July 10, 2007— -- In the quiet of her den, Maryanna Korwitts scans long lists of names every day. She's looking for just the right combination of names for your baby -- and possibly you too.
"Each name has a personality," she said. "The personality is delivered to the person that wears that name and becomes a part of who they are."
She speaks as a self-styled "nameologist." And in that capacity for the last 15 years, Korwitts has advised clients on names for their babies, themselves, their businesses and, of course, their pets.
And don't think people are reluctant to take her up on the offer. Business is booming. Why? Because, she explained, unlike decades ago when nurseries were positively teeming with dozens of Johns or Marys, today the naming choices are seemingly endless.
"Parents are feeling a little nervous about making the right choice," Korwitts explained, "and that's when they want professional help."
Korwitts -- whose given name was Mary Ann, said she changed it to Maryanna years ago for reasons too involved to explain -- believes modern day parents may be too distracted to make an informed choice. "You want to be sure it's an ensemble that is working well," she said of a name. "Even looking at the initials to be sure that those initials aren't spelling something you don't want to spell." You get the idea.
Madeline Dziallo, of Naperville, Ill., is a client. Both her son, Ross, and her daughter, Natalie, owe their monikers to Korwitts. But did Dziallo really have to pay for a name? Why couldn't she and her husband produce something satisfactory?
"I've been given a little grief," she conceded but quickly added that she was totally satisfied that Korwitts' selections had set her offspring on the right path to success in life. "The whole process was really refreshing," she said. "It was really a pleasure."
Then there is Marguerite Savage. At least that's her name for the time being. It turns out that Marguerite, of Batavia, Ill., will soon become Gabrielle. And that the change will extend to her last name as well. No longer a Savage, Gabrielle will soon be a Serrano. Why?
"I'm changing my whole name," she said, "because I want to produce the most positive influence. I want to have the most going for me that I can."
Besides, "Maryanna told me Gabrielle has more energetic frequency than Marguerite," she said. Asked what that means, Savage/Serrano said her new name "builds partnerships and is strong on people."
She also changed her daughter's name from Yana to Yaana -- the extra vowel deemed significant by Korwitts. You may not see it immediately, but the change could take effect over time as the child grows. "It's like a recipe," said Korwitts. "So you know when you put certain things into a recipe, you put chili powder into chili, you're going to get a hot taste even though you may not see it there."
"I think people today are realizing the impact of names much more so than in the past," Korwitts explained. So "Nightline" tried some names out on her for guidance.
Jason? Not good. Hyperactive child.
Doug? Not good either. Fat kid.
Liz? See Doug.
Korwitts is very big on Michael, but not Mike, and certainly not Mickey. She thinks Ava for a girl is perfect. "One of the things I like about the name is that it's short, so it can't be abbreviated. It will always be there in all its glory." She likes Emily or Emma too. Her dogs' names, by the way, are Zeus and Maggie, for reasons known only to her.
How about Martin?
"It will be a person who really likes to do things his own way, but also has a creative side."
"They can really take charge and be very responsible and objective."
"Lots on their plate. Going here and going there, loving to do all sorts of things and finding it very difficult to relax."
We hesitated and then went for it.
"How about Dean?"
"Dean is actually a very good name," Korwitts said (free of charge). "The term 'voice of reason' comes to mind when I think about that name."
What a relief.