Norwegian Names


In this week’s installation of Scandinavian names, we shall explore the forenames of the Norwegians.

Norway is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, boasting a population of 4.8 million people.

The United States has more people of Norwegian descent than in Norway, it is estimated that about 3 million Americans claim their primary heritage as Norwegian.

As for the language, Norwegian is an interesting one, for its quite intelligible for a Dane or Swede to understand, but it still has its differences. For one, the country has several dialects, and secondly, there are two official forms of written Norwegian, Bokmål (the most common) and the more “puristic” form of Nynorsk. Both written forms are taught in schools, used in public administration and so forth, but the vast majority of Norwegians (around 85-90 %) use Bokmål.

Between the 16th-19th-centuries, Norway was under Danish rule, as a result,  for several centuries, the official written language of Norway was actually Danish. The educated elite of Norwegian society wrote in a dialect known as Dano-Norwegian, an admixture of Danish writing into various Norse dialects that had existed in the region. From the 19th-century up until the early 20th, Norway had formed a union with Sweden. It was not until Norwegian independence, around 1905, when there was a Norwegian language revival.

Soon after Norwegian independence, there was a push to create a unique Norwegian dialect, separate from Danish. The brains behind such an endeavor were two linguists by the names of Marius Nygaard and Jonathan Aars, and their brainchild was created under the name of Bokmål.

Bokmål is essentially an adapted form of written Danish mixed with Norwegian phonology, and by 1929, Bokmål was officially adopted by the Norwegian government as the standard written language.

Nynorsk, the second most common written form of Norwegian, is used by just 10 % of the Norwegian population. This form of writing is based on a more puristic version of Modern Norwegian.

Nynorsk was created in the 1800s by the Norwegian linguist, Iver Aasen, as a way to establish an official Norwegian language in place of Danish.

As for current baby naming trends in Norway, the top 10 Norwegian names of 2009, are fairly classic and not overall distinctively Norwegian, but the majority of these names have been used in Norway for centuries.

Females

Emma

Nora

Thea

Emilie

Ida

Julie

Linnea

Sofie

Ingrid

Anna


Male

Emil

Oliver

Jonas

William

Magnus

Mathias

Sander

Adrian

Sebastian

Andreas

Among the popular female names in Norway, two-syllable classics tend to be the belle du jour, whilst among the males it tends to be classical names derived from Greek or Latin.

According to the Central Statistics Bureau of Norway, names that were popular 100 years ago are now back in the top 100. These particular names were also popular among Norwegian immigrants who settled within the United States, in fact, it is interesting to note that the top 10 names of Norway look strikingly similar to many names that appear in the top 100 for particular U.S. states

With the exception of Ireland, no other country contributed a larger percentage of immigration to the United States than Norway. Between 1825-1925, approximately 500,000 Norwegian individuals had immigrated to the United States. The original State of choices being Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the Dakotas.

Today, there are more than 4.5 million Americans who claim Norwegian ancestry. As a result, the United States picked up some Norwegian flavor that many Americans take for granted.

Many small Midwestern towns have a distinstive Norwegian influence, in North Dakota and parts of Minnesota, levse, a type of traditional Norwegian sugared bread, is a popular treat and lutefisk is an endearing part of Christmas dinner for many North Americans.

Perhaps the Norwegian flavor of some Americans has rubbed off on current trends in baby naming, some vaguely Norse names such as Emma, Emily, Ella, Oliver, Eric & Christian.

Below is a list of names (which have also been traditionally used in Norway) found in the top 100 most popular baby names from the top 10 American States with the highest Norwegian population.

Minnesota

  • Adrian # 78
  • Alexander # 6
  • Benjamin # 2
  • Anna # 20
  • Christian # 77
  • Daniel # 24
  • David # 49
  • Emma # 3
  • Ella # 6
  • Emily # 15
  • Eva # 52
  • Jacob # 5
  • Lilly # 93
  • Lucas # 36
  • Max # 79
  • Michael # 27
  • Nora # 51
  • Oliver # 42
  • Robert # 87
  • Samuel # 9
  • Sophie # 66
  • Thomas # 58
  • William # 3

