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Category: Scandinavian baby names

Place Names: New Destinations

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Feeling that geographical names have become kind of ho-hum?  It’s true that many people have tired of Paris and some of the over-visited names from the American West like Cheyenne, Sierra, Dakota and Dallas.  But that’s no reason to write off the whole category—we can renew our passports and look a bit farther afield for some fresher, more interesting and exotic choices from the global atlas.

FOR GIRLS

AILSA  –  Ailsa Craig is the name of a rocky island off Scotland, and Ailsa has long been used as a Christian name–as all of us namberryites well know

ÁLORA–  A picturesque Spanish town near Malága, overlooking citrus orchards and olive groves

ANDORRA  –  A small country located in the Pyranees—could work as an updated Andrea

CORTINACortina d’Ampezzo is one of the most famous and beautiful ski resorts in Italy; a more feminine namesake for Courtney?

ELANORA –This name of an Australian suburb is used as a girls’ name in that country

ELBA—The Italian island best known as the site of Napoleon’s exile; possible update of Ella?

GENOA –Picturesque birthplace of Christopher Columbus, native version is GENOVA; a possible newer path to the Gen nickname

IBIZA  (ih-BEETH-a)—Another interesting island name, though a little bit lispy

ISCHIA (IS-key-a)—An Isla-like Italian island name

JAVA — This Indonesian island name was recently used by Lost hunk Josh Holloway for his daughter

LILLE –  (LEELE) –We’ve seen the growing popularity of double-L names, now here’s a French city with three of them

LIXA –An old Portuguese city with a modern-sounding name

LULEÅ — A city on the northern coast of Sweden; birthplace of the founder of the Nordstrom department store chain

LUCERNE –A Swiss canton and lake name, with the possibility of a Lucy nickname

LUZA – A Russian town on the Luza river—but too much like loser?

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Exotic Lite: Boys’ Edition

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We recently looked at girls’ names popular around the world yet exotic-sounding in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, and today we turn to the boys’ version of this kind of name.

If you’re looking for a name for your son that has an international flavor yet is not too obscure or difficult to understand and pronounce, you might want to consider these choices.

ALESSANDRO – A top name in Italy, makes Alexander both softer and sexier to the American ear.

ALEXEI – Russian spin on Alex or Alexander popular there, pronounced Alex-ay or (less popular) Alex-ee. Down side: Its similarity to the very popular girls’ name Alexa.

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Ten Great Names You’re Not Using

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It’s a curious thing that, even when people prefer quirky or unusual names, they often prefer the same quirky or unusual names. Why is Clementine such a darling, for instance, while brother name Clement languishes? Why are Nora, Cora, and even Florence hot, while the equally lovely Flora is ignored?

In the nameberry spirit of promoting great unusual, underrated, unappreciated names, we bring you the latest in a series of names nobody’s using…..but should be.

CAIO – Variation of an ancient Latin name that means “rejoice”, Caio – pronounced not kay-oh or chow but kye-oh – takes the trendy Kai one step further. Contemporary artist Caio Fonseca is a noted bearer.

CALANDRA – One of the Cal- family of Greek girls’ names popularized by Calista Flockhart, Calandra means “lark” and has a formal, elegant feel.

COLETTE – The new movie Cheri with Michelle Pfeiffer may at least bring this name of the scandalous French writer back into contemporary consciousness. Out of the Top 1000 for more than two decades, Colette is derived from Nicholas.

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finnish baby names

When we think of Scandinavian names, what usually comes to mind are the familiar and accessible ones that have been imported from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, like Eric and Ingrid and Lars and Dagmar.  But Finnish names, while still Scandinavian, are a world unto themselves, loaded with double vowels (and sometimes consonants) and tricky accents and pronunciations.  Yet  though this nomenclature includes clunkers like Hongatar and Kiputytto, there are many others that have a unique and quirky charm all their own.  I remember that when we were researching the foreign variations of names for The Baby Name Bible, I always kind of looked forward to seeing what the Finnish take would be on a classic–like Viljo for William, Maiju for Mary.

One reason for the sparse representation of Finnish names here is the small number of Finnish-Americans in the US.  There are currently about 700,000 people of that ethnicity, which is only 0.2% of the population.  Nor have many celebrities publicized Finnish names–there has never been a Finnish movie star equivalent of Ingrid Bergman, for example–the only Finnish names people might recognize are Esa-Pekka Salonen, the contemporary classical conductor, or perhaps father-and-son architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen.

Another element that sets these names apart comes from the fact that the Finnish language is very different from that of the other Scandinavian countries, with their Norse roots; Finnish has more in common with Hungarian, Estonian, Turkish and the languages spoken in the Asian part of Russia.  But–for you vowel lovers– double vowels are its most distinctive feature.  Pronunciation can be a little tricky, but here are some simple rules: A is pronounced as in arm, E as in egg, I as in it, O as in on, U as in pull,  J=Y, and W=V.

So, while the current most popular names in Finland are quite international in flavor–Maria, Olivia, Sofia, Amanda, Matilda, and Julia are all in the Top 10–here are some more traiditional choices that would be usable but still highly distinctive here:

GIRLS

AAMU

AIJA

AILA

AILI

ALIISA

ANNELI

ARJA

EEVA (EH-vuh)

HELEENA

KAIJA

KIELO

KIIRA

LIISI

LILJA (LEEL-yah)

MAIJA (MIGH-yah)

MIRJA (MEER-yah)

NEA

PIIA/ RIIA/TIIA

SAARA

VEERA

BOYS

AARNE

AARO

ARTO

ARVI

EERO

EETU

HANNU

JAAKO

JALO

JARI

JOONAS

JUHO

JUSSI

KARI

KAARLO

LEEVI

MIKKO

NILO/NIILO

PAAVO

RAIMO

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