Amber

418px-Gouttes-drops-resine-2Gender: Feminine
Origin: English

September is almost over and the season of Fall is really starting to hit home. The trees are finally shedding their leaves and some are even exposing their yellow brown colors before falling off the branches. The name Amber has always brought to mind the autumnal season for me. Possibly due to her brownish yellow hues that she is known for, though Amber also comes in spring greens and bright yellows. The appellation itself gets somewhat of a bad rap. I have heard her being classified as “trashy” and even as an “exotic dancer” name. She didn’t seem to hit big really till the late 1970s to early-mid 1980s. Ever curious as to the origins and beginnings of all given names, I decided to track her down. How and when did Amber begin to be used as a first name? I know that in other cultures, the equivalent forms such as Dzintra in Latvian, Gintare in Lithuanian have been used as given names for centuries. Evidently, Amber is derived from an Arabic word ‘anbar. Amber of course is the word for the fossilized resin used in jewellery as well as the name of a colour. Its usage seems to have begun around the 19th-century. It was brought to the spot-light thanks to Katherine Winsor’s explicit 1944 novel Forever Amber. It was later turned into a movie, and the book sparked quite a bit of controversy at the time of its publication. Forever Amber tells the story of  a woman by the name of Amber St. Clair, living in 17th-century England, who manages to sleep her way to the top by hanging around with British aristocrats. I found this very interesting since Amber does seem to have those associations for many people, and I truly wonder if Katherine Winsor is the culprit for Amber’s sullied reputation. I suppose we will never know.

As for her popularity, the highest that Amber ever reached in the United States was #13 way back in 1986. I found this rather surprising as I don’t know many girls born in that same year named Amber. Compare that to this past year, Amber remains in the top 1000, but has slid down to # 224 (2010). Surprisingly, Amber is quite popular in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In Belgium alone, she came in at #24 for the most popular female names in Belgium, (2008). Meanwhile, over in the Netherlands, she stands at # 36 as of 2010. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 45 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 52 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 65 (Northern Ireland 2010)
  • # 71 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 80 (Australia, NSW, 2010)

The French form of Ambre has recently become a trend in France, in 2009, she was the 29th most popular female name in France. There is the more elaborate French form of Ambrine. In Italian there is the form of Ambra. Another interesting fact is that the Greek female given name of Electra is related to the word for amber in Greek, which is electron. In Hebrew, the name is Inbar, and in recent years, has been used as a given name. Ámbar is the Spanish form, also occasionally used as a given name in Spanish-speaking countries.

The name has been given to the United State’s Child Abduction Emergency code the Amber Alert. Originally named for Amber Hangermann the term is now used as a backronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

Ambra

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Italian
Meaning: “amber.”
(AHM-brah)

The name comes directly from the Italian word for amber and has been used as a given name since Medieval times. It went out of usage after the 16th-century and was revived in the 20th-century.

It is currently the 32nd most popular female name in Italian-speaking, Switzerland, (2010).

Lithuanian Names

Each weekend I will do an installation of names from different categories. I would have liked to preferably do Saturday, but I was running late this week 😉

Lithuania  is a country that lies in Northeast Europe, bordering Poland, Latvia, Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Once the largest country in Europe (during the 17th-century), she now only consists of 3.3 million people, the majority of whom are Lithuanian by ethnicity.

I will not bore you with intricate details of Lithuania’s rich history, but to make a long story short, Lithuania has been occupied by Poland and Russia and has resisted German occupation several times. She was one of the last countries in Europe to accept Christianity as their official religion (circ. 1385) and in the Middle Ages, she formed a powerful commonwealth with Poland.

One of the most interesting features of Lithuania is their language. Lithuanian is considered one of the oldest and one of the most pure derivations of Indo-European. Famous French linguist, Antoine Meillet, once said that “anyone wishing to hear how Indo-Europeans spoke should come and listen to a Lithuanian peasant” (Antoine Meillet)

Since Lithuanian is thought to be the closest form of Proto-Indo-European in modern linguistics, linguists are able to compare modern Lithuanian words with Sanskrit. Some words are identical in both languages, for instance, sunus (son) >(Sanskrit; Lithuanian). Words that are almost identical but slightly different include: (LIT stands for Lithuanian while SKT stands for Sanskrit).

  • LIT dūmas; SKT dhumas  (smoke)
  • LIT vyras; SKT vira (man; hero)
  • LIT dantys; SKT dantas (teeth)
  • LIT naktys; SKT nakt (night)

Lithuanian masculine names are usually formed by ending in the suffix-as; -ys; -is while feminine names usually end in -a or

It is interesting to note that if one studies the top 10 most popular female names in Lithuania, there seems to be a strong preference for names that end in , compare that to the top 10 of a previous generation, where all the names had a tendency to end in an -a.

Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (Total Population, 2008)

Ona

Irena

Janina

Kristina

Danutė

Lina

Regina

Aldona

Rasa

Daiva

Top 10 Most Popular Female Names (babies, 2009)

Emilija

Gabija

Urtė

Ugnė

Gabrielė

Kamilė

Austėja

Goda

Ieva

Viltė

Janina is a definite Polish borrowing, something which is often seen in Lithuanian names. Irena, Ona, Kristina and Regina are all saints names, which would not be surprising to see in Catholic Lithuania, even during Soviet times. Names like Danutė, Lina, Aldona, Rasa and Daiva, are all native Lithuanian names with no English equivalents.

Danutė in particular is a classic that has been used at least since the 14th-century. It is a name of uncertain derivation, but is also found in Poland in the form of Danuta.

Aldona is another choice that has been in usage for centuries which is of uncertain meaning or origin. Some sources contend that it is an archaic Belarusian form of Eudocia.

