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Names: My newspaper column: now featuring ancient resin and a book banned in Boston (and 13 other states)


Ormond
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7 hours ago, Wade1865 said:

Ormond -- well written article, thank you for sharing! A few interesting ideas you could cover (if you haven't already):

1) why the contemporary butchering of names; e.g., Jasmyn vs Jasmine, Brandyn vs Brandon, Jaxson vs Jackson, et al.

2) what's the origin of diminutives of James vs Jim or Jimmy; Richard vs Dick; William vs Bill, John vs Jack, et al.

3) what's the origin / evolution of African-American names like Tayshaun, Deontay, Lashawn, et al. And I'd be curious how much of an impact the French language had on their development.

Obviously people who respell names don't think they are "butchering" them but believe they are enhancing them to promote their child's individuality.

I wrote a column on Jack in October 2020:

https://omaha.com/entertainment/evans-jacks-reach-has-stretched-from-nursery-rhymes-to-literary-heroes/article_6326a701-6ea9-5f9d-9945-6e89260643d8.html

Dick is a medieval rhyming nickname for Richard. In medieval times names that started with R- had rhyming nicknames starting with D- and H-.  People whose surnames are Dixon or Hicks had medieval ancestors named Richard, while Dobson and Hobbs go back to Robert and Hodges and Dodge go back to Roger. 

The huge modern popularity of invented names in the African-American community goes back to the 1960s, when Black Pride led parents to turn the formerly prejudiced idea that "Black people have funny names" (statistically mostly untrue before 1960) into a positive, that "we are the people who give our children unique creative names as a sign of how much we love them."  De- and La- were the first popular prefixes because they were abstracted out of French or Dutch surnames such as DeWitt and Lafayette. Black Americans didn't invent this idea -- White Americans had turned Duane into DeWayne and created names like Ladonna well before the 1960s. 

 

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23 hours ago, Maltaran said:

The ONS has published the list of popular baby names in England and Wales

Baby names: Oliver knocked off top spot by Noah https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63142735

It's always interesting to see the similarities and differences between the England & Wales list vs. the USA. George and Harry just don't appeal to many American parents, partly because most Americans pronounce Harry the same as the word "hairy" instead of using the vowel found in "cat" like most people in England do. 

Florence just started to rise in the USA in 2019 but was still only 713th in the USA in 2021, a far cry from its #8 status in England & Wales. Isla, Ivy, and Freya are names whose recent popularity starting in the UK which are now rising in the USA. Ava, Mia, and Willow have moved across the Atlantic in the other direction. 

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Here's today's column.  

https://omaha.com/lifestyles/cleveland-evans-annikas-origins-a-mystery-popularity-is-not/article_562e23e4-441d-11ed-b061-5fe5f615970a.html

I'd love to know the origin of the surname Anika used by some persons of Igbo descent from Nigeria. Most African surnames were adopted because of colonialism within the last couple of centuries. They are usually the given name of a greatgrandfather or other ancestor, but I haven't found anyone with Anika as a first name in Nigeria yet.

The British TV show that's going to start on PBS in the USA next week was based on a radio program in the UK. The radio show, unlike the TV show, was set in Norway. I wonder if they actually pronounced Annika with the first syllable as "Ann" on the radio show, even though I don't think that would be the Norwegian pronunciation any more than it's the Swedish one. 

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I wouldn’t say the Swedish way of pronouncing Annika rhymes with Monica. It’s closer to Anne-Icka but it’s not really that either. The Swedish short “a” just doesn’t exist in the English language. 

At the beginning of this clip (00:09) you’ll hear it:

Cool to hear about the impact she had on US girls’ names. I don’t think most Swedes understand just how big she was. 

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Interesting. I realize that the vowels in Swedish are not exactly the same as those in English. Someone who is a real linguist can tell the difference, I'm sure, but it's hard for an adult raised in another language to hear subtle differences between speech sounds correctly.

The following documentary about Annika Sorenstam put out by the United States Golf Association seems to clearly be using the "rhymes with Monica" pronunciation, so I assume that's what Ms. Sorenstam uses when she herself is speaking English.

