Edited by Azizi Powell
Latest revision: August 18, 2018
This pancocojams post provides some examples of distinctive African American female names that begin with "La".
The content of this post is presented for onomastics and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those are quoted in this post.
This post serves as a companion to this pancocojams post about examples of distinctive African American males names that begin with "La": http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/10/some-distinctive-african-american-male.html
PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE (Revised August 18, 2018)
African Americans have always been known to have a larger name pool than most population groups within the United States. Nevertheless, most African Americans don't give non-standard names to their children.
This post focuses descriptions of certain types of given names that are given to the population of African Americans who do confer distinctive given names to their children.
"Ghetto names", "weird names" and other pejorative terms have also been used to refer to certain sub-types of "distinctive African American names" particularly those names that are re-purposed words (such as product names or certain adjectives), as well as names that begin with certain prefixes and/or end with certain suffixes, names that include an apostrophe or hyphen, names that include more than one capitol letter, and names that are longer than three syllables. However, I don't use negative references to refer to those types of names or any other names. I prefer to term "distinctive African American names" for non-standard given names that are more commonly used by African Americans than by other populations in the United States. It's important to note that some names that are generally considered to be "African American names/Black names" are also used by non-Black people (including non-African Americans) in the United States.
REASONS WHY SOME AFRICAN AMERICANS MAY GIVE NON-STANDARD NAMES TO THEIR CHILDREN
There are multiple reasons why African Americans and other people living in the United States choose non-standard names for their children.
Here are eight reasons (given in no particular order)
1. adhering to their family traditions, including giving children names that "run in the family" (are conferred to a child in that family) even though the name is now considered "old fashioned"
2. giving names that connect children to their heritage and express pride in their heritage
The rise of multiculturalism in the United States is partly responsible for some of these naming trends. In addition to the acceptance of multiculturalism, among African Americans and other Black Americans, the greater acceptance of African ancestry, and increased knowledge about African history and cultures has increased the use of traditional African names as given names
3. Giving names that are associated with a family's religion
However, many Black Americans who give Arabic personal names to their children aren't Muslim.
4.giving children unique names that will help them "stand out in a crowd"; parents are interested in "different names" but also names that aren't too different; some unique names may be variants of already existing names (with different spelling, and/or an added apostrophe, or combinations of two different names with or without a prefix and/or a suffix
expressing paternal and/or maternal relationships (for instance, creating a name that is a female form of the father's given name by combining a portion of that name with a suffix such as "isha" that usually is only used for females)
6. choosing a given name that appeals to a person's sound preferences (Note that sound preferences can vary among different populations living in the same nation, and also within a particular race and/or ethnicity within that same nation. This post includes my position that with regard to given names, African American sound preferences are often different than non-Black sound preferences within the United States.)
7. creating a variant form of an already existing name that more closely conforms to the way the name is pronounced and/or by adding a prefix and/or a suffix and/or adding an apostrophe or a hyphen, and sometimes also beginning the second syllable of the name with a capitol letter.
8.selecting names that are trending in the general population, because of these names have been popularized by television characters or celebrities, including names that celebrities give their children. Some of these names may have previously been categorized as non-standard names.
TYPES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN DISTINCTIVE NAMES
Distinctive African American names are already existing names that originate in a language that is usually not used as name sources in the United States, such as traditional African languages, or from Arabic. However, African Americans may select already existing names from other languages throughout the world, including certain names from European languages and from Hebrew which aren't that familiar in the United States or may have been retired from use because they have been deemed to be "old fashioned".
Distinctive African American names are also names that are newly created (coined) using a number of different strategies.
Among these naming strategies are
-respelling an already existing name so that it more closely fits how it is pronounced
-adding a certain prefix to a spelling variant of an existing name, or to a relatively newly coined name. For example, the prefix "La" is mostly, but not only added to certain female names, and the prefix "De" is mostly added to certain male names, but may also be added to some female names
-adding a certain suffix to an already existing name or to a spelling variant of an existing name, or to a relatively newly coined name. For example, the suffix "isha" is only added to female names. The suffix "tae" is mostly added to male names, but may also be added to some female names.
