International Baby Names: Hottest in the UK, Poland and Japan
Baby boy names: vintage and vivacious
International baby names news this week has seen boy name announcements from both sides of the Atlantic that are polar opposites: on the one side sweet vintage revivals, and on the other side playful modern spellings.
When we found out chef Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana were expecting a fifth child, Sophie predicted they’d choose something “familiar, well-liked, and vaguely British” like their older children Matilda, Holly, Jack and Megan. Well, Oscar James was born last week, and his name perfectly fits the bill. Another British chef, Gregg Wallace, has announced that his baby boy, who’s due soon, will be named Sid Massimo after Gregg’s grandfather and his wife’s father. Sounds like a lovely pairing of an old-man nickname and an unexpected Italian middle.
To the US, land of edgy spellings – at least, it is this week. Another expectant dad, Bray Wyatt, has announced that his son-to-be will be called Knash. The bearded wrestler, whose own birth name is the fabulous Windham Rotunda, says that the silent K matches the C and K in his older children’s names. Meanwhile, soul singer Allen Stone has gone alliterative with his son’s name, Roody Rocket: an unusual twist on Top 1000 name Rudy meets a modern word name. To take us full circle, it’s very similar to River Rocket, the son of yet another British chef, Jamie Oliver.
Speaking of spellings: it’s 2019. It shouldn’t have to be a news story that electoral candidates’ names are going to be spelled correctly.
I also thought of spelling when I saw that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen got tattoos of their children’s names. It’s sweet, but it reminds me of when things go wrong. Remember the Swedish mother who changed her son’s name after a tattoo artist misspelled it? And even if it’s right, there’s always a chance that your kid won’t appreciate the tribute.
International names: Tops in Poland and Hungary
Want to know how Polish parents are naming their children? Good news, the latest stats are here, and Antoni and Zuzanna come out on top. (If you follow that link, you’ll see a long list of links in Polish – the first one under each heading is the national rankings for girls and boys, and the other ones are regional popularity.) There are some familiar names on the list, but also many that frankly aren’t used enough by English speakers, like Marcelina, Kornelia, Nikodem and Kajetan. Scrolling down the list of girls’ names, I was surprised to see that 58 girls in Poland were called Raspberry last year…until I realized I had Google Translate switched on. The name is actually Malina: a lovely sound with a sweet meaning!
Meanwhile in Hungary, four-letter names are in style right now. In the Hungarian Top 10 alone you’ll find Máté, Noel and Ádám for boys, and Anna, Emma, Luca, Léna and Lili for girls – although the top spots go to Hanna and Bence, the Hungarian form of Benedict. The Top 100 list is pleasingly interactive: click on a name to see its popularity graph.
Japanese baby names: the best of the era
Now for some name inspiration from Japan. As the era of the current emperor draws to a close, here’s a look back at the most popular baby names of the last 30 years, the time he’s been reigning. The most popular names included Misaki and Hina for girls, and Hiroto and Daiki for boys, but the article goes into much more depth about trends in each year.
The characters of the era name seem to be popular in baby names, so it will be interesting to see if Japanese parents this year choose elements of the new era’s name, Reiwa, for their children. Taken from an eighth-century poem about plum blossoms, the exact meaning of Reiwa is a matter for debate, but the Japanese Foreign Ministry has provided an English interpretation of “beautiful harmony”.
For even more namespiration, take a look at our list of some of the best Japanese baby names.
You might have seen a name change in the news this week. Nothing major like Prince or Ye, but football quarterback Johnny Manziel announced that from now on he’d like to be known as John. His full name is Johnathan, so he’s switching nicknames – and the new one sounds more serious, more grown up, and just…different.
Does this sound familiar? Some people go for a full-on name change to show a new stage in their life, and many more pick up a new nickname, or drop an old one, as their lives change. That’s why there’s a lot to be said for choosing a baby name with several possible short forms options to give your children maximum choice – whether that’s an unusual full name with a popular nickname, or a classic nickname-rich name. How about you: do you prefer lots of nickname choice, or as little as possible?
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