teisipäev, juuli 24, 2007

Eesti Nimed

One interesting part of becoming a parent is deciding on a name for your child. There are countless books written on the subject and many hurt feelings to endure as you are told that the jumble of consonants and vowels so dear to your heart are pure rubbish.

With our daughter Anna, we chose a name that was in both our families, but had symbolic importance for Epp because it was her great-grandmother's name. However, we did hear from some that 'Anna' could be too Slavic in touch, and might set off 'Russian alarms' among ethnic Estonians who have a highly efficient way of telling tribes apart. This is funny, because Anna is perhaps one of the most timeless names in the other nordic countries.

Bigotry aside, I understand why some Estonians might be pained by Russian names. I mean there is a prominent Russian politician whose last name is written in the Roman alphabet as Yastrzhembsky. And don't get me started on Tartu-born actor and theater director Andres Dvin-jan-i-nov. If there ever was a candidate for a renewed names campaign it is he. But, back to the point, the greater irony is that we were being told that a name born by an Estonian woman born more than 100 years ago was 'un-Estonian.'

How Estonian is it?

That got me thinking about what exactly is an Estonian name. The obvious answers are 'Kalev' and 'Linda' -- the main characters from Kalevipoeg. But we received a family tree from an Estonian cousin in England that traced my wife's family back to the early 18th century, and there were no Kalevs nor Lindas nor Vambolas nor Lembits in that tree. Instead, there were a lot of Estonianized versions of Germanic names, among the most common were Mihkel, Martin, Mart, Tõnu, and Tiidrik for boys, and names like Els, Ann, and Marri for girls.

When people first encounter vowel-laden Estonian personal names, they find them odd. Imagine two brothers, one named Aap and the other Priit! The reality is that this is how Estonians of yore interpreted named like 'Abel' which became Aapeli and then just Aap, or Friedrich, which somehow morphed into 'Priit'. The Estonians were not alone in this regard. In Finland, they heard 'Fredrik' and turned it into 'Veeti'. One can imagine how an Estonian villager heard the name 'Dietrich' and couldn't pronounce it but managed to mangle it into 'Tiit'.

That brings us to the debate over foreign loans. Estonia, like other countries, has been borrowing names for centuries, but some Estonian purists will still point out that Toivo and Aino are Finnish names, as if Estonia was somehow not Finnic itself. Estonians also like to shorten all names by taking the first syllable and adding an 's'. If you name is Peeter, you become 'Pets'. If your name is Pirgit, you become 'Pirks', and if you are like my brother-in-law Toivo, you are known to the world as 'Toits'.

For those of you interested in learning more about the history of Estonian personal names, you an read this excellent Estonica page here.


Occasionally it seems that names come and go with generations. For example, there are plenty of aging great grandmothers in Estonia named Salme, Laine, and Aino, but among the newborns of Tartu or Tallinn or Toila, there is hardly one of these to be found. My sister-in-law considered naming her daughter -- who received the Hungarian-flavored name of Ilona on her birthday -- Aino, after her grandmother, but the idea was dropped. Who would want to give a old person's name to a sweet cherubic child?

But again, age plays a role. We were told by an older acquaintance that 'Anna' reminded her of her mother-in-law, who also was of Epp's great-grandmother's generation, and therefore she did not have a fondness for the name. Even worse was when we named Marta. Our friend Signe told us that Marta was an old woman's name and said it aloud with a look of pure disgust. "Pff. Marta. Pff."

Yet the reality is that most of these aging Martas and Annas are now long deceased, their nasty turns as school teachers and mothers-in-law only remembered by gray-haired grannies and people like Signe. It seems that once the dust has settled on your grave, it's ok to resuscitate your name for future generations. So expect a flurry of Johanneses and Ainos in about 10 years! I am already running into Martas on the playground here.

One funny story is of our Flemmish friend and his Swedish-Estonian wife who named their children Aime and Raivo. It seems that the 'traditional' Estonian names of the 1940s that have been cast aside by current child-bearing generations in Estonia have been preserved in the Estonian diaspora. When I think of Raivo, I think of Onu Raivo. It is quite cool to know there is a little Raivo out there somewhere, perhaps slightly irritating his older sister Aime.

