Wednesday, November 20, 2013

World-Wide Wednesday: Australian Names

Featured Australian Names:
Rafferty &  Freya
For this month's World-Wide Wednesday, I thought I'd explore a land that is more similar to the US than the previously featured countries. I'm talking about "the land down under."

In my research, I couldn't find any information about specific baby naming customs or traditions, but the continent definitely has some regulations in place.  Obviously, like most places, obscene or offensive names or words cannot be used. A name may not be exceedingly long to where it becomes impractical, nor can it contain special characters or punctuation.

Any name that resembles an official rank or title like Lord, Lady, Princess, Queen, Father, Sir, Admiral or Doctor are not allowed, but one that slipped through the cracks is Duke. Click here for a bit more information on other naming laws and regulations throughout Australia.

Like the US and other English-speaking countries, Aussie children traditionally are given their father's last name, however some parents opt for a hyphenated combination of both their last names.  If the parents are not married, the child will be given the mother's surname unless both parents agree to using the father's. Occasionally, the mother's maiden name will become the middle name.

What makes some Australian given names unique is their own distinctive blend of cultures, including some influence from indigenous languages. The native Australian Aborigines are said to have as many as 27 language families within Australia and a few nearby islands that  offer some rare phonetic sounds. These names not only sound unique to the American ear, but they also have specific meanings that have more of a nature feel to them than we're use to seeing.

A few examples include:
Arika - G - "A Waterlily"
Burnum - B - "A great warrior"
Camira - G - "Of the wind"
Dheran - B - "A gully"
Elouera - G - "From the pleasant place"
Gelar - B - " A brother"
Habya - G - "A stone"
Jerara - B - "Falling water"
Kirra - G - "A leaf"
Lowan - B - "A mallee fowl"
Mayrah - G - "Spring, or the wind"
Nambur - B - A tea-tree"
Orana - G - "The moon"
Pindan - B - "A desert"
Tarana - G - "A large waterhole"
Warrun - B - "The sky"
Yara - G - "A seagull"

Click here for a large list of Aboriginal baby names. 

As for non-Aboriginal names, there are many Aussie favorites that are also popular in the US and the UK. This is what Australia's Top 20 looked like in 2012 when all of the various spellings were combined:
1. Charlotte
2. Ruby
3. Lily/Lilly
4. Olivia
5. Chloe
6. Sophie
7. Emily
8. Mia
9. Amelia
10. Ava
11. Isabella
12. Sophia/Sofia
13. Ella
14. Grace
15. Sienna
16. Maddison/Madison
17. Zoe
18. Matilda
19. Emma
20. Isla

1. Jack
2. William
3. Noah
4. Ethan
5. Oliver
6. Thomas
7. Lucas
8. James
9. Cooper
10. Jackson/Jaxon
11. Lachlan
12. Liam
13. Joshua
14. Jacob
15. Samuel
16. Alexander
17. Mason
18. Max
19. Benjamin
20. Charlie
Check out Waltzing More Than Matilda's excellent comparison of popular Australian names and how they rank in the US.  Here is a snippet from that article that highlights names that are rarely used in the US but are popular in Australia!:

#AustraliaRank  NAME -  US DATA

#97 Ebony – 93 births (last charted 2005)
#45 Imogen – 111 births (never charted)
#64 Indiana – 33 births (last charted in 1893)
?     Milla – 135 births (never charted)
#57 Poppy – 171 births (never charted)
#77 Tahlia – 108 births (never charted)

#57 Angus – 83 births (last charted 1948)
#46 Archie – 93 births (last charted 1988)
#75 Bailey – 121 births (last charted 2009, Top 100 for girls)
#85 Darcy – 9 births (last charted for boys 1970, more common for girls)
#72 Hamish – 15 births (never charted)
#10 Lachlan – 183 births (never charted)
#56 Nate – 101 births (never charted)
#90 Zac – 73 births (never charted)

The owner of the blog "Waltzing More Than Matilda," Anna Otto, shared with me some names that stood out to her:  "Tahlia is popular here, and Banjo, Allira and Tasman are rising and fashionable." She mentions even more names in this article that include Allegra, Bridie, Freya, Kirrily and Zali for girls; as well as Bede, Digby, Fergus, Quade and Rafferty for boys.

It goes to show that the two countries share a liking for many of the same names but there are also some vast differences when it comes to popularity.  From Aboriginal names to rare-in-the-US choices like Imogen and Lachlan, Australia has some great baby names!

I don't know about you, but I'm always fascinated by other countries. Which of the above names would you like to see gain some popularity in the States?

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