teisipäev, mai 16, 2006

There's Something About 'Titad'

Once in awhile when I launch into a story about my 2-year-old daughter, somebody, usually a person over the age of 25 years that has yet to procreate, begins to tell me about their childhood. And I immediately glaze over and lose interest. Why is that? I think it is because the 25-year-old person was a baby when Dallas was a hot show, most people had rotary phones, and cable TV was a luxury. So, they are neither cute nor babies anymore, and thus not interesting to me - Mr. My Daughter Was Up AT 5:30 AM This Morning.

And the thing is that, in America, having babies isn't really a thing 25-year-olds do. In fact, it's not often a thing 35-year-olds do. It's more for the 35-menopausal age group. Babies are viewed as lifestyle accesories, not as biological results. Americans really think that they can choose when and how to have a baby, like "when they're ready." I've got news for you - you'll never be ready. Child is father of the man.

Of these Americans, some, like me, did not plan on having one yet became accustomed to the result. Others put it off for so long that their eggs are crusty and difficult to penetrate by even the most ambitious, viral sperm. They then get fertility treatments and have triplets. So either way, you never know what life has in store for you!

In reality, babies are not a 'lifestyle choice.' I know there are things like condoms and birth control pills and the rhythm method and abortion, but individuals must actively work at and often fail in their efforts NOT to have children. Children, it seems, just want to be born.

I have to say that becoming a father was a bit of an easier process in Europe. I recall walking down Stroget in Copenhagen in 2001 and seeing groups of young mothers parking their babies outside of cafes in August to have a drink with some friends and then roll their way home. Or seeing babies tucked into "Baby Bjorn" carrying pouches in Finland. It seemed like children were just treated as a normal thing like - "Oh, look, I had sex and a baby came out. Better give it a name and feed it something."
It looked like something that wasn't scary, but that could be done.

When we found out about the impending birth of our child I was a little worried about telling my colleagues. I think I didn't tell them until my wife was eight months pregnant. Part of me was worried about any complications, but the other part of me was the socially conscious American who just "wasn't ready" to announce to a room full of Estonians that his family tree would grow another branch in just nine months.
Or did they even care? Pssh. Who knows with these Estonians. They all look like they are engrossed in a game of poker. When I finally did tell them, I think they were disappointed I didn't tell them sooner. But I had my own issues to face.

Seeing other Estonian dads my age really helped me get used to the idea of being a dad. Sometimes you need a little demonstration. And sure, Estonians get divorced a lot and drink alot and all that stuff most people do - but I have yet to witness a major family breakdown - broken dishes, flying fists, angry words - on an Estonian street.

And then there is the word for 'Dad' - Isa or Issi. I liked this word when I was going through the fatherhood acclimation role. 'Dad' to me sounded like Dennis the Menace's father. I wasn't sure I was ready to become an authoritative 'Dad' who knew best, but I thought I could manage being an 'Issi.' In fact, I am not sure I have much to teach even now. What will I tell my child about the Presidency of George W. Bush, for example? If somebody asked me about it, I think I could manage a sort of sombre dance of shrugging my shoulders and rolling my eyes. And I am just now starting to understand the intricacies of the stock market. And I am somebody's Dad? Yep. And I am an Issi too. But 'Dad' sounds like I know something. And 'issi' just sounds like I am a big clown.

Anyway, if you are feeling 'ready' to have an Estonian baby, here are some of my favorite names that I will unfortunately never be able to give a child with a straight face.

*NOTE: THIS SECTION HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT MY THOUGHTS ON THE NAME TEET*

For boys, Teet - which is cool in both Estonian and English. In Estonia "Teet teeb teed" literally means - "Teet is making tea." In English, the name "Teet" reminds one of the thing on the cow you squeeze until the milk comes out. Valvo, not the car, is also a favorite, and Silver (like the color). In fact, you could name your son, Silver Valvo, if you like sturdy Swedish cars

For girls, you can't go wrong with Õie, which offers three vowels in a row, Sibülla (the Estonian word for onion is 'sibul'), and my personal favorite, Asse. You can imagine how Americans would pronounce that one.

27 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

"Teet teeb teet"

It's actually "Teet teeb teed".

Leeloo ütles ...

The double-meaning names remind me of Hell Hunt, a pub in Tallinn. I find the name extremely cool because the phrase makes perfect sense in both Estonian and English, and yet the meanings are completely different.

P.S. The English word is "teat", not "teet".

Pekka K ütles ...

leeloo, it would have been nice of you to tell us the Estonian meaning for Hell Hunt. Anybody?

Eppppp ütles ...

Hell - tender
Hunt - wolf
;)

Pekka K ütles ...

eppppp, thanks a bunch! Quite often I can make a wild guess that might be close, but this one was a surprise and I had no idea. I wonder, if this name was a lucky coinsident or might it have been planned? Fantastic, though.

Kaur ütles ...

Planned.

http://www.ekspress.ee/viewdoc/F5F2D8F7DB8C7894C2256C8C00290AE1

And I know the guy who was behind the idea of the pub, and the name as well.

Kaur ütles ...


Hell Hunt pandi magama
at Eesti Ekspress.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Valvo? Sibülla? Asse? Where do you get these names, Justin?! Nobody calls their children like that in Estonia.

