The Qs of (non-native) Slavic names

Female:

Quieta is a rare Italian, Romanian, German, English, and Latin name which I could see very unusual Czech or Slovak parents choosing. It derives from the Latin word quietus (quiet). This was the name of a saint.

Male:

Quentin is a French and English name which is also, rarely, used in Czech and Slovak. The nicknames include Quentinek and Tino. It derives from the Latin name Quintinus, and ultimately Quintus (fifth). Quintus was much more popular than any other Latin birth order name.

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The As of Slavic names

This year, my A to Z theme is Slavic names—Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Belarusian, Slovak, Bosnian, and Croatian. My focus is on lesser-known names, not ones most people are familiar with, like Boris, Irina, Vera, and Pavel.

My posts will also try to avoid names with the roots Mil(a), Mir(a), and Slav/Sław(a), since I’ll be featuring those classes of names in future posts.

Female:

Agnieszka is the Polish form of Agnes. I’ve loved this name since I discovered it, and have a character with this name (who’s about an eighth Polish). It’s just so cute!

Ajda means “buckwheat” in Slovenian.

Akilina, Akulina is the Russian and Belarusian form of Aquilina, a diminutive of Latin name Aquila (eagle).

Almira is the Bosnian feminine form of Al-Amir, which means “the commander, the prince” in Arabic. Many Bosnian names are of Arabic and Turkic origin.

Amina is the Bosnian form of Aminah, which means “truthful” in Arabic.

Anfisa is the Russian form of the Greek Anthousa, which derives from anthos (flower).

Male:

Alizar is Russian and Belarusian. It looks like it may be of Arabic origin.

Aniket is the Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian form of Aniketos, which means “unconquerable” in Greek.

Antim is the Bulgarian, Romanian, and Croatian form of Anthimos, derived from anthos.

Ardaryk is the Polish form of Ardaric, a form of Ancient Germanic Hardaric. This was a 5th century king of the Gepids.

Aristip is the Croatian, Romanian, and Catalan form of Aristippos, which means “the best horse” in Greek.

Avakum is the Serbian form of Habakkuk, which means “embrace” in Hebrew, from root chavak.

The many forms of Tatiana

Saint Tatiana of Rome

Tatiana is a feminine form of the Sabine–Latin name Tatius, which is of unknown etymology. Titus Tatius was a legendary Sabine king who later also co-ruled Rome with Romulus. Many name books and websites claim Tatiana means “fairy queen,” which is completely false.

The name remained common throughout Ancient Rome and the first few centuries of Christianity, then fell into disuse in Western Europe. It was much more popular in the Eastern Roman Empire and Orthodox world, so much so many people believe this name is Russian in origin.

Tatiana entered the U.S. Top 1000 at #995 in 1980, and began jumping up the charts. Its highest rank to date is #213 in 1999. In 2017, it was #700, up from #735 in 2016. In addition to English and Latin, this spelling is also used in Italian, the Scandinavian languages, Greek, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian. German, Finnish, Polish, Georgian, and Slovak.

Princess Tatyana Yusupova (née Engelhardt) of Russia (1769–1841), by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1797

Other forms include:

1. Tatyana is Russian and Bulgarian, with nicknames including Tanya and Tanyechka. My character Tatyana, in my Russian historicals, was named after Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna (1897–1918). Of all my characters I’ve taken from birth to adulthood, my journey with sweet little Tatyana has been the most emotional.

2. Tatjana is German, Dutch, Serbian, Latvian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Slovenian, Macedonian, and Croatian. Nicknames include Tjaša (Slovenian), Taina (Finnish), and Tanja. The variant Tatjána is Hungarian.

3. Tat’ána is Czech. The nickname is Táňa.

4. Tatienne is French. I love this name!

5. Taziana is Italian.

6. Tatiane is Brazilian–Portuguese and an alternate Greek form.

7. Tatiani is modern Greek. There’s also a separate Greek name Tatiana, meaning “to form, to arrange, to place in order,” from root tatto.

8. Tatstsyana is Belarusian. For obvious reasons, it’s usually transliterated Tatsyana or Tatsiana.

9. Tachana is Mari, a Uralic language spoken in Russia.

10. Tankka is Chuvash.

Grand Duchess Tatyana Nikolayevna (left). In her lifetime, she was the most famous and popular of the Tsar’s daughters, because of her prominent nursing work and exotic, regal beauty. Those who saw her in person said still photos didn’t do her beauty justice. In my alternative history, she gets a nursing degree after her rescue.

11. Tetyana is Ukrainian.

12. Tatianne is an English, German, and Dutch variation.

13. Tacjanna is a Polish variation based on the Belarusian form.

14. Tacjana is also Polish.

The many forms of Sophia

British novelist Sophia Lee, 1750–1824

Sophia, which means “wisdom” in Greek, has been extraordinarily popular over the last 15-20 years, after decades of being unfashionable and considered geriatric. In 1997, it shot into the U.S. Top 100, at #94, up from #124 the previous year. It continued rocketing upwards, reaching #1 from 2011–13. In 2017, it was down to #5.

It’s also #3 in Canada; #5 in Austria; #10 in Northern Ireland; #11 in England and Wales; #15 in Australia; #17 in Switzerland and Scotland; #18 in Ireland; #23 in New Zealand; #42 in The Netherlands; #54 in Belgium; and #90 in Norway.

Saint Sophia with her daughters Faith, Hope, and Love

Sofia, which is modern Greek, Italian, Catalan, Romanian, Slovak, Estonian, Finnish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and German, has also been enjoying great popularity. It entered the U.S. Top 100 in 2003, at #97, and shot up to its peak of #12 in 2014. In 2017, it was #15.