Farm Names

Finally, one addendum to the saga of Estonian names is the family name. Many Estonian families had German names before the 1930s. Epp's maiden name was Saluveer, but her great-grandfather was Johannes Schwarzberg. What is interesting is that before the adoption of German names in the 19th century, some Estonians had talu nimed -- farm names. So Mats Lenk might have been Uustalu Mats before his name was Germanized. I am told that older generations still use these farm names to refer to one another.

In the 1930s, approximately 210,000 Estonians chose new names for themselves. They settled on cute animals, like Orav (squirrel) and Jänes (bunny), or sturdy trees like Tamm (oak) or Mänd (pine). I have read stories that these days some Estonian Russians also choose new names to help them succeed in the marketplace, or maybe because having a last name like Yastrzhembsky really is too burdensome in a country where people have names like Mart Laar.

I wonder what would happen if there was a new names campaign. Would Estonians still name themselves after trees and animals or would they opt for something for modern? Jaanus Skype? Elo Selver? Tarmo Säästumarket? Piret Wifi? Kristjan Mobiil? What would you choose if you could start all over again? The whole idea of a names campaign is interesting, but sometimes I think it would be cool if everyone could go back to using their farm names.

56 kommentaari:

Helena ütles ...

Haha :D The last section is just hilarious! :D But I wouldn't take Selver or Skype for my last name :D
But it's a good game of thought, though

Simon ütles ...

I always find Estonian names a bit laughable... They sound really funny to me ;-)

The last paragraph is great! Still laughing about it :D But did you hear about these Swedish parents who named their newly born child "google"? That's weird...

I'd prefer "Quirin Qype". And nobody will speak to you just because they can't pronounce your name :D

(My favourite names are "Vanuatu" and "Venezuela" for a boy and a girl...)

BBH ütles ...

To Simon:

How about those twins who were named COPY and PASTE? That´s funny! :)))

LPR ütles ...

Wow. When you pick a subject that has some interest to you, you really dig deep.

I admire that.

Do you believe that person's name has a major impact on his or her fate?

I've been thinking about it a lot. Successful people always have these successful and glorious in not outright pompous names (Like Saxby or Montgomery, or Alistaire, etc.).

Then around comes some Bank-i-Moon or Boutros-Boutros or Kofi Annan and obliterate all my nicely cut theories on how name equals fate.

Still, I'm yet to see somebody famous and successful outside hip-hop community or NBA with names like Tyrone or Lakisha or Latisha etc.

Some names pre-destine people to bag groceries til the end of their days it seems.

(Do they bag groceries in Estonia?)

alfons ütles ...

Not to quibble, but Tõnu is not Germanic. Your point about the nimede eestistamine is important in this context . Last names were not always assigned - or chosen -on an Estonian translation of an existing German. Often they were taken on an histroical basis - ie I lived in a birch grove, so I became Alfons Kaasik.

Curious: does anyone out there know how Mäeumbaed as a last name came to be? Or Pudrunahk (try those two on in Boston, and you'll see why some abroad may choose to anglicize)

And - whassup with all the Kevins and Käittlins in Eesti today?

Anna on ilus nimi, kiitus vanematele seda valimast.

alfons ütles ...

Whoops, should have added to the previous comment that contrary to opinion, Tõnis is the borrowed name - Denis, Denys etc, - Tõnu and Tõnn are the original eesti nimed. Among the other origs are beauts nagu Vambola, Vaptas, Õnnelemb and Orm. Nende nimedega inimesi palju Toompeal ega Kadrioru siseringides liikudes ei kohta... :-)

kukupai ütles ...

Anna tähendab heebrea keeles 'arm', nii et üks vanemaid ja levinumaid nimesid maailmas.
Eestlste nimed ongi üks suur pudru ja kapsad, eriti viimastel aastakümnetel, kui võetakse mõni välismaine 'pheen' nimi ja mugandatakse see suupäraseks või vastupidi, lisatakse nii palju võõrtähti, et vaene laps ei õpi seda kuidagi kirjutama.
Lihtne on alati ilus

Unknown ütles ...

