A primer on English names

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Note: To keep this from being my longest post ever, I’ll try to focus mostly on names of Anglo–Saxon, Norman, Old Norse, and Ancient Germanic origin, and common names adopted into the English language, instead of going over every single name used in the modern Anglophone world.

The Anglophone world includes England, the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, the island nations of the Caribbean, the Channel Islands, and South Africa. Many former British colonies also maintain English as an official second language, particularly India.

In the 21st century, English is a lingua franca of the international community. Gone are the days when French, German, Greek, or Latin was the most common second language.

Surnames:

English surnames began appearing in the 11th century, under the Norman occupation. The custom of surnames got an added boost in 1538, when parish registers were introduced. However, it wasn’t until the late 17th century when surnames took full root through the entire country.

Many surnames are patronymical (e.g., Williams, Jones, Johnson, Davies, Evans), occupational (e.g., Smith, Taylor, Baker, Fisher, Miller), Old Norse or Ancient Germanic (e.g., Osborne, Allard, Triggs), Old French (e.g., Pettigrew, Bannister, Devin, Tyson), geographical (e.g., Dorsey [from Orsay, France], Fairburn [Fern Stream], Haight [at the top of a hill], Kersey [watercress island], Rigby [ridge farm]), and personality traits (e.g., Sweet, Verity, White, Yap [clever or cunning], Hopper).

Nicknames:

The suffixes -kin(s) and -kyn formed many Medieval diminutives; e.g., Peterkins, Junnykins, Simkin, Wilkin, Atkyn (Adam), Malkyn (Mary), Perkyn (Peter). It’s akin to the still-used German diminutive suffix -chen. Another Medieval diminutive suffix was -ock, akin to the German -ich.

Some nicknames’ etymologies made sense in the Middle Ages, but confuse most modern people. It was common to replace the first letter of a nickname to create another nickname; e.g., Meggy and Peggy, Bob and Rob, Rick and Dick, Will and Bill. Jack is derived from Jackin, which in turn derived from Jankin, a Medieval nickname for John.

Other nicknames were created by dropping part of the name and/or adding the suffix -ie, -ey, -i, or -y; e.g., Pete, Jimmy, Betty, Abby, Charlie or Charley, Emmie, Judy, Nicky, Tina, Vicki, Minnie, Allie.

Traditional sample names:

Female:

Abigail
Acacia
Adelaide
Adele, Adela, Adeline
Adriana, Adrienne
Agatha
Agnes
Alana
Alberta
Alexandra
Alice
Alison, Allison, Alyson, Allyson
Amelia
Amy
Andrea
Anne
April
Audrey
Augusta

Barbara
Beatrice, Beatrix
Belinda
Berenice, Bernice
Bernadette
Bertha
Blanche
Bridget
Bryn, Brynn
Bryony

Camilla, Camille
Candace, Candice
Carla
Caroline, Carolyn
Cassandra
Catherine
Cecilia, Cecily, Cicely
Celia
Charity
Charlotte
Christina, Christine
Claire, Clare, Clara
Clarissa
Claudia
Constance
Cordelia
Corinne
Cynthia

Daisy
Daphne
Deborah
Deirdre
Delilah
Diana, Diane
Dinah
Dorothy, Dorothea

Edith
Edna
Elaine
Eleanor, Elinor
Elizabeth, Elisabeth (Elise, Elisa, Elsie, Eliza, Elsa, Ella, Ellie, Lisa, Beth, Liz, Liza, Lizzie, Lily, Libby, Betty, Bessie, Bess, Betsy)
Ellen
Eloise
Emily, Emilia
Emma
Emeline, Emmeline
Erica
Ernestine
Esmé, Esmée
Estelle, Estella
Esther
Ethel
Eugenia
Eulalia (Yu-LAHL-yah)
Eve, Eva

Faith
Fay
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Frances
Francine

Gabriella, Gabrielle
Gemma
Genevieve
Georgia
Geraldine
Gertrude
Gillian
Gloria
Grace
Guinevere
Gwendolyn

Hannah
Harmony
Harriet
Hazel
Helen, Helena
Henrietta
Hester
Honora, Honor, Honour
Hope
Hortense

Imogen, Imogene
Inez
Iona
Ione
Irene
Iris
Isabel
Isidora
Isolde
Ivy

Jacqueline
Jane, Jean (Jenny)
Jeannette
Joan
Josephine
Joy
Joyce
Judith
Julie, Julia, Juliana
Juliet, Juliette
June
Juniper
Justine

Karen
Kathleen

Laura
Leah
Leatrice
Lenore, Lenora
Letitia
Lillian
Lily
Lorna
Lorraine
Louise, Louisa
Lucy, Lucia
Lydia

Mabel
Madeline
Magdalene
Margaret, Margery, Marjorie
Marion
Martha
Mary
Matilda
Maude
May
Melanie
Mildred
Millicent
Miranda
Miriam
Mona
Monica
Morgan, Morgana
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle

Nancy
Naomi
Natalie
Noelle
Norma

Octavia
Odelia
Olive
Olivia
Ophelia

Pamela
Patience
Patricia, Patrice
Paula
Pearl
Penelope
Philippa
Philomena
Phoebe
Phyllis
Portia
Prudence

Rachel
Ramona
Rebecca
Regan
Regina
Rena
Rhiannon
Rhoda
Rhonda
Roberta
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamund
Rose
Rosemary
Rowena
Ruby
Ruth

Sabrina
Sarah, Sara
Serena
Sharon, Sharona
Sibyl, Sybil
Simone
Sophia, Sophie
Stella
Susan, Susannah, Susanna, Suzanne
Sylvia, Silvia

