Tala

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This name is one of the ultimate cross-cultural names, it has various meanings and legitimate origins from Europe, to Asia and to the Middle East.

The name has been recorded in use in Northern Europe since Medieval Times, possibly being a contracted form of Adalheidis, its offshoots of Talea and Talina have experienced minor recent resurgence in Germany. Tala also been used in most Scandinavian countries, though today, it is considered very archaic.

Tala appears in a 14th-century Swedish folk ballad Herr Holger (which is the subject of a 1996 song by the Swedish band, Gamarna). The ballad recounts the exploits of a greedy tax official who steals tax money for himself. He is caught by King Christian and beheaded. He is condemned to hell, but is able to return to warn his wife, Fru Tala (Lady Tala). He pleads with Tala to return all the wealth she inherited from him, (which in turn was the result of his stolen money), to its rightful owner or else she will experience a similar fate. Tala refuses, as she would rather condemn herself to hell than give up her wealth.

Its Finnish and Estonian form is Taala and Taali, and a Scandinavian  masculine version is Tale.

Tala is also the name of a Tagalog goddess of the morning and evening star. In one legend, she is the daughter of the sun god Arao and the moon goddess, Buan. Arao and Buan had a large number of star-children, the eldest being Tala. Arao was afraid his heat would burn up his star-children, so he and Buan decided to destroy them, but Buan reneged on her promise and hid her children behind clouds. Arao got wind of Buan’s secret and, according to legend, continues to try and destroy her, which explains the phenomenon of eclipses. Each morning, Buan runs to hide her children behind the clouds, her eldest Tala being the lookout before dawn, being the personification of the morning star.

In another Tagalog legend, Tala is the daughter of the god Bathala. She is the sister of Hanan (the goddess of the morning) and Mayari, another moon goddess.

In Tagalog, tala means “star; planet; celestial body.”

Tala was recently a hit song by Filipina singer, Sarah Geronimo (2016).

In Indian classical music, Tala is the term used to describe musical meter and rhythm. It literally means “clapping; tapping.”

Tala can also be Arabic تالة (Tala) meaning “Turmeric tree; turmeric spice” or a “small potted palm.”

In Amazigh, one of the languages of the Berber people, Tala means “source; spring or fountain.”

Tala is also Farsi and means “gold.”

In Italy and Romania, Tala is used as a diminutive form of Natalia, a la Romanian actress, Tala Birell (1907-1958).

Tala is the name of a type of decidous tree native to tropical and subtropical South America. Its scientific name is celtis tala.

Other meanings include:

  • It is the Azeri word for “glade.”
  • tālā is the Samoan currency and is believed to be a phonetic corruption of the English word dollar.
  • In Polish, it is a feminine form of the Greek, Thales, though it is seldom used, it does appear on the nameday calendar.
  • In Pashtun, Təla/Tala means “weighing scale” and is the name of the seventh month of the Afghan Calendar, its meaning referring to the Zodiac sign of Libra.
  • It is the name of a minor Chadic language in Nigeria.

What the name is not:

Many baby name sources have dubiously listed this name as meaning “wolf” in “Native American,” (which is not a language by the way), while other sources have listed this as being Cherokee or Iroquois for “wolf hunter,” but there are no legitimate Cherokee or Iroquois sources collaborating this information. In fact, Native Languages of the Americas has written a fabulous list pertaining to faux Native American baby names and Tala made the list.

As a closing to this post, I recommend this blog post written by a mother explaining the reason why she chose this name for her daughter. It is from 2006, but still a wonderful read D-Log: The Many Meanings of Tala.

Sources

Koda

01-399-bear-cubI thought this would be a straightforward post when I first decided to feature this name, but as I did more research, the name started to provide some interesting and complicated layers.

The name’s recent use is most likely in reference to the Lakota-Dakota-Sioux Native American word meaning, “friend.” It is sometimes transliterated as Kota.

It is also the name of a tree that grows in Asia, also known as the Ehretia acuminata it is commonly referred to as Koda in Australia, though I couldn’t find the etymology in this case.