(Do they bag groceries in Estonia?)

Nope, we're usually not that lazy that we can't handle lifting things into a plastic bag. Also, keeping an extra worker for those purposes is probably an economical nightmare.

BTW, I also am a bit irritated by Kevins. I mean, granted, if it would be a beautiful name, go for it. But KEVIN. That looks bad, sounds bad (especially the way Estonians say it) and Kevin Costner is really not worth it. My mother is a teacher and all Kevins she has met have really bad families and they're troublemakers. So maybe Kevin is the favourite of not-so-bright Estonians? :P (sarcasm, people, don't take offence if your kid is named like that or smth)

One of the other cool Estonian names is Armas. Think of a man called Armas (Lovely) - what would your first thought be?

And finally about Anna. Anna Haava was pretty much as Estonian as it gets. Anna seems like a pretty universal name. Kind of like Maria or Martin or smth. I don't think people automatically presume a Russian person with that name (although a girl called Anna was Russian in my class).

Anna jäi Tallinnas trammi alla, nüüd on Toomas :p

oHpuu ütles ...

Orm is Scandinavian. stands for worm or dragon. cf Ormsö = 'worm-island' = Vormsi. a fairly purist list is here, with an introduction in Estonian and no translations: http://maavald.ee/maausk.html?rubriik=22&id=47&op=lugu
not all of these are in use. actually, a minority is. but this is one of the most radical lists in the genre.

LPR ütles ...

Cultural differences. Very refreshing sometimes. Like you mentioned that "we are not so lazy as to lift groceries to the plastic bags". This reminds me a piece on the National Public Radio here where they were discussing manners and how in Europe people are bad mannered. One example being the use fork and knife. The way americans see it is that euroeans are eating like brutes without taking time to change fork into the right hand each time after using the knife and instead "scarf their food" right after cutting it. Until that time I had thought that Americans were just too dumb to eat with a fork and knife, period.

The other way around I think it is novel to see laziness in gocery bagging which is in fact just customer service and expression of politeness and care (not to mention that it provides some people much needed employment).

Sorry to drift from the primary topic, but in the end it's the one world we live in anyway and everything is connected, right?

(I must change my nick to a bloghijacker)

crouchingtiger ütles ...

Just curious.

How does Tartu compare to Tallinn in terms of the following:

1. # and variety of resident foreigners

2. Violence / drunken behavior at night

3. Cost of living (housing and food)

4. Ethnic diversity / tolerance

5. Entertainment options

6. Friendliness of the locals

7. Intangible good feel vibes


Helen ütles ...

I think Anna is universal and timeless name.
about these "old" names - sometimes they grow on you. a couple I know named their son Vambola. it was really weird at first, I thought how could they do that to the innocent baby, but now I'm kinda getting used to that. and I'm sure he's gonna be known as Vamps :).
right now we are thinking about our soon to be born daughter's name. it has to sound nice and similar in both, estonian and english languages. no weird letters either. and it's not as easy as you might think.

about the groceries. a few times when there wasn't a packing person in the register and the cashier was supposed to do that after she was done with scanning and money, I started to do it myself instead. and every single time the person I was with, told me to stop that, because it wasn't my job. I find that weird, you have hands and you can use them, is it better just to stand there and wait? besides, you'll get out of the store much more quickly.

Unknown ütles ...

customer service and expression of politeness and care

Consider that most shops in Estonia charge you for a plastic bag.

Unknown ütles ...

Helen, I wonder whether the same kind of people order a construction worker to hang a picture to their home wall because it's not their job ;)

Giustino ütles ...

1. # and variety of resident foreigners

The biggest university in Estonia is here so there are comparatively a lot of foreigners (compared to Pärnu, Viljandi).

I think there is a fairly large Finnish contingent. I see Finnish license plates everywhere. If you go down to Wylde you will hear a lot of English, spoken by Americans, Brits, Australians, Norwegians.

