Saturday, February 23, 2008

Finnish Meaning Names, Part 2: Elements and Weather

Taivas - "sky/heaven". 2 men. Sky/e and Skylar have become popular in English-speaking countries, but the same will probably never happen to Taivas, which also means heaven and is therefore a pretty sappy connotation for many Finnish people. I know Heaven/Nevaeh are popular too, but this somehow sounds silly to Finns. The name Taivas has been used once between 1980-99 and once between 2000-07. I'm a bit surprised it was allowed. Maybe it's a middle name.

- an older, more poetic name for sky. 87 men. The name debuted in the early 1900's, perhaps because of the Kalevala where the name appears (there was a big boom of more Finnish names around the time we became independent). The peak was 1960-79 with 55 new Taivos, but the name hasn't been used in the 2000's at all. It's not a bad name, and some other male names use the -ai-o structure (Aimo, Raimo). I would associate it with Toivo (hope) though, and that's an über-old man name, so I'm not sure I'd use this on a child.

- "air". 2236 women. Most common between 1900-19, perhaps because of the similarity to Hilma. For the same reason, the name doesn't sound very beautiful pretty to my ears. Extremely rare in the latest decades, with only 18 girls given this name in the 2000's. Might come from Ilmari.

Ilmari - 109,619 men. This name is so common that it doesn't really register as "air" anymore; it just sounds like a regular male name. The name comes from Kalevala. Ilmarinen was the blacksmith who made the Sampo, a mythical iron object that brought good fortune. Ilmarinen is a last name, but the shorter form Ilmari has been adopted as a first name. Steadily popular, with over 10,000 new Ilmaris in each 20 years. Most common in 1940-59.

Ilmatar - 134 women. The -tar, -tär ending is very archaic (similar to the English -ress in waitress, seamtress, etc.). Surprisingly, the name is only now peaking in popularity, with 63 girls in the 2000's. However, since it's three syllables, this name is unlikely to become a popular first name, and will most likely be used as a second or third name.

Tuuli - "Wind". 5462 women, 2 men. One of my personal favorites, but Finnish people aren't big fans of "literal" nature names like this. Vastly unpopular until 1980-99, when 3031 new Tuulis were born. Already 1251 in this decade, so this might be becoming a big trend name.

Tuulia - 17,927 women. WOW. I had no idea this name was so popular. I did know Tuula was, but not this one. Over 9000 Tuulias were born in the 1980-99 era, so this is also a very young woman name. I think that, since it's three-syllabic, this might be more common as a middle name, thus explaining why I don't hear it much.

Tuulikki - 73,229 women and 2 men. OK, this is bona fide middle name material, with the three syllables and the -kki ending. This is actually the oldest wind-related name in Finland. It was most common in the 1940's and 50's, with 29,768 Tuulikkis born in those decades. Middle names don't tend to wear out as quickly as first names, and the Finnish junior tradition is more likely to show in middle than first names. These two things might help explain why the name hasn't waned as much as you might think; 1303 Tuulikkis have been born in this decade, with one born this year.

Tuula - 41,158 women and 1 man (in 1940-59 - there's a man named Tuula still alive? Poor guy). The name book tells me that this name was derived from the older Tuulikki, but might also have to do with a popular song that had a tralalala-type lyric tula tullan tulatulatei. I'm not sure if I should take that last explanation without a grain of salt, but it's at least interesting. Tuuli is a young girl name, while Tuula is a big middle-aged lady name: 29,229 Tuulas were born between 1940 and 59, so that makes up for more than half of all Tuulas. As you can see above, this was also the big Tuulikki era. Predictably, there's been a giant drop after that. Among the middle-aged lady names, this is actually pretty good - it's not as matronly as some of them, and it has a nice airy feeling. Still, I probably would pick Tuuli for a daughter over Tuula because of the age connotation.

Pilvi: "Cloud". 1257 women. One of my favorites again, but see Tuuli for why it's never become very popular. 733 Pilvis were born between 1980 and 99, and the name wasn't used at all before 1941, which makes it a very "young girl" name. 215 new Pilvis in the 2000's shows that it might have plateaud. I'd imagine that fans of old-lady names Elvi and Helvi, wanting to be a bit more original, might have come across this word with -lvi in the end - and it has a nice nature meaning too.

Aurinko: "The sun". 40 women, 6 men. The first person called Aurinko is a woman born in 1976, so this is a very recent name. Until 2000, it was actually more common among boys, until 37 new female Aurinkos were born in this decade. The closeness to female names Aura and Auri might have to do with this becoming a female name. However, one boy has also been given this name in the 2000's. This name is a handful with the connotations - a child named sun would of course be expected to be "sunny", or happy. It sounds like a name that you'd potentially curse because people always expect you to live up to it.

