The K brings so much personality

I’ve always been personally drawn to spellings of names using K instead of C, though some fellow name nerds (who act more like name snobs) automatically dismiss K spellings as illiterate, kreatyv, and obnoxious. Yes, some people using a spelling like Krystyna or Klaudia probably don’t realize those are established spellings in certain languages, but that doesn’t mean they’re totally bogus and without merit. They’re not like, e.g., Kolin or Konnor, swapping out the traditional C for a K when there’s no long history of such etymology in any culture.

I’ve heard a rumour about people in the KKK changing traditional spellings of words and names to feature Ks instead of Cs, to advertise their affiliations to those in the know, but I can’t find any compelling citations proving this was a widespread custom.

C spellings are traditional in the Romance languages and English, while K spellings are traditional in the Slavic, Finno–Ugric, Germanic, Scandinavian, Greek, Armenian, Kartvelian, Albanian, and Basque languages. Some names can go either way in the Germanic and Scandinavian languages, while Dutch can use both but historically has tended towards the C.

Some of these legit K variations include:

Female:

Angelika, Anzhelika

Arkadia, Arkadiya, Arkadija

Benedikta, Benedykta

Bianka

Blanka

Dominika

Erika, Eerika

Eunika (Polish and Hungarian form of Eunice, which I like much more than the English form)

Franziska, Franciska, Františka, Frantziska, Frantzisca, Frančiška, Franciszka

Kalliope

Kamilla

Kapitolina

Kara

Karina

Karla

Karola

Karolina, Karoline, Karoliina

Kassandra

Katarina, Katarine, Katharina, Katharine, Katherina, Katerina, Kataryna, Katarzyna, Kateryna

Katherine

Katriana, Katriyana

Katrin

Katrina

Klara

Klarisa

Klaudia

Klementina, Klementyna

Kleopatra

Klytemnestra

Konstantina, Konstancja, Konstanze

Kornelia

Kreszentia, Kreszcencia

Kristina, Krystyna, Kristiina, Krisztina, Khrystyna, Kristiane

Kristine

Leokadia

Lukiana, Lukina

Monika

Nikola (a feminine name in German, Polish, Slovak, and Czech; masculine in most other European languages)

Ulrika, Ulrikka, Ulrike, Ulriikka, Ulrikke

Veronika, Weronika

Viktoria, Viktoriya, Viktorija, Wiktoria

Male:

Benedek, Benedikt, Benedykt, Benedikte

Dominik

Erik

Isaak, Izaak, Isak, Izaäk, Izsák

Jakob, Jakub, Jákáb, Jákup, Jakov, Jaakob, Iakob, Yakov, Yaakov

Joakim, Yakim

Kajetan

Karl, Karel, Kaarel, Karol, Károly, Kaarlo, Kaarle

Kaspar, Kasper

Kazimir

Kirill, Kiril, Kyrylo

Klaus

Klement, Kliment, Klemens, Klemen

Konrad

Konstantin, Konstantine, Konstantyn, Konstantinos, Kostyantyn, Konstanty

Korbinian

Kristjan, Kristian, Karsten, Kristijan, Kresten, Krystyn, Krystian

Kristoffer, Krzysztof, Krištof, Kristóf

Kurt

Ludwik, Ludvik

Luka, Lukas, Luukas, Lukács, Lukáš, Loukas, Łukasz

Mikael

Nikolas, Nikola

Oskar

Viktor, Wiktor

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The many forms of Louis and Louisa

Louis was a Top 100 name in the U.S. from 1880–1959, with a peak of #18 in 1882. It gradually began falling in popularity during the 1920s, and fell out of the Top 50 in 1942. In 2009, it reached its lowest rank of #353. In 2016, it was #289.

Louis is the French form of Ludovicus, which in turn is the Latinized form of the German Ludwig. Its ultimate origin is the Old Germanic Chlodovech, which is composed of the elements hlud (famous) and wig (battle, war).

Louisa likewise has seen much more popular days, though it was never close to as popular as Louis. Its highest rank was #119 in 1881, and its final year in the Top 1000 was 1969, when it was #954. It only re-entered in 2014, at #971. By 2016, it was #825.

The French and English variant form Louise has historically been more popular than Louisa. It was in the Top 100 from 1880–1948, with the highest rank of #17, from 1912–14. Like its counterparts, it gradually began sinking, and fell out of the Top 1000 in 1988. It re-entered in 1990, fell out again in 1992, and had another re-entrance in 2016, at #895.

Louise is much more popular in France (#1) and Belgium (#2). It’s also fairly popular in Norway (#75), Switzerland (#73), and The Netherlands (#101). Louis also enjoys more popularity outside the U.S. It’s #1 in Belgium, #4 in France, #12 in Switzerland, #59 in Australia, #71 in England and Wales, and #82 in New Zealand.

