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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Great names in one language, bad in another

    I've been thinking a lot about how popular names in my country are labelled ugly or for old people, especially in English-speaking countries.

    Here's my list of names considered pretty or popular in my language, Icelandic, but don't sound as nice in English:

    Meaning of Helga: "prosperous, successful"
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Heh-ll-gah
    Nameberry's description: Flat-footed and broad-bottomed.
    My description: I imagine a pretty girl with blonde braids. This was really popular in the 90's and to me it seems that every girl who got this name is either pretty or popular. Not even joking here. The 6th most common female name in Iceland in 2014.
    Addition: The male version is Helgi.

    The "grandmother names" -names that are labelled as for old people:

    Meaning of Agnes: "pure, virginal"
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Agg-nehs
    Nameberry comments: "It's growing on me. Am I crazy? :) I picture a pre-Raphaelite maiden praying in a tower." "Yuck! Sounds like someone gagging on cough medicine! Although, it did go up a tiny bit with the Despicable Me character..."
    My description: Definitely not yuck-worthy. I don't know anyone with this name under the age of 20 (not saying there aren't any!). The 84th most common female name in Iceland in 2014. Not very popular but nevertheless doesn't have the same stamp.

    Meaning of Inga: Meaning of Inga: "guarded by Ing"
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Ihn-gah
    Nameberry's description: Inga has become a caricatured Scandinavian choice.
    My description: Not really a name you'll hear often at a kindergarten, but was the 30th most common female name in Iceland in 2014.
    Addition: Can be short for several other names, making it more common than statistics show. The male version is Ingi.

    Telma / Thelma
    Meaning of Telma: "will"
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Tell-mah
    Nameberry's description: If you're desperate to honor an ancestor named Thelma, think Thea instead.
    My description: I've met a few T(h)elmas, and to me it's more of a 21st century name than the name of an old person. Was the 50th most common female name in Iceland in 2014 and the 15th most popular among girls born in 2013.

    Now the boys:
    While most little boys today are named Aron, Alexander and Viktor, the most common names for Icelandic men are mostly traditional Icelandic names that have been around for centuries, like Jón, Sigurður and Guðmundur.

    Meaning of Jökull: Glacier
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Ee-uh-kuh-(g)l (The -ll sound can be hard to pronounce!)
    My description: Most people wouldn't think of naming their son Glacier, but it's not surprising that it's a popular name in the real land of fire and ice. It's the 17th most common name among boys born in 2013.

    Meaning of Emil: Nameberry says "rival", but an Icelandic source says "friendly"! A different source says "excellent".
    Pronunciation in Icelandic: Eh-mihl
    Nameberry's description: Unlike popular girls' name Emily, Emil has a slightly unfriendly feel.
    My description: I imagine a blonde, happy boy, more specifically Emil of Lönneberga from Astrid Lindgren's story. I was reading the books on my own when I was four, so the name has a place in my heart! The 21st most popular name for boys born in 2013.

    What are your examples of names that are loved in one country, but disliked in another?

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    I have no names to contribute but this was fun to read and very informative! Thanks for sharing!

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Well, I fully agree with you. There are some names that are great in one culture and oldfashioned in another. I had experienced this when I introduced my (then) newborn daughter to an English friend of mine. My daughter's name is Maria Daniella and we chose to give her this name to honour our mothers (my mother is Daniella and my husband's Mariya). My English friend thought it was a name for an elderly woman and not for a tiny newborn baby but my German family, friends and self thought it was pretty cool (just because in Germany it is really uncommon for a person to have middle names).
    So, what happens to Icelandic names happens to German names as well. Helga is also used here and, OK, it is not common among babies and toddlers but it is not considered an old name. After reading your post I searched through Nameberry about some names that we consider trendy only to find out that in the US they are nothing more than oldfashioned. Such as Senta, Mathilda/Mathilde, Emil, Jan and so on.
    This happens to more distinctive German choices such as Hannelore, Leopold, Brünhilde, Heidi and the list never ends.
    After discussing about it with my Greek neighbour, she told me that some Greek names that are considered cool in the US, nowadays sound completely ridiculous in Greece, for instance Alethea,Acacius, Adelpha, Homer and so on. Some of them are not even used.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    I love the name Agnès (french pronounciation Ah-niess) but my girlfriend (who is American) despises the name because of the English pronounciation.

    Michelle, Danielle, Jacqueline and Nicole are very outdated in France but seemed very popular in the 80s in America. I was surprised to meet several people my age who were named like my grandmother.

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