-using capital letter for the first letter that occurs after a prefix
-adding an apostrophe or a hyphen to a name
-combining parts of two names (usually the names of the child's parents) to create the child's name
-re-purposing certain words as personal names (for instance, using certain place names, product names, adjectives, or adverbs as given names
COMMENTS ABOUT DISTINCTIVE AFRICAN AMERICAN NAMES SINCE THE 1970S
Choosing Arabic Names And Names From Traditional African languages
My interest in what I refer to as "distinctive" African American given names (meaning "first and middle names") was sparked when I received my "African free name"* "Azizi" in 1968. "African free names" is a term that afrocentric African Americans used in the late 1960s and 1970s to refer to traditional African or Arabic given names (or less often, to African or Arabic first names and last names) that were either chosen by individuals or given to individuals by other people. "Free names" replaced the European/Hebrew birth names which were called "slave names".
"Azizi" is a Swahili form of the Arabic female name "Aziza". In part because of KiSwahili's close relationship with Arabic, that East African and Central African language was the first traditional African languages that African Americans used as a source for our names and our children's names. After the 1970s, thanks to the availability of published books on African names and particularly thanks to the internet in after 2008 or so, more African Americans began choosing given names for themselves or their children from the Twi language of Ghana, in particular the male day names "Kofi" and "Kwame". More African Americans also began conferring given names from Yoruba, Zulu, and certain other traditional African languages.
Sound Preferences For Names
In my admittedly informal study of African American names, I've noticed that there appears to be certain sound preferences among some African Americans that aren't usually shared by other people in the United States.* Among those sound preferences are given names that begin with the prefix "La" (pronounced "lah"). There are many more female African American names with the prefix "La". However, as this post shows, there are also a number of male names that begin with that prefix.
Different Ways Of Spelling Names
In addition to the way a name sounds, since at least the 1970s for some African Americans, the way that a name is written is almost as important as how the name was pronounced. A name could be spelled "the regular way" or spelled differently to more closely conform to the way it sounds. The first letter in the second syllable could be capitalized and/or an apostrophe or hyphen could separate the first syllable from the second syllable. Less often, the name could include an accent mark. And, as the first excerpt given below, the African American custom of conferring distinctive given names began centuries before the late 1960s and 1970s, although that custom appears to have increased since the late 1960s and on. And it's important to note that some distinctive African American originated personal names are more common (among African Americans) than other distinctive African American originated personal names. Also, some people who aren't Black have names that are African American originated or which are most popular among African Americans.
*Some Mormons living in Utah and Idaho have certain naming practices that are similar to African Americans. For example, some distinctive Mormon names begin with "La", some names are created by combining two already existing names, and a number of given names include an apostrophe. However, Mormon originated are usually different from African American originated “La” names because the "base" names (the names before the prefix or apostrophe) are often unfamiliar to African Americans.
Read my speculation below in the comment section below about why I think the "la" prefix is one of the foremost sound preferences among African Americans who choose "distinctive African American names" for their children.
*Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-i-got-my-african-name.html for the 2011 pancocojams post entitled "How I Got My African Name".
** Of course, all names were "made up" at one time or another.
LISTS OF DISTINCTIVE AFRICAN AMERICAN GIVEN FEMALE NAMES THAT BEGIN WITH "LA"
Except for this first excerpt, these lists are given in no particular order. These lists are numbered for referencing purposes only.
Note: To emphasize, these "distinctive African American female names" can also be given to females of other races or ethnicities -with "ethnicity" in the United States referring to Latinos (Latinas)/Hispanics. Latinos (Latinas)/Hispanics can be of any race.
EXCERPT #1 [selected examples from that book]
From Proud Heritage: 11,001 Names For Your African-American Baby editor Elza Dinwiddie-Boyd (Avon Books, 1994)
La - Puckett* documents an early preference for the La phoneme in these names: La Blanche, La Dora, La Eunice, La Fay, La Jeune, La Perle, La Rossie, La Rue Forrest, La Tausca, La Vada, La Verne, La Zora.
Laetitia - A spelling variation of Letitia (see below) found among free black names**, 1800-64
Lahalia -This rhythmical use of La was noted in 1877-1937
Laney -This unusual given name is found among free black women during the 19th century
Lanieash- Lanieash Lloyd is a West Indian American who lives in Queens, N. Y.
Latia - Latia Curry of New York's Peter Stuyvesant High School is a track and field champion
Latiffah - An African American spelling variation of the Arabic Latifah, which connotes gentle kindness. Rap artist Queen Latifah has given this name new currency.
La Toya - Perhaps the controversial La Toya Jackson of th famed Jackson family can be credited with the proliferation of this name. The Diary of LaToya Hunter: My First Year in Junior High bu LaToya Hunter won this 12-year old a review in the pages of the New York Times.
