Wednesday, December 3, 2014

World-Wide Wednesday: Scandinavian Baby Names

This edition of World-Wide Wednesday focuses on the baby names of Scandinavia. This includes the three kingdoms of Norway, Denmark and Sweden. These three countries are also categorized as Nordic countries along with Finland, Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe islands. There is plenty of overlapping influence between the countries that sometimes is translated into their baby names. Most baby name sites group all of these together as one overall "origin" called Scandinavian names.

In general, surnames, or "heritable family names", weren't used often in Scandinavia until rather recently in comparison with some other countries. In Denmark, an act was passed in 1526 that made families of nobility have to begin using a heritable name. High class people followed suit during the next few centuries and finally everyone else did later. They followed a patronymic naming tradition that gave the father's name to the children with the suffix "-sen" added to the end. For example, the son of a man named Jens would be given the surname Jensen. 


There have been many naming acts passed since 1771, that made citizens have to give up traditional primary patronymics in favor of choosing a single patronymic surname to use as their heritable family name. What resulted was an overwhelming dominance of a few specific surnames. About one-third of the Danish population have one of the ten most common surnames. More than two-thirds of people have a patronymic name that end with -sen. However, in 2005, Denmark ruled that people could once again use patronymic surnames as a replacement for or in addition to traditional surnames. 

In Norway, the most common surnames were also patronymic and usually ended with either "-ssen", "-sson", "-sdatter", or "-sdotter" with the first two referring to a son and the last two referring to a daughter. For example, the daughter of Jon would be given the surname Jonsdotter while her brother would be called Jonsson. In more recent times, the extra S is often dropped: Hansen instead of Hanssen. 

In 1923, a law was passed that made each Norwegian family choose a single, hereditary last name. Any surname that is derived from a place name usually originated as a farm name that was sometimes taken instead of a patronymic one. However today, place names are much more common than a patronymic name. The popular farm names tend to include either Bakke/Bakken meaning "hill or rise", Berg/Berge meaning "mountain or hill", Haugen/Daugan meaning "hill or mound", Dahl/Dal meaning "valley", Lie meaning "side of a valley", Moen meaning "meadow" or Rud meaning "clearing". Since 2002, the option of using patronymic surnames was once again available.

Swedish surnames are originally patronymic with the most common ending being "-sson". However, in 1901, an act was passed that abolished the practice of handing down patronymic names. Everyone one had to have a specific family surname that was inherited by each generation. Swedish families tend to like names that have to do with nature. A few examples include Lind meaning "linden", Berg meaning "mountain", Dahl/Dahlin meaning "valley" or Alström/Ahlström meaning "alder + stream".  They sometimes build into the family name information about where the family came from. For example, the Strindberg family came from Strinne. There are also some family names that have to do with war such as Skarpsvärd meaning "sharp sword" or Sköld meaning "shield". Since 1982, they've been allowed to use patronymic names again.

In Iceland, they still use patronymic surnames almost exclusively. There are a few heritable surnames passed down, but nearly all Icelanders follow the patronymic method of naming. This includes giving sons the suffix -son and daughters get the suffix -dóttir.  Iceland is very specific and picky about which names parents are allowed to use. There is a Naming Committee that must approve names, especially new ones that have never been used in the country before. The names must be easily used in the Icelandic language and use their alphabet, and they have to be gender specific. Nearly everyone has their father's name incorporated into their last name, but occasionally, matronymic names are used instead. This occurs when the child is to have no social tie to the father or if the mother wishes to make a social statement.

Now that we've covered how naming traditions generally work now and in the past, let's take a look at some examples of Scandinavian baby names.

The following names are somewhat anglicized and therefore a little easier for American children to wear:


Girls:
Annika                               
Annelise
Astrid
Axelia
Brigitta
Cilla
Dagny
Elin
Elsa
Erika
Freya
Greta
Heidi
Helga
Ingrid
Johanna
Kaia
Kirsten
Liv
Magda
Milla
Novalie
Oletta
Selma
Signy
Sigrid
Siri
Sylvi
Thora
Tilda
Tyra
Ulrika
Viveka
Boys:
Anders
Anton
Ari
Axel
Bo
Carl
Casper
Claus
Erik
Finn
Gunnar
Gustav
Hans
Hendrick
Ivor
Jannick
Jensen
Johan
Kai
Lars
Leif
Magnus
Odin
Otto
Ralph
Rasmus
Sander
Soren
Stellan
Thor
Torsten
Ulrik
Viggo
If you're looking for some names that are very heavily influenced by the countries and languages of Scandinavia, here is a nice collection starting with the girls first:

