Category: European baby names
When Americans think about chic European names, they tend to imagine the exotic, the elaborate, the intriguingly complicated and foreign.
Yet when Europeans think about chic names, they often these days mean the short and simple and sometimes even the Anglo-Saxon: Tom, Emma, Lou. Think of them as the baby name equivalents of a perfectly-cut bob or little black dress, elegant and always in style.
Short, simple names that are chic and popular in France, the Netherlands, and indeed throughout Europe include:
The British are known as much for their eccentricity as for their conventionality, two stereotypes evidenced in the names from the recent birth announcements in the London Telegraph.
Sometimes, the two images cross, with the same eccentric (to American ears, at least) names being used so often they begin to feel conventional. The first three months of 2014, for instance, seem to be rife with girls named Matilda and Ottilie and boys named every variation of Fred: Frederick and Wilfred and Alfred and Freddie.
But what we’re focusing on today are the truly eccentric names, the one-offs and the unusual choices that may prove fashion forward or may just be evidence of the infamous British wackiness. These eccentric new names fall into several different camps.
The first and largest might be thought of as the mainstream eccentric British names, such as:
Switzerland is quite a small country: it has roughly the area of the state of Maryland, but a larger population (eight millions versus six); Virginia has about the same number of people, but is double the size.
A key element in Swiss nomenclature is its linguistic split. Nearly three-fourths of Swiss citizens have a dialect of German as their native language; a little less than one-fourth speak French, and the remaining few percentages have Italian as their mother tongue.
Belgian native and guest blogger Sarah B. unscrambles the pieces of the complicated jigsaw puzzle that is the diverse naming structure of her native land by analyzing its Most Popular list of 2010.
Belgium is a small country with a mere 10 million inhabitants. Yet it sits right in the heart of Western Europe (the capital, Brussels, is often called the ‘capital of Europe’), and so is subject to more varied cultural influences than perhaps any other European country. One result of this is that Belgium has no less than three official languages: Dutch, spoken in the northern part of the country called Flanders (this variety is called Flemish– the differences between Dutch and Flemish are comparable to the differences between British and American English); French, spoken in the southern part of the country, called Wallonia; and German, spoken in a small part of Wallonia bordering Germany.
These three languages cause important differences when it comes to naming our babies, and this is why separate statistics are kept for the three parts of the country. Some names are popular in the whole of Belgium, but these names will usually be popular in all of Europe and even beyond (Emma is an example).
Being Flemish, I will limit myself to the names popular in Flanders. Here is the Flemish Top 10 for 2010 so far–( names given in Flanders only, regardless of their origin):
These Top 10 names popular in Flanders can be further divided into five different categories: International, Dutch, French, Flemish and a smaller group of English names, clearly showing Flanders’ central position in Europe, and the varied cultural influences involved.