The many forms of Irene

Irene was #102 when name popularity data began being tracked in 1880, and entered the Top 100 in 1883, at #99. It entered the Top 50 in 1894, at #43, and rose to #30 in 1900. In 1906, it was #20, and rose and fell slightly until 1915, when it entered the Top 20, at #17. Until 1925, it remained in the lower reaches of the Top 20, and it stayed in the Top 100, steadily sliding lower each year, until 1945. Ever since, the name has continued sinking in popularity. In 2016, it was #656.

Though many people think of Irene as an old lady name, I’ve never seen it as musty and geriatric. Unlike, e.g., Mildred, it was never a Top 10 name, followed by an extremely sharp decline and eventually falling off the charts. Irene has remained in regular enough use over the decades, even if its greatest popularity is long in the past.

The spelling Irene is used in English, German, the Scandinavian languages, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Finnish. The variation Irène is French; Irēna is Latvian; and Ireñe is Basque. Other forms include:

1. Irina is Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Georgian, Romanian, and Finnish. Russian nicknames include Irisha, Irinushka, Ira, Irusya, Ina, Rina, Irunya, and Irya.

2. Arina is an alternate Russian form.

3. Irena is Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Romanian, Italian, German, Icelandic, Scandinavian, and Croatian. Many people are familiar with the heroic story of Irena Sendler, who saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

4. Eirene is Ancient Greek.

5. Irén is Hungarian, with the nickname Iri.

6. Eireen is Irish.

7. Iryna is Ukrainian.

8. Irine is Georgian.

9. Iria is Galician and Portuguese.

10. Bakene is a modern, rare Basque form.

11. Erea is Galician.

12. Erina is Swiss–Italian.

13. Irea is Galician.

14. Ireene is Estonian.

15. Irenea is Italian and Spanish.

16. Irenia is an elaborated English and Latin American–Spanish form.

17. Irinæ is Ossetian.

18. Eirini is modern Greek.

19. Ereni is also Greek.

20. Iriana is an elaborated English form.

21. Irini is Romanian.

22. Jerina is a rare Serbian form.

Advertisements

The many forms of Steven

Steven has been quite popular in the U.S. in decades past. From 1941–2007, it was in the Top 100, and was in the Top 20 from 1949–76. Its highest rank was #10, from 1955–61. By 2016, it had dropped down to #167.

The variant Stephen has followed a similar trajectory, though it’s been much more popular historically. However, it’s never been more popular than #19, from 1949–51. In 2016, it was #265.

I completely understand why Steven became more popular than Stephen, since it matches the pronunciation. For years, I believed Stephen was pronounced Stef-in, since we don’t pronounce Stephanie with a V sound. Since the first E is long, PH turns into a V sound instead of its usual F.

Outside of the Anglophone world, other forms of the name include:

1. Stepan is Russian and Armenian. Russian nicknames include Styopa, Stepa, Stenik, Stenchik, Stenka, Stepik, Steshok, Steshka, Stefka, Stepka, Stesha, Stenya, Styopka, Stepok, Stepunka, and Stepanik.

2. Stefano is Italian.

3. Stefan is German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Polish, and Serbian. The variation Štefan is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian; Štěpán is Czech; Stefán is Icelandic; and Ștefan is Romanian. The Dutch nickname is Stef; Serbian and Croatian diminutives include Stevo, Stipe, and Stipo; the Polish base nickname is Stefek; and the Romanian nickname is Fane.

4. Stevan is Serbian and Croatian.

5. Stipan is Croatian.

6. Stjepan is Serbian and Croatian.

7. Steffen is Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Low German.

8. Stephan is German and Dutch.

9. Staffan is Swedish.

10. Steffan is Welsh.

11. Steafan is Scottish.

12. Steaphan is also Scottish. The nickname for both is Steenie.

13. Stefanus is the official Dutch form, used on legal documents and birth certificates.

14. Szczepan is Polish.

15. Stiofán is Irish.

16. István is Hungarian. Nicknames include Istók, Pista, Pisti, Isi, Istó, Pityu, Isti, Pistu, Pityus, Petya, and Pesta.

17. Stepane is Georgian.

18. Stefanos is Greek.

19. Stephanos is also Greek.

20. Estevão is Portuguese.

21. Étienne is French.

22. Stéphane is a French variation, most popular in the 1970s.

23. Estève is Occitan, and Esteve is Catalan.

24. Esteban is Spanish.

25. Estavan is a Spanish variation.

26. Estevo is Galician.

27. Stefans is Latvian.

28. Steponas is Lithuanian.

29. Tipene is Maori.

30. Tapani is Finnish.

31. Tahvo is also Finnish. The nickname for both is Teppo.

32. Eappen is Malayalam, a language spoken in India.

33. Istebe is Aragonese.

34. Kepano is Hawaiian.

35. Sćěpan is Sorbian.

36. Stiven is an alternate Georgian form.

37. Styve is Québécois.

38. Tēpene is an alternate Maori form.

39. Estepan is Basque.

40. Ixtebe is also Basque.

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 Hercules

Though many people would consider Hercules to be too pompous, pretentious, and over the top for real-life usage, there are quite a few different forms of the name. Perhaps they might work well on a fictional character or pet, or one of the foreign versions might sound a bit less strange in the Anglophone world. It’s also just neat to see how names morph into other forms in different languages.