Tabitha
Tamsin, Tamsyn
Thelma
Theodora
Theresa, Teresa
Ursula

Valerie
Vanessa
Vera
Veronica
Victoria
Viola
Violet
Virginia
Vivian

Wendy
Winifred
Yolanda
Zelda
Zoe

Male:

Aaron
Abner
Abraham
Adam
Adrian
Alan, Allan, Allen
Albert
Alexander
Alfred
Ambrose
Amos
Andrew
Anthony
Arnold
Arthur
Aubrey
August, Augustine

Bailey
Bartholomew
Baxter
Benedict, Bennett
Benjamin
Bernard
Bertram (Bright raven)
Bertrand (Bright shield rim)
Blake
Bruce
Byron

Caleb
Calvin
Carl, Charles
Cecil
Cedric
Chester
Christian
Christopher
Clarence
Clark, Clarke
Claude
Clement
Clifford
Clive
Clyde
Conrad
Cornelius
Craig
Curtis
Cyril
Cyrus

Damian
Daniel
Darius
David
Dennis
Dexter
Dominic
Donald
Douglas
Duncan
Dwight

Earl
Edgar
Edmund
Edward
Edwin
Eldred
Elias, Elijah
Elliott, Eliot
Emery
Emil
Emmanuel
Eric
Ernest
Ethan
Eugene
Evan
Everett
Ezekiel
Ezra

Felix
Ferdinand
Floyd
Francis
Frank
Franklin
Frederick

Gabriel
Geoffrey
George
Gerald
Gerard
Gideon
Gilbert
Giles
Gordon
Graham
Grant
Gregory

Harold
Harry
Harvey
Heath
Hector
Henry
Herbert (Bright army)
Herman (Army man)
Homer
Horace, Horatio
Howard
Hubert (Bright heart)
Hugh, Hugo
Humbert (Bright warrior)
Humphrey (Peaceful warrior)

Irwin
Isaac
Isaiah
Isidore
Ivor

Jacob
James
Jared
Jasper (Treasure)
Jeremiah
Jeremy
Jerome
Jesse
Joel
John
Jonah
Jonathan
Joseph
Joshua
Josiah
Julian
Justin

Keith
Kendall
Kenneth

Lambert (Bright land)
Lance
Laurence, Lawrence
Leo
Leon
Leonard
Leopold
Leroy
Leslie, Lesley
Lester
Levi
Lewis, Louis
Lindsay
Lionel
Lloyd
Lucian
Lucius
Luke
Luther
Lyndon

Malachi
Malcolm
Marcus
Mark, Marc
Marshall
Martin
Marvin
Mason
Matthew
Maurice, Morris
Maxwell
Maynard
Melvin
Meredith
Merritt
Mervin, Mervyn
Michael
Miles, Myles
Millard
Milo
Milton
Mitchell
Montgomery
Morgan
Mortimer
Morton
Moses
Myron

Nathan
Nathaniel
Neil
Neville
Newton
Nicholas
Nigel
Niles
Noah
Noel
Nolan
Norbert
Norman

Ogden
Oliver
Orson
Orville, Orval
Osbert
Osborn
Oscar
Osmond
Oswald
Oswin
Otis
Owen

Patrick
Percival
Percy
Peregrine
Peter
Philip
Pierce
Piers
Preston
Prosper

Quentin
Quincy
Quinlan
Quinn

Ralph
Randall
Randolph
Raphael
Rastus
Ray
Raymond
Reginald
Reuben
Rex
Reynold
Richard
Robert
Robin
Roderick (Famous power)
Rodney
Roger
Roland
Rolf
Rollo
Ronald
Roscoe
Ross
Rowan
Roy
Rudolph
Rudyard
Rufus
Russell

Samson
Samuel
Sanford
Scott
Sebastian
Seth
Seymour
Shelby
Sheldon
Sherman
Sidney, Sydney
Silas
Simon
Sinclair
Solomon
Spencer
Stanford
Stanley
Stephen
Stewart, Stuart
Sylvester

Taylor
Terrence, Terence, Terrance
Terry
Thaddeus
Theodore
Thomas
Thornton
Timothy
Tobias
Todd
Travis
Trent
Trenton
Trevor
Tristan
Troy
Truman
Tyler
Tyrone
Tyson

Ulysses
Upton
Vance
Vaughn
Vernon
Victor
Vincent
Virgil

Wade
Waldo
Walker
Wallace
Walter
Walton
Ward
Wardell
Warner
Warren
Warrick
Warwick
Wayland, Waylon
Wayne
Webster
Weldon
Wendell
Wesley, Westley
Weston
Wilbur (Wild boar)
Wilburn
Wilford
Wilfred
William
Wilmer
Wilson
Wilton
Windsor
Winfred (Friend of peace)
Winslow
Winston
Winthrop
Winton
Woodrow

Xavier
Yancy
Yorick
York
Zachary, Zechariah

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A primer on Chechen names

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Chechen is a Northeast Caucasian language, most closely related to Ingush and Bats. It’s spoken by 1.4 million people in the Chechen Republic, and by large diaspora communities in Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Georgia, Jordan, and Iraq. There are also decent-sized diaspora communities in Syria, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Some of the orphaned and kidnapped children sent to Mrs. Brezhneva’s Kyiv orphanage in my first three Russian historicals are Chechens. In my first Russian historical, a little Chechen girl asks “What’s a patronymic?” when Mrs. Brezhneva is complaining about how the new non-Slavic arrivals didn’t have patronymics in their cultures.