2. Violence / drunken behavior at night

I guess there is some. I don't go out much (with babies, you know).

3. Cost of living (housing and food)

Cheaper than New York ... and Oslo.

4. Ethnic diversity / tolerance

Estonia is so white that even I do double takes when I see an Asian person because they are just people that I don't see everyday.

But I don't think that most people really care where you come from. If they stare at you, they are probably just curious. And I say this as a person from New York, who for many stops on the A Train was the only person of European descent.

5. Entertainment options

There are good restaurants, good pubs, good everything. I am not bored here.

6. Friendliness of the locals

These are Estonians we are talking about.

7. Intangible good feel vibes

This is the key thing. I was standing at a bus stop, and some drunk guys pulled up and started yelling 'Why are you going to Tallinn? Tartu is the city of good thoughts!'

I have to say that they were right. In tartu I feel laid back and friendly and that people are generally in a good mood. In Tallinn I don't feel that way. Maybe it's the traffic, but for whatever reason I am glad I live here and not in Tallinn.

That being said, when we lived in Kalamaja I loved it. But I remember Tallinn as being less 'fun' and more 'business'.

LPR ütles ...

Compared to New York, entire Estonia is laid back. When I hear estonians complaining about traffic and about being stressed out, I can't help, but think that they are just trying to be hip.

One day in last February I was the only visitor in Kuressaare Loss and then this Finnish couple with two elementary schoolers came in. The kids were going from exhibit to exhibit and behaved like kids do, giggling and calling each other and pointing, etc. That's when I heard one of the vana valvur naine complain to her co-worker in a plaintative voice: "Tana on siin ainult uks jube tramburai!" (It's a horrible riot here today)

If she was just kidding, then she definately got me. :-)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Anna is a universal name. It suits fine for Estonian girls. Johannes on the other hand is an old German name... it is Juhan in Estonian, John in English and Ivan in Russian. So good patriotic Estonians should use the name Juhan not Johannes, Ivan or John.

Inga ütles ...

Anna is a beautiful wonderful name!
I remember years ago when I told someone that I would like to name my daughter Linda, after my grandma (should I have a daughter, but I haven't so far) - and got the same reaction as you with Marta - Linda is an OLD person's name.
To me Linda is a WONDERFUL person's name, names are not "old or young", they belong to person, names are ageless.
I would like to see a grandma whose grandkids cannot even pronounce her name Cäitlin.
Besides, my grandma Linda's mother was Anna, so....
My actual question was supposed to be - Marta has a second (middle) name, does Anna have one too? I haven't seen it revealed yet.

Wally Kranich ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Wally Kranich ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Kristopher ütles ...

I am shocked by the notion that the Russians have any claim to "Anna". They licensed that name from the crowned heads of Europe, I am sure. A certain wannabe aristocratress from Tolstoy comes to mind.

Good on you for choosing a nice classic name with personal echoes instead of something like Britni. Anna will thank you, too.

Personally, I am hoping Krõõt makes a comeback.

On last names, I used to think all Estonians had straightforward names like Kasepuu, but it gradually dawned on me that there are some pretty weird apples in the barrel -- Pärtelpoeg, Kõvatomas.

From a translator's perspective, what is maddening is that unlike place names, which are always in the genitive, you can never be sure about last names when translating -- is that person Saar or Saare.

n-lane ütles ...

Anna is my favourite female name. It reads the same in both directions. :-)

Yastrzhembsky sounds Polish to me. There is one famous Estonian with a Polish name too - Jaan Kaplinski.

Wally Kranich ütles ...

Blog Chief Giustino!

Wally will seize the honorific of congratulating you and you're family! Wally saw now was the honorable occasion to knock on your door with flowers, pelmeni, Latvian ice cream and cheer. Wally's heart pains because he is immersed in dangerous politics in Rīga and Wally can only communicate with assistance of proxys like my fraternity brother Valdis or lady friends.

Wally has disagreed with some of your New York liberal special interest politics. However Wally sees that you're Itching for Eestimaa has many loyal Scratchers. Wally salutes Blog Chief Giustino for serving the national cause of Eesti! Wally feels himself to be a loyal Scratcher!

