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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Scandinavian Names

Laura writes:
We need some help: we are stuck in that spot where no names are good enough but there are plenty of bad names to go around! We are expecting a boy-bundle, half-Norwegian and half-New Yorker. Our 3.5 year old daughter is Sofia Eloise Astri Evenson (Sofia because we did not know how damn popular it was, Eloise for Eloise at the Plaza, and Astri for her two Norwegian Great Grandmothers, who shared this name - also, SEA...why not!?). We and she call her "Fee" or "Fia", NOT Sofie.

In the boy department, we are looking for something Scandinavian, and not sure if we will do two middle names again. We plan to have at least one more child, so I guess we can break away from that tradition now or continue on. We do plan to live in Norway at some point, so the name has to have crossover potential, without making him feel like he has two separate names.

Names we have talked about (and then dismissed, for a variety of reasons) include:
Bruno (too Germanic and gruff - but both my maiden name and husband's middle name {from his mother's maiden name} are Brown/Bruun)
Axel/Aksel (too heavy)
Odin (too presumptuous: the "All Father" of Norse mythology...very anti the typical Norwegian modesty)
Finn (husband's aversion)
Dashiell/Dashel nn Dash (husband's aversion)
Aleksander (my opinion - common and not sure about the Slavic spelling)
Joakim/Joachim (Y-sounding J in Norwegian is confusing/my aversion)
Lucas (too popular here and in Norway)
Jonas (too popular - in Norway, but a family name for me, and that J!)
Kaspar/Jasper/Jesper (the friendly ghost, and confusing Y-sounding J in the final option)
Karl (lots of these in Norway)
Stellan (too Swedish...)
Johan/Johann (too Swedish)
Ole/Ola (SO Norwegian but likely to be mispronounced and assumed a girly name here)
Lars (name of my husband's ONLY uncle, who incidentally does not speak with the family)
Miles (we both love it, even though it's not Scandinavian: an outlier, because it's as popular as Sofia. I also love Mila as a girl's name, so I can let this go for now)
Espen (husband's aversion)
Carsten (husband's aversion)
Kai (too common in Norway)


Middle Names (eg names we wouldn't consider putting first):
Edward (a family name)
Charles
Jonas (family name)
Hans (family name)
Erling (pronounced OUR-ling, family name)

Any help would be appreciated - we are definitely stuck and probably going to start asking grandparents soon, which is a BIG MISTAKE!
Thanks!

What I know about Scandinavian names can fit in...well, in the "Nordic" section of the revised edition of The Baby Name Wizard. I can look at the list and say I like Anders and Gustav and Henrik and Leif and Linus and Mathias and Mikkel and Niels and Oscar and Soren and Torsten, but I don't know how popular those names are or which Nordic area they're most associated with. Is there a Scandinavian Namer in the house?


Name update 05-19-2010! Laura writes:
I have been meaning to write to thank you and your posters' for helping us find a name we love for our son.

Miles Olav Edward was born on April 2. We chose to go with the name we both love and put our Norwegian nod (Olav V was a recent and well-loved Norwegian king) plus a nod to my family this time (Edward is my dad's middle name) in secondary spots.

Thanks so much for helping us!

23 comments:

Dearest said...

Scandinavian namer present!
First thing you need to do is decide whether you want a name that's obviously Scandinavian or is used a lot in Norway, or just one of Scandinavian heritage. Odin and Lars are obviously Scandinavian, and everyone you know would probably be aware. Alvar and Ellef are not that obvious to say the least, and there's also the names of Germanic heritage that have the same usage and meaning in Norway like Edmund and friends.

If you want the first, you should really just look at English sources and see what they list as Norwegian/Scandinavian names.
If you want the second, I'll do some research for you and find some Norse names that would be easily imported into and English-speaking environment!
Try these on:
Agnar/Agnor
Aldor
Alfinn
Alvar
Amund
Ari
Audun
Borgar
Brent
Bryn
Bo
Dagfinn
Edvind/Eivind
Eidar
Ellef/Eilif/Eiliv
Eimar
Eimund
Elling
Esben
Even
Frimann
Fred
Gard/Gardar
Haldor/Halvor
Helmer
Hemming
Hermann
Ivar/Iver
Karsten
Koll
Leik
Magnar
Nor/Norfinn
Olav/Olaus/Olaves/Olai
Odmund
Ovin
Rand/Randor
Rovar
Rune/Runar/Runo
Sakse/Saxe
Sigfinn/Sigmund
Sindre
Solan
Syver
Thor/Thord/Thorkel
Tind
Ulvar
Unar
Ystein
Melvin
Selmer
Storm

And if it matters, the most used boys name in Norway for the past 20 years is Christian/Kristian... :)
All the names above are Norse/Norwegian according to Norwegian name sources ^^
Best of luck!!