Alphabet:

Though some Chechen inscriptions are written in Georgian script, Arabic was the traditionally-used alphabet. During the 19th century reign of Imam Shamil, Chechen Arabic was reformed. Later reforms came in 1910, 1920, and 1922. Simultaneously, there was an academic alphabet with Georgian, Latin, and Cyrillic characters.

In 1925, Latin script was introduced, and unified with the Ingush Latin alphabet in 1934. In 1938, as part of Stalin’s cruel Russification policies, Cyrillic was forced upon the Chechen people. Latin script returned in 1992, but Cyrillic was forced upon the people again after the defeat of the secessionist government.

Chechen Cyrillic contains 26 letters not found in Russian Cyrillic, mostly representing compound sounds or letters with diacritical marks. A few other letters also transliterate differently than in Russian. These letters are Ä, Ġ, Ƶ, IY, KK, Q, QQ, Q̇, KH, OV, Ö, PP, PH, RH, SS, TT, TH, UV, Ü, ÜY, Ẋ, H, Ċ, Ҫ, Ҫ̇, Ş, Ə, YÜ, YÄ, and J.

Chechen separatists still prefer Latin letters, as well they should. Yeltsin opened up a huge can of worms when he decided to invade Chechnya. Instead of scoring some easy political points to help with getting his approval ratings out of the toilet, countless new problems were created.

Surnames:

As expected, due to being under the Russian heel since the 19th century, many Chechen surnames have Russian suffixes like -ov(a), -in(a), and -(y)ev(a). However, like with other forcibly Russified surnames, they have native linguistic and onomastic twists.

Sample surnames include Varayev, Akhmadov, Dudayev, Yamadayev, Shishani, Abdulayev, Aslanbekov, Maskhadan, Otarsultanov, Dzhokharov, and Zelimkhanov.

Sample list of names:

Male:

Abdulbek (Servant of the chieftain)
Abdulkhakim (Servant of the wise)
Abdulkhalim (Servant of the all-clement)
Abdulkhamid (Servant of the praised)
Abdulmezhid (Servant of the glorious)
Abdurakhman (Servant of the merciful)
Abubakar (Father of the camel’s calf)
Abukhadzhi (Father of the pilgrim)
Abukhan (Father of the sovereign)
Abusaid (Father of the happy/lucky)
Abuzar
Achamaz (A hero in Ossetian mythology)
Adlan
Akhmad, Akhmed (More commendable)
Alaudin (Aladdin) (Excellence of religion)
Alibek (Lofty ruler)
Andarbek
Anzor (Noble)
Apti
Arbi (Arab)
Aslambek (To submit to the ruler)
Aslan (Lion)
Aslanbek (Lion master)
Ayubkhan (Persecuted/hated sovereign)

Baysangur
Beibulat
Bekbolat, Bekbulat (Steel ruler)
Bekbuzar
Bekhan (Master prince)
Bekkhan (Master leader)
Borz (Wolf)
Buvaisar

Chingiz (Genghis) (Universal ruler)

Dalkhan
Danilbek (Lord Daniel)
Degi
Dikalu (Good)
Dokka
Doku
Dugurkhan
Dukvakha (To live long)
Dzhabrail (Gabriel)
Dzhalal (Greatness)
Dzhamal (Jamal) (Beauty)
Dzhamaldin, Dzhamaludin (Beauty of religion)
Dzhamalkhan (Beauty of the ruler)
Dzhambek
Dzahmbulat
Dzhokhar (Jewel or Essence)

Elbek
Elbrus (After Mount Elbrus in Transcaucasia)
Elimkhan
Elmurza
Emin (Truthful)
Eriskhan
Halid (Khalid) (Eternal)

Ibragim (Abraham)
Ibragimbek (Lord Abraham)
Islam (Submission)
Islambek (Master of Islam)
Ismaal (Ishmael)

Kadyr (Powerful, capable)
Kakhir
Kanti
Kasym (One who divides goods among his people)
Keram, Kerim (Noble, generous)
Khamchi
Khamza, Khamzat (Steadfast, strong)
Khanpasha (Essentially means “ruler ruler”)
Khansultan (Sovereign sultan)
Khasan (Handsome)
Khasanbek (Handsome ruler)
Khasi
Khasmagomed
Khavazh, Khavazhi
Khazarbek
Khazhbikar
Khizir (Green)
Khunkarpasha
Khuseyn (Hussein) (Little handsome one)
Kozhahmed
Kuyra (Hawk)

Leça, Lecha (Falcon)
Lom (Lion)

Magomedemi
Magomet, Magomed, Mukhamed, Mokhammad, Mokhmad
Makhmud (Praiseworthy)
Mamed
Mayrbek, Mairbek (Brave man chieftain or Husband chieftain)
Mayrkhan (Brave man ruler or husband ruler)
Mayrsolt
Medni
Movladi
Movlid
Movsar
Murvan
Muslim (To surrender)
Nazhud
Nazyr
Nazhmuddin
Nisost (Menacing) (Chechen form of Sosruko, a trickster god in Caucasian mythology and the hero of the Nart sagas)
Nurpashi (Ruler of light)

Patarz
Ramzan (Ramadan) (Parchedness, scorchedness)
Rizvadi
Ruslan

Said (Lucky, happy)
Saidakhmad, Saidakhmed (More commendable lucky/happy one)
Saidali (Lucky/happy and lofty/sublime)
Saidkhasan (Lucky/happy handsome one)
Saidmagomed (Lucky/happy praiseworthy one)
Salambek (Peace master)
Salamu (Peace)
Shakhid (Witness)
Shamil (Either means “comprehensive, extensive, thorough, inclusive,” or a form of Samuel)
Shamsudin (Sun of religion)
Sharaudin
Sharip (Virtuous, eminent)
Shima
Sulim (Safe)
Sulimbek (Safe chieftain)
Sultanbek (Sultan lord)
Supyan (May alternately mean “wool,” “purity,” “thunderstorm; sandstorm,” “he who walks fast,” or “comes with a sword”)