Kuu: "The moon". 15 women, 7 men. Again, a very recent name - the first female Kuu was born in 1974, and the first male in 1987. In this decade, seven girls and five boys have been given this name. It's rare enough that all the parents of little Kuus probably think they're unique. I like the moon, but the word kuu is very short and childish. It's basically just a long oo sound. Like Aurinko, the connotations are also too strong. It's not as demanding as the sun, but it's still quite too poetic.

Tähti: "Star". 47 women, 2 men. The first female Tähti was born before 1900, but this name never really took on. 24 girls and one boy have been given this name in the 2000's. Seems like this, along with Aurinko and Kuu, is becoming more popular, even if the numbers are still very small. The connotations in Finnish are the same as in English - stars in the sky, stars on stage and so forth. It sounds like a name that people could view as arrogant or vain, rather than pretty and poetic. I wouldn't use it. I also don't like the ä there, or the closeness to the word täti, "aunt".

Otava: "The Big Dipper". 166 men and 3 women. This name debuted as a male name in the 1920's but only became popular in this decade, with 146 Otavas in the 2000's. Until the year 2000, there were only 19 boys with the name, so it's a real trend-riser. The women named Otava are much more scattered: One in 1900-19, one in 1980-99 and one in the 2000's. Even if the name ends in -a and has the -va ending that some Finnish female names (Virva, Mirva, Ritva) share, it seems to be seen as a male name. Otava isn't a bad word, but there's a big publishing house by that name, and it's such a strong association for me that I wouldn't name my child this.


Aalto: "Wave". 6 women and 113 men. Must be the final o that makes this more of a male name. Of course, women had their own form, Aallotar, and in fact Aalto hasn't been used on a woman since 1930. Peaked in 1920-39 with 49 new Aaltos. Ten boys have been given this name in the 2000's. It's one of those names with pretty strong connotations - poetic, yes, but also reminds me of Finnish designer Alvar Aalto. It's in use as a last name, which is rare for a Finnish first name (but probably explains why it's so rare). I don't really see it as a first name at all.

Aallotar: "Wavess"[??] 1138 women. Yes, it's the female form of aalto. It's not used as a word referring to water, of course, but the old -tar, -tär ending signifies female. It sounds incredibly dramatic and is among the names I'd never use. Peaked between 1900 and 1919 with 590. 78 girls have been given this name in the 2000's. I'm quite sure it's mostly a middle name due to its length.

Lumi: "Snow". 861 women, 3 men. If you thought we have so much snow that it's one of our most common names, think again. Lumi is actually a fairly trendy new name here. It debuted in the 1940's and has only really become popular in this decade; 723 out of 861 Lumis were born in the 2000's. Many people still consider this a pretty weird name. I personally like it a lot because of its soft form and nature connotation. Perhaps the connotation with cold and winter is something that Finns try to steer clear of, given the long winters that depress many people. It looks like this name has gone to the girls. The idea of Snow White (Lumikki) might be a reason.

The weather

Kaste: "Dew". 54 women, 6 men. This name was already around as a female name before 1900, but never very popular. Only 2 girls have been given this name in this decade. As a male name, it premiered in the beginning of the 1900's, and the latest male Kaste was born in 1983. As a female name, Kaste peaked in 1920-39 with 23, not very impressive. If we assume that women die approximately at the age of 80 and men 75, it leaves only about 16 women and 2 men named Kaste. New parents are probably discovering this and thinking they're the first. The name is pretty, but might be unpopular due to connotations with wetting your bed (yökastelu) or other unpleasant wet things.

Kastehelmi: Literally dew-pearl, but it means a droplet of morning dew. 672 women. After premiering in the early 1900's, Kastehelmi soon settled on a comfortable popularity of about 100 every 20 years. 1940-59 saw the peak with 183 new Kastehelmis. Due to its length, this name is probably doomed to be a middle name in most cases. 147 girls have been given this name in this decade, which points to a new record if the same trend continues. It's a pretty name, but the length and literal connotation makes it pretty awkward.

Sade: "Rain". 230 women, 1 man. This is a pretty word, but the meaning might sound negative to some, and the name has perhaps therefore been unpopular. I personally like it a lot, and think it's a lot prettier-looking than "Rain". The first female Sade was, perhaps surprisingly, born before 1900, and after that 62 years went by before the first new Sade was born in 1962. The name is only now gaining popularity, peaking in the 2000's with 142 new Sades. However, time will tell if this becomes a trend name or never really breaks through.