Other forms of these names include:

Male:

1. Ludwik is Polish.

2. Ludwig is German.

3. Ludvig is Scandinavian, with the nickname Ludde.

4. Ludoviko is Esperanto, with the nickname Lučjo.

5. Lodewijk is Dutch, with nicknames including Ludo and Lowie.

6. Loïc is Breton and French.

7. Ludovico is Italian.

8. Lodovico is an Italian variant.

9. Ludis is Latvian.

10. Ludvigs is also Latvian.

11. Liudvikas is Lithuanian.

12. Lluís is Catalan.

13. Luis is Spanish, with the nickname Lucho. The variant Luís is Portuguese.

14. Lúðvík is Icelandic. The alternate form Ludvík is Czech, with the nickname Luděk.

15. Loís is Occitan. The variant Lois is Galician.

16. Ludovic is French.

17. Luigi is Italian, with nicknames including Gino and Luigino.

18. Luiz is Brazilian–Portuguese.

19. Lodosis is Aragonese.

20. Loeiz is Breton.

21. Loudovikos is a rare Greek form.

22. Loys is Gascon.

23. Lûíse is Greenlandic.

24. Lujo is Croatian.

25. Luui is Greenlandic.

26. Lüwi is Alsatian.

27. Koldobika is Basque, with the nickname Koldo.

28. Alajos is Hungarian.

29. Alojz is Slovak, Slovenian, and Croatian. The Slovenian nickname is Lojze.

30. Alojzij is Slovenian.

31. Alojzije is Croatian.

32. Aloysius is the Latinized form of Aloys, an archaic Occitan form of Louis.

33. Alois is German and Czech.

34. Alojzy is Polish.

35. Aloisio is Italian.

36. Alvise is Venetian.

37. Aloísio is Portuguese.

38. Alaois is Irish.

39. Aloxi is Basque.

40. Rewi is Maori.

41. Ruihi is also Maori.

42. Lajos is Hungarian.

Female:

1. Luisa is Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, German, Dutch, and Croatian. The variant Luísa is Portuguese.

2. Luiza is Russian, Romanian, Polish, and Brazilian–Portuguese.

3. Lujza is Hungarian and Slovak.

4. Louiza is Greek.

5. Liudvika is Lithuanian.

6. Loviise is Estonian.

7. Lovise is Norwegian and Danish.

8. Lovisa is Swedish.

9. Lluïsa is Catalan.

10. Ludwika is Polish.

11. Loviisa is Finnish.

12. Ludovica is Italian.

13. Luigia is also Italian, with nicknames including Gina and Luigina.

14. Luise is German.

15. Alojzia is Slovak.

16. Aloiziya is Bulgarian.

17. Alojzija is Slovenian and Croatian.

18. Lavīze is a rare Latvian form.

19. Loeiza is Breton.

20. Loïsa is Occitan.

21. Loisa is Galician.

22. Ludovique is a rare French form.

23. Luīze is Latvian.

24. Lüwiss is Alsatian.

25. Ruiha is Maori.

The many forms of Gabriel and Gabriella

Gabriel entered the U.S. Top 100 in 1976, at #81, and stayed near the lower reaches of the chart till falling out in 1988. It re-entered at #82 in 1991, and began steadily climbing up the charts. Its highest position to date has been #21, in 2010. As of 2016, it was #25.

The name is also rather popular in France (#1), Switzerland (#4), Romania (#4), Belgium (#11), Portugal (#11), Croatia (#19), Chile (#19), Galicia (#25), Canada (#27), Italy (#27), Mexico (#35), Iceland (#37), Austria (#38), Spain (#39), Sweden (#42), Poland (#46), Norway (#47), Catalonia (#55), Slovenia (#66), England and Wales (#67), Australia (#78), New Zealand (#89), and the Czech Republic (#92).

This spelling is used in English, French, Finnish, the Scandinavian languages, Slovak, Czech, German, Georgian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The alternate form Gabriël is Dutch, Gábriel is Hungarian, and Gabríel is Icelandic.

Gabrielle, one of the feminine forms, is English and French. In France, it’s #74, and in the U.S., it’s fallen to #225, after peaking at #46 in 1999. The alternate form Gabriëlle is Dutch.

Gabriella is English, Hungarian, Swedish, and Italian. In the U.S., it’s #61, down from a peak of #33 from 2009–11. The alternate form Gabriëlla is Dutch, and Gabríella is Icelandic.

Gabriela is Polish, Bulgarian, Slovak, Czech, German, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, and Croatian. It’s #8 in Romania, #19 in Poland, #29 in Portugal, #30 in the Czech Republic, #36 in Croatia, #50 in Mexico, #56 in Chile, #73 in Spain, and #252 in the U.S. The alternate form Gabríela is Icelandic.