Takhir (Chaste, pure, virtuous)
Tamerlan
Tashtemir (Stone iron)
Temirbek (Iron cheiftain)
Timur (Iron)
Turpal (Hero)
Turpalali (Lofty/sublime hero)

Vaharsolt
Vait
Vakha (To live)
Vakhid (Unique, peerless)
Valid (Newborn)
Vezirkhan (Vizier leader)
Viskhan
Viskhazh

Yandardi
Yunadi

Zaur (Visiting, Appearance, or Little)
Zaurbek (Visiting lord or Little lord)
Zelim (Unjust, cruel, oppressor) (NOT eytmologically related to Salim, which has an entirely opposite meaning!)
Zelimkhan, Zalimkhan (Safe ruler)
Ziyaudin (Splendour of religion)
Zura (Shining, illustrious; may also mean “red water”)

Female:

Aiza (Visitor, returning)
Aizanat
Albika
Amanat, Aminat (Truthful or Feel safe)
Ayna
Aysha (Alive)

Bilqiz
Çovka (Jackdaw [type of crow])
Dzhuvayriyat (Atmosphere, air, sky)
Elbika
Elmira (The commander, the princess)
Fariza (Precious, unique)

Kesira
Khadizhat (Khadija) (Premature child)
Khafsat (Gathering)
Khalimat (Mild, tolerant, patient)
Khazbika

Makka (Mecca)
Maryat (Maria)
Maymunat (Auspicious, fortunate, blessed)
Medni

Nurbika
Petimat (Fatima) (To abstain)
Qoqa (Dove, rock pigeon)

Rabiat, Rebiat (Springtime or Fourth)
Raykhanat (Basil)
Rovzan
Ruqayyat (“Rise, ascent,” or “spell, charm, incantation”)
Ruvayda (Unhurrying or Very gentle)

Safiyat (Pure)
Savdat (Land that has many palm trees)
Shovda
Tabarik
Taymaskha

Valida (Newborn)
Yakha (To live)
Yakhiyta (To let live)
Yisiyta

Zakhira (Supporter, helper)
Zalbika
Zalima, Zalina
Zalpa
Zamira (Honour, heart)
Zarema
Zargan
Zaydat (To increase)
Zaynap (May mean “beauty,” or be from the name of a fragrant, flowering tree. It may also be a form of Zenobia, which means “life of Zeus”)
Zelikha
Zelimat
Zulay
Zuleykhan, Zulikha (Brilliant beauty)
Zulima
Zura (Shining, illustrious; may also mean “red water”)

A primer on Swedish names

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Though Sweden doesn’t have a list of approved names like Iceland, Hungary, or Portugal, all names nevertheless must be approved. Names considered offensive, liable to cause discomfort, or ridiculous won’t be approved. Parents have three months to submit names. This law also applies to adults wanting to change their own names.

Some people have submitted blatantly ridiculous names in protest, like Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin), though most parents submit socially-acceptable names.

My Polish-born Robleński family finds refuge in Sweden during WWII. First the eight youngest siblings and their then-unofficially adopted sister manage to sneak their way out of their bunker in the woods and onto a ship bound for Sweden, due to the bravery and ingenuity of sixth-born Maria. They’re eventually joined by their four oldest siblings.

Magdalena Brandt, the oldest daughter of Sparky (Katherine) Brandt and Lazarus von Hinderburg, also marries a very liberal Swede, Zeevie Peterson, who loves to goad Magdalena’s religious fanatic cousin Joshua. Zeevie starts a New Age synagogue, B’nei v’Batei Ha’Olam (Sons and Daughters of the World).

Alphabet:

Swedish uses the Roman alphabet, with the addition of Å, Ä, and Ö. Unlike Danish and Norwegian, Swedish doesn’t use Ø or Æ. In the modern era, Q, W, and Z are rare.

Surnames:

Many Swedish surnames are patronymical, ending in -sson (e.g., Alfredsson, Carlsson, Einarsson, Gunnarsson, Martinsson). In the 15th century, the gentry (nobles and clergy) began using Swedish, Latin, German, and Greek surnames. Latinization of the patronymic (e.g., Petersson to Petri) and birthplaces were very common.

In the 19th century, these traditional patronymics became permanent family names. Wanting to copy the gentry, the bourgeoisie adopted surnames too. These were often Latinized, to pretend they came from high birth and old pedigrees.

Ennobled families were frequently given new surnames. Popular prefixes included Silfver- (silver), Gyllen- (guilded; golden), Ära- (honor), Adler- (German for “eagle”), and Ehren- (German for “honor”).

Soldiers were frequently given surnames fitting their personalities or appearance (e.g., Skarp [sharp], Modig [brave], Rapp [quick, prompt], Snygg [handsome]), or after weapons (e.g., Sköld [shield], Sabel [sabre]). Also common, among both soldiers and the bourgeoisie, were portmanteau ornamental names (e.g., Lindgren [linden branch], Holmberg [island mountain], Sandström [sand stream]).

Until the släktnamnsförordningen (family name regulation act) of 1901, patronymics were still more widely used in place of any surnames.

Middle names and other issues:

It’s fairly common for Swedes to go by a middle name instead of the forename. When the full name is written out, the name one goes by is indicated by italics, all caps, an asterisk, or underlining.