Abelone                             
Aili
Aira
Alfhild
Anneli
Arnhild
Arvida
Åse
Asta
Astri
Aura
Beata
Bryndis
Brynhild
Brynja
Dagmar
Dagrun
Ebba
Edda
Eila
Eira
Ellevi
Ellisif
Embla
Eydis
Fideli
Frigg
Gudrun
Gyda
Hallgjerd
Hedda
Hedvig
Henrika
Hildur
Hillevi
Hjordis
Hulda
Inari
Ingeborg
Ingegerd
Ingvild
Kaisa
Kajsa
Karelia
Katri
Kjersti
Lærke
Lemmitty
Lillevi
Liva
Lova
Lumi
Lykke
Mæja
Maiken
Maila
Merete
Meri
Metta
Mieli
Minea
Moa
Nemi
Pernilla
Ragna
Ragnhild
Saga
Salla
Sella
Senni
Sigrid
Sigrun
Silja
Sini
Sóley
Solveig
Sunniva
Suvi
Svea
Synnøve
Taina
Tarina
Tella
Tordis
Torny
Tova
Vanja
Veslemøy
Vigdis
Ylva
And the boy names:

Åke                                    
Albin
Alrik
Alvi
Andor
Ansgar
Arne
Arnfinn
Arni
Aro
Arvid
Asger
Asker
Audun
Auvo
Balder
Birger
Bjarte
Dagfinn
Eigil
Einar
Eivind
Elof
Emund
Erlend
Erling
Esben
Folke
Freystein
Geir
Greger
Gregers
Gudmund
Gunvor
Hakon
Haldor
Halsten
Halvar
Hemming
Henrik
Ingemar
Ingo
Ingvar
Jarl
Jens
Jerrik
Joar
Jokum
Karsten
Keld
Kjartan
Kjell
Kolben
Konsta
Magnar
Melker
Mika
Mio
Morten
Njord
Ordin
Orvar
Orvo
Øystein
Ragnar
Ravn
Reidar
Rein
Runar
Rune
Seved
Sigurd
Sigvid
Solen
Stein
Stig
Sven
Tage
Taran
Thorfinn
Thorvald
Toivo
Tollak
Torben
Torun
Tyke
Ulf
Valo
Vebjørn
Yngve
If you're wondering what the most popular names per country are, I have that information too! For the year 2012, these were the Top 10 names per gender per country:

Top 10 Girl Names in Scandinavia in 2012:

Denmark        
  1. Sofia
  2. Ida
  3. Freja
  4. Emma
  5. Isabella
  6. Sofie
  7. Maja
  8. Laura
  9. Clara
  10. Mathilde
Sweden          
  1. Alice
  2. Elsa
  3. Julia
  4. Ella
  5. Maja
  6. Ebba
  7. Emma
  8. Linnea
  9. Molly
  10. Alva
Finland  
  1. Ella
  2. Sofia
  3. Emma
  4. Aada
  5. Aino
  6. Venla
  7. Helmi
  8. Emilia
  9. Siiri
  10. Sara
Norway
  1. Nora
  2. Emma
  3. Sofie
  4. Linnea/Linea
  5. Sara
  6. Emilie
  7. Ingrid
  8. Thea
  9. Leah
  10. Sofia
Top 10 Boy Names in Scandinavia in 2012:

    Denmark   
  1. William
  2. Lucas
  3. Victor
  4. Noah
  5. Oscar
  6. Liam
  7. Frederik
  8. Emil
  9. Oliver
  10. Magnus
    Sweden
  1. William
  2. Oscar
  3. Lucas
  4. Hugo
  5. Elias
  6. Alexander
  7. Liam
  8. Charlie
  9. Oliver
  10. Filip
   Finland    
  1. Onni
  2. Elias
  3. Eetu
  4. Leo
  5. Aleksi
  6. Niilo
  7. Veeti
  8. Oliver
  9. Joona
  10. Eino
    Norway
  1. Lucas
  2. Emil
  3. Mathias
  4. Jonas
  5. Alexander
  6. William
  7. Oskar
  8. Magnus
  9. Markus
  10. Oliver
What do you think of Scandinavian names? Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below!!

Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source | Source


[Note:] I am not Scandinavian and I've never been to that part of the world. If any of this information is incorrect or lacking, contact me so I can adjust it.
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