it would be okay for me to go back to using my maiden name. I felt lost without it. And through sheer stubbornness, I’ve saddled the boys with a mouthful of hyphenated surnames for which I’m sure they will curse me in years to come.

Care to add to this rather pointless ramble on names? Have you moved from Susan to Susie to Sue through the years? Decided that Becky was better than Rebecca? Were horrified when someone truncated your name and it stuck? Do you correct people when they call you Pat instead of Patricia? (It still gets my back up when people call me Dan. I know it’s dangerous to admit this to some of you, who will forevermore call me exactly that, but it really does grate when I hear it!)


A propos of nothing at all — no, wait, I can make a segue out of this: Speaking of names, I’d love to be named the Best Family Blog in the Canadian Blog Awards! (Aw, c’mon, it’s not bad!) You can vote for me today and every day this week! Instructions are here, or you can just click through to the voting form and wing it — just don’t forget to press the “vote” button at the bottom and the “confirm” button on the next screen! And thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Guillermo December 15, 2009 at 8:50 am

I’ve been 5 years struggling with my spanish name in an anglo world that cannot figure out how to pronounce it. I’d have to change it for its english counterpart (“William”) but I don’t like how it sounds…

2 DaniGirl December 15, 2009 at 8:54 am

Ah, I didn’t know your name was the Spanish version of William. It’s not really similar, is it? I always read your name as if the Ls are silent, is that right? It’s the same problem that bewitched me with my former married name “Meilleur.”

3 Chantal December 15, 2009 at 8:59 am

Coming from a town that is so close to Quebec I have a number of relatives with the names Danielle/Daniel. I always loved the name. My best friend goes by Dani (has since we were in high school as well). It would be a definite faut pas to call a woman Dan, that would only be a short form for a man who’s name is Daniel. For a while my friend was on twitter and I had a really hard time keeping her and you straight when I was tweeting. She is off now, so it is easier ๐Ÿ™‚

4 DeuxHirondelles December 15, 2009 at 9:20 am

When I married for the first time, I changed my name because I was tired of having to always spell my French maiden name, even to many francophones. Imagine my dismay when I realized I had to spell my also French married name just as often, and also to francophones. I went back to my maiden name when we split after 16 years. Can I call that a ‘practice’ marriage? Clearly I’m a slow learner ๐Ÿ˜‰

As for first names, mine defies any attempt to shorten it. But again, there are many ways to misspell it and I have seen them all. For some unknown reason, I was given no middle names, though both my siblings were. I was third, maybe they ran out of ideas? I eventually took my grandmother’s Polish name for my middle name. When my daughter was born, I made sure to give her two middle names, so she would have something to choose from if she didn’t like the name we gave her (she has not yet resorted to either of them). Had I been permitted, she would have been named Mercedes, but her father would have none of it. When she learned this, in her teens, she said she would have loved that name.

After the split-up, my daughter acquired a hyphenated last name. I had seen too many instances of children retaining their father’s last name and there being no way to tie them to their mother, because she had gone back to her maiden name. So now my daughter gets to spell them both.

Interestingly, she now works in the same place both I and her paternal grandfather did. Her surname explains her history to anyone who has been there at least 10 years.

@Guillermo: I wouldn’t change my name, were I you. It’s not that hard to pronounce. Some people just can’t be bothered to make the effort.

5 DeuxHirondelles December 15, 2009 at 9:21 am

@Chantal: my partner’s name is Danielle, and she prefers to go by Dan. It’s not a faux pas to everyone.

6 Mom on the Go December 15, 2009 at 9:26 am

In my family, I’m Barbara and I prefer it but I feel like I’m imposing on others and don’t demand they switch from “Barb”. When I was a kid, my mom would respond, “There’s no one here by that name” to any callers asking for “Barb” and then I’d have to explain to my friends that Mom was much less flexible than me.

As for last names, I never considered changing my name when I married and my husband and I didn’t discuss it. Since Reid arrived though (she has my last name as a middle name but not hyphenated – yet ;+), he has made a few comments about his name not being good enough. I think he is joking – mostly.

7 Sara in Montreal December 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

I have a very short name and the most universal I’ve heard so far in all my travelling. The issue is only the ‘missing’ H at the end, which forces me to spell it most of the time. All the nicknames I got were in other countries and/or langages, from ‘Frenchie’ (I hate that) to Sarita (South America, also transformed into Sari) or Saratou (Africa, also transformed into Sadatou), none of which made it any shorter, but gave me a local consonance (well appart from Frenchie…).

Every where I went I was asked ‘How come you have such a local name but your family names are so weird?’ Well, it’s one of the rare female name to be in the Bible, the Coran and the Torah, so really, can’t be more universal then that. I’ve been asked if I am Jewish/Muslim/Christian as well. None of the above. Just plain nothing, thank you.

As for my family name, I’ve kept both my maiden names as a maried women, but in Africa, I am known with my husband’s family name. Given my ‘local’ first name and being called by an African last name, I think I caused quite a surprise more then once, showing up as a white woman.