Wally sees the subject of NAMES as passionate. As Wally sees Ted Shackelford quoted as saying eloquently "What is in a name!"

Wally's full name has interesting story. Wally was not Wally's first name at first but was changed to less Latvian Wally from after name of Wally Famous Amos because this Wally loved eating cookies when he was a teenager and young man. Wally's family name Kranich was Prussian because Wally and his ancestors were born as warriors. One half of Kranich family went to Quebec in late 1700's and changed name to Crone after one crazy Kranich uncle had publicly unpleasant relations with a goat outside of München. Wally sees that his mighty Kranich family was split into two parts until late 1900's when both family halfs emigrated to Latvijas Kurzeme province after more farm scandals. Wally knows that when Latvian song festival happen in 1873 two of Wally's ancestors fall in love even though they were brother and sister. Wally sees photo of that ancestor grandmother and Wally whistles sexy! Wally's ancient grandmother was hot! Wally sees that for time until 1930's Wally's family name changed to Krāničs to appear more Latvian for Ulmanis. Wallys sees also that ancestors change back to German looking Kranich in late 1930's. Wally sees that today his name is Vālijs Krāničs but also Wally Kranich! Wally sees this is how we do things in Latvijā!

Wally enjoys your blog with a full and beating heart Blog Chief Giustino! Wally sees a future day when Wally and Blog Chief Giustino can meet and join blogospheric forces to combat communism and Soviet opportunists and that bastard Luguvoi!

Wally sees that this moment in morning through proxy Valdis is Wally's chance to salute Blog Chief and all his Scratchers everywhere! Wally wishes to all of you a happy Friday! Wally sees that he is presently hiding in WC of Rīgas Centrāla dzelzceļa stacija because he is in espionage battle against Luguvoi and Putin and KGB stooges! (Do not worry for Wally because he has web-net connection and cheese during his hiding from KGB agents of Luguvoi!) Wally sees that Edvards Lukas is correct when he warns of Cold War because Wally knows that new Cold War is starting now in dark streets of Rīga! Wally will share more from his one man war on his blog! Lai dzivo Itching for Eestimaa!

plasma-jack ütles ...

I was standing at a bus stop, and some drunk guys pulled up and started yelling 'Why are you going to Tallinn? Tartu is the city of good thoughts!'

(: As a person living in Tallinn and enjoying it, I find that kind of attitude sometimes annoying, but mostly ludicrous.
Not that I had anything in particular against the "little wooden town". Hey, I also live in a wooden house. But what advantages does Tartu have comparing to Pärnu or Viljandi, as far as littleness, woodyness and cozyness are an issue?

Juan Manuel ütles ...

The big question is: will an Estonian citizen face discrimination in 20 years for having a Russian name (I am now talking about a real Russian name, like Tanja or Katja)? I hope not.

By the way, I like names you find only in Estonian, but I sometimes find it hard to know if they are boy or girls names.

Giustino ütles ...

My actual question was supposed to be - Marta has a second (middle) name, does Anna have one too? I haven't seen it revealed yet.

Her name is Anna Margaret. But I don't want her to fall into the trap of being like 'Anna Liis' or 'Anna Nicole' or 'Anna Whatever'. So I am sort of keeping it underwraps until people call her just 'Anna'.

Yastrzhembsky sounds Polish to me. There is one famous Estonian with a Polish name too - Jaan Kaplinski.

What about Julius Kuperjanov? I am told that the neighborhood of Karlova is also named after a Pole.
Interestingly, many Russians I have met have German surnames. I gather they have a Germanic forefather somewhere back.

Someone told me that the reason that Alexei Miller (Gazprom CEO) isn't in the running for Putin's successor is because his name is too Western ;)

Wally has disagreed with some of your New York liberal special interest politics.

You'd be pained to know that I am actually leaning towards Hillary these days. Why? I hate listening to her speak. I don't really care what she has to say. I have no warm feelings about her.