Other forms include:

Male:

1. Gabriels is Latvian.

2. Gabrielius is Lithuanian.

3. Gavriel is the original Hebrew. It means “God is my strong man.”

4. Gavrel is Yiddish.

5. Gavriil is Russian.

6. Gavril is Macedonian, Bulgarian, and Romanian.

7. Gavrail is Bulgarian.

8. Gábor is Hungarian.

9. Gavrilo is Serbian. This form was famously borne by Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started the First World War.

10. Gabrijel is Slovenian and Croatian.

11. Havryyil is Ukrainian.

12. Kaapo is Finnish. An alternate form is Kaappo.

13. Kaapro is also Finnish.

14. Gabriele is Italian.

15. Jabril is Arabic.

16. Jibril is also Arabic.

17. Dzhabrail is Chechen.

18. Cabbrieli is Sicilian.

19. Djibril is Western African.

20. Džibril is Bosnian.

21. Cebraîl is Kurdish.

22. Cəbrayil is Azeri.

23. Crabiele is Sardinian.

24. Gabirel is Basque.

25. Gabrielo is Esperanto.

26. Gābriyēl is Telugu.

27. Kapriel is Armenian.

28. Gabriyel is also Armenian.

29. Gaibrial is Irish.

30. Gavrylo is Ukrainian.

31. Gēbriyal is Kannadan.

32. Gēbriyala is Hindi and Gujarati.

33. Habryyel is Belarusian.

34. Haŭryil is also Belarusian.

35. Jebreil is Persian.

36. Jiboraeel is Bengali.

37. Jibriil is Somali.

38. Kapeliela is Hawaiian.

39. Kâpriale is Greenlandic.

40. Kēpriyal is Tamil.

41. Xhebraili is Albanian. The XH sound is pronounced like the J in Jupiter.

42. Zibrail is Sylheti.

43. Cebrail is Turkish.

Female:

1. Gavriela, or Gavriella, is Hebrew.

2. Gavrilla is an alternate Hebrew form.

3. Gavrela is Yiddish.

4. Havyryyila is Ukrainian.

5. Kaapriella is Finnish.

6. Gabrielė is Lithuanian.

7. Gabriele is German.

8. Gabrijela is Croatian.

9. Gavrila is Romanian. An alternate form is Gavrilă.

Olive names

Oliver has barreled up the U.S. charts in recent years, going from #173 in 2006 to #12 in 2016. The name is #1 in Canada, England and Wales, New Zealand, and Australia. It’s also very popular in Denmark (#4), Finland (#5), Norway (#2), Sweden (#7), Scotland (#3), Iceland (#6), Northern Ireland (#6), Hungary (#21), Ireland (#31), Galicia (#40), and the Czech Republic (#33).

The alternate form Olivér is Hungarian, and Ólíver, or Óliver, is Icelandic.

Olivia has likewise barreled up the U.S. charts, going from #248 in 1985 to a so far three-year reign as #2 from 2014–16. Olive, not too long ago largely written off as a musty old lady name, may be poised to become a replacement for Olivia, the way Jessica supplanted Jennifer and Amelia supplanted Emma supplanted Emily. It fell off the U.S. charts in 1951, and re-entered at #989 in 2007. In 2016, it was #272, while in Australia, it was #90, and in New Zealand, it was #43. In England and Wales, it was #176.

The alternate form Olívia is Hungarian, Slovak, and Portuguese. Ólivía is Icelandic.

There are several possible etymologies for Olivia, among them the possible connection to the Latin word oliva (olive). And though Oliver comes from either an Old Germanic name like Alfher (elf army, elf warrior) or an Old Norse name like Áleifr (ancestor’s descendant; the original form of Olaf), the spelling came to be changed by association with the Latin word oliva.

If the trendiness and popularity of those names puts you off, there are plenty of other forms of these names.

Male:

Oilibhéar is Irish.

Oliber is Gascon. This spelling is considered archaic today.

Ólivar is Faroese.

Oliverio is Latin American–Spanish.

Olivers is Latvian.

Olivey is modern Gascon.

Olivier is French and Dutch.

Oliviero is Italian.

Olivur is Faroese.

Oliwer is Polish.

Oliwier is an alternate Polish form.

Oliwjer is also Polish.

Ölu is Swiss–German.

Female:

Moria was the word for a sacred olive tree in Ancient Greek.

Oliivia is Estonian.

Oliva is Latin.

Olivera is Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian.

Olivette is French, from the title character of Edmond Audran’s 1879 opera Les Noces d’Olivette.

Oliviana is English, Spanish, and Italian.

Olivie is French and Czech. In Czech, the last two letters are pronounced separately instead of as one.

Olivienne is English.

Oliviera is Italian.

Oliviette is English.

Olivija is Macedonian, Lithuanian, and Croatian. The alternate form Olīvija is Latvian.

