The many forms of Benjamin

Benjamin (the name of the only great-grandpap I have memories of) has never charted any lower than #155 in the U.S. (in 1960), and is one of those names which has sharply gone from popular to unpopular and back again. Ever since 1966, when it charted at #133, it’s been steadily rising in popularity (or at least staying stable) each year. In 2016, it jumped to #6, from #10 the previous year.

The name is also popular in Canada (#4), Chile (#2), Australia (#17), England and Wales (#30), Austria (#25), Bosnia (#23), Denmark (#26), Hungary (#60), New Zealand (#5), Norway (#21), Scotland (#51), The Netherlands (#21), Ireland (#58), Finland (#35), France (#67), Sweden (#25), Switzerland (#23), Slovenia (#52), Northern Ireland (#58), and Croatia (#82).

The spelling Benjamin is used in English, French, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages. Variations are Benjámin (Hungarian) and Benjamín (Slovak, Spanish, Icelandic, and Czech). As most people know, J takes an H sound in Spanish, and a Y sound in almost all of the European languages.

Other forms include:

1. Binyamin is the original Hebrew form, as well as Arabic. It means “son of the right hand” and “son of the south.” In the Torah, Binyamin is the second of the two sons of Jakob and Rachel. His name was originally Ben-Oni (son of sorrow), because his mother died from childbirth, but his father later changed it.

2. Beniamino is Italian.

3. Benjamim is Portuguese.

4. Beniamin is Romanian.

5. Benjaminas is Lithuanian, with the nickname Benas.

6. Veniamin is Russian and Greek. This is one of those cases when the accurate Russian transliteration really calls for IA, instead of YA or IYA. Nicknames include Vinya, Minya, Venya, Vena, Venyulya, Venyusha, and Venusha.

7. Venijamin is Macedonian.

8. Peni is Hawaiian.

9. Bünyamin is Turkish.

10. Benchamín is Aragonese.

11. Bendžaminas is an alternate Lithuanian form.

12. Benjáme is Sami, a language spoken in northwestern Russian and northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

13. Be’njam is an alternater Sami form.

14. Benjamini is Greenlandic.

15. Benjeminas is another Lithuanian form.

16. Binjamin is Picard, a Romance language spoken in far northern France.

17. Penjami is Finnish. The nicknames are Penna, Penni, and Pena.

18. Pîniamît is another Greenlandic form.

19. Veniamina is a Greek feminine form.

20. Benjamina is an English feminine form.

The many forms of Sarah

Though Sarah tends not to have as wide of a variation across languages as, say, Elizabeth or Katherine, there are still a number of interesting variations. There are also a number of alternative spellings in English, which I don’t mind as much as I normally do. I strongly prefer the two most common spellings, but I’m not categorically against another spelling as long as it’s not something crazy like Seighraigh, Sy’Rah, or Seyrhaheigh.

Sarah, which means “princess” in Hebrew, has been in the Top 100 in the U.S. since at least 1880, with the exception of 1954–61, when its rank ranged from #103 to #119. Frequently, it’s been near the top of the charts, and was Top 10 from 1978–2002. In 2016, it was #57.

The spelling Sara hasn’t been quite as popular, though it spent 1973–2008 in the Top 50. In 2016, it was #152. Both spellings are currently popular in Switzerland, Bosnia, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Portugal, Norway, Poland, The Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Catalonia, Chile, Belgium, England and Wales, Canada, Austria, France, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Sarah is English, Hebrew, German, French, and Arabic, while Sara, in addition to also being used in the abovementioned languages, is found in Dutch, the Scandinavian languages, Icelandic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Persian, the Slavic languages, Finnish, Catalan, and Greek.

The variation Sára is Hungarian, but pronounced SHAH-rah. Likewise, the nickname Sári is pronounced SHAHR-ee. Sometimes Hungarian women who immigrate to Anglophone countries have changed their names to Shari or Shara, so people won’t get confused by pronunciation. Sára is also used in Czech and Slovak, though pronounced the more familiar way.

Other forms include:

1. Sarra is Old Church Slavonic, Biblical Latin, and Biblical Greek.

2. Sarrah is an English variation.

3. Sera is an English variation, as well as a nickname for the English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and German name Serafina (also spelt Seraphina). In Russian and Macedonian, this is one of the nicknames for Serafima.

4. Serra is an English variation.

5. Cera is another English variation.

6. Sarita is a Spanish nickname.

7. Saara is Estonian and Finnish. Nicknames include Saija and Salli.

8. Sarit is a Hebrew nickname.

9. Sari is Finnish.

10. Sarina is an English nickname.

11. Sassa is a Swedish nickname.

12. Sora is Yiddish.

13. Sura is another Yiddish variation. It depends upon one’s regional dialect.

14. Tzeitl, or Tzeitel, is a Yiddish nickname, made famous by Fiddler on the Roof (one of the rare films which stayed fairly close to the original source material).

15. Sadie is an English nickname, which has been in the U.S. Top 100 since 2013. These days, it’s more often used as a full name in its own right instead of a nickname for Sarah.