As for the kids, I gave (will give) them my second last name as a middle name, so it’s there, but they can choose to use it or not. Infinated names are just too long. I skip one of them quite often (incidently, the one I gave -will give- to my daughters).

8 Marianne December 15, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I have a long name, without a common short form so I’ve gone through life with teh whole name almost exclusively. My biggest peeve is that when I meet people and introduce myself orally, there’s no way to hear that my name is “Marianne” instead of “Mary – Ann” … which to me have two entirely different feels to them. A very small group of close friends who go way back use the nickname “M”.

I did change my family name when I married. It felt right to me. My husband left the decision entirely up to me, though after it was a done deal, he said he was secretly happy I had decided to change it.

9 Fawn December 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Haha! I’m loving this comments! “Fawn” doesn’t shorten to anything, of course, so for nicknames I’m invariably called Fawny… something only those very familiar with me would do, as it doesn’t sound very professional, does it? And I would certainly never introduce myself that way!

I decided around age 8 or 9 not to change my name when I got married, and that’s how things went, although I truly waffled while I was engaged. Michael doesn’t mind; he’s very proud of his last name (which came about because of a Canadian census error and is therefore very rare) and understands that I’d be attached to mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

10 Fryman December 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm

D – You think I would miss out on this one??!!!? You know there are more stories about my name than about Tiger and his mistresses…ok, maybe not that many. I am one of the few who is known (and loved) by a ‘Nick’name that is so far removed from my ‘legal’ name that everyone’s confused/you poor soul look is inevitable as I try to explain the phenomenon away (side note – The term nickname comes from the fact that back many a year the devil was called Old Nick. When you did something bad, it wasn’t you – it was the devil in you, hence the need for a different name – your devil name – or Nickname). While explaining a familiy history of screwing with the identify of their first born sons has caused me no end of grief in school, work, hospitals, border crossing, and at least one legal proceeding (that does NOT need to rehashed here). it was a great conversation starter for picking up women…honest…they were enthralled…right????

You will always be Dani to me…don’t ever try an pull off a Danielle…

11 Brie December 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm

We saddled the kids with two last names, non-hyphenated and while I feel a bit sorry for them I figure they now have a choice as to which they want to use.

12 Amber December 15, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I have never really had a nickname – Amber just doesn’t lend itself to that very easily.

However, I faced a similar conundrum when I got married. I decided, after some deliberation, to use my husband’s name personally and my married name professionally. After 4 or 5 months, though, it simply was NOT working. I would start introducing myself and draw a blank. Who was I? What was the right name here? I couldn’t do it, so I ended up taking my husband’s name totally and I’m OK with it. Mostly.

13 Nat December 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I am French Canadian with an English looking first and last name. (Natalie no H) Then tack on an English last name, it was a recipe for getting teased in Grade School. I still have issues…

But I am known as Nat, which you can call me and which is what all my friends call me. I do however get irked if people (other than bloggers) I don’t know call me Nat. For instance, when the guy at Customer Service says “So Nat, about your car…” — ummm yeah… you can call me Natalie… people just assume it’s ok.

The Man and I are feminist. There was no marriage by choice. Even if there were a marriage (for legal or other reasons) there would be no changing of the name because (1) my mother, also a feminist, would disown me and (2) traditionally it signified leaving your family behind to join your spouses — a passing of property. Not so much. (I have issues with the name thing and agree with the Quebec law that everyone keeps their name.)

The Boy has the Man’s last name. We discussed it. Then I decided that he should take his name because The Man is adopted and The Boy is his only biological blood relative. My last name is The Boy’s second middle name. Honestly, having different last names has never been an issue. (In theory, there would have been a second child — who would have had my last name. Just to mess everyone up.) Even when we travel together. There is enough diversity out there now that the schools and officials just sort of role with it. (Although someone called me Mrs. XXX the other day and I looked for my mom.)

As for Dani, well, I think it’s ok. As long as you don’t dot the i with a heart.

14 Ari December 15, 2009 at 8:05 pm

So I’m Ari online. But that’s a nickname that very few people call me in real life. And, opposite of you, I WANT people to call me Ari… but whenever I go to introduce myself, I end up spilling my full name. Habit. Dunno. I think I’m stuck being Ari only online. Ah well.

15 WannabeMomErin December 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I was named Patricia Erin Hiscocks at birth. My parents NEVER called me Patricia, not once in my lifetime.
When I was 11, I started at a new school, and wanted everyone to call me Patricia. So, at home, I was Erin; at school, I was Patricia. This started in grade 6 and continued until grade 9.
When I was 14 (gr. 9), my mother moved for work, and I stayed with a friend I had known since childhood. She had never known me as anything but Erin, and they lived in a different school zone, so I went back to being Erin.
I moved around a lot after that, but was always Erin Hiscocks, until I got married in 1998 – at the ripe old age of 22 – and changed my name to Erin Cairns… then to Patricia-Erin Cairns… then to Patricia-Erin Hiscocks-Cairns… and then I got divorced….
I also moved out of the city, got a brand new job, and figured my new life deserved a new name, so I legally switched the Erin and Patricia, making my REAL name into my first name, and I went back to Hiscocks.
And, oddly enough, the post I wrote today for my own blog is all about my name…

16 smothermother December 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Julie is such a ridiculously common name for women of (cough) a certain age. I’ve been known as Jules since I could remember, though I spell is Juls. I know, without the ‘e’ it doesn’t sound like that but it’s how I spelled it. And my last name is one of the most common French Canadian family names. Put them both together and you’ve got pages in the phone book.