Sample names:

Male:

Adam
Adrian
Albert
Albin
Alexander (Sander)
Alfred
Alvar (Elf warrior)
Anders
Ansgar (God’s spear)
Anton
Arne
Aron
Arthur, Artur
Arvid (Eagle tree)
Asbjörn, Esbjörn (Bear god)
August
Axel (Acke)

Bengt (Benedict)
Benjamin
Bernhard, Bernt
Bertil (Bertolt)
Birger, Börje (Help, save, rescue)
Bjarne
Björn (Björne) (Bear)

Dag (Day)
Daniel (Danne)
David

Edvard
Edvin
Egil (Awe, terror)
Eilert (Hardy edge of a sword)
Einar (Warrior alone; one warrior)
Elias, Elis (Elijah)
Elof, Elov (Always a descendant)
Emanuel
Emil
Enok
Erik
Erland (Foreigner)
Erling (Descendant of the jarl [chieftain])
Ernst

Felix
Filip, Philip
Finn (Person from Finland)
Frans
Fredrik
Frej (Lord)
Fridtjof, Fritjof (Thief of peace; always loved this name!)

Gabriel
Georg
Gerhard
Gösta, Gustaf, Gustav
Gottfrid (Peace of God)
Greger
Gudmund (God’s protection)
Gunnar (Günther) (War warrior)

Håkon (High son)
Halvar (Rock guardian)
Harald
Helge (Holy, blessed)
Hemming (Shape)
Henrik (Henning)
Herman
Hjalmar (Helmeted warrior)
Holger (Spear island)
Hugo

Ingemar, Ingmar (Inge)
Ingolf (Inge)
Ingvar (Inge)
Isak
Ivar (Bow warrior)

Jakob
Jarl (Chieftain)
Joakim (Kim)
Johannes, Jan, Johan, Jon (Hannes, Hans, Hasse, Hampus, Janne)
Joel
Jonas
Jonatan

Kai, Kaj
Kåre (Curly, curved)
Karl, Carl (Kalle)
Kasper, Casper
Kettil, Kjell (Kettle, cauldron)
Klemens
Knut (Knot)
Konrad
Krister, Christer
Kristian
Kristoffer

Lars, Lasse, Lorens (Lawrence)
Leif (Heir, descendant)
Lennart (Lelle) (Leonard)
Leo
Linus
Loke (Modern form of Loki)
Ludvig, Love (Ludde)
Lukas

Magnus
Mark, Markus
Mårten, Martin
Mathias, Mattias, Matthias
Maximilian (Max)
Melker (Melchior)
Mikael

Niklas, Nils (Klas)
Njord (Strong, vigorous)
Noak (Noah)

Oliver
Olov, Olof (Olle, Ola) (Ancestor’s descendant)
Orvar (Arrow)
Oskar
Osvald
Otto
Ove

Pål, Paul
Patrik
Per, Peer, Peder, Pehr, Peter, Petter (Pelle)

Ragnar (Army’s advice)
Ragnvald (Ruler’s advice)
Ralf
Rasmus (Belovèd)
Rikard
Robert
Roland
Rolf (Roffe)
Ruben
Rudolf
Rune (Secret lore)

Salomon
Samuel
Sebastian
Sigfrid (Sigge) (Victory and peace)
Sigmund (Sigge) (Victory protector)
Sigvard, Sigurd (Sigge) (Guardian of victory)
Simon
Sixten (Victory stone)
Sören, Severin
Stefan, Staffan
Stellan
Sten (Stone)
Stig (Path)
Sture (To be contrary)
Sven (Boy)

Teodor, Theodor
Thor, Tor, Thore, Tore, Ture (Thunder)
Tobias
Tomas, Thomas
Torbjörn, Thorbjörn (Thor’s bear)
Torgny (Thor’s noise)
Torkel (Thor’s cauldron)
Torsten, Thorsten (Thor’s stone)
Torvald, Thorvald (Thor’s ruler)
Truls (Thor’s shaft)
Tryggve, Trygve (Trustworthy)
Tyko (Hitting the mark)

Ulf (Wolf)
Ulrik (Prosperity and power)
Urban
Valdemar
Valentin
Valter
Verner
Vidar (Wide warrior)
Viktor
Vilhelm (Ville)
Vilmar (Famous desire)
Vincent
Yngve

Female:

Agda, Agata
Agneta
Aina (Means “the only one” and “always” in Finnish)
Alexandra (Sassa, Sandra)
Alfhild (Elf battle)
Alva (Elf)
Anna (Annika)
Antonia
Aslög (God’s betrothed woman)
Astrid (Asta, Sassa)

Beata (Blessed)
Beatrice
Bengta (Benedicta)
Birgit, Birgitta, Berit (Brita, Britt, Britta, Gittan)
Bodil (Battle remedy)

Cecilia (Cilla)
Charlotte (Lotte, Lotta, Lottie)
Dagmar (Day maid)
Dagny (New day)
Diana
Dorotea, Dorothea (Tea, Thea)

Edit (Edith)
Eira (Mercy)
Eleonora, Eleonor (Ella, Nora)
Elin, Elina, Helena, Helene (Ella, Lena, Lina)
Elisabet (Elise, Ella, Elsa, Lis, Lisa, Lise, Lisbet)
Embla (Elm)
Emelie, Emilia, Emilie, Emma (Milly)
Erika
Erna (Brisk, vigourous, hale)
Ester
Eva
Evelina

Felicia
Filippa
Fredrika (Rika)
Freja (Lady)
Frida (Peace)

Gabriella
Gerd, Gerda (Enclosure)
Gry (Dawn)
Gudrun (Gull) (God’s secret lore)
Gunborg (War of rescue)
Gunhild, Gunilla, Gunnel (War battle)
Gunvor (Cautious in war)