Deniselle said...

I guess Finland is technically Scandinavia (although that's debatable). Let's see if I can come up with something. It sounds like they're looking for mostly Swedish/Norwegian names,rather than Finnish ones (which usually don't really fit with the English pronunciation anyway).

Some male names that I think would fit your naming style:

Albin
Alf (too much like the alien?)
Elis/Elias
Elling/Erling
Emil
Hannes
Jens
Jonte
Lars/Lasse
Leif
Linus
Magnus
Mio
Nils
Pontus
Ragnar
Rasmus
Stefan/Staffan
Sten

Deniselle said...

Ah, sorry, you already had Erling. :D I actually had to take out many names I would have suggested, noticing you already had them in the list! ;)

A few more:
Anton
Arild
Dag
Johannes
Stian

If you'd consider any Finnish names, here are some suggestions:

Ari
Asko/Asmo
Esko
Matti
Miko
Miro
Roni
Sami
Timo

I'm trying to come up with Milo-like names, as you can probably tell.

Anonymous said...

I love Lucas, and I don't know where it is on the popularity list, but I don't know anyone named Lucas. It's a great name! Sofia and Lucas. Fee and Luc! nice.

Jeni Q said...

I think that Axel is not heavy at all! (I realize that it doesn't matter what I think, but I'm guessing it helps to hear differing opinions.)

Axel is a lovely name, straight and light like an arrow, with no nickname potential (a plus in my mind). It is also a good Scandinavian name and in that world has none of the connotations you might get from Axel Rose or car axles. For that matter, since you say half Norwegian and half New Yorker, I think both of those influences steer you clear of the more annoying connotations of the name. You can use the name and be true to your heritage - lucky you!

And, this is a bonus in my eyes, Will Ferrell just named his third boy, all of whom have Scandinavian names, Axel. You can read the relevant post on the Name Candy blog.

If you hate it, you hate it. I just think you should reconsider - I love the name personally but don't feel like we can really use it. :)

Chris said...

What about Evan? Obviously American-recognizable but fits in easily with the sounds of most Nordic names. Not horrendously popular here either, I think.

Anonymous said...

Soren!!!

Aniko said...

OP here -- First, thank you for your help and opinions. I way prefer this to asking friends and family!

A few quick notes:
1) Sadly, Evan will not fit with our last name: Evensen! (or at least it would fit way too well!)
2) We are aiming for 'not too popular' in both NY and Norway: which means although I LOVE Lucas/Lukas, Kristian/Krister, Tor, Anders, Soren, Sondre, Mads, Lars, Magnus, etc, they are surprisingly popular in our circles in both NY and Norway.
3) I'm thinking ________ Miles Erling Evensen, leaving the first name open, and filling the two middle w an NY reference (jazz phenom Miles Davis) and a Norwegian reference (Erling is my husband's grandfather). Still it's a mouthful!

Finally - I had thought about Ellis (as the NY reference, Ellis Island, through which my parents and grandparents came) but Elis as a variant on Elias is new and interesting!

Thanks to everyone -- your suggestions are wonderful! More please!
Laura

karintha said...

I love Soren and Magnus. They're unusual, but not weird.

A friend of mine was reading Kierkegaard when he and his wife were expecting...they have the only little Soren I know.

I also fell in love with the name Mattias when I lived in Germany - not sure why. Would that work?

Any of them sound nice with Sophia, but I'm kinda partial to Mattias:

Sophia and Soren
Sophia and Magnus
Sophia and Mattias

MelissaInk said...

I like the suggestion of Leif.

Out of your options, I like Stellan and Espen.

I like the middle name Jonas (those damn Jonas brothers have ruined the name for a first name).

Leif Jonas.
Stellan Jonas.
Espen Jonas.

beyond said...

