Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What if my name were Chloe?

One of my Twitter bros just posted this gedankentweet:
It reminded me of something similar I tweeted a while back:
You can do this with any name I guess; would be weird to be named Myrtle or Dave. But "Chloe" in particular, I feel, gives me uncanny feelings, I think because it's just similar enough to Elisa in terms of basic characteristics (squarely feminine, vaguely European, not deeply tied to any historical period) and just different enough in effect. You see, a "Chloe" seems always to be first and foremost aesthetic — I expect Chloes to be beautiful, perhaps ethereally beautiful, delicate, artistic. Probably sexy, but at least sensual. I don't think of myself as a Chloe at all. But if I were named Chloe, would I think of myself that way?

This also reminds me of the Name-Letter Effect: "your subconscious preference for things that sound like your own name." In other words, people whose names start with a C are more likely to live in California or drink Coke instead of Pepsi. If your last name is Law, you're more likely to become a lawyer than the average person, etc. (Oddly, I've always hated brand names that start with E.)

Anyway, quick poll: I have no idea, really, what connotations the name "Elisa" has, since I'm too close to it. The first time you heard my name, or met another Elisa, what expectations did that create? What does "Elisa" mean to you?

26 comments:

  1. da Vinci and porn... (moan Elisa, moan). Sorry...

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    1. John said "small French perfectionist"

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  2. I think Chloe sounds cloying. And I _do_ (poss. incorrectly) think of Elisa as tied to the period beginning ca. 1970. It's a little mixed up with Alyssa, Alissa, Elissa, etc. in my subconscious -- though I have you filed under egabbert instead.

    I recently met this guy named Jonathan Edge who studies the electrical properties of the edges (and corners) of metals...

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    1. It looks like it peaked in popularity around 1980 (I was born in '79) but was never particularly popular and has been around for a long time:

      http://www.behindthename.com/top/search.php?terms=Elisa&code=&gender=f

      Good Edge story. He also could have done some kind of extreme sports.

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  3. Elisa screams Austrian painter's muse.

    I've always hated how my name makes old men with Brooklyn accents declare, "You don't LOOK like a Brooklyn!!!" Like I'm some kind of imposter. Heh.

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    1. I've been told I look like this subject of this painting (it's Italian though): Portrait of a Woman with a Pearl Necklace

      Brooklyn sounds a little bit like a celebrity's child's name. I remember I was in 5th grade or so when I first heard about a kid named Madison and thought that was so cool. Now Madisons are a dime a dozen of course. I don't know any other Brooklyns though.

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  4. The first time I heard your name, I wondered how it was spelled. Then I saw it spelled and thought, "My, but that must get butchered all the time."

    Then I heard someone else's name, pronounced just like yours, but spelled Elissa, and having met you, I thought, "That 2-S Elisa is a FAKE." And she turned out to be a deplorable person.

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  5. You're the first and only Elisa I know, so you're the source of 100% of my Elisa connotations.

    Lately whenever I hear "Chloe" I think of Chloe Caldwell. She has usurped Chloe Sevigny.

    Relatedly—and I don't know how I should feel about this—but the first time I saw the name Shanna Compton, I assumed she was black.

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    1. That's hilarious ... because of Straight Outta Compton?!

      Chloe Caldwell is who I think of when I hear "Chloe" now too. She's the only Chloe I "know" (quotes because only barely and via the Internet) but somehow I have this like database of Chloes in my mind.

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    2. Unconsciously, but yeah, I'm sure that's what it was.

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  6. Elisa makes me think of "Für Elise." The German pronunciation of Elise sounds like Elisa--though I've heard that "Elise" may have been a mistake; it probably should have been Therese. So maybe you should have been named something else, too. You look a bit like Chloe Sevigny, so maybe Chloe would suit you. I can see you playing her role in Demonlover.

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    1. I was actually named after Für Elise -- but my parents changed the spelling.

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  7. I've always thought you were the electronic Lisa.
    mail : email : : Lisa : Elisa

    I also work with an Illysa (pronounced the same) and tangentially know an Alyse (pronounced without the final "uh" sound, like an electronic lease).

    --Jeff E.

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    1. Illysa is pretty cool -- looks sort of Dostoevskian.

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    2. Lizaveta is one of my favorite female names.

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  8. You are also my reference Elisa(!), for I don't know of the name in any other context. And of course I also don't know you personally. ;-) Closest would be Abelard and Eloise, but that is a bit of a stretch, ditto Ilse, who worked for my godson's mum, bore Ronnie Scott's lovechild and nursed Spike Milligan on his deathbed.