Hanna, Hanne
Hedvig (Hedda) (Battle combat)
Heidi
Helga, Hella (Holy, blessed)
Henrietta
Henrika, Henrike (Rika)
Hilda (Battle)
Hildegard (Battle enclosure)
Hillevi (Happy war)
Hjördis (Sword goddess)
Hulda (Ulla) (Hiding, secrecy)

Ingeborg (Inga)
Ingegärd (Inga)
Ingrid (Inga)
Irene
Iris
Isabella

Janina
Janna (Jannicke, Jannike)
Jenny, Jennie
Johanna (Jonna)
Josefina, Josefine
Judit
Julia

Kamilla (Milla)
Karla
Karolina (Lina)
Katarina (Kaja, Kai, Kajsa, Karin, Karina, Katrin, Karita, Katja, Katrina, Ina)
Kerstin, Kjerstin, Kristina, Kristin, Kristine (Kia, Ina, Stina, Tina)
Klara

Laila
Laura
Lea
Linnéa (Linn, Nea) (always loved this name!)
Liselotte, Liselott (Lotta, Lotte, Lottie)
Liv (Life)
Lovisa
Lucia

Magdalena (Lena, Magda, Malin, Malena)
Margareta, Margit, Marit, Merit, Marita (Greta, Märta, Meta, Rita)
Maria (Maja, Mia, My)
Marina
Marta, Martha
Martina
Matilda, Mathilda (Tilda)
Mikaela
Monika (Mona)

Olga
Olivia (Vivi)
Ottilia
Paula, Paulina, Pauline
Petra
Petronella (Pernilla)
Pia

Ragna (Advice, counsel)
Ragnhild (Ragna) (Battle advice)
Rakel (Rachel)
Randi (Beautiful advice)
Rebecka
Regina (Ina, Gina)
Ronja
Rosa
Runa (Secret lore)
Rut, Ruth

Saga (Seeing one)
Sara (Sassa)
Selma
Sibylla
Signy, Signe (New victory)
Sigrid (Beautiful victory)
Sigrun (Secret victory)
Siv (Bride)
Sofia (Vivi)
Solveig, Solvig, Sylvi (Sun’s strength)
Susanna, Susanne (Sassa)
Svea (Swede)
Synnöve (Sun gift)

Teodora
Teresa, Terese, Teresia (Tessan)
Thora (Thunder)
Torborg, Thorborg (Thor’s protection)
Tordis (Thor’s goddess)
Tova, Tove, Tuva
Turid (Beautiful Thor)
Tyra, Thyra (Holy Thor)

Ulrika (Rika, Ulla)
Ursula
Vendela
Vera
Viktoria
Vilhelmina (Helmi, Mimmi, Minna)
Vilma
Viola
Virginia
Viveka (Vivi) (War)
Ylva (Wolf)

A primer on Hawaiian names

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Hawaiian belongs to the Austronesian language family, on the Marquesic sub-branch of the Central Eastern Polynesian group. Along with English, it’s the official language of the 50th and final state to join the U.S.

Like many other native languages which fell under the heel of colonial or more dominant powers, Hawaiian too suffered devastating blows, and came very close to extinction. It was banned in 1896, and children who dared to speak Hawaiian at school were horribly punished.

Thankfully, Hawaiian has begun to recover, thanks to language immersion preschools, radio stations, TV, newspapers, and other initiatives. In 1900, there were 27,000 native speakers, and this number had dwindled to but 1,000 by 1997, representing under 0.1%. In 2011, it had risen to 24,000. Residents of westernmost island Ni’ihau speak Hawaiian almost exclusively.

The four youngest sisters in my Laurel family, along with their husbands and children, move from Atlantic City to Hawaii in 1986. Their destination is a huge surprise planned by Tikva’s husband Giorgio, a future pediatrician specializing in premature infants and children. It’s exactly what they need to start over after a lot of depressing, traumatic events. In Honolulu, they begin their own fashion design company, Four Laurels.

Alphabet:

The alphabet developed by American Protestant missionary Elisha Loomis in 1822 had five vowels, twelve consonants, and seven diphthongs. F, G, S, Y, and Z were used for foreign words and names.

In 1826, the alphabet assumed its modern form of five vowels (A, E, I, O, U) and eight consonants (H, K, L, M, N, P, W, and ‘okina). The lattermost is a unicameral consonant (without upper or lowercase forms) marking a phonetic glottal stop. Originally, the alphabet had contained B, R, D, T, and V, but they were dropped due to representing functionally redundant, interchangeable sounds.

Traditional naming customs:

Hawaiians took great care to choose a unique name for each child, with great thought as to the meaning. Some names came from dreams or visions, while others related to something that happened at the time of the birth. Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, was called Lili’u (scorch) Kamaka’eha (the sore eye) when she was growing up, due to her great-aunt Kīnaʻu’s eye ache.

Names had to match social class and family deities. The kauwā (slave) caste had to take simple names after natural objects, while chieftains got to have names starting with Keliʻi (the chief) or ending in -lani (sky).

Many people had several names, both formal and informal, and could change their names to something with a grotesque meaning to try to ward off evil spirits. Visiting Americans were scandalized to learn of names such as Kūkae (excrement), Kapela (the filth), Kama’i (the genitals, the illness), and Pupuka (ugly).

Surnames:

Hawaiians didn’t have surnames until Western missionaries arrived. Christian converts sometimes used their Hawaiian names as surnames, with the new baptismal names taking the place of their old forenames.

In 1860, people were ordered to use their father’s name as a surname. All children born henceforth had to have English names. Any Hawaiian names had to be in the middle. In 1967, this legislation was repealed, though by that point, the Hawaiian language was in a serious state of endangerment.