I adore the nn Fee/Fia for Sofia! I like ___ Miles Erling Evensen. It might be a mouthful, but think of how often we really say/use all of our 3 or 4 names. Not that often, right? (I also like your idea of Elis very much!)
Annar
Amund
Arkin
Eirik
Haldor
Ingmer
Leif
Magne
Sigurd
Torsten
Trigve
(Forgive me if some of these are Swedish or Danish rather than Norwegian; I am not an expert.) Another great name that comes to mind is Tobias; I know it's not Norwegian, but it works in both languages, and it's not popular (ranks in the 500s in the US). Sofia and Annar, Amund Evensen, Sofia and Haldor...
Good luck!

StephLove said...

Before I read your last name, I was going to suggest Eben, but I guess that one's not going to fly.

Is Jagger a Norwegian name? I know a toddler boy of Norwegian heritage with that name. Not sure where the name comes from, though.

Anonymous said...

I too like Aksel and especially now that I am hearing it more with the olympics and the excellent mens skier from Norway. It does not sound heavy at all? Is Eric/Erik one that may interest you? It definitely has a nice crisp strong sound and is familiar without being terribly popular?

Andria Stanley said...

Not Bruno... I think of that horrible movie! I know 4 Finn's born in the past 6 months, so I would avoid that.

I like Miles. Miles Edward is a cute name. I like Stellan too... Maybe Stellan Edward, and they can have the same initials? That gets tricky though, if you have anymore kids. Then, you feel obligated to once again give your child the SEA trend.

Katie V. said...

Magnus is my favourite for you :) There are so many great name to choose from though. Can't wait for an update with what you choose!

Ashley said...

I have a nephew named Espen!

See these websites - from Norway's equivalent of the Social Security website:
http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/00/navn_en/gutter2000-2009.html

http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/00/navn_en/gutter.html

There are so many great options! How about Sofia and Vincent? Sofia and Tristan? Sofia and Tobias? Sofia and Theo? Sofia and Stein? Sofia and Simon? I just stopped scrolling. Too many good options.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I really like Leif - Leif Miles Erling Evensen.

Karen L said...

So I have no idea what is an authentically Norwegian name, so I went through all the Norwegian athletes currently competing at the 2010 Olympics.

Martin
Erik
Andre
Ruben
Emil

I really like Ruben.
Ruben Miles Erling Evensen. Ruben Evensen. Sofia and Ruben.

Aniko said...

zatennuOP again --

Thank you all for such wonderful feedback! OF COURSE - I looked through all the Norwegian Olympians for inspiration, but I think we can only use a name from that category intentionally if they are a medal-winner!

Aksel therefore has more interest now - who doesn't love Svindal!

So many of the good names, like Leif and Emil, are pronounced very differently in English and Norwegian, (LIFE versus LAEF), so that even though I adore them in one setting, I don't think people will know to follow the correct pronunciation in the other.

Other AWESOME names are simply taken by friends and family (Soren, a cousin, Magnus, a close friend) and of course my husband insists he has bad associations with others that I love (Espen has been my fave for a long time, but there was once a naughty boy in my husband's elementary school class who stole the girl he had a crush on...no more Espen.) and Tobias is my husband's favorite, but that is the name of a man I dated before my husband!

In all, your suggestions have definitely helped my huaband and me to come around to some of the awesome names that have been on the quiet end of the list.

Thanks so much!
Laura

Anonymous said...

i really like your elis option! i was a big fan of soren as well, but it's out, huh? anders is definitely one of my favorite names (happens to be a favorite cousin of mine...whose brothers are lars and hans! love those names too). ____ Miles Erling Evensen is lovely. i don't think you can go wrong with any of the ideas above in filling in the blank. :)

brittae@yahoo.com said...

Mattias, Kjerst (more masculine than Kjersten; different than Torsten), Erik. Erik is easy in both countries but not too popular.

Annette said...

My first suggestion (before finishing reading the thread) was going to be Axel. I love this name (used to live in Germany) and really like that it's masculinity.

Names from my husbands family that may help...

Augustus (Gus)
Garrett
Anders
Brynolf (Bernie)
Muller
Patrick
Rudiger
Sakis
Stavros


I think Garrett, Anders and Stavros would be my favorites for you. Good luck!

Marcie said...

So, I already tried to post, but that disappeared. I'm trying again.

What about Harald? I really like that and it goes well in English and Norwegian. Another Norwegian name I really like is Frode - but that might be a challenge with the pronounciation.

Good luck!