Linnéa, Vanamo

Gender: Feminine
Origin: Finnish/Swedish
Meaning: “twinflower.”

There is the pretty, exotic and no-frills Vanamo and then there is the sweet, little Swede, Linnea. How are these two names related, you may ask? Well, Vanamo is the direct Finnish translation of Linnea. Now, you may be wondering why the Finns came up with a completely new name when they could just use Linnea itself.
To make a long story short, Finland had been under Swedish rule for a couple centuries and many Finns were forced to take Swedish names in previous eras, at the turn of the 19th century, when Finland had gained its autonomy as a Russian Duchy, there was a sudden revival of all things Finnish: including the language. Previously, Swedish was the official language of Finland and the Finnish language had almost been driven to the verge of extinction. As a result, a lot of new Finnish names cropped up, many being inspired by some common Swedish word names which had been popular in Finland under the Swedish Empire. For example the traditional feminine Swedish name of Saga, which is from the Old Norse word for a story, fairytale, legend or fable became Satu in Finnish. This is how Vanamo had come about, the name Linnea, which had already been around for quite a while was directly translated into Vanamo.

As for the history of Linnea. Linnea started off as a botanical name. It is the scientific name for the twinflower. The flower got its name from the famous Swedish botanist, Charles Linneaus (1707-1778). Linnaeus had a particular affinity to the twin flower and therefore named the flower for himself. Likewise, the twinflower is the national flower of Sweden and the name has been consistently popular in Sweden for the past few centuries. It currently comes in at # 7 in Sweden. It is also a popular name in Norway, coming in at # 1.

The story doesn’t end here. If you want to dig deeper into the etymology of the surname Linnaeus. Either way, it still comes out being a botanical name. Carl Linneaus’ father actually came up with the surname himself. It was during a time when Swedes were officially taking surnames. Before, the Swedish surname system was very much the same as the one in modern Iceland, where people were known by their first names and then their father’s name followed by the suffix of son or dotter, depending on your gender. Since the population in Sweden was getting larger, the familial system of Joe son of Joe wasn’t working so well anymore, so many Swedes were required to take official surnames that did not change with the generations. Many came up with the typical, run of the mill Olson and Larson, and others, especially the nobility, came up with more creative surnames. In the case of Linnaeus’ father, whose real names was Nils Ingmarsson, it was fashionable for academics to take on Latin based surnames, as Latin was the lingua franca of the time. He came up with Linnaeus, being a latinization of the Swedish Linnagard literally meaning “linden farm.” It was the name of the warden’s farm, and the name denoted the large linden tree that grew on the property. Later, Carl would sign his name as Carolus Linnaeus, but in everyday life, he went by the more Swedish sounding, Carl Von Linné, von was added on later after gaining distinction as a scientist. A sign of nobility.

So there you have the history of Linnea and Vanamo. The pronunciation of both names are tricky. Linnea in Swedish would be something like (lin-NEH-yah), the accented E as kinda like the e sound on yeah. It’s a short E thats very drawn out, despite the French looking accent mark, it really shouldn’t sound anything like the French accented E which is more like an ay sound. If you’d like to hear what I’m talking about, you can hear Linnea being pronounced by a native Swede here: http://www.forvo.com/word/linnéa/. As for Vanamo, remember that in Finnish, the stress is always on the first syllable, so it should sound something like (VAHN-uh-MO). The official name day for Vanamo is Aug 3rd. To hear Vanamo spoken in real life, go herehttp://www.forvo.com/search/Vanamo/.
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