Sunday, October 22, 2017

Some Distinctive African American Female Names That Begin With "La"

Edited by Azizi Powell

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":

PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE (Revised January 14, 2018)
African Americans are known to have a larger name pool than most population groups within the United States. Distinctive African American names include names that aren't commonly given in the United States. These names may be from traditional African languages, or from Arabic, or from other languages throughout the world, including certain names from European languages and from Hebrew which aren't that familiar in the United States. Distinctive African American names are also names that are newly created 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 or 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 prefix "La" is mostly, but not only added to certain female names, the prefix "De" is mostly but not always added to certain male names, the suffix "isha" is only added to female names, and the suffix "ious" is only added to male 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

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".

My name "Azizi" is a Swahili form of the Arabic female name "Aziza". In part because of Swahili'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. Thanks to the availability of published books on African names in the 1970s, more African Americans began choosing given names from Akan, from Yoruba, Zulu, and from certain other traditional African languages.

In my admittedly informal study of African American names, I've noticed that there appears to be certain sound preferences among many 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", but, as this post shows, there are also a number of male names that begin with that prefix. It seems to me that "being unique" was (and still is to perhaps a somewhat lesser extent) when many African Americans (and some other Americans had) were (are) deciding on given names for their newborns. And I've also noticed that for some African Americans since the 1970s, 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 Mormans living in Utah and Idaho have certain naming practices that are similar to African Americans. For example, some distinctive Morman names begin with "La", some names are created by combining two already existing names, and a number of given names include an apostrophe. However, Morman originated are usually different from African American originated “La” names because the "base" names (the names before the prefix or apostraphe) are often unfamiliar to African Americans.

Read my speculation below in the comment section about why I think the "la" prefix is one of the foremost sound preferences among African Americans.
*Click for the 2011 pancocojams post entitled "How I Got My African Name".

** Of course, all names were "made up" at one time or another.

Read my speculation below in the comment section about why I think the "la" prefix for females and males is one of the foremost sound preferences among African Americans.
*Click for the 2011 pancocojams post entitled "How I Got My African Name".

** Of course, all names were "made up" at one time or another.

Pancocojams Editor Notes:
To emphasize, these "distinctive African American male names" can also be given to males of other races or ethnicities (with "ethnicity". (In the United States referring to Latinos (Latinas)/Hispanics. Latinos (Latinas)/Hispanics can be of any race.)

Pancocojams Editor:
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)

page 310
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

page 311
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.]

page 398
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

La Chelle
La Kenya
La Kita
La Quan
La Shanda
La Shante
La Sheena
La' Shona
*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 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.

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 The REAL Sources Of The Female Name "Keisha" and 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
"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]
Lacrasha--------- La-Shonna
Lacrecia--------- La-sondra
Lacresia--------- Lataesha
Lacricia--------- Latanna
Lacrishia ------- Latasia
Ladaishia-------- Lataya
La-Dale ----------Lateasia
Ladona -----------Lateica
Ladonne ----------Laticia
LaJonel ----------Latitia
Lakasha ----------Latondra
Lakeitha ---------Latonia
Laketta ----------Latonya
La-Keysha --------Latore
Lakresha ---------Latorray
Lamesha ----------Latreece
Lanecia ----------La-trice
La-Neisha --------Latrisha
La-Neishah -------Lavern
Laqueinta --------Laverne
Laquenetta -------La-Verne
Laquetta ---------La-Von
Laquinda ---------Lavonn
La'Rae -----------La'Wanda
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 as they are also used as male names. Also, names that end in the suffix "von" which don't end in "a" 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. 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 [These numbers are given on that website]
324 Lacara
325 Ladell
326 Lafyette
327 Lakedra
328 Lakesia
329 Lalique
330 Landon
331 Laquita
332 Larieka
333 Larriel
334 Lashaya
335 Latavia
336 Latresia

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  1. [I wrote parts of this comment for the pancocojams post about "some distinctive African American male names that begin with "La"]