Other links include:

  • It is a common Japanese surname (again, I couldn’t find its etymology)
  • It is the name of a minority language spoken in India and Bangladesh.

The name came into widespread use for boys after it was used on a character in the 2003 animated film, Brother Bear.

It gets complicated when I dug through the historical records. The earliest records I could find for Koda were to two females who were born in the 18th-century in the United States. I am not certain if in this case, the name was used in reference to its indigenous source. It definitely became more common in the 1800s, and it was far more common on females than for males. Some of these bearers were born in Yugoslavia and Poland. Being Polish myself, I have never heard of this name, so perhaps it is a mistranslation for some other name, but I do not know for what. I am rather familiar with Serbo-Croatian names as well and I cannot think of what its source could be. It does appear on males in 19th-century records, but there are far less of them, and many of them are German immigrants (perhaps related to Konrad). In any case, the majority of the records are of white American females.

These days, the name seems to have become mostly a male name, which goes to show that sometimes, names that started off as female can also be stolen by the boys; as some namenerds have lamented about for years when it comes to trendy male-turned-female names such as Ashley, Avery and Sydney.

The name first appeared in the U.S. Top 1000 Male Names in 2004, coming in as the 935th most popular male name. It fell off the charts and reappeared in 2016, ranking in at 927.

Sources

http://www.native-languages.org/dakota.htm#language
https://www.behindthename.com/name/koda/submitted
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koda
https://www.familysearch.org

Ilana

Origin: Hebrew אִילָנָה
Meaning: “tree”.
(ee-LAH-nah).

The name comes directly from the Hebrew word for tree. Another female form is Ilanit (ee-LAH-neet) אִילָנִית. She is borne by Israeli pop-singer, known simply as Ilanit (b.1947) her real name being Hanna Drezner-Tzakh.

As of 2010, Ilana was the 255th most popular female name in France. While in the Netherlands, she comes in as the 321st most popular female name, (2011).

The masculine form is Ilan.

Phoebe

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Greek
Meaning: bright; light
(FEE-bee).

To many Americans, Phoebe brings to mind the wacky yet lovable character of Phoebe Buffay on the popular SitCom, Friends. To the British, she is of an upper crust trendy sort, to Christians, she is an admirable woman in the New Testament, and to the Greeks, she is a classic, featured in both the Greek Orthodox calendar of saints as well as in Greek myth.

The name is derived from the Greek, Phoibus, which means “bright, light.”

In Greek Mythology, Phoebe was a pre-Olympic goddess, a Titan. She was the goddess of the moon and the consort of her own brother Coeus, from him, she mothered Asteria and Leto and was believed to be the grandmother of Artemis and Apollo.

The Greeks later associated her with the goddess Artemis. Phoebe was often used as an epithet for Artemis, while the masculine form, Phoebus, was used for Apollo.

Phoebe was also associated with the Oracle of Delphi.

There are a few other Phoebes mentioned in ancient Greek religion, one was a Heliade nymph, another was the daughter of Leucippus and Philodice.

Phoebe, daughter of Leucippus, and her sister Hilaeira, were priestesses to Artemis and Athena. They were both betrothed to Idras and Lynceus. Castor and Pollux, the divine twins, were so impressed by their beauty, that they fell in love with the two maidens and carried them off for themselves. Idras and Lynceus, outraged, sought the two immortals but were both slain. Nevertheless, Phoebe married Pollux. It was also the name of a sister to Leda.

In the New Testament, the name is borne by a woman of Cenchrae, many scholars argue that she was a deaconess, the Catholic Church especially seems to support this stance. She is also believed to have brought Paul’s Epistle of the Romans to Rome. She is a canonized saint in both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches, both rites hold her feast on September 3rd.

Fast forward to the 1500s and you will find the name Phebe, (an older English spelling), as the name of one of Shakespeare’s characters in his play, As You Like It. In the modern American Classic, she is the younger sister of Holden Caulfied in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Polish Science Fiction writer, Jacek Duraj, uses the name as an acronym for post-human beings in his novel Perfekcyjna niedoskonałość.

