Please welcome my fabulous guest blogger, Maria Grazia Swan...
Some American first names are very confusing to me. Take Pat for example, it is short for Patricia or Patrick? Then, do you know if it is he/Pat or she/Pat? Patricia can also be shortened to Patty or Trish or Tricia or even Patsy. In those cases, it is clearly a she/Pat, right? Then there is Toni or Tony. Yes, for a native that’s self explanatory, for somebody like me who learned to spell with an alphabet of 21 letters, it is a little more difficult. I finally asked a friend who kindly explained the difference between the two endings, “i” for the female version and “y” for the male version as a nickname for Anthony. You see, now, to me, Anthony is the simple one. Consider for a moment Miki, Mickey, or Micky. Where did the “y” come from in this case? What about Sam? And Blair, Morgan, Jaime, Marion, and dare I ask? Paris. Are these boy’s or girl’s names?
Then you have last names that are really first names. How confusing is that? There’s Lynn David, Andrew Lawrence, April Rose, Kim Lindsay, Tom Arnold, Billy Joe, Ricky Martin, Tina Louise, Marc Anthony, Marc Grace, Bruce Lee. I bet you could add a dozen more to my list.
When I was growing up in Italy, everybody had to have the name of a Saint.
There is a Saint’s name next to every calendar day and Italians like to celebrate their name day. There used to be a lot of girls and women named Maria’ It was Maria this and Maria that. Maria isn’t so common anymore. However, Italian first names are easy to distinguish because male names end in “o” like, Mario while female names end with an “a” like Maria. If I stopped writing right now, you’d probably all go on thinking how simple Italian names are for the purpose of knowing the sex of the name holder. But, there are exceptions. Quite a few actually, like Andrea; in the United States this is a girl’s name and since it ends with an ‘a’ you would assume the same of the Italian counterpart. You’d assume wrong. Andrea is a boy’s name.
And we have other exceptions. For instance, both boy’s and girl’s names ending with an “e”, like, Cesare, Dante, Davide, Beatrice, and Clarice, and what’s interesting is that these names don’t have a translation for the opposite sex.
I named my first-born in the Italian tradition, using the names of his two grandfathers: David, Augusto. I had hoped he would use these names proudly, but pretty soon he became just Dave, and at high school graduation, he bribed the announcer not to mention his middle name. So much for tradition. With the next boy I decided to find a name that couldn’t be abbreviated. Fat chance. Brian Swan quickly became BS, you all know the common meaning of that acronym.
As for myself, my given name was Maria Grazia. In a perfect world, it translates to Mary Grace, but we live in the United States of America, so, when I grew tired of people calling me Mary Thank You, I began to use Maria, just plain Maria for my first name. It’s hard to shorten or change that, I hope. If you have other ideas, I don’t want to know, leave me this small sense of security and comfort.
~ Maria Grazia Swan
Maria Grazia Swan is an author and motivational speaker who shares relationship advice and guidance for women re-entering the social/dating scene. Maria empowers and encourages single women to be bold, fearless, and sexy in their pursuit of life and love after age 45. An award recipient from the Women’s National Book Association, Swan is the author of Boomer Babes: True Tales of Love and Lust in the Later Years (Leisure Books). Visit