Names of the Week: Jazz and Sorrel

from thomasjwestmusic.com

Two word names last week, ‘lo and behold, two word names this week. Even more in keeping is that one of last week’s names was a musical name, and the other was a nature name; this time we’ve switched genders, at the very least.

Back in my days of secondary school I was in the same form as a guy named Jared and he went by the name Jazz on a day-to-day basis. Then again, one could also argue the case for using Jazz as a short for of Jasmine, a female name. Speaking of gender ambiguity, remember the debate that erupted over a Canadian gender-neutral baby last year? The baby in question was called Storm, and the elder siblings were called Kio and Jazz (we know them to be male).

As a word, Jazz is difficult to define; a jazz critic by the name of Joachim Berendt has attempted to do just that, describing as:

form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music…a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role….sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician

Pretty wordy, but I guess it does the job of defining Jazz well enough. The origin of the word also happens to be a bit of a grey area (of course it would be). The American Dialect Society even named Jazz as the Word of the 20th Century. Since Jazz began life as a slang word, that’s why it’s exact origins are hard to place.

I think that Jazz has a certain vibrancy to him, and he ends with some snazzy zs – almost as fantastic as ending-in-x. You could also link him to Jack on the basis of sound, since both are short, 1-syllable names starting with J.

In terms of his popularity, the name Jazz only ranks on the female list in England&Wales – and only just with 3 of ’em born. That means that I still see the gender of Jazz as fluid since he’s hardly used right now.

Then we have Sorrel, another name which lives in the grey area of gender-ambiguity. It ends in -el, like plenty of female names do – but then again, so does Lionel and that’s one name that is quite firmly male. British author, Sir Julian Sorell Huxley was a notable male bearer, as is Sorrell Booke, an American actor.

Sorrel, in botanical terms, is a plant with acidic leaves, sometimes used in cooking. Personally I’ve never used sorrel before in the kitchen in my life, but there we go.

There’s a plant in the Caribbean known as Jamaican Sorrel, or otherwise as Roselle, and another link to Jamaica is that they have a hibiscus tea there known as Sorrel.

Related names could include Sora on the basis of sound-similarity (a name which we’ve previously covered in this feature) and perhaps even Perenelle.

On to popularity and it’s not exactly an exciting set of statistics: in 2010 the name Sorrel was given to 8 girls born in England&Wales. Not a sizable number by any means, but if you’re looking for a less-than-often used name this may be a statistic you’re happy to hear about.

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