Olivina is Faroese.

Oliviya is Bulgarian.

Oliwia is Polish.

Ouliva is Asturian, a language spoken in northern Spain.

Some thoughts on name-changing after immigration

(Note: I’ll be further discussing some of these issues on my main blog in upcoming posts, “A Primer on Anglicizing Names” and “A Primer on De-Judaizing Names.” I also previously discussed the issue of Hebraizing names on my main blog.)

Though most immigrants in the modern era proudly retain their birth names, that wasn’t always the case. Many people felt they had to change their names (first, last, or both) to become “real” Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australians, Israelis, French, etc. By and large, no one questioned this.

Now we know there’s no one “right” way to be a proud, patriotic member of one’s adopted homeland. By trying to whitewash themselves and pretend they never had any other names and ways of life, people lost vital parts of their heritage and identity.

Changing spelling to reflect pronunciation:

I understand why people would want to do this. Certain letters make different sounds in, e.g., English than they do in the native language. For example, the Hungarian surname Kovács might become Kovach, or the Polish surname Adamczak became Adamchak.

Many Hungarian women named Sára (nickname Sári) have likewise changed their names to Shara or Shari, since most non-Magyarphiles don’t know the Hungarian S is pronounced SH.

Many people gave up the idea of anyone properly pronouncing, e.g., W as V, and accepted a linguistically incorrect pronunciation of a name like Janowski or Korošec.

Removing diacritical marks:

This was extraordinarily common, esp. since many people would’ve had no idea how to pronounce characters like Ń, Ž, Č, Ł, Ę, Ñ, Ü, Ø, or Ő. Even if the diacritical mark makes the difference in correct vs. incorrect pronunciation, most people even now see them as a hindrance or annoyance.

Pedant I am, I like seeing diacritical marks in names of foreign origin. It sets the bearer apart, sends the message that s/he cares about his or her ethnic heritage and doesn’t believe in taking the easy way out. A name like Ramón, Yaël, Léa, Gwenaël, Kálmán, or Irène looks so distinctive.

Changing spelling to conform to host nation’s “norms”:

Examples would include the Hungarian Jakab becoming Jacob, Izabella becoming Isabella, the Estonian Eliisabet becoming Elizabeth, or the Polish Zofia becoming Sophia. Before people were used to seeing certain letters or sounds in names, they would’ve stood out like a sore thumb. But today, those native spellings really stand out beautifully from the crowd.

Many Russians and Ukrainians with -skiy names also changed that suffix to -sky, to simplify the spelling. Sometimes, Poles changed -ski to -sky. If they lived in a region with a lot of people of Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, or Slovak descent, it helped them to blend in better.

Dropping sex-based endings of surnames:

Many names in the Slavic languages denote the sex of the bearer. Russian women’s names end in -a after -ov, -(y)ev, or -in, and -skiy becomes -skaya. Likewise, Polish women’s names end in -ska instead of -ski, and Czech women’s names tack on -ová. In Slovak and Czech, -ský becomes -ská.

It just looks wrong to me to see a beautiful Russian or Polish surname without the feminine ending when the bearer is a woman. It’s grammatically incorrect for a woman to have a name like Jaskolski, Kuznetsov, or Borodin.

“Translating” names to that of the host culture:

It wasn’t uncommon for, e.g., Pavlos or Pavel to become Paul, Katarina or Katarzyna to become Catherine, or Ryszard to become Richard. Even a name like Caterina or Nikolay was considered “too foreign” once upon a time.

Surnames could be “translated” too, such as Schmidt becoming Smith or Molnár becoming Miller. Anything suggesting foreign origin was seen as undesirable and suspect.

This frequently happened when people made aliyah (moved to Israel), as discussed in the above-hyperlinked “A Primer on Hebraizing Names.” Many common Jewish surnames were translated into Hebrew, such as Bergman becoming Harari and Rosen becoming Vardi. Those birth surnames smacked of a people without their own country and language.

Choosing entirely new names:

The name Irving was once quite popular among the Jewish community, as an “American” substitute for Isaac, Israel, and Isaiah. Many of the new names chosen have dated rather poorly, though at the time, they were seen as “all-American” and a part of the mainstream onomastic culture.

Shortening names or putting Anglo twists on them:

This happened both for Anglicization in general and de-Judaization in particular. For example, Garfinkel became Garfield, Rosenkrantz became Rose, Nielsen became Nelson, Feuerstein became Firestone, de Jong became DeYoung, Eisenhauer became Eisenhower.

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I’m glad more people now see the beauty in names from a wide variety of cultures, instead of seeing them as an ugly, embarrassing, foreign burden to be shed. Not everyone needs to have names like John and Mary Smith, just as not everyone has to abandon native cuisine, culture, language (as long as one learns the host language), and religion.