1. Hercules, the most familiar form in the Anglophone world, is actually the Latinized form of the Greek original. Though I normally prefer the authentic Greek spellings, this is one I’m too used to seeing in its historically Latinized form. The variation Hércules is Brazilian–Portuguese.

2. Herakles is the Greek original, and means “glory of Hera.” The meaning is kind of ironic, given how much Hera hated him!

3. Herakleios is an elaborated Greek form.

4. Heraclius is the Latinized form of Herakleios. Two early saints and a 7th century Byzantine emperor bore this name.

5. Erekle is the historic Georgian form. Two kings from the Bagrationi Dynasty had this name.

6. Irakli is the modern Georgian form.

7. Irakliy is Russian.

8. Heraclio is Spanish. The variation Heráclio is Brazilian–Portuguese.

9. Iraklis is the modern Greek form.

10. Ercole is Italian.

11. Ercwlff is Welsh.

12. Hercule is French, and well-known as the name of detective Poirot in Agatha Christie’s mystery series.

13. Erco is Romansh, a Romance language spoken in southeastern Switzerland.

14. Gerakl is an alternate Russian form.

15. Herakliu is Albanian.

16. Herkules is Polish.

17. Iorcall is Scottish, in use since the Renaissance.

18. Heraklo is Croatian.

19. Herkül is Turkish.

20. Herculina is a feminine Latin form.

21. Eraclio is an alternate Italian form.

22. Heraklije is an alternate Croatian form.

Jocasta and Jason

Painted by Robinet Testard

Jocasta (Iokaste) is well-known as the mother and wife of Oedipus Rex, and the mother and grandmother of Antigone, Ismene, Polynices, and Eteocles. Her father was Menoeceus of Thebes, and her first husband was King Laius. The Oracle of Delphi told Laius not to have a child with Jocasta, since that boy would kill him and marry Jocasta. In another version, the Oracle told Laius he could only save Thebes if he died childless.

Laius got drunk and slept with Jocasta, and out of this union came Oedipus. Jocasta gave Oedipus to Laius to dispose of. Either Jocasta or Laius pierced and pinned his ankles together, which caused his limp.

Oedipus was saved by Laius’s shepherd, and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth. Years later, the Oracle told Oedipus he’d murder his father and marry his mother. Horrified, he decided not to return home. On the road, he ran into Laius, got into a fight with him, and killed him.

Oedipus defeated the evil Sphinx by answering its riddle, and the Thebans happily chose him as their new King. Oedipus accepted the throne and married Jocasta, not minding she was at least fifteen years his senior. They had four kids together, so Jocasta couldn’t have been that far up in years.

Thebes was hit by a plague of infertility, and the Oracle said Laius’s murderer needed brought to justice. The blind seer Tiresias, who’d had the unique experience of being both male and female, indicated Oedipus as the murderer. Jocasta tried to calm Oedipus down by telling him the story of her firstborn son, but this only made him even more on-edge, as he began to suspect he really were the guilty party.

Oedipus Separating from Jocasta, by Alexandre Cabanel, 1843

Oedipus was relieved to get news of Polybus’s death, believing the prophecy couldn’t be fulfilled anymore. However, Merope was still alive, so Oedipus didn’t want to attend the funeral. Once the messenger said Oedipus was adopted, Jocasta realised the truth, and begged him to stop searching for Laius’s murderer. Oedipus believed she was ashamed of his possible low birth, but then he got verification of his origins.

When Oedipus went to find Jocasta, he discovered she’d hanged herself. In the version by Euripides, Jocasta committed suicide after her sons killed one another fighting over the throne.

Jocasta is of unknown etymology.

Mlle. Clairon en Médé, by Charles-André van Loo, 1760

Jason (Iason) is the heroic leader of the Argonauts, the son of King Aeson of Iolkos, and great-grandson of Hermes. Nine different mothers are named, though Jason’s father is Aeson in all traditions. Aeson’s half-brother Pelias (son of Poseidon) overthrew Aeson, and killed everyone in Aeson’s family except Aeson himself. Infant Jason was saved when women clustered around him and cried as though he’d been stillborn. He was raised by the Centaur Chiron.

Pelias, still terrified he’d be overthrown, consulted the Oracle, and was told to watch out for a man with one sandal. Years later, Jason came to Iolkas and lost a sandal while helping an old woman (Hera in disguise) to cross the river Anauros. Hera blessed him, and Jason was announced as a man with one sandal. Jason told Pelias that throne was his, and was sent on a quest for the Golden Fleece in Colchis.

Jason and his Argonauts had many adventures during this quest, both there and back. In Colchis (modern-day Georgia), Medea fell in love with Jason, and helped him in his quest. Jason was quite the turncoat after he and Medea settled in Corinth, and left her for Princess Creusa. Medea took revenge by giving Creusa a wedding dress which stuck to her skin and burnt her to death. King Creon burnt along with Creusa as he tried to save her.

Since Jason had broken his vow to Hera to love Medea forever, he was cursed to die alone and unhappy. He was killed when the rotting Argo ship fell on him.

Jason is derived from iasthai, “to heal.” This name wasn’t used in the Anglophone world till after the Protestant Reformation, and suddenly began barrelling up the charts in the 1960s. In 1971, it entered the Top 10 at #8, and from 1973–83, it was #2, #3, and #4. I’m honestly shocked it’s still hanging around in the Top 100, since every other guy within ten years of my age is already named Jason!