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French Baby Names Update

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To check out the latest trends in French baby names—-and see what the future holds– we turn once again to our favorite French correspondent, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2011, the latest edition of which is available on French Amazon.

Here is my forecast for the Top 20 French baby names of  2011 based on statistical data from Insee, the national institute of statistics in France. The names displayed in italics are variant spellings which have been given to more than 500 babies this year.

Filles

Garçons

1. Emma 1. Lucas, Luca, Luka(s)
2. Jade 2. Mathis, Mathys, Matis
3. Chloé, Cloé 3. Noah, Noa
4. Sarah, Sara 4. Nathan
5. Léa 5. Mathéo, Matteo, Mateo
6. Manon 6. Enzo
7. Louna, Luna 7. Louis
8. Inès, Ynès 8. Raphaël, Rafaël
9. Lilou, Lylou 9. Ethan
10. Camille 10. Gabriel
11. Clara 11. Jules
12. Maëlys 12. Maxime
13. Zoé 13. Yanis
14. Louise 14. Théo, Téo
15. Lola 15. Arthur
16. Lina, Lyna 16. Tom
17. Lily, Lilly, Lili 17. Hugo
18. Eva 18. Timéo
19. Louan(n)e, Lou-Ann(e) 19. Thomas
20. Lucie 20. Kylian, Killian

 

This year, Gabriel, Samuel and Louis have shown unexpected gains in the rankings. On the other hand, Marie has plunged to 37th place, down almost 20 spots in one year. Marie was the most common name from the 15th to the 20th century in France, but although more than 1.3 million French women are still named Marie, it has finally had to let new names take over.

The rise of Old Testament names like Nathan, Gabriel, Raphaël and Noah (Noé) comes in striking contrast to the decline of Marie. The fact that the country is largely Catholic has, for centuries, resulted in the choice of traditional names such as Paul, Pierre, Luc, Jean, Mathieu or Anne, Marie, Jeanne, Catherine.

But today, Old Testament names have become more prominent, after having disappeared for centuries– Aaron, Adam, Éden, Samuel, Ruben, Maya, Noa, Eden and Talia are the rising stars of 2010.

Americans might ask: What about our consistent champion Jacob ? Well, this name has never made it into the limelight here; over the 20th century, it has never been given to more than 50 French babies in any year. In 2010, Jacob has been given to only 25 boys, so that it doesn’t even register in the top 1000. Unlike Joshua, with its dual dimension as a Protestant and Jewish name, (Joshua appears in the top 200 this year), Jacob tends to be considered as a very religious Jewish name, a tag shunned by most other parents in this increasingly secular society. 

 Stephanie Rapoport created MeilleursPrenoms.com with her husband Stuart in 2000, frustrated because “it had been so hard to choose the names of our children and the web at that time did not provide great sites such as Nameberry and MeilleursPrenoms”  Her first book, “Officiel des prenomswas published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.

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British Baby Names

The following is a guest post by Luke Eales from BabyNames.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading baby names websites. Established in 2007, the BabyNames.co.uk helps parents on the path to finding the perfect baby name.

Having read Nameberry’s recent article on popular baby names 2010, I was inspired to run some analysis of my own – this time with a UK slant.

So in a similar way to what Nameberry did, I delved into our site usage data. I brought up a list of the names receiving the most searches this year so far, and compared the numbers against the same period last year. I then sorted the names to see which had the greatest proportional increase in searches. The result is two lists – the UK’s fastest rising boys and girls names of 2010 so far.

girls

1. FLORENCE
2. LUCIE
3. LACEY
4. ESME
5. ELENA
6. LUCIA
7. BEATRICE
8. VIOLET
9. INDIA
10. FRANKIE

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African Names: A report from Kenya

africa

Kayla Lyn Bronder, as a volunteer Public Health Officer at the St. Camillus Hospital in Karango, Kenya, had the opportunity to closely observe the baby naming practices of the Luo culture, and we appreciate her sharing them with us. During her eight month stint, Kayla developed the Nyatike Jigger Eradication Campaign to assist those in the community affected by the parasitic flea known as a Jigger.  For more information on the project, visit her blog: kaylainkenya.blogspot.comKayla will be returning to Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans in July.

In Luo culture, the naming of a child is an important and yet strangely flexible process. Unlike American parents, Luo parents often wait days or even weeks before naming their baby. And while the first name is a traditionally Christian or “Western” name, the second name usually indicates the time, weather, or conditions of the child’s birth. Finally, the father’s name (in our context, the last name) is often overlooked and only used for official documents.

For example, a little boy born at noon time could be named something like Michael (Christian name) Ochieng (O for a boy, -chieng for “noon time”).

A baby girl born while it is raining could be named Vivianne (Western name) Akoth (A for a girl, -koth for rain)

My Luo name is Adhiambo. A for a girl, -dhiambo because I was born in the late afternoon.

The majority of children are named along those lines: Don, Tony, Stephan, Joseph, Mercy, Faith, Camilla, Fenny, followed by Oluoch, Oriri, Odhiambo, Akinyi, Apiyo, Adongo, and so on and so forth.

Occasionally parents feel inspired by athletes, musicians, or world leaders and name their children Clinton, Reagan, and countless Barack Obamas, and right alongside our great American presidents are their beautiful wives Hillary and Michelle. I haven’t met too many Georges or Lauras, but I try not to read too much into that.

Unfortunately, some parents make drastically horrible decisions when it comes to naming their children. My (least) favorites have included Violence, Morphine, and Dotcom. Thankfully for Luo children, they mostly go by their Luo names, so they need not dwell on the cruel miscalculations of their families.