Sample names:

Unisex:

‘Aka’aka (To laugh)
Akela (Adele for girls; Asher for boys)
Alealani (The sweet voice of the heavens)
Anuenue (Rainbow)

Ha’aheo (Cherished with pride)
Hanalei (Crescent bay; also a Hawaiian form of Henry)
Hau’oli (Happiness)
Hekili (Thunderl also a Hawaiian form of Herman)
Hiapo (Firstborn)
Hi’ilani (Held in the arms of heaven)
Hilina’i (Trust)
Hokule’a (Star of gladness; the Hawaiian name for Arcturus, the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, and Hawaii’s zenith star)
Hokuokalani (Star of the heavens)
Ho’onani (Adornment)
Hualani (Heavenly fruit)

Ka’aukai (The seafarer)
Ka’ehu (The sea spray; the reddish hair)
Ka’ena (The heat)
Kahananui (The great work; the hard job)
Kahekili (The thunder)
Kahele (The walk; the moving)
Kahoku (The star)
Kahue (The gourd)
Kahula (The dance)
Kai (Sea)
Kaimana (Ocean power; diamond)
Kainoa (Sea of freedom)
Kaipo (The sweetheart)
Kaiwi (The bone; a symbol of old age and life)
Kalani (The heavens)
Kalua (The second child; the companion)
Kamalani (Heavenly child)
Kapua (The flower; the child)
Kaui (The youthful one)
Kaulana (Famous)
Kawehi (The adornment)
Keahi (The fire)
Keaka (The shodow; the essence)
Keala (The path)
Kealoha (The loved one)
Keanu (The cool breeze)
Keone (The homeland)
Konani (Bright)

La’akea (Clear sacredness)
Lanakila (Victory; triumph)
Laniakea (Immeasurable heaven)
Lehua (Ohia flower)
Lei (Flowers; lei; child)
Leilani (Heavenly flowers; royal child)

Makana (Gift)
Mana (Spirit)
Maui (A mythological trickster who created the Hawaiian islands by making his brothers fish them from the sea)
Moana (Deep sea, ocea, wide expanse of water)
Nahele (Forest)
Nai’a (Dolphin)
Nalani (The heavens; the chiefs)

Female:

Apikalia (Abigail)
Elikapeka (Elizabeth)
Haukea (White snow)
Haunani (Beautiful snow)
Hokulani (Heavenly star)
Iolana (To soar)

Kakalina (Katherine)
Kala (Sarah)
Kalea (Joy, happiness)
Kalena (Karen)
Kanani (The beauty)
Kehaulani (Heavenly dew)
Kekepania (Stephanie)
Kiana (Diana)
Kilikina (Christina)
Ku’ulei (My lei)
Ku’ulpo (My sweetheart)

Lani (Sky, heaven, royal, majesty)
Leialoha (Lei of love)
Leimoni (Pearl lei, pearl child)
Leinani (Beautiful lei)

Maile (A native vine used to make leis)
Malia (Maria)
Malie (Calm)
Mele (Song; also used as a Hawaiian form of Mary)
Melika (Melissa)
Momi (Pearl)

Nani (Beauty, glory)
Noelani (Heavenly mist)
Pelika (Covenant; bond)
Pua (Flower; offspring)
Pualani (Heavenly flower; royal offspring)
Puanani (Beautiful flower; beautiful offspring)

U’ilani (Heavenly beauty; royal beauty)
Ululani (Heavenly inspiration)
Wailani (Heavenly water)
Waiola (Water of life; also a Hawaiian form of Viola)
Walonika (Veronica)
Wikolia (Victoria)

Male:

Akamu (Adam)
Anakoni (Akoni) (Anthony)
Ekewaka (Edward)
Iakopa (Jakob)
Ikaia (Isaiah)
Ikaika (Strong)
Iokua (Joshua)

Kale (Charles)
Kaleo (The sound; the voice)
Kapena (Captain)
Kapono (The good one)
Kekoa (The warrior)
Keoni (John)
Kimo (James)
Koa (Warrior; koa tree)

Makaio (Matthew)
Maleko (Mark)
Mikala (Michael)
Peni (Benjamin)
Pika (Peter)

A primer on Uzbek names

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The Uzbeks are the largest Turkic people in Central Asia, and their language (on the Karluk sub-branch of the Turkic language family) has 27 million native speakers. Due to where Uzbekistan is geographically situated, and given the history of the area, the language has a number of Persian, Arabic, and Russian influences.

Outside of Uzbekistan, there are large diaspora communities in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Australia, Pakistan, the U.S., Turkey, Ukraine, and China. Mongolia also has a small Uzbek community.

A number of the children at Mrs. Brezhneva’s Kyiv orphanage in my first three Russian historicals are Uzbek, orphaned or kidnapped during the Civil War and early years of the Soviet Union. When the orphanage partially, surreptitiously relocates to Isfahan, Iran, during the Great Terror in 1937, five of the children chosen are Uzbek.

Alphabet:

Like all the other Turkic languages, Uzbek too was historically written in Arabic script. Since nationalism was encouraged during the early years of the USSR, there was a comprehensive program to teach the people how to read and write. In 1924, a proposal for the Romanization of the Arabic Uzbek alphabet was developed, and from 1928–30, Uzbek switched to the Latin alphabet. In 1940, Stalin forced Cyrillic upon them.

In 1992, after Uzbekistan gained her independence, Latin returned, though Cyrillic is still widely used. The deadline for making the transition back to Latin only keeps getting pushed off, though the usage of the Roman alphabet has become more and more widespread.

