They’re actually quite good, if I say so myself, so stick with me .
All of last year, she kept asking for some pet fish for her birthday; I was reluctant, as we often go off traveling (as you may have guesed by now, if you’ve been popping by for a while — I blame my Romany blood).
But, having looked into it, and talked it over with fish-owning friends, we decided it would be possible, and, for her birthday, she got her first four fishies.
Four cheerful little danios.
And their names?
Amber, Ruby, Cordelia and Zoe.
Ruby has long been one of her favorites; it is why I featured it as a Pagan Name of the Month towards the end of last year. It does rather suit the little leopard Danio upon which Small Child has bestowed it.
Amber is, of course, another “precious stone” name. It didn’t really take off when precious stones were first embraced at the end of the nineteenth century, but prominent exposures through Mary Webb’s 1920 novel The House in Dormer Forest, and Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber, not to mention the feminist and writer Amber Reeves (1887-1981) all served to raise the name’s profile in Britain during the course of the twentieth century, and it reached the thirty-first spot in the UK in 1998. Last year it was 52nd. In America, Amber’s peak was a decade before in 1986 and in 13th spot. Now she’s down in the early 200s, and dropping fast, dropped in the “dated” sin-bin. If you can see past that “dated” label, though, I think Amber still has much to offer — and not just for orange danios!
Zoe, with her well-known meaning of “life” in Greek, is an interesting one. It’s been in the UK top 100 since the 70s, rising and falling, rising and falling, making it remarkably tenacious. It remained under the radar in the US until relatively recently but is currently climbing fast, being 31st in 2010.
Cordelia is virtually identical to Zoe — the fish. The name is, of course, quite different. It almost certainly derives from the Welsh Creuddylad, though is often linked with Latin Cordula “little heart.” One of Small Child’s friends is a Cordelia, which is where she acquired the name.
A fortnight ago, Amber, Ruby, Cordelia and Zoe were joined by four new friends, two cold-water platies, and two ghost shrimp. Their names?
Florrie, Kitty, Sylvanian and Heidi
Florrie the Platy is named after one of the ghosts of the Red Lion Pub in Avebury, where we had lunch one day during our recent trip to Somerset. Small Child likes ghost stories and took a shine to Florrie’s tragic tale; she was said to have been murdered by a jealous husband who came home from the English Civil War to find her in the arms of another. He threw her body down the well, the top of which now has a glass top and serves as a table (where we ate!). Florrie is one of the pet-forms of the very “now” Florence — and also of Flora.
Kitty the Platy, I’m sorry to say, is named after Hello Kitty, but it’s still a charming old pet-form of Katherine. It’s a rarity in America, and seen more in the UK, often as a pet-form of Katherine, but also in her own right, coming in in 418th place in 2010.
Sylvanian, the Ghost Shrimp, may seem a curious choice to Americans, but I’m sure British readers can guess the source — Sylvanians Families (called Calico Critters in America). They are her great obsession at the moment. The land of Sylvania was probably inspired by the likes of Transylvania and Pennsylvania, coming from the Latin silvus “forest.”
Heidi. Last month, I wrote about homophony, and Heidi’s name is a great example of it in action. Originally, both of Small Child’s ghost shrimps were going to be called Sylvanian, as we didn’t think we’d be able to tell them apart. But when they arrived, one immediately seemed more shy, and went to hide under the filter. It was also clearly smaller, so we realized we could tell them apart after all. Thus, the “hide-y” one became Heidi. Heidi, a German pet-form of Adelheid (Adelaide), owes its popularity in the past not so much to Joanna Spyri’s novel, but the Shirley Temple film of 1937. It was in the top 100 in the seventies and still has much charm; with the rise in interest in Adelaide, maybe Heidi will also make a come-back?
So there you are, Small Child’s eight little friends. A well-named watery sibset, I hope you agree!