Wisconsin

  • Adrian # 95
  • Alexander # 6
  • Anna # 25
  • Benjamin # 12
  • Christian # 75
  • Daniel # 36
  • David # 45
  • Emma # 3
  • Emily # 11
  • Ella # 7
  • Eva # 71
  • Jacob # 3
  • Lilly # 72
  • Lucas # 25
  • Max # 81
  • Michael # 21
  • Nora # 69
  • Oliver # 50
  • Sarah # 77
  • Sophie # 63
  • Thomas # 58
  • William # 11

California

  • Adrian # 16
  • Alexander # 5
  • Andrea # 20
  • Benjamin # 34
  • Christian # 24
  • David # 7
  • Emma # 5
  • Emily # 3
  • Ella # 41
  • Eric # 75
  • Eva # 97
  • Jacob # 4
  • Lucas # 53
  • Michael # 13
  • Oscar # 72
  • Robert # 57
  • Samuel # 39
  • Sarah # 37
  • Sophie # 73
  • Thomas # 93
  • William # 36

Washington

  • Alexander # 1
  • Adrian # 59
  • Andrea # 83
  • Anna # 23
  • Benjamin # 7
  • Clara # 99
  • Christian # 48
  • Daniel # 5
  • Emma # 4
  • Ella # 14
  • Eva # 52
  • Jacob # 2
  • Lucas # 32
  • Oliver # 53
  • Robert # 69
  • Samuel # 9
  • Sarah # 27
  • Sophie # 57
  • Thomas # 70

North Dakota

  • Alexander # 22
  • Anna # 18
  • Benjamin # 15
  • Christian # 96
  • Daniel # 53
  • David # 90
  • Ella # 4
  • Emily # 12
  • Emma # 3
  • Eva # 65
  • Jacob # 5
  • Lilly # 41
  • Lucas # 13
  • Michael # 28
  • Nora # 71
  • Oliver # 76
  • Robert # 99
  • Samuel # 33
  • Sophie # 27
  • Thomas # 58
  • William # 37

Illinois

  • Adrian # 39
  • Alexander # 1
  • Andrea # 61
  • Anna # 21
  • Benjamin # 17
  • Caroline # 88
  • Christian # 27
  • Daniel # 2
  • David # 11
  • Ella # 10
  • Emma # 4
  • Emily # 5
  • Eric # 87
  • Jacob # 3
  • Lucas # 37
  • Max # 92
  • Michael # 4
  • Oliver # 89
  • Robert # 66
  • Samuel # 36
  • Sarah # 32
  • Sophie # 94
  • Thomas # 52
  • William # 8

Iowa

  • Alexander # 13
  • Anna # 24
  • Benjamin # 16
  • Christian # 72
  • Daniel # 46
  • David # 49
  • Ella # 6
  • Emily # 12
  • Emma # 3
  • Eva # 98
  • Jacob # 1
  • Lilly # 71
  • Lucas # 42
  • Max # 70
  • Michael # 26
  • Nora # 82
  • Oliver # 85
  • Samuel # 23
  • Sarah # 72
  • Sophie # 70
  • Thomas # 71
  • William # 5

Oregon

  • Adrian # 59
  • Alexander # 1
  • Andrea # 64
  • Anna # 41
  • Benjamin # 10
  • Christian # 55
  • Daniel # 4
  • David # 19
  • Ella # 12
  • Emily # 4
  • Emma # 1
  • Eva # 59
  • Jacob # 3
  • Lilly # 53
  • Lucas # 31
  • Max # 95
  • Michael # 20
  • Oliver # 47
  • Samuel # 12
  • Sarah # 29
  • Sophie # 37
  • Thomas # 75
  • William # 9

South Dakota

  • Alexander # 30
  • Anna # 30
  • Benjamin # 24
  • Christian # 93
  • Daniel # 39
  • David # 51
  • Ella # 11
  • Emily # 12
  • Emma # 1
  • Eva # 97
  • Jacob # 7
  • Lilly # 75
  • Lucas # 49
  • Max # 61
  • Michael # 20
  • Oliver # 52
  • Samuel # 29
  • Sarah # 65
  • Sophie # 34
  • Thomas # 62
  • William # 11

Many of the above may not be obviously Norwegian, but many of these names are considered just as “Classic” in Norway as they are in the United States, and it is not a bad theory to suggest that many of these names within the last 5 years have been popularized by Americans who want to somehow return to their roots. Since at least 3% of the American population claims Norwegian descent, some Americans may have been opting for names that are neither obviously American nor Norwegian, yet at the same time honours their heritage in some way, without being overtly “foreign”. Names such as Anna, Emma, Sophie, Christian, Thomas & Jacob. Names that a great-grandchild of a Norwegian immigrant may have turned to for inspiration when naming their own child.

