Many English-speaking countries have a history of high levels of immigration from Germany, and yet German names are not particularly common. This is often true even in families of German ancestry: I am of part-German descent myself, and my siblings and I do not have particularly German names, although readily understood in Germany. There are such strong links between German and English that it is easy to assimilate and choose the English form of a name (George instead of Georg), and two world wars have strongly encouraged such assimilation. Some traditional German names now seem awkward and outdated, even in their country of origin – yet clunky names are beginning to come back into fashion, and there are also many sprightly German short forms of names with tons of vintage style. Here are some examples of both.
Generic nicknames for boys is a baby name trend that some parents detest, and others are eager to embrace. But how much use and history do some of these names have? Here’s a close look at two.
Buddy is a slang word meaning “friend, companion.” It may be an affectionate alteration of the word brother, but there is an eighteenth century English and Welsh dialect word butty, meaning “work-mate,” which was used by coal miners. This goes back to the sixteenth century term booty fellow, given to a partner that you share your booty or plunder with; thanks to pirate movies, we know that booty has nothing to do with boots or buttocks, but means “gains, rewards,” often with connotations of being ill-gotten. Interestingly, we still sometimes jokingly introduce a friend as our partner in crime.
There’s a lot to be said for having a name that is familiar in many countries. It makes travel and working overseas just that little bit easier, and if you have a particular cultural background, it’s nice to know that relatives in your country of origin will easily be able to spell and pronounce your child’s name. Even if your child never leaves their native shores, we live in a global village, and they will most likely meet, study, and work with people from other countries.
To me, a name with high international recognition needed to be popular in as many regions as possible, so that as a mimimum, it needed to be Top 100 in the English-speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, England/Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, and the USA. It also needed to be popular in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.
The Australian birth data is generally released by each state and territory between New Year and Easter, culminating in the national Top 100. Below are the names which rose the most in 2013, and some possible reasons why they might be doing so well at present. People from other countries may be interested to compare this to their own fastest-rising names, when all the data is in. I have also written an article on my site on those Top 100 names that rose significantly in several states, which has slightly different information.
Name Days began in medieval Europe as a way of replacing the pagan custom of birthday celebrations with the Christian tradition of saints’ days. The Name Day was to honour your patron saint (the one you were named after), and complicated calendars were drawn up based on saintly feast days.
In modern Europe, Name Days have mostly lost their Christian overtones and become more of a folk tradition. Even the link to saints’ feast days seem to have been broken in many countries, with the date of the Name Day not always correlating with any special date in the saint’s hagiography.
In many countries, your Name Day is more of a big deal than your birthday, and it is certainly a lot more public. While only family and close friends might know when your birthday is, everyone who knows your name knows when it’s your Name Day – it’s written right there in the calendar!