I never even considered taking my husbands name. I got married in my early 30s. I had my name for so long I couldn’t imagine being someone else. It just didn’t make sense. Also, coming from Montreal, in a province that you can’t take your husband’s name in marriage (you have to go through the whole legal name changing thing), again, it wasn’t anything I ever considered. The jellybean has only my husband’s last name. There are so many of mine in the world, there was no need to put another one in it!

On another note, one of my life long friends is named Danielle, and she has always been Dan to me. And I don’t think just because you are getting “older” that you should change from Dani. It’s who you are, why deny it?

17 Batman December 15, 2009 at 11:59 pm

I grew up with my mother calling me Patrick and my friends calling me Pat. At about the age of 18, I started using ‘Patrick’ when I met new people. I had been plagued for most of my teen years with people misinterpreting Pat as being Todd, Sam, Pete, etc. So, I became Patrick. Some of my older friends still call me Pat although some of them have also switched to Patrick over the years. I still get a mix of the two. Sometimes I correct people when they shorten it. Other times, I just let it go. The odd thing about this decision was that it was also about age 18 when my mother started calling me ‘Pat’.

18 Jennyandtm December 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

I sign everything Timothy,and that is what my mother still calls me. However, i find it easier to just use tiem whenintroducing myself, and that is what most people use when talking to me, although I have an aunt who still calls me Timmy. I dont’ get too bent out of shape about the whole Timothy or Tim thing.

Jenny’s name is Jenny, not Jennifer, and it bothers her when some calls her Jennifer.

19 Connie December 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

My husband and I lived together for 20 years before we got married (does that qualify as “practice” too?) and it only struck me a couple of weeks after our wedding that I’d signed all the papers with my maiden name. The whole “take his surname” thing had completely slipped my mind.

I’ve never liked my given name, so recently I’ve been toying with changing the whole kit and caboodle to my husband’s surname and another first name altogether. But when I ran it by friends and family, most were vehemently against the idea. It’s interesting how deep this naming stuff goes.

20 UberGeek December 16, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Seriously, you gave me that kind of ammunition?

21 Mary Lynn December 16, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I started commenting here then decided it was getting too long. Turned it into a post on my own blog. Ah, the trials and tribulations of being named Mary Lynn. Thanks for the blogging inspiration!

22 Natalie @YMCBuzz December 16, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I’m an anglo “Nat” (Natalie – no “h”) who grew up in Quรฉbec – TONS of Nathalies all around – I was rare ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve always loved your name, I think Dani is quirky and personal.

The only time I haven’t *loved* a nickname was when my friend introduced me to her daughter, “Colie” (short for Nicole). Then, I thought it sounded weird. Now, I’m used to it, and even think it’s cute and suits her ๐Ÿ™‚

23 Ingrid December 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I don’t have name issues myself, but my youngest brother was named David Alexander at birth. My parents only ever called him “Lex” , and we never used the name David in the house. At age 4, he decided to tell his swimming teacher that his name was actually “Colin” – no idea where that came from, but she bought it and he got a swimming report with the name Colin on it. Now, professionally he uses Alex, but he has been forced into using D. Alexander for certain banking accounts. To make matters worse, we have a last name that is 2 words with a small letter starting the first word and the second part starting with a capital. He has messed this all up my just making it one name and starting with a capital.

Can someone explain why parents choose a baby name but only call the baby by the middle name? I have never understood the rationale.

24 Rebecca December 17, 2009 at 8:19 am

Becky or Rebecca, that is the question. I will tell you – anyone who met me after the age of 17 calls me Rebecca. My family alternate between Bekka and Becky (which I decided in middle school to spell Bekki and it stuck). I don’t like being called Becky and will correct anyone outside of family who uses that with me. My name is Rebecca and I can’t see a single reason not to use it. This actually works in my favor at this point – at my current place of employment there are 2 Beckys, but I am the only Rebecca. Turns out using my given name simplified things. Imagine that.

As for Dani… I think you should be called whatever you’re comfortable with. It’s cute, but I don’t think it’s “too cute” to be used past a certain age. You’re Dani, so be Dani. ๐Ÿ™‚

25 Guillermo December 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm

@Daniel… In spanish that double l could be “silent” as you say, similar to the french example you give me with “Meilleur” But in “‘argentinian spanish” (the spanish we talk where I can from) the double l sounds like a “sh”… gui-sher-mo

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