Latrice*** - Latrice George was a 2003 recipient of a Project Excellence scholarship. Founded by Carl T. Rowan, the fund, during its sixth annual dinner honoring academic excellence, awarded 80 gifted black Washingon, D. C. area high school seniors scholarships totaling $1.3 million.
From the chapter "African Names For Girls" [These are all of the "La" names on this list.]
Laini - Swahili: Sweet and gentle, soft, Laini "Muki" Brown is an aspiring record company executive.
Lama - Arabic: Darkness of lips
Lamis - Arabic; softness to the touch
Lateefah - Arabic: pleasant, gentle woman.
Lateefah - Arabic: Gentle, kind. Queen Latifah is a not always gentle rap artist.
Layla - Swahili: She was born at night.
The chapter "Newly Created Names For Girls" (pages 431-435) of this book lists more than 400 names that begin with the letters "la". Here are 25 names from that list which aren't found on the other lists that are given below are
*Black Names in America: Origins and Usage – 1975
by Newbell Niles Puckett (Author), Murray Heller (Editor)
**In the context of this list, "free black names" means names given to or selected Black Americans who weren't enslaved
*** Regarding the female name "Latrice":
Latrice Royale is the stage name of drag performer Timothy Wilcots, best known for competing in the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, and RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race.....
Date of Birth: February 12, 1972"
Also, click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RuPaul%27s_Drag_Race for information about and dates for this television series.
****Regarding the Arabic female names given in that list, the only Arabic female names beginning with "La" that I've come across (either directly or indirectly) are the names "Latifah" (also with variant spellings) and the name "Layla" (with variant spellings, particularly "Laila"). Both of these Arabic female names, but particularly "Layla" are quite frequently given to African American girls, regardless of their parents' religion.
EXCERPT #2 [selected examples from that website page]
LADONNA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name DONNA.
LAETITIA f Late Roman, French
Original form of LETITIA, as well as the French form.
LAKEISHA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name KEISHA.*
LAKESHIA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name KESHIA.
LAKISHA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name KISHA.
LAILA (1) f Arabic, English
Variant of LAYLA.
LASHAWN f & m African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name SHAWN.
LASHAY m African American (Rare)
Combination of the popular name prefix La and SHAY (1).
LASHONDA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name SHONDA.
LATANYA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name TANYA.
LATASHA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name TASHA.
LATEEFAH f Arabic
Variant transcription of LATIFA.
LATIFA f Arabic
Feminine form of LATIF.
LATIFAH f Arabic
Feminine form of LATIF.
LATISHA f African American
Variant of LETITIA.
LATONYA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name TONYA.
LATOYA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name TOYA.
LAVONE f English (Rare)
Variant of LAVONNE.
LAVONNE f English
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name YVONNE.
LAWANDA f African American
Combination of the popular prefix La with the name WANDA.
LAYLA f Arabic, English
Means "night" in Arabic. This was the name of the object of romantic poems written by the 7th-century poet known as Qays. The story of Qays and Layla became a popular romance in medieval Arabia and Persia. The name became used in the English-speaking world after the 1970 release of the song 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominos, the title of which was inspired by the medieval story.
*Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-real-sources-of-female-name-keisha.html The REAL Sources Of The Female Name "Keisha" and http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-racialization-of-female-name-keisha.html The Racialization Of The Female Name "Keisha" & Its Variants for two pancocojams posts about the female name "Kiesha".
Here's information about the Arabic male name "Latif" from www.behindthename.com/names/letter/l:
"LATIF m Arabic
Means "gentle, kind" in Arabic. In Islamic tradition اللطيف (al-Latif) is one of the 99 names of Allah."
EXCERPT #3 [complete listing of "la" names for African American females from that site]
Lanecia ; La-trice
Larah ; La-wanda
Note that some of these female names that are variants of the name "Sean" ("Shawn", "Shon", "Shaun") and that don't end in "a" are actually unisex names since they are also used as male names. Also, names that end in the suffix "von" without an "a" at the end are also unisex names.
That said, the only African American female and male names on that website's names beginning with "l" page are the names "Lavon" and "Lavonne".
Also note that this list of African American names beginning with "La" is an incomplete sample of names beginning with that prefix. I know African American females with other names which aren't on that list, including an African American woman in her 50s or 60s who was given the birth name "Lavonda" and an African American female in her late 60s whose name is "La Rue." I also know an African American female in her late 60s who spells her name "Laquita" and not the similar spellings given above. I also know a
EXCERPT #4 [complete listing of "la" names for "Black Baby Girl Names" from that site]
From http://www.top-100-baby-names-search.com/black-baby-girl-names.html [These numbers are given on that website]
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