    Okay, so I am starting to get some assocations from these near miss Elisa homonyms, supplemented by the 'nutritious ooze' of my own imagination. I am going to say Elisa is poised and elegant, balletic in physique, and with refined sensibilities. She may additionally be suppressing a wild child or have a sharp tongue or be judgmental. Not saying any of these negative traits are yours, obviously.

    For the record, if I was a boy I was going to be called Christopher William. So incredulous was my mother that she had given birth to a girl that the midwife had to thrust my..ahem..lower half in her face to convince her. And my best friend was going to be called Wesley, God love her.

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    1. For a couple of years, when I was growing up, there was an Elisa living right across the street from us. We were stunned when we met each other, like, "No, MY name is Elisa!" I haven't met too many other Elisas, but I saw the name on nametags a few times when I was traveling around Western Europe (in Spain, Italy). Alyssa is definitely the more common variation in my generation. There is a semi-famous-ish model/fashion person named Elisa who I sometimes see on Garance Dore's blog. She doesn't resemble me though.

      I like those associations! Not bad at all. And I probably do have a bit of a sharp tongue, though I try hard not to be judgmental.

      Adorable story about your mum (trying out "mum"). I've never gotten my parents to tell me what my boy name would have been.

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    2. I vaguely recall being told that I would have been Margaret as a girl. It might be a false memory. In any case, it's fun to think about your imaginary opposite-sex doppelgänger sometimes, and Margaret, or Maggie, seems as good a name for this purpose as any.

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  9. You're the only Elisa I've ever met or encountered. I've known a couple of women named Elise, and I maybe vaguely connect "Elisa" with the earlier of them (you and she look very vaguely a little alike). I've met women with other variations of the name (Alyssa, Alissa, etc.) but no other Elisas.

    My first major connection with the name "Elisa" is, same as David Grove commented above, with Beethoven's piano piece "Fur Elise." Though whenever I've heard someone say the name of the piece of music, I've always heard it pronounced without the "uh" on the end.

    Chloe makes me think immediately of Chloe Sevigny, who I've liked in the movies and TV I've seen her in. (Likewise with David Grove above, I see a little bit of resemblance between you and Chloe Sevigny.) I don't know offhand who Chloe Caldwell is, not sure if I've heard of her before.

    There was also the movie "Chloe" a couple of years ago, where Amanda Seyfried played the character named Chloe.

    And there's also an old song named "Chloe," early 20th century, I'm pretty sure, 1920's or earlier, my mom and dad had a 78 rpm recording of an old-fashioned piano version of the song (an indication of how old the song is). There are apparently, at least two songs from the 1920's named "Chloe," and I'm not sure which one is the one I've heard. It's the kind of song that could have been used as the sound track for a heartbreaking scene in a silent movie, though not sure if it was ever used that way.

    In the same album of 78 rpm records was an old piano version of the song "The Bird in the Gilded Cage." You could almost smell the lavender and bay rum drifting up out of the music.

    My parents considered naming me Lincoln or David. One or the other of them ruled out Lincoln "because everybody will call him Honest Abe all the time." They decided against David because it ends with a D and my last name begins with a D, and "when he says his name, people will think it's David Aggett." They picked Lyle because they each had a relative named Lyle. (They kept David as my middle name.)

    I'm sure I must have asked what they would have named me if I'd been a girl, and they must have told me, but I totally don't remember.

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    1. I saw that movie. Pretty silly ... movies are so absurd now that even greats like Julianne Moore have to be in silly crap.

      John was just saying yesterday that he considered trying to go by Jack in college, but didn't want everyone to think his name was Jack Otter.

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  10. Chloe isn't athletic!! She's artistic with dangly earrings!!! Elisa to me evokes, like....Denmark in the 80s. I don't know, I feel like makes me think of European modern looking furniture but in a feminine way.

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    1. I said aesthetic, not athletic! very different.

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    2. There was a furniture store in El Paso when I was growing up called Copenhagen. It intrigued me but we never went in.

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  11. Elisa sounds to me like exactly how you described Chloe in your post, and you look like Elisa to me. For reasons you and I understand, the difference between Elisa and other, similar names is very distinct in my mind. :)

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    1. Yes! That difference is distinct in my mind too, we'll have to talk about that in person sometime :)

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