16. Sally, or Sallie, is another traditional English nickname which has long since fallen completely off the Top 1000.

17. Suri is a Yiddish nickname.

18. Sare is Turkish. The variation Sarê is Kurdish.

19. Sarette is an English and Afrikaans nickname.

20. Tzeril is a Yiddish nickname.

21. Zarita is a Latin American–Spanish nickname.

22. Surkki is Chuvash, a Turkic language spoken in central Russia.

The many forms of Samuel

It’s never been a secret that Samuel is my absolute favoritest male name! If I’m ever blessed with kids before I’m too old, and I have a boy (like I’ve dreamt about constantly for many years), his name will absolutely be Samuel. First and foremost, it’s after the Prophet Samuel. Other awesome namesakes are Samuel P. Gompers, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), and Shemp Howard (Samuel Horwitz). In fact, I plan to call him Shemp for short, since I’m such a massive Stooges fans!

Since I love this name so much, and there’s no chance I’m naming my potential firstborn son anything else (particularly considering I might not have a second chance to name a boy!), its rising popularity concerns me. It’s been Top 30 in the U.S. since 1996, and doesn’t show any signs of shooting down the charts. In 2016, it was #21.

Ultimately, this name means so much to me, it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks I was just mindlessly choosing a popular name. I’ve never been a crowd-follower, and I highly doubt anyone would ever mistake me for one!

Samuel is also currently popular in Austria (#22), England and Wales (#23), Canada (#21), Australia (#15), the Czech Republic (#29), Finland (#35), Belgium (#46), New Zealand (#16), Ireland (#41), Italy (#40), Galicia (#43), The Netherlands (#64),  Northern Ireland (#47), Norway (#76), Switzerland (#8), Scotland (#39), Portugal (#48), Spain (#36), Sweden (#74), Mexico (#49), Hungary (#93), France (#48), Chile (#68), and Catalonia (#80).

As indicated above, the spelling Samuel is used in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, the Scandinavian languages, Portuguese, Czech, and Finnish. It’s also used in Slovak and Polish. The Hungarian variation is Sámuel, with the nickname Samu; the Dutch form is Samuël; and the Icelandic form is Samúel. Other forms include:

1. Sh’muel is the Hebrew original, and means “God has heard,” in reference to Chana (Hannah)’s heartfelt prayer for a child being answered. A common nickname is Shmuley, alternately spelt Shmuli.

2. Samuli is Finnish. Nicknames include Samppa (the name of a well-known body modification artist who travels to different shops to do things like ear-pointing and repairing stretched piercings people don’t want anymore), Sami, and Samu.

3. Samuil is Bulgarian and Russian. Russian nicknames include Sanya, Sanka, Samonya, Samokha, Samoshka, Samko, Samosha, Sanchik, Samunka, Sansha, Samunya, and Samukha.

4. Samoil is Macedonian.

5. Samuele is Italian.

6. Sawyl is Welsh.

7. Hāmiora is Maori.

8. Hāmuera is also Maori.

9. Kamuela is Hawaiian.

10. Saamuel is Estonian.

11. Sámal is Faroese.

12. Sameli is Finnish.

13. Samhail is Irish.

14. Samoel is Georgian.

15. Samouil is modern Greek.

16. Sämu is Swiss–German.

17. Samuelis is a rare Lithuanian and Dutch form.

18. Samuilo is a rare Serbian form.

19. Samuyil is Ukrainian.

20. Samvel is Armenian.

21. Shamil is Tatar, Chechen, Dagestani, Kazakh, Avar, Abkhaz, Azeri, and Circassian.

22. Sumayl is Moorish.

Feminine forms:

1. Samine is Norwegian.

2. Samuella is English and Dutch.

3. Samuelita is Spanish.

4. Samuelette is English.

5. Samuelle is French and English.

6. Samulina is Faroese and Medieval English.

7. Samuline is Norwegian.

The many forms of Isaac

Isaac, like many other male Biblical names, has been rather popular in the U.S. in recent years. It entered the Top 100 in 1995, at #98, and has been in the Top 50 since 2001. Its most popular ranking to date came in 2013, when it was #29. Isaac has held steadily at #31 ever since.

The name is also very popular in Canada (#24), Australia (#14), England and Wales (#20), Mexico (#42), New Zealand (#30), Portugal (#40), Northern Ireland (a.k.a. Ireland by any other name) (#42), Scotland (#54), and Catalonia (#56). It’s additionally in the Top 100 in Spain (#82), France (#70), Chile (#70), and Ireland (#77).

Though my favourite of the Biblical Patriarchs is Jakob, I have a soft spot for Isaac. He’s kind of The Quiet One of the three Patriarchs, since he’s always passively acted on instead of acting in his own right, or copying things that already happened to his father (e.g., passing his wife off as his sister in Egypt, uncovering wells his father had dug).

Isaac means “to laugh,” from the Hebrew root tzachak. It was mostly a Jewish name in the English-speaking world until the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers just about everyone has heard of were Sir Isaac Newton and the awesome writer Isaac Asimov.