The final interesting realization I’ve come to concerning the Luo child naming process is the powerful flexibility of the whole ordeal. With hundreds of babies born at home each day in impoverished conditions, the practices of birth certificates, embroidered baby blankets, birth announcements, etc. remain foreign oddities. So a baby’s name often evolves and changes until something sticks.

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filmfest6

Continuing her exploration of motion picture award names,  one of our favorite guest bloggers, Abby Sandel, creator of the popular site Appellation Mountain , looks beyond Hollywood to find some interesting names associated with winners at Cannes, Berlin and Britain award ceremonies.

Marquee-worthy baby names are all the rage, with choices ranging from the Top Ten Ava to surnames like Harlow.  Searching past Academy Award winners can provide inspiration for baby names, from the glamorous to the unusual.

But what about all those other Award shows?  Oscar may be king in the US, but elsewhere, actors and directors compete for Goyas, Bears, BAFTAs, Ariels and, of course, the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes.

The following names are culled from award winners from across the globe, but proceed with caution.  Just like not every Oscar-winning character makes for a worthy name sake, that remains true for this list.

GIRLS

ALIDA:              1960’s award-winning French film The Long Absence was one of many starring roles for Italian actress Alida Valli.  She often was billed by her surname as VALLI.

CALYPSO:          Neither an actress nor a character, the Calypso was the name of the ship used by Jacques Cousteau in the celebrated 1956 The Silent World, a documentary and early work by famed director Louis Malle.

CANDELARIA:      The first Mexican film to achieve widespread international acclaim, Maria Candelaria starred Dolores del Río, the first Latin American actress to make it big in Hollywood.  The movie was released in 1943, but wasn’t screened at Cannes until post-World War II.

GERTRUDE:         1946’s La Symphonie Pastorale is a French film based on a novel.  Gertrude is a blind orphan adopted by a pastor.  Both her foster father and stepbrother fall for her.  Drama follows.  The luminous Michèle Morgan starred as Gertrude – and would later lose out on the starring role in Casablanca.

KESA:               Japan’s first post-war international hit was 1953’s Gate of Hell.  The story of a samurai and Lady Kesa, the woman he rescues propelled Machiko Ky? to stardom.  She went on to work with Akira Kurosawa and Kenji Mizoguchi.

LILIA:                Mexican actress Lilia Prado graduated from beauty contests to the big screen.  Nominated for Ariel awards, she worked with Luis Buñuel on three different films.

LISBETH:           Danish actress Lisbeth Movin starred in 1945 war drama The Red Meadows. Decades later, she has a small role in 1987’s Academy Award-winning Babette’s Feast.

LUCIENNE:        Not an actor at all, but the jeweler who designed the original Palme d’Or award for the Cannes Film Festival.

MAGALI:            Turkish-French actress Magali Noël was best known for her work with Italian director Federico Fellini, including appearing as Fanny in 1960’s legendary La dolce vita.  She also scored early French rock’n’roll hits as a singer in the 1950s.

MARPESSA:        Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the part-Filipino, part-African-American Marpessa Dawn starred as Eurydice in 1959’s Black Orpheus.

MAI:                 Swedish actress Mai Zetterling starred in Ingmar Bergman’s 1944 Torment.

SERAFINA:          Decades before Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner chose Seraphina for their second daughter, French director Marcel Camus made Black Orpheus in Brazil in 1959.  A truly international production that would garner recognition at Cannes as well as an Academy Award and a BAFTA, Serafina was one of the characters.

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Icelandic Baby Names: And the name is…

International Baby Names

Today’s guest blogger ALANA ODEGARD describes the joys and unique challenges  of naming a baby in Iceland.

A version of this entry originally appeared on Iceland Review Online (http://icelandreview.com), an online magazine that Alana contributes to weekly.

When I first came to Iceland from Canada nearly six years ago, little did I know that it would be here, on this little island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, where I would not only meet the man who would become my husband, but that I would give birth to my first child.

Life is full of surprises, as they say, and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out.

With my due date just around the corner, my husband and I are as prepared as any new parents can hope to be. We’ve taken the prenatal courses, set up the change table, the crib, the stroller, and have a drawer full of diapers at the ready.

So, what else do we need? Well, aside from the baby, of course, it would seem we need a name.

Naming your child may sound straightforward enough, but as it turns out, what should be simple tends to get complicated when one person is Icelandic and the other is, well, not.

Although I am pleased to say that my experience of being pregnant in a foreign land has been a positive one, certain restrictions, regulations, committees, ceremonies and language barriers have made choosing a name quite the eventful task.

Being from Canada, it’s not unheard of for parents to have chosen and announced the name of their baby months before it’s born. In the cases where the parents decide to keep the name to themselves until after birth, the name is among the very first bits of information that is passed along to friends and family.

But in Iceland, things are done quite differently. Generally a baby’s name is not revealed until its official naming ceremony (often accompanied by a baptism). Legally, parents have up to six months to name their baby and it’s not uncommon for a child to be “nameless” for this period of time.

Of course the parents may call their baby by its first name if they have chosen one, but it’s kept a secret from other people. Everyone including grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, best friends, and even siblings must wait until the naming ceremony to find out the little one’s name.

So, what do you call a baby with no name? Up until the naming ceremony babies are often referred to as drengir (boy), stúlka (girl), and elskan (an affectionate term like “honey” or “sweetheart”). The baby may also be called by its last name which is determined according to the Old Norse naming system. For example, if the father’s first name is “Gunnar”, the child’s last name would either be Gunnarsson or Gunnarsdóttir depending on if it is a boy or a girl (the suffix “son” (son) is used if it is a boy and “dóttir” (daughter) if it is a girl).

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