Phoebe is also the name of a genus of evergreen tree, a species of bird and a moon of the planet, Saturn.

As of 2010, Phoebe was the 29th most popular female name in England/Wales. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 56 (Australia, NSW, 2010)
  • # 90 (Northern Ireland, 2010)
  • # 93 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 309 (United States, 2010)

Other forms of the name include:

  • Febe (Asturian/Danish/German/Italian/Norwegian/Polish/Portuguese/Spanish/Swedish)
  • Foibe (Danish)
  • Phoebe (Dutch/English/German)
  • Phœbé/Phébé (French)
  • Phoibe (German)
  • Phoebi/Phoibi (Greek)
  • Feba (Serbo-Croatian)
  • Foibe (Swedish)

Pinja

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Estonian/Finnish
Meaning: “pine.”

The name is derived from the Finnish word for a species of pine tree known as pinus pinea. This might be the perfect autumnal name. Its designate name-day is October 6.

As of 2011, Pinja was the 35th most popular female name in Finland.

Björk, Bjørk

Gender: feminine
Origin: Icelandic/Faroese
Meaning: “birch, birch tree.”
(BYERK) Pronunciation can be heard here: http://www.forvo.com/word/björk/

Indie rock star, Björk Guðmundsdóttir (b.1965), made this one a household name, though it is now a recognized name outside of Iceland, it will probably always be associated with the singer to non-Icelanders.

Björk is the Icelandic word for birch tree, when spelled Bjørk, it has the same meaning in both Faroese and Norwegian. It is interesting to note that björk is the modern Swedish word for birch tree, though neither nouns are used as a given names in Swedish or Norwegian. However, it is a very common and ordinary female name in both Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

As of 2010, Bjørk was the 8th most popular female name in the Faroe Islands.

Fidan

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Turkish
Meaning: “sapling.”
(fee-DAHN)

The name comes directly from the Turkic meaning “sapling; young tree.”

The name is currently the 4th most popular female name in Azerbaijan.

The name is exclusively feminine in both Azerbaijan and Turkey and always seems to have been used as a female given name, but in Albania it is a common male name. It is from the ancient Illyrian meaning “young tree” and does share the same etymology and roots as the Turkish as Illyrian was distantly related to Turkish.

Ilan

Gender: Masculine
Origin: Hebrew  אִילָן
Meaning: “tree.”
(EE-lahn)

The name is derived from the modern Hebrew word for tree.

It is currently the 43rd most popular male name in French-speaking Switzerland, (2010) and the 71st most popular in France, (2009).

Its sudden popularity outside of Israel, and furthermore, outside the Jewish community is a mystery. Perhaps it was brought to attention via French cinematographer, Ilan Duran Cohen (b.1963).

The name may also be used in reference to the Welsh male name. In this case, the name is of uncertain origin but was borne by an obscure Welsh saint.

A feminine form is Ilana.

Malina

The name could be of several different sources and etymologies depending on the bearer of the name.

It could be from the name of a Greenlandic solar diety and according to legend, she is constantly fleeing from her brother Annigan (the moon god) due to an old disagreement. The reason behind their fight varies from legend to legend.

It could also be Scottish, a feminine form of Malcolm.

In Polish, it is from the word for raspberry and is occasionally used as a given name. It received a negative opinion from the Polish Language Council, but this has not banned the name from usage. It was the pseudonym of a few famous Polish women, one being Malina Michalska (b.1916 née Maria Michalska) a famous dancer and Polish-German actress, Malina Ebert (b.1976) née Monika. It is the word for raspberry in several other Slavic languages, such as Czech, Slovak and Bulgarian.

Mălina is Romanian name derived from the Romanian word mălin meaning bird cherry tree. The name was borne by Romanian singer, Mălina Olinescu (1974-2011).

In addition, the name could also be Scandinavian, an elaborated form of Malin.

Currently, Malina is the 272nd most popular female name in Germany, (2011).