Pyry: I'm struggling to find an exact word; when it's snowing hard, we call that "lumipyry". Only used in connection with snow. The name has been given 2380 men and 11 women. It debuted in the 1920's, simultaneously on men and women, but was always more common as a boy name. The Finnish y-sound isn't the prettiest, but this is still a pretty nice perky male name. I can't see it as a female name. 1053 boys have gotten this name in this decade, including one this year, but it hasn't been given to a girl since 1996. Wikipedia tells me that the name's entry to the name almanac made it a male-only name.

Tuisku: "Blizzard". 122 women, 91 men. It's strange that this word, slightly stronger in meaning than Pyry, is seen as more of a female name. However, the numbers are close. Similar female name Tuija might have affected this. The first female Tuisku was born between 1912, the first male one not until 1958. The situation has evened out in the 2000's, as 58 girls and 47 boys have been given this name. I must admit I like it less than Pyry; -sku is usually a nickname ending (Ansku, Minsku) and doesn't really fit in an official name in my mind. I also think it's more meaning-laden than Pyry. It would be pretty ironic if the child were calm.

Kuura: 9 women, 29 men.
Halla: 40 women.
Both of these names would be "frost" in English. I'd say halla refers more to the coldness, while kuura refers to the white cover on the ground. Kuura strikes me as a pretty ugly name, perhaps because of the closeness with "kura", which refers to dirty water (see below). All of the Kuuras were born between 1980 and 2007, with 16 boys and 7 girls in the 2000's. Which means the name is becoming more popular. Halla, on the other hand, is a clear female name because of closeness to Hilla and Hanna. The name premiered between 1900 and 1919, but by 1980, there were still less than then Hallas. It's only now becoming more popular with 23 new Hallas in this decade, including one this year already. I must admit I like this name, despite the cold meaning. It has a pleasant form.

Myrsky: "Storm". 59 men and 9 women. This name premiered as a male name in 1900-19, but all 4 men who got it between those years are probably dead by now. After 1915, there was a long break without any Myrskys, until 1983 when another boy was given this name. 49 boys and 6 girls have been given this name in the 2000's. I think some people find this name poetic and beautiful, but I must say the two y's, the fairly negative connotations and the closeness to myrkky, "poison", is enough to deter me. I would never use it.

Pouta: "sunny, warm weather". 7 women. A relatively new and unknown name that I found through testing weather names on the name search engine. The name premiered in 1940-59, and 4 new Poutas in the 2000's point to a possible rise in the name. But with less than ten people so far, you can't really talk about a trend name. I don't feel very strongly either way about this one; the connotations are positive but not overbearing, and the form is not particularly pretty or ugly to my eyes. Could it be that indifference toward a name is more of a killer than strong negative connotations?

Kura: dirty water in a puddle. 1 man, born between 1960-79. And - what? You want to name your son after sludge? It can also be a euphemism for shit. Lovely, lovely meanings. I see on Wikipedia that it's a river in Turkey, so maybe that's the origin. I can't imagine anyone using Kura in a Finnish meaning - it just sounds dirty.

Too literal combinations

Aamu-Aurinko: "Morning-Sun". 2 girls in the 2000's.
"This baby is so happy! She's our morning sun!" This is the ultimate cutesy name that will seem very weird on a grownup.

Aamu-Kaste: "Morning-Dew". 1 girl in the 2000's.
Aamukaste. 2 girls in the 2000's.
It's a pretty, poetic word. Too pretty and poetic for a name. Just Aamu would have been plenty poetic and pretty and fairly rare still, Aamu-Kaste just sounds pretentious. The smush is even worse.

Lumipilvi: "Snowcloud". 1 woman born between 1980 and 99.
I like Lumi and Pilvi separately, but as both of them have a slightly trendy mommy connotation, this combination just shouts, "Aww! our little princess! We love nature names!" It would be a pretty word in a poem, but not as a name.

Lumi-Sade: "Snow-Rain". 1 woman born between 1980 and 99.
When it snows, we call it "lumisade". Way too literal a name, even if I like both words per se.

Poutapilvi: 1 woman, 1980-99.
So it's a cloud that's on the sky when it's sunny. A thin, white cloud that poses no threat of rain. It's a positive word, of course, but as a name... blah. Too long, much p, and too "aren't we unique". No wonder it's only been used once.

Sade-Pilvi, 1 woman, 1980-99.
Sadepilvi: 1 woman, 1960-79.
"Rain-cloud". While I like both Sade and Pilvi separately, I would never use them together. The meaning becomes too obvious and irritating. It's also quite long, especially as a smush.

1 comment:

Hanicka said...

Hi Deniselle *waves* My apologies if the question has been asked (and answered) before, but could you please explain the meaning of -kki at the end of certain Finnish female names? Also, could you potentially add -kki to all girls' names?