It’s also #1 in Italy, Galicia, and Chile; #2 in Spain (as Sofía) and Finland; #3 in Switzerland and Denmark; #8 in Belgium and Portugal; #12 in Catalonia; #19 in Norway; #31 in England and Wales; #32 in France; #37 in Canada; #38 in Australia; #42 in Austria; #43 in Scotland and Ireland; #44 in The Netherlands; #45 in Sweden; #50 in Northern Ireland; #61 in New Zealand; and #97 in the Czech Republic.

Regent Sofya Alekseyevna of Russia (1657–1704), Peter the Great’s older halfsister, who would’ve been an excellent empress in her own right

Sophie, which is French, Dutch, English, and German, has also been experiencing great popularity. It entered the U.S. top 100 in 2007, at #82, and attained its highest rank of #51 in 2011. In 2017, it was #106.

It’s also #1 in The Netherlands; #4 in Scotland; #5 in Ireland; #6 in Northern Ireland; #8 in Austria; #9 in New Zealand; #11 in Australia; #16 in England and Wales; #23 in Canada; and #25 in Switzerland.

Heroic Sophie Scholl (1921–43) of the anti-Nazi White Rose group

Other forms of the name include:

1. Zofia is Polish, and my favourite spelling. The Z just gives it so much character, zing, and personality. I loved this name from the first time I saw it. The nickname is Zosia (ZO-sha). Its Slovak form is Žofia (Zho-fee-yah).

2. Sofya is Russian. Its base nickname is the familiar Sonya.

3. Sofiya is Ukrainian, Russian, and Bulgarian.

4. Sofija is Serbian, Macedonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Croatian.

5. Soffia is Welsh. The variation Soffía is Icelandic.

6. Zsófia is Hungarian.

7. Sofie is Czech, Dutch, German, and Danish. The last two letters are pronounced separately in Czech and Danish, not as one.

8. Žofie is also Czech, with the same pronunciation rules.

9. Sopio is Georgian. Another Georgian form is Sopia.

10. Kopi is Hawaiian. A rarer Hawaiian variation is Kopaea.

Polish writer Zofia Nałkowska, 1884–1954

11. Sovaia is Fijian.

12. Suvfia is Greenlandic.

13. Zofija is Slovenian and Lithuanian.

14. Sufia is Arabic.

15. Soffá is Sami. Another Sami form is Sofe.

16. Sofio is Esperanto. Traditional (as it were) female names in Esperanto end in O, despite that being seen as the mark of a male name in other languages.

17. Suffía is Faroese.

The various forms of Daphne and Laura (and other laurel names)

Pauline as Daphne Fleeing from Apollo, ca. 1810, Robert Lefèvre

Daphne is a naiad in Greek mythology, a female nymph presiding over bodies of water such as lakes, fountains, springs, and brooks. She’s variously cited as the daughter of river god Peneus (Peneios) and nymph Creusa, or Ladon and Gaia.

Versions of Daphne’s story vary, but they all have the crux of Apollo falling in unrequited love with her after a curse from Eros (Cupid). As Apollo chased her, Daphne begged her father to save her, and she was turned into a laurel tree in the nick of time. Laurels thus became sacred to Apollo.

Daphne is also used in English and Dutch. The variation Daphné is French. Other forms include:

1. Daphnée is French.

2. Dafni is modern Greek.

3. Dafina is Macedonian and Albanian.

4. Dafne is Italian.

5. Daffni is Welsh.

6. Dapine is Georgian.

7. Dafna is Hebrew. I chose this as the last part of my Hebrew name (Chana Esther Dafna) for numerous reasons, all of them relating to how it means “laurel.” Primary among those reasons is honouring Stan Laurel, my humble way of saying thank you for how watching Laurel and Hardy on AMC got me through one of the darkest, most depressing periods of my life.

8. Defne is Turkish.

Laura Bridgman (1829–1889), America’s first blind-deaf person to get a full education and become a celebrity, fifty years before Helen Keller

Laura, which comes from the Latin name Laurus, is English, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Scandinavian, Romanian, Finnish, German, Dutch, Estonian, Hungarian, Slovenian, Polish, and Croatian.

It’s been an English name since the 13th century, and was extremely popular in the U.S. until it began a rapid decline in the late 19th century. Laura was #17 in 1880, and stayed in the Top 100 till 1934, sinking in popularity a little bit more almost every year. It was Top 100 again from 1945–2001, attaining its highest rank of #10 in 1969. In 2017, it was #340.

Laura has greater popularity in Europe. It’s #6 in Austria; #11 in Denmark; #12 in Switzerland; #13 in Portugal; #14 in Hungary; #16 in the Czech Republic and Poland; #22 in Galicia; #31 in Spain; #37 in Belgium; #40 in Slovenia; #47 in Catalonia; #58 in Italy; #63 in Ireland; #78 in Bosnia; #101 in The Netherlands; and #104 in France.

Laura de Noves (1310–1348), Petrarch’s great muse and unrequited love, similar to Dante’s love for Beatrice

Other forms of Laura include:

1. Lára is Icelandic (and not to be confused with the Russian Lara, a nickname for Larisa).

2. Laure is French.

3. Lavra is Slovenian.

4. Lowri is Welsh.

5. Laoura is modern Greek.

6. Lâvara is Greenlandic.

7. Lora is English and Italian.

8. Loretta is English and Italian.

9. Lauretta is Italian. This is the name of one of the members of the brigata, the ten storytellers, in The Decameron.

10. Laurette is French.

American actor Loretta Young (1913–2000) with Lon Chaney, Sr.

 Other laurel-related names:

1. Kelila, or Kelilah, means “crown of laurel” in Hebrew.

2. Lalela means “laurel” in Hawaiian.

3. Lovorka means “laurel tree” in Croatian.