This spelling is used in English, French, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish. Other forms of the name include:

1. Yitzchak is the original Hebrew form. Alternate transliterations are Yitzhak, Yitshak, Yitschak, Itzhak, Itshak, Itschak, and Itzchak. I love the cute nicknames Yitzi and Itzi. In the modern era, a very famous bearer was the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

2. Isak is Scandinavian, Belarusian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Lao. The variation Ísak is Icelandic.

3. Isaak is German, Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Albanian, Esperanto, Greek, Mongolian,  and Ukrainian.

4. Izaäk is Dutch. Nicknames include Sjaak and Sjakie. The variation Izaak is Polish.

5. Izsák is Hungarian.

6. Iisakki is Finnish. Nicknames include Iikka and Iiro.

7. Izak is Slovenian and Croatian. The variation Izák is Czech and Slovak.

8. Izaokas is Lithuanian.

9. Ixaka is Basque.

10. Isxak (pronounced like Iskhak) is Tatar.

11. Ishoq is Uzbek.

12. Isaque is Brazilian–Portuguese.

13. Isaq is Ossetian and Uyghur.

14. Ishak is Arabic, Bosnian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Bengali. The variation İshak (with a dot over the I) is Turkish.

15. Isaki is Ndebele, a Bantu language spoken in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. This spelling is also used in Swahili. The variation Ísáki is Yoruba.

16. Ihaka is Maori.

17. Isac is Romanian and Portuguese.

18. Isacco is Italian.

19. Sahak, or Sahag (depending upon your form of the language), is modern Armenian.

20. Isahak is archaic Armenian, and considered a more scholarly form than Sahak.

21. Bonisac means “good Isaac” in Judeo–Provençal, a, Occitan dialect which sadly lost its last native speaker in 1977.

22. Higgin is a Medieval English diminutive. Another Medieval diminutive is Higg.

23. Itty is Malayalam, a language spoken in India. This may also be a form of Steven.

24. Jaziquet is Judeo–Provençal.

25. Saconet is also Judeo–Provençal.

26. Yeshak is Coptic.

27. Eisik is Yiddish. Another transliteration is Aizik.

28. Iisak is Estonian.

29. Ísakur is Faroese.

28. İshaq (with a dot on top of the I) is Azeri.

29. Isaakios is Greek.

30. Izarak is Haitian Creole.

31. Ixaj is Hmong.

32. Íosác is Irish.

33. Iskak is Javanese.

34. Aisak is Khmer.

35. Iskhaq is Kyrgyz.

36. Ysqaaq is also Kyrgyz.

37. Izaks is Latvian.

38. Aizeks is also Latvian.

39. Ițac is Romanian.

40. Iosag is Scottish.

41. Isxaaq is Somali.

42. Isaka is Swahili and Zulu.

43. Xịsæk is Thai.

The many forms of Rebecca

Rebecca has been a Top 200 mainstay in the U.S. since at least 1880. Its popularity has fluctuated up and down, but it’s never been out of the Top 200 until 2016, when it was #207. It slowly but surely began rising in popularity starting in 1938, when it jumped to #145 from #166.

It entered the Top 30 in 1952, and attained its highest rank of #10 in 1973 and 1974. In 1998, it slowly began losing popularity, and dropped out of the Top 100 in 2007. However, it’s still a solid classic that ages very well, and has Biblical appeal for those religiously inclined.

Rebecca is the spelling used in English and Italian, and may come from a root meaning “snare, joint, tie.” The variation Rébecca is French. Other forms of the name are:

1. Rivkah, or Rivka, is the Hebrew original. This was the name of the Patriarch Isaac (Yitzchak)’s wife. A very disturbing Midrash (rabbinic elaboration on the straight Torah text) claims they married when Rivkah was three and Yitzchak was forty, but that’s not a mainstream belief outside of the ultra-Orthodox world, thankfully.

2. Rebekka is Finnish, German, Scandinavian, Faroese, Dutch, Icelandic, and Ukrainian.

3. Rifke (alternately spelt Rifkeh, Rifka, and Rifkah) is Yiddish. The nicknames are Riva, Riki, and Rika.

4. Rebeka is Hungarian, Polish, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Czech.

5. Rebecka is a Swedish variation.

6. Rebekah is a variant form used in some Bible translations.

7. Rebeca is Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, Romanian, and Welsh.

8. Acca is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

9. Reveka is Romanian, Bulgarian, and Georgian.

10. Rhebecca is a rare Welsh variant form, inspired by the RH in many other Welsh names.

11. Revekka is modern Greek.

12. Ribka is Indonesian.

13. Ripeka is Maori. This also means “to crucify” in Maori.

14. Rywka is the Polish form of Rikvah.

15. Lepeka is Hawaiian.

16. Rabqa, or Rabka, is Arabic. Another Arabic variation is Rafqa, or Rafka.

17. Rebeque is French.

18. Revekka is Russian.