Lina is the feminine form of Linas which comes directly from the Lithuanian word for “flax.” Rasa (dew) and Daiva (deity) are also Lithuanian word names.

Names from nature and Lithuanian mythology seem to be popular choices. Gabija and Austėja both reflect this (see the earlier entries for Gabija and Austėja-soon to come). Ugnė is pulled from nature, meaning “fire”, Viltė is from the Lithuanian word for hope and Goda seems to be a name related to an action, possibly derived from the Lithuanian verb godyti meaning “to anticipate.”

Emilija (Emily), Kamilė (Camilla), Ieva (Eve), Urtė (Dorothy) and Gabrielė (Gabriella) are all Lithuanian equivalents to a saint’s name or a Biblical name.

Since Lithuanians are fiercely proud of their language and culture, it is no wonder that they have a tendency to choose names that are distinctively Lithuanian, unlike other EU members who currently have a tendency to pick names that do not reflect a particular language of origin, as can be reflected in the Top Names of other countries.

Some of the most popular masculine names include, (when possible, equivalents are in parenthesis):

Top 10 Male Names (total population, 2008)

Jonas (John)

Vytautas

Antanas (Anthony)

Tomas (Thomas)

Juozas (Joseph)

Mindaugas

Kęstutis

Darius

Andrius (Andrew)

Saulius

Top Ten Male Names (for babies, 2009)

Matas (Mathias)

Lukas (Lucas)

Nojus

Kajus (Caius)

Dovydas (David)

Dominykas (Dominic)

Mantas

Rokas (Rock)

Jokūbas

Augustas

Catholic saints names are definitely more preferred for males, still, names like Vytautas, Mantas, Nojus, Mindaugas and Kęstutis are very ancient Lithuanian names with no equivalents in any other language.

Since I am most likely writing to an Anglo-phone audience, you must be wondering if there are any authentic Lithuanian names compatible with the English language. Many parents are often on the look out for unique and unusual names, and Lithuanian names definitely have hundreds of possibilities to offer, some however, might be a pain in the neck for English speakers to pronounce, others, on the other hand, should be given consideration.

I have compiled a list of cool but similar alternatives of very popular names in North American and the United Kingdom

Instead of Madison/Madeleine go with Medeina

Instead of Ava go with Aiva (I-vah)

Instead of Chloe try Chloja (KLOY-a)

Instead of Samantha you might like Mantė (MAHN-tay; MAHN-te)

Instead of Grace you might like Gražina (grah-ZHIH-nah)

Instead of Gabriella try Gabija.

Instead of Audrey try Audra.

Instead of Miley try Meilė

Instead of Esme try Esmilė

Instead of Lily you might like Lelija (LEH-lee-yah)

Instead of Maximilian try Maksas

Finally, if you are one who is infatuated with Nevaeh and are daring enough to constantly correct people, then you might like the Lithuanian Danguolė (heaven; sky).

In the United Kingdom and the States, nature names seem to be on the rise, some parents may like the idea of using a word name, but are not daring enough to choose an obvious one. Choosing a word name from another language is a good way to hide the obviousness of a name from nature. Here is a selection of Lithuanian nature names that should not pose a problem with English-speakers:

Female

Indrė (name of a type of rush)

Lina (flax)

Mėta (mint)

Rasa (dew)

Svalia (name of a river)

Vaiva (rainbow)

Vėtra (tempest)


Male

Aras (eagle)

Joris (foliage green)

Tauras (Ox)

Vėjas (wind)

Names compatible with English:

Female

Dalia

Galia

Katrė

Milnora

Naura

Skaidra

Tulė

Vaida

Male

Danas

Grantas

Kastas

Mintas

Rimas

Vilnius

And finally, here are some Lithuanian equivalents to common English given names:

Female

Amber=Gintarė

Anna=Ona

Elizabeth=Elzbieta

Emma=Ema

Emily=Emilija

Jane=Joana

Katherine-Kotryna

Mary=Marija

Natalie=Natalija

Olivia=Olivija

Rose=Rozė

Summer=Vasarė

Male

Alexander=Aleksandras

Anthony=Antanas

Christopher=Kristofas

Daniel=Danielis

Jacob=Jokūbas

John=Jonas

Michael=Michaelas

Paul=Paulius

Thomas=Tomas

William=Vilimas

What are your favorite Lithuanian names? Would you use any in the above list?

Stay tuned for next weeks International Name Overview


Sources

Satineh

amberGender: Feminine
Origin: Armenian
Meaning: “amber.”
(sah-TEE-neh).

The name is derived from the Armenian word sat meaning “amber” with the feminine suffix-ineh. Other forms include Satenik and Satik. Diminutive forms are Sato, Satin and Saten.

Dzintars, Dzintra

Origin: Latvian
Meaning: “amber.”
(dZEEN-tahrs); (dZEEN-trah)

Dzintars and Dzintra are both indigenous Latvian names that were revived during the Latvian National Awakening of the 19th century. Dzintars comes directly from the Latvian word for amber and its feminine counterpart is Dzintra along with the more unusual feminine form of Dzintara. The Baltic sea and the surrounding countries are known for their very large natural amber resources. According to the Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, there were approximately 4,000 men in Latvia who bore the name Dzintars, while about 5,000 women bore the name Dzintra. Meanwhile, only 20 women bore the name Dzintara. Dzintars and Dzintra’s designated name day is September 4th. Dzintars is borne by Latvian football players Dzintars Sprogis (b. 1971) and Dzintars Zirnis (b. 1977) and is borne by Latvian pop singer Dzintars Cica (b. 1993). Due to its deep rich brown, green and yellow colours, amber is often associated with the autumn months.