Populaarsemad poistele pandud eesnimed olid aprillis Karl, Marcus/Markus/Markkus, Aleksander/Aleksandr, Henri/Henry/Hendri, Daaniel/Daniel/Daniil/Danil ja Sander. Sagedamini esinevad tütarlaste nimed olid Laura, Katariina/Katarina/Katharina, Maria, Mia, Sandra, Emely/Emili/Emily/Emilia.

OK, and then there are those freaks:

Harjumaal nägid aprillis ilmavalgust beebid, kellele vanemad panid nimeks Raian, Treivon, Preston Michael ja Chrissely, Amanda Serely ja Greth.

/kitty

luize ütles ...

In Canada lived Estonian girl named Aino. Also an interesting name :)

Giustino ütles ...

Valvo? Sibülla? Asse? Where do you get these names, Justin?! Nobody calls their children like that in Estonia.

March 15 is Valvo's name day.
March 30 is Sibulla's name day.


And May 6 is the day of

Aasa, Aase, and Asse.

Giustino ütles ...

It's actually "Teet teeb teed".

The English word is "teat", not "teet".

Unlike Estonian, English spelling rules have been through most eras rather permissive.

Even in my office we have conversations about how to spell 'catalogue' or 'dialogue' - some people spell them catalog and dialog - and they are both correct according to most dictionaries.

Epp has a relative in England named Teet (or Tiit) who goes by the name 'Tim' as his Estonian name is too suggestive :)

Eppppp ütles ...

His name is Tiit.
No one knows it. He is Tim there,

Leeloo ütles ...

Sorry, Justin, but unlike "dialog" and "catalog", "teet" is not a word. Contrary to what a lot of English speakers like to think, English spelling rules aren't that loose. You cannot spell "beat" like "beet", "meat" like "meet", or "teat" like "teet".

Giustino ütles ...

Leeloo,

You are correct. In the written language "teet" is not a word. But in the spoken language the way an English speaker would read "Teet" aloud would be to pronounce it like the word "teat" because most of our words that are constructed that way - meet, sheet, feet - sound that way.

Anyway, due to my error I have now updated by blog...

My apologies. :)

Leeloo ütles ...

:)

Anonüümne ütles ...

in case you haven't noticed that insignificant feature of Estonian culture, Justin - we don't have name days. We don't celebrate them. Most people have no clue if they have a name day and when it is. OK, I have one because there IS St. Catherine's day.. but in Estonian culture, it's not celebrated as a name day, there are completely different traditions.

The calendars with name days became popular in the beginning of nineties when it was very important to Estonians to feel like Scandinavians. I have no idea who assembled the list of names you can find there, but it's a constant amusement to read it. You'd rather not take it seriously, either. It does definitely not give you any overview of actual Estonian names.

/kitty

Leeloo ütles ...

Actually, Kitty's right about the names, Justin. According to Keelevara, only 28 Valvos and 9 Asses were born in Estonia between 1900 and 2004. No Sibülles/Sibulles/Sibüllas/Sibullas at all (there were some occurrences of Sibylla and Sibylle, less than 10 in total). The name Justin is more popular than all the Sibsomethings: during the 104 years, 7 little boys were named Justin in Estonia.

I've haven't seen my real name in any Estonian calendar, and yet it's been given to more than 300 girls since 1900.

Giustino ütles ...

You'd rather not take it seriously, either. It does definitely not give you any overview of actual Estonian names.

Most Estonians I have ever met have names on the namesday lists. When we picked out Marta's name, we used it as a reference point to find names that were the same in Estonian, English, and Italian.

I believe the lists are the same across Northern Europe.

Giustino ütles ...

The calendars with name days became popular in the beginning of nineties when it was very important to Estonians to feel like Scandinavians.

I used to think that this Scandinavian thing was the Estonians' way of 'marketing' themselves to the "West' (what a silly name by the way - Estonia is a western country like, DUH, anyway) but the thing is that that is how people from the CIS and other Balts identify them.

Like I met a Ukrainian cab driver in San Francisco and I told him my wife was from Estonia.

"Oh," he said. "Then I guess you know some Russian."

"No," I answered. "I know Estonian."

"Estonian?" he answered.

"Yes, it's like Finnish."

"Oh, that's right, they are like Scandinavians up there..."

He said it. Not me. Having lived in Denmark, I can say that there are many similarities between the Danes and the Estonians. Just go to Skagen, near the tip of the country. You will feel as if you are back in Saaremaa.

Leeloo ütles ...

You know, it's a bit like this: for Eastern Europeans, Estonians are Scandinavians. For Scandinavians, Estonians are Eastern Europeans.

Giustino ütles ...

I think you are right.

Kaur ütles ...

a half-illegal
frequency list of Estonian first names
. Source is "keeleweb" at www.eki.ee, the web site of Institute of the Estonian Language.

Giustino ütles ...

Aitäh, Kaur.

evushka ütles ...

Hey, my dads name is Valvo... So I'm very used to this name and I think it's one really virile name ;o) It just sounds strong. I have heard of only one more Valvo, I guess the name was on some highschool list or something. I have no idea how many Valvo's there might be in Estonia. 5 maybe? :o)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Ok, so it's more like 28... *reading leeloo's comment now*

Giustino ütles ...

My daughter thinks like an Estonian. Lot's of Estonian names are from the second half of Germanic names - like 'Reet' come from 'MargaRETa' and 'Riina' comes from 'KataRINA.'

So my daughter calls yogurt 'Gurt', she calls my guitar a 'Tar,' and she calls a massage, just a 'Saaazh.'

You guys must not like first syllables.

Kaur ütles ...

and sham_poo = POO!!!!