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.