The modern Uzbek Latin alphabet has 29 letters. Unfamiliar letters are Oʻ, Gʻ, SH, CH, and NG, and missing letters are C and W. When written in Cyrillic, it contains the additional letters Ҳ (H), Қ (Q), and НГ (NG), and transliterates Ж as J instead of ZH, and X as X instead of KH. Some of their letters also come much later in the alphabet than they do in Russian.

Surnames:

Due to so many years of Russification, many Uzbek names still bear endings like -ov(a), -in(a), and -(y)ev(a). They also have Turkic, Persian, and Arabic twists. Sample surnames include Karimov, Nabiyev, Abdulin, Abdulayev, Burkhanov, Azmatov, Choriyev, Islambekov, Ravshanov, and Rakhimov.

Sample names:

Female:

Adolat
Akgul (White flower)
Amina (Truthful)
Andisha (Wisdom)
Anisa (Friend, friendly)
Anora (Pomegranate)
Azaliya (Everlasting, eternal)

Binafsha (Violet)
Chinara (Platanus [a type of tree])
Dilkash (Eloquent)
Dilnoza
Durdona (Pearl)

Elnura (The light)
Farangiz
Fazilat (Value, worth)
Firuza, Feruza (Turquoise)

Gülayim (Gulya)
Gulbahor (Gulya) (Spring flower)
Gulchekhra, Gulchexra (Gulya) (Flower flower)
Guldasta (Gulya) (Flower bouquet)
Guli (Gulya) (Flower)
Gulnora (Gulya) (Pomegranate flower)

Hilola
Himoya (Protection)
Indira (After Indira Gandhi, and currently extremely popular)
Inju (Pearl)
Inoyat (Grace)
Iroda

Jamola
Jilmay (Smile)
Jiyan (Life)
Jonona (Belovèd)
Lola (Tulip)

Malika (Queen)
Marvarid (Pearl, Margaret)
Mavluda
Mehri, Mexri (Love)
Mehribon, Mexribon
Mehriniso, Mexriniso
Milana
Munisa

Namunali (Exemplary)
Nargiza (Daffodil)
Nigora (Hope)
Nilufar (Lotus)
Nozanin (Beautiful)

Olma (Apple)
Oltingul (Golden flower)
Orzu (Wish)
Ozoda (Clean)
Parizoda (Fairy face)

Ravshana (Bright, light)
Rozi (Pleased)
Ruhshana (Roxana)
Ruhsora

Sakina
Samimiy (Sincere)
Sanobar (Juniper)
Sayora
Setora
Sevara
Sevinch
Shahlo (Blue dye)
Shahnoza (Pride of the Shah)
Shirin (Sweet)
Shohruh
Sitora

Tahmina
Tantana (Celebration)
Tomyris
Umida (Hope)
Usta (Expert)
Vorisa (Heiress)

Xadya, Hadya (Gift)
Yaltira (Glitter, shine)
Yulduz, Yulduza (Star)

Zafara (Victory)
Zara, Zuhro (Bright, brilliant)
Zarina (Golden)
Zeb (Beauty)
Ziyoda
Ziyoli (Intelligent)
Zulfiya

Male:

Abbos (Austere)
Abdug’ani
Abdulla (Servant of Allah)
Abdurahim (Servant of the compassionate)
Abdurahmon (Servant of the merciful)
Abdurashid (Servant of the rightly-guided)
Abdusalom (Servant of the peace)
Alisher (Lofty/sublime lion)
Anvar (Brighter, more luminous)
Arslon (Lion)
Asal (Honey)
Aziz (Powerful, belovèd, respected)
Azizbek (Powerful chieftain)

Baxretdin, Baxriddin, Bakhretdin, Bakhriddin (Sea of religion)
Baxtiyor, Bakhtiyor
Baymirza
Bekzod, Behzod, Bexod
Bo’ri (Wolf)
Botir (Brave, hero)

Daler
Dilshod (Happy heart, cheerful)
Elihan
Elshod (Glad country/society)
Ergash
Erkin

Farhod (Elation, happiness)
Farrukh, Farrux (Person who can tell right from wrong)
Fathullo, Fatxullo (Victory of Allah)
G’afur
Hamza

Ibrohim
Ilhom
Ishoq (Isaac)
Islam
Ismoil (Ishmael)
Isroil (Israel)

Jafar, Jәgfar
Jahangir
Jahon (World)
Jamoliddin
Jamshid
Jasur
Jo’ra
Juma

Malik (King)
Mamur (Judge, officer, magistrate)
Mansur
Marsel (After French politician Marcel Cachin)
Maxmud, Makhmud (Praiseworthy)
Melis
Mirtemir
Murod (Desire, wish)
Mutabar

Nuriddin, Nuritdin (Light of religion)
Odil
O’rmon (Forest)
Otabek
Parviz (Happy, fortunate)

Rahmatillo, Raxmatillo, Rahmatullo, Raxmatullo (Mercy of Allah)
Ravshan (Bright, light)
Ravshanbek (Chieftain of light)
Rishod (Rightly-guided)
Ruslan
Rustam (A great hero in Persian folklore)

Sa’dulla
Salim (Safe)
Sayfuddin (Sword of the faith)
Server
Shamshod
Shavkat (Good)
Sherali
Sherzod
Shuhrat (Fame)
Shukur
Sobir
Suhrob (Red water or Illustrious, shining)

Timur (Iron)
Tohir (Chaste, virtuous, pure)
Turab
Tursunmurod
Ulug’bek (Great chieftain)
Umid (Hope)
Umurbek, Umarbek
Utkirbek

Xabibullo, Khabibullo
Yo’ldosh
Yoqub (Jakob)