    I used Google search to see if I could find any names beginning with "L" and "La" in particular in certain traditional African languages. Here are my results:

    Swahili - no names beginning with "La" (male or female)
    Lingala [language spoken in the Congo]
    No female names beginning with La
    6 female or male/female names beginning with L
    no names beginning with “L” [on the] "LISTS OF YORUBA NAMES AND THEIR ENGLISH MEANING".
    “Lotachukwu [variants] Lota, Lotachi Remember God
    Lotanna [variants] Lota, Nna Remember the father/God”
    These names are unisex (i.e. They can be given to males or females]. List of Akan (Twi, Asante) Names

    No Akan names beginning with L

    However, there are lots of Yoruba names that either begin with or end with the element "ola".*

    Given that many people of Yoruba descent were enslaved in the United States, the Caribbean, and South America, and given how much Yoruba culture has influenced the cultures of the Americans and the Caribbean, perhaps the "ola" name element is one of the reasons why the "lah" sound appears to be so popular among African Americans.

    *Click for a pancocojams post about the "ola" prefix and suffix in Yoruba names.

    1. There's really no way to know if the Yoruba (Nigeria, West Africa) name element "ola" is the reason for what is a long held Black American preference for the "lah" sound as a prefix in given (first and middle) names.

      But, given that the Yoruba prefix "ola" means "honor or wealth", putting that prefix before a name could have been a coded way for oppressed people to call into being their best hopes and wishes for their children who embodied those names.

  2. Dr. Farooq Kperogi is the author of a February 13, 2017 Daily Trust [Nigerian] newspaper column entitled "Nigerian and African Muslim Personal Names Among the Gullah of Georgia and South Carolina".

    That column includes a few examples of African personal names that African American linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner found among the Gullah people in the United States in the 1930s.

    Some of those names may help explain why African Americans seem to have a preference for the "La" prefix in personal names for females and males.

    Here are some excerpts from that article which I reprinted in this pancocojams post:*

    "Among the hundreds of Yoruba names Turner recorded among the Gullah people in the 1930s are names like ... Alafia [ "Alafia" is an Arabic-derived word; see Arabized African names below], Alabo, Alade, Alawo....Otunla,...."


    He [Lorenzo Dow Turner] also recorded names like.... Lafiya ( derived from the Arabic word for good health, which is borne as a royal name among the Borgu people in Nigeria and Benin Republic, and as an everyday personal name in Senegambia and other historically Muslim polities in West Africa; Laila; Laraba, a Hausa name given to a girl born on Wednesday, derived from al-arbi'aa', the Arabic word for Wednesday ....

    They also bear the names of West African ethnic groups as personal names, indicating the ethnic origins of some of the Gullah people. They bear names like Fulani, Fulbe, Fula (which refer to the same people)... according to Turner's records"...

    * That pancocojams post also includes information about Gullah people in the United States, information about Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner, and information about Dr. Farooq Kperogi.

    I have a copy of the book The African Heritage Of American English, editors Joseph E. Holloway and Winifred K. Vass (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1993) which is based on Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner’s 1949 book Africanisms In The Gullah dialect. I intend to compile some of those names and feature them in a future pancocojams post or posts.

  3. An African American female with an "La" prefix also made the news on November 19, 2017:

    "LaToya Cantrell becomes New Orleans' first female mayor
    Los Angeles Times November 19, 2017

    "LaToya Cantrell, a City Council member who first gained a political following as she worked to help her hard-hit neighborhood recover from Hurricane Katrina, won a historic election Saturday that made her the first female mayor of New Orleans."
    Also, note on the same day that an African American male with an "La" prefix name also made the news: Trump Blasts LaVar Ball: ‘I Should Have Left Them in Jail!’
    For more information and comments about La Var Ball, read the comment section of the companion pancocojams post about Distinctive African American Names That Begin With "La". That post's link is given above.