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May 16th, 2013 10:50 PM #1
What's wrong with the name Embla?
First of all, I don't have kids and I'm still a couple years off from expecting, but for years I have been a private name enthusiast. Like probably everyone here, I have extensive lists and despite having no babies in my foreseeable immediate future, I still revamp and add to these lists almost daily. I have a list of general names that I like, and then I have the serious short list. The one name I seem to shuttle back and forth between lists is Embla. It's been driving my crazy and since nobody in 'real life' understands this hobby of mine, I figured it was time to take my question to the internet.
I should say, both my and my boyfriend's ancestry is mostly Scandinavian. His grandma moved here from Finland and his grandpa is from the Ukraine. His last name is also super Ukrainian. On his mom's side it's all French Canadian. (We live on the west coast of Canada.) On my dad's side everyone is exclusively Norwegian. As a family most of our Norwegian connections have lazily fizzled out, with the last person to visit Norway being my uncle in the 70s. I have always been fascinated with the Norwegian side of our family and over the years have tried to find out as much as possible. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know much and the only person who seems interested in keeping the ancestry alive is me, so I've since taken matters into my own hands. A few years ago in university I did an exchange to Sweden and by chance met one of my now-best friends who is from Western Norway (where my great grandparents were from). I jumped at the chance to stay with her that summer and have since been back four times in 2 years, each for about six weeks, and the last time I even took my boyfriend and 4 best friends from Canada, so now Norway is a huge part of their lives as well. It's safe to say I truly found my homeland and kind of accidentally created a second family out of the most wonderful friends there. I feel really lucky to have found such a special place there because I know my family history could have so easily been lost with my generation had I not cared. One of my life goals is to eventually teach my children Norwegian so we can bridge the gap between my great grandparents and me. (Forever annoyed that my grandpa neglected to teach my dad...I could be bilingual right now! )
Now that you know my life story (sorry!), you can see that our Scandinavian heritage is important to both of us, and as such this affects potential names and naming styles for our children. I don't think we will go full-Norwegian/Scandinavian for each name because of pronunciation issues—I am a Kirsten, pronounced ker-sten, NOT like Kirsten Dunst, and even though my name is pretty common in North America I've battled being called Kristen, Kiersten, Christine, Christina, etc my whole life and I don't really care to saddle my child with a similar or worse situation. My naming style overall, regardless of name origin, definitely leans toward unusual names that sound familiar even though they aren't; for example, my top (non-Scandinavian) girl pick is Lyra.
Anyway, what this has led to is my mostly-futile search for Scandinavian names that aren't overly weird in English (i.e. unusual but familiar without being familiar, with the added difficulty of bridging different languages) and are pronounced essentially the same in both languages. I never thought I would find one, but my search ended this summer when in Norway I met a girl my age named Embla. I promptly fell in love with her name and went on to google it, expecting it to be all over the charts, only to find...it was not. At all. Even though (to me) it has a lovely origin as Norse mythology's answer to Eve, the first woman, and has an interesting and (I think) pleasant feel to it sound-wise, hardly anyone seems to love this name. Quite honestly, this is surprising, since it is so similar to Emma and Amber, and even Ember, a name rising in popularity in my home province. I asked Embla (we are friends now) about her name and she said she loves it and enjoys having a different name from everyone that is still very Norwegian. So I have been left wondering—what gives? Why does everyone dislike this name?
English-speakers, what makes you shy away from it? Maybe a Norwegian (dearest?) or a Dane (shvibziks?) or a Swede can shed some light on why this isn't a popular choice up there. I love this name and would love to use it, even if it's not often used in its home countries...but if everyone who looks at it in both places automatically gets an *ick* feeling from it, then I'd rather search for something else.
TL;DR — My Norwegian heritage is really important to me and I want to find a name that works the same in English and Norwegian/Swedish. I found Embla. It's uncommon, from Norse mythology and is beautiful to me, but nobody seems to like it. Why do you dislike Embla?
Last edited by xylo; May 16th, 2013 at 11:06 PM.