 

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Very likely. I have the same approach - when speaking English, I pronounce my name as the English “Eric”. No point in trying to push a pronunciation that no one can manage. The way I see it, I have an English name in much the same way as the pope is called Francis or Franciskus or Francisco depending on country. 

Did you ever cover the practice of translating royal names? That could be fun.

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10 hours ago, Erik of Hazelfield said:

Very likely. I have the same approach - when speaking English, I pronounce my name as the English “Eric”. No point in trying to push a pronunciation that no one can manage. The way I see it, I have an English name in much the same way as the pope is called Francis or Franciskus or Francisco depending on country. 

Did you ever cover the practice of translating royal names? That could be fun.

I haven't written about it in my column extensively, but it's really just a subset of the general shift that's happenned over the last couple of centuries in how people treat names. Before the late 19th century, when most people in all European cultures had given names that were taken from either the Bible or the saint's calendar, names were treated as "translatable" words when moving from one culture to another. Persons who became very famous historical figures before that time are going to have the names they are known by differ in different languages. In English we call the Spanish royal couple who supported the voyages of Columbus Ferdinand and Isabella, when of course in Spanish they were Fernando and Isabel. In English we still call the man who was King of Sweden between 1826 and 1872 "Charles XV" even though his successor who's on the throne today is always called "Carl XVI Gustaf".  But non-royal people before the 20th century were usually treated the same way -- most German men named Johann and Karl just automatically became John and Charles if they moved to the USA in the 19th century. 

Some people who are of "intermediate fame" have seen how their names are presented change recently. The German merchant who is often claimed to have been the wealthiest non-ruler who ever lived (1459-1525) was usually referred to as "Jacob Fugger" in books and articles written in English until a few years ago, but now the original German spelling "Jakob Fugger" is usually used. 

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Here's the link to today's column. I was surprised to see how popular Alfred is for babies in Sweden and Denmark right now. It obviously must have a very different image there than it does in the USA.

https://omaha.com/lifestyles/cleveland-evans-alfred-not-as-weird-as-some-may-think/article_b86b7998-4ff4-11ed-b148-e787a827c1cf.html

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Here is the link to today's column. It was a minor surprise to me to see how the spelling "Sallie" was much more common than "Sally" in the USA in the late 19th and early 20th century. Not sure why that was, but it may be related to the feeling the -y was more "masculine" and -ie more "feminine", as shown by the average gender difference in pairs like Billy & Billie, Bobby & Bobbie, Andy & Andie, etc.

https://omaha.com/lifestyles/cleveland-evans-now-uncommon-sally-was-found-on-stage-screen-and-sky/article_3af43794-5af7-11ed-a327-c765d849f05a.html

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The link to today's column:

https://omaha.com/lifestyles/cleveland-evans-amber-still-a-somewhat-rare-jewel-among-first-names/article_379633e2-6685-11ed-9d9e-3f4ebcc70ed6.html

I found the somewhat delayed impact of "Forever Amber" on this name extremely interesting. It is clear that the name's return to the top 1000 was inspired by that novel and the film based on it. But as I say in the column, the name then just plateaued at a really low level, below #800, for several years. I am sure this was because of the extremely controversial nature of the story. Back in 1944 people just weren't ready for a tale about a woman who was extremely sexually promiscuous and made her living marrying wealthy older men but who was the successful unrepentant heroine of the story. The story in total mentions 39 out of wedlock pregnancies and 7 abortions (Amber herself accounting for at least one of the abortions.)  The book was banned in many places and there were protests against the film when it came out in 1947. So it took a while before the image of Amber St. Clare was forgotten enough for most parents to feel comfortable using the name. It would be interesting for someone to do a study as to just what the American parents who did name daughters Amber from 1944 through 1957 were like that allowed them to use the name despite its controversial image.

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  • Ormond changed the title to Names: My newspaper column: now featuring ancient resin and a book banned in Boston (and 13 other states)

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