BUT, she is ruthless and this is a ruthless world. And who are the Republicans going to field? Anyway, I think the Clinton-Obama hatred thing is just a play for the media. The guy is totally campaigning for vice president.

But what advantages does Tartu have comparing to Pärnu or Viljandi, as far as littleness, woodyness and cozyness are an issue?

Not that much. The reason we moved here and not to Tallinn is because theuniversity is here and my sister-in-law lives here.

I would like to try living in Pärnu. I think it would be cool. Viljandi is interesting but ... it's just too much of an agricultural town.

I would advise you to think about it this way. What is the first thing someone sees when they come into Tallinn from Tartu?

If you come by train, it might be a drunk lady at Baltijaam with a furhat cursing at you. If you come to the Bussijaam, it might be the traffic at the head of Lastekodu street. Then you saunter by the shantytown of keskturg.

I love Tallinn and the old town is magic and all of that. But I feel a bit more homey here. Tartu is like one big Kalamaja, with a little Kadrioru mixed in.

david h jones ütles ...

The habit of calling people by their farm name is still popular in Welsh speaking Wales, partly because of the prevelance of Jones, Williams, Thomas, Evans etc. People ned a way to identify one another.

There was also the anglicisation of Welsh names from the late midlde agesonwards (like Germanisation in Esotnia) so great Welsh names were lost, or if they were saints names they were seen as too Papist and so suspicious. By the 18C we had borning English names like John Jones and Evan Williams or William Evans etc. A lot of people now just drop the anglicised English surname, e.g. the opera singer Bryn Terfel (Jones). We should have done the same as the Estonians in the 1920s!

I'd go for a unique Estonian name every time. There are millions of Martins, Annas etc in the world. If your'e concerned about pronounciation then chose a simple Esonian name to pronounce. There must be many.

Being international means that people recognise that there are such things as nations in the first place. So what if a Korean, Italian, American, Welshman can't pronounce an Estonian name exactly right.

Giustino ütles ...

The big question is: will an Estonian citizen face discrimination in 20 years for having a Russian name.

Probably not. Russians aren't the only minority in Estonia, there are others as well with interesting foreign names.

I do suspect that names will be whittled down like older names have been. The same way Dietrich turned into Tiidrik which turned into Tiit, I bet names like Jelena after awhile might just become Lena.

gaborien ütles ...

Well first of all I found Anna a very classic name regardless Slavic or Nordic or whereever roots. Also it's easy to pronounce and it was adopted in several languages.
Armas may sound lovely in Estonian but did you know that in spanish that means "guns"? So if we think on a more globalized context it wouldn't be so lovely to be an Armas.

Once I read an essay about how names can influence people's life and how it is related to the parent's background. If you want to read it look for a book called "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt.

lex ütles ...

I've got a question about names:
is Sten in american Stan(ley)?

I guess I would pick Richardson as my last name... :D

Jansa ütles ...

"The big question is: will an Estonian citizen face discrimination in 20 years for having a Russian name."

As far as i remember, i faced first time discrimination by name when i was about 11-12 years old. One of my teachers used to bully one of my classmate's by calling her "Iiii-rina" instead or "Irina". Yeah, lets don't forget that it was 1991-1992, when everybody suddenly became extremely nationalistic, but still... Indeed, for most of my classmates it sounded very funny, so they bullied her too. The girl got so frustrated that later she changed her name to "Riina" (an Estonian-sounding name -> everybody happy).

Few months ago in Finland my boyfriend wanted to paint on his rowing boat a name "Natalia" according to his Spanish niece. He was a bit doubtful, how big could be the letter font. The main concern was that if the name would appear very visible, maybe Finns would consider it a Russian boat and this could cause some vandalism. Well, I assumed that yes, most probably this name will associate with Russians for Finns and Finns normally are quite hostile for Russians. In Estonia it would be definitely a case, be it actually international name or not.

So, lets see, what will be Estonia in 20 years. At least now there is so much hostility for everything Russian, that i would not risk with my kids names.

Pierre ütles ...

In the 1930s, approximately 210,000 Estonians chose new names for themselves. They settled on cute animals, like Orav (squirrel) and Jänes (bunny), or sturdy trees like Tamm (oak) or Mänd (pine).

