Noah? Ah, no

For a few months after we had a son and named him Jonah, my dad occasionally called him Noah by mistake. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the only one. A few other people have made that mistake over the years. His great grandmother still does it from time to time.

In 2008 I had a job interview with a software engineer named Jonah. I mentioned that it was also the name of my son. He said, “For some reason, no one can remember the name Jonah. They always call me Noah.”

Today I learned of the existence of Noah and the Whale, a London pop-music band. (Their song, “5 Years Time,” came up on my Pandora station, and it’s a good one.) Their name is a play on the story of Jonah and the whale.

It’s true that Jonah and Noah are both biblical boy’s names, and that one is an anagram of 80% of the other’s letters. But why are they easier to confuse than, say, Caleb and Abel?

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