Perhaps you are a one of the many descendants of the Norwegians who settled these shores. Are you looking for a name to honour your hertiage? Below is a list of Norwegian names, (albeit some may be rare in their home countries), that are quite usable in an English-speaking society.

Here are some Norwegian alternatives to some very popular names:

Instead of Anthony=============Anton

Instead of Audrey=============Audrun

Instead of Brittany============Brytteva

Instead of Ella===============Ellaug or Ellevine

Instead of Emily=============Amalie

Instead of Eric/Erik===========Eirik (I-rik)

Instead of Isabella============Iselin

Instead of Jordan for a girl======Jorunn

Instead of Olivia=============Ovidia/Olava

Instead of Oliver=============Olav/Olaf

Instead of Lily==============Lilleba

Instead of Madison===========Magny

Instead of Michael===========Mikkel

Instead of Regan=============Reidun

Instead of Rory for a boy=======Roar

Instead of Sophia=============Sofine

Like Swedes, Norwegians have had a history for their fondness for smush and double names, below is a list of some Norwegian double or smush female names. Many of these are quite compatible with English:

Smushes & Doubles

  • Annelill
  • Elselill
  • Emma-Sophie
  • Ida-Marie
  • Iselilja
  • Karianne
  • Lottelise
  • Olise
  • Sirianna
  • Teoline
  • Trinelise

In recent years, some Norwegian parents have opted for Nature names, some of these are actually quite ancient and can be traced back to Viking period.

Below is a list of Norwegian/word names which would easily work just well on an Anglo-phone child.

Norwegian Nature/Word Names

Female

  • Edel (noble)
  • Fryd ( joy)
  • Fiolett (Violet; purple)
  • Gry (dawn)
  • Kamille (chamomile)
  • Lill (lilac)
  • Liv (life)
  • Mai (May)
  • Sol (sun)
  • Solvår (Spring-sun)
  • Svana (swan)
  • Tora (thunder)
  • Vår (Spring)
  • Vesla (little)
  • Vilda (wild)

Male

  • Ask (Ash)
  • Elg (moose)
  • Hauk (hawk)
  • Oleander (oleander)
  • Ørn (Eagle)
  • Rein (reindeer)
  • Storm (storm)
  • Timian (thyme)
  • Trygg (Safe)
  • Varg (wolf)

Finally, here is a list of traditional Norwegian names that might seem appealing to an Anglo-phone parent looking to bestow a unique name on their child.

Norwegian Names Compatible in English

Female

  • Bergly (rare in Norway)
  • Cecilie
  • Christiane
  • Dagrun (rare in Norway)
  • Ellida
  • Evin (rare in Norway)
  • Fia
  • Hedda
  • Hill/Hildri (rare in Norway)
  • Ina
  • Kari
  • Kirsti
  • Liva
  • Maren
  • Olea
  • Olina
  • Siri
  • Sunniva
  • Taran
  • Tomine
  • Vessa (rare in Norway)

Male

  • Andor
  • Audun
  • Erlend
  • Erling
  • Finn
  • Geir
  • Haakon
  • Havard
  • Hemming
  • Jonas
  • Kai
  • Magnus
  • Morten
  • Runar
  • Sander
  • Sofus
  • Tallak
  • Thor/Tor
  • Torger
  • Vidar

Finally, also keep in mind that in Norway there are some naming laws, for example, you cannot give a child a surname as a first name. So Anderson is definitely out! You also cannot bestow a name that could potentially cause emotional damage to the child.

Sources

  1. http://www.norskenavn.no/jentenavn.php?antallnavn=1000&bokstav=S
  2. http://www.barnimagen.com/felles/bryllup_og_daap/trenger_dere_et_gammelt_norsk_navn
  3. http://www.hf.uio.no/iln-dyn/publikumstjenester/sporjekassa/person/
  4. http://www.ssb.no/navn/
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