That is also the Latvian tradition, or should I say Baltic, or even Nordic?... :-)

For what it's worth, we named our little Latvian girl Marianne Marta. Marianna was my wife's grandmother's name and my wife simply loved the name Marta.


Giustino ütles ...

Yeah, lets don't forget that it was 1991-1992, when everybody suddenly became extremely nationalistic, but still...

They did it my school. My friend 'Sanket' (Indian) was called 'Spank it'. Petrica (Romanian) was embarrased too often by being called 'Patricia' that he went by 'Pete' to his teachers.

Unknown ütles ...

So, lets see, what will be Estonia in 20 years. At least now there is so much hostility for everything Russian, that i would not risk with my kids names.

That's mostly a myth in my opinion. I ain't feeling the hate. People usually judge you by who you are, not from what nationality you are.

LPR ütles ...

Ahh, names. Right now I'm figthing with my wife right now trying to convince her that naming our son Viggo is not such a good idea. We have a month to go before it'll ciome down to a coin toss.

I do not want to sentence a man to a lifelong task of explaining his unusual name to Americans, Estonians ... especially Danes and to even to himself. It is enough to have my own name mangled beyond recognition and having to explain that I am not Indian or something.

It is a lot of responsibility to give somebody a name.

Anna is nice a neutral. I bet that name satisfied the italian half of the tribe as well. No pffts coming from there I guess.


LPR ütles ...

sorry for the typos. I have no excuse.

Kaisa ütles ...

Here's a link to some idiotic celebrity names.

Some are very nice, such as Gaia, but someone should tell the Cruises that Suri means "died" in Estonian :). If you can't be bothered to read the comments, then I'll say that the highlights include Rob Morrow naming his daughter Tu (yes, Tu Morrow). This is bordering on naming your daughters Külili and Selili. :)

plasma-jack ütles ...

I'd go for a unique Estonian name every time.

After reading through ohspuu's linked text, I concluded that if I ever had a daughter, I would name her Elo-Lee. Sounds great in any language.

plasma-jack ütles ...

besides Russian, anyway

mab ütles ...

Congratulations on the new baby... and a request for help on a place name.

I'm writing something about St Pete and discovered that Tsarskoe Selo was originally a Finnish estate with a name that meant "the farmstead on a promentory." The text is Russian, so I'm trying to figure out how to write the Finnish name in Latin letters. Can anyone up there help? Does Saari-mois look right? Or Saari moys? Or something else? Does that in fact mean "farm on a hill"?

I was intrigued that Tsarskoe Selo (the tsar's village) was originally Sarskaya myza in Russian, so the change from Sarskaya to Tsarskoe was minor.

Thanks and sorry for butting in with an off-topic query!

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Interestingly, many Russians I have met have German surnames.

Interestingly, many Russians with a German surnames have Jewish origins. It is the case with all those writers or filmmakers or thinkers like Eisenstein, Mandelstam, Ehrensburg, Grossman, Lotman.

I suppose Aleksei Miller has a Jewish background, which may make it more difficult for him to be a potential presidential candidate (actually he has nothing to do with politics as far as I know, and that is why he is where he is and not somewhere in Siberia).

Juan Manuel ütles ...

ups, I repeated the word "interestingly" from your sentence. It was not intentional ))

sofie ütles ...

"Johannes on the other hand is an old German name... it is Juhan in Estonian, John in English and Ivan in Russian. So good patriotic Estonians should use the name Juhan not Johannes, Ivan or John."
-Some of these German names are so-to -say canonized here as they were used in the Estonian translation of the Bible. There is nothing to do, Johannes, Markus, Eliisabet, Anna, Marta, Saamuel, Jaakob etc have became biblical names now and timeless, and not German, not Hebrew, and not Russian, by the way.
As for Toits, Veiks and such: no parent has named his child officially Toits yet, (I hope!). These name forms are more like "official nikcname forms" for Toivos, Veikos etc.
As was Juku once the diminutive for Juhan, which was probably the diminutive for Johannes once... and now we have grown-up men whose name is officially Juku, so who knows, maybe soon mothers will be really naming their newborn babys "Toits"?
A second thought: is Juku-Kalle Raid REALLY grown-up? Would his behavior be different, if his name were officially Johannes-Karl Raid instead?

Wahur ütles ...

Estonian native names are a really cool way of getting lots of attention in a company of foreigners.
I have a nice collection of very interesting pronunciations of my first name. Undoubtedly best comes American fella, who, after third unsuccessful try decided he will call me simply John.

Kristopher ütles ...


Unknown ütles ...

Tõnu is an Estonian version of Anton/Anthony/Tony -- etymologically by no means an original name.

And names line Anna, Marta, Johannes and Karl are quite popular these days. Although by far the two most popular names in Estonia are Aleksandr and Anastasia.

(You can keep track of ecent changes here [siseministeeriumi pressiteated].)

Unknown ütles ...

btw ... the only problem I can see with the name Anna (and other "imperative" names) is the meaning. If the possibility of making fun with it is a problem (I don't think it is).

The most famous among the "imperative" names is Aita-Leida Kuusepuu (meaning "Help me find the spruce tree" -- probably there is no such person but who knows). And there has been at least one Kallista ("give me a hug" ... although that's supposed to bee a Greek name or something with the stress on 2nd syllable -- so theoretically it has no meaning) -- author of a French-Estonian dictionary.

plasma-jack ütles ...

Wow! Martin, Oskar, Luisa and Marta? Sounds like bloody "Pisuhänd".

Giustino ütles ...

I'd go for a unique Estonian name every time.

Having an Italian name limits your options. If our last name was 'Smith' we could have lots of fun because 'Vahur Smith' sounds like something out of a Daniel Defoe novel.

But 'Priit Petrone' sounds tacky. Many Italians in America have tried to give their kids 'normal' names, but names like "Jordan Abbandando" have never sat right with me.

LPR ütles ...

My uncle's name was Uku. Never thought it was a kiddie name.

LPR ütles ...

Justin, if you have a boy, name him Peeter. His buddys will know him as Petrooni Pets.

Frank ütles ...

One story without being able to give the details or a valid source respectively:

In the countryside surnames sometimes were more or less dealt out to the Estonians by the German landlords who acted as some sort of local officials. The Estonian in question would be asked what surname he had in mind to bear, but there was no guarantee that his proposal was accepted and registered in the end. More often than not he was presented with a suitable suggestion.

There are anecdotes that some villagers pulled the baron´s leg by suggesting well-known aristocratic names as their future surnames.

By the way: to be addressed not by your surname but the name of your farm or homestead is not nordic, you will find it (in bloom, in some places) also in - for example - Austria and Bavaria.

Giustino ütles ...

By the way: to be addressed not by your surname but the name of your farm or homestead is not nordic, you will find it (in bloom, in some places) also in - for example - Austria and Bavaria.

I don't think I said that it was. I said that Anna is a popular name across the nordic countries. It is also the name of a popular brand of cookies:


I really like those cookies. It may have influenced the naming process.

Anonüümne ütles ...

But you didn't mention names like Rahe, Tuule, Helin, Krõõt, Vihm, Torm, Põvvat, Kõu, etc. Those have always felt like real Estonian names to me.
We named our daughter Marta too, after husbands grandgrandmother. And I was thinking of keeping Margaret for the future. So you are making me a copycat now ;)
And with the "imperative" name Aita-Leida recalls me also Anna-Minna (meaning: Give it a go!)

Giustino ütles ...

We named our daughter Marta too, after husbands grandgrandmother. And I was thinking of keeping Margaret for the future. So you are making me a copycat now ;)

Ah, but we are copycats too. I think the name 'Marta' came up when we were on Hiiumaa. I saw it on a tombstone and I thought it sounded good.

But, there were two 'Marta Maria's in our life at that time. Our niece had a classmate named 'Marta Marie' -- and my Spanish friend had a sister named 'Marta Maria.' So I guess we were influenced as well :)

Unknown ütles ...
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