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A Handbook of Scandinavian Names

Nancy L. Coleman

Publication Year: 2010

Are you looking for
•    A Scandinavian name for your baby?
•    The names of Norse gods and heroes?
•    The history and meaning of Scandinavian first names?
•    Variations and alternate spellings for common Scandinavian names?
•    Naming traditions and customs in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark?

A Handbook of Scandinavian Names includes a dictionary of more than fifteen hundred given names from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, plus some from Iceland and Finland. Each entry provides a guide to pronunciation and the origin and meaning of the name. Many entries also include variations and usage in the Scandinavian countries and famous bearers of the name.
    Adding engaging context to the dictionary section is an extensive comparative guide to naming practices. The authors discuss immigration to North America from Scandinavia and the ways given names and surnames were adapted in the New World. Also included in the book is a history of Scandinavian names, information on “Name Days,” and discussion of significant names from mythology and history, including naming traditions in royal families.


Winner, Midwest Book Award in the Reference category


Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. v-v

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pp. vii-viii

A Handbook of Scandinavian Names is both a dictionary of names for girls and boys and a handbook on naming traditions. In our context, Scandinavian names include names used in the countries of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The languages in these countries are all closely related and belong to the same family of Indo- European languages. Finland is also a Scandinavian country, but it is divided ...

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Pronunciation Guide

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pp. ix-xv

This pronunciation guide is designed to help you approximate the pronunciation of names in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. It is based on the spelling and pronunciation of English according to General American English pronunciation, with occasional references to British English. The system is based on the symbols or phonetics used in phrase books for tourists and some English language dictionaries. Our vari-...

Abbreviations and Symbols

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p. xvii-xvii

Dictionary of Scandinavian Names

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Girls Names

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pp. 3-21

The section on girls names contains fewer names than the section on boys names (ca. 550 as opposed to ca. 1,000 boys names). This is due to the fact that naming girls is more susceptible to shifting fashions in naming, resulting in more girls names being imported from other countries than is the case for the boys names. A large number of the imported girls names are not of interest in a book of Scandinavian names, since ...

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Boys Names

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pp. 22-52

Following the practice of Scandinavian languages, note that names beginning with Æ-, Ä-, Ø-, Ö-, and Å- (which are all separate letters rather than accented vowels) are ‘elm’ and arr ‘warrior’ or ‘spear’; or al ‘elf ’ ...

A Guide to Scandinavian Naming

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Scandinavian Immigration to North America

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pp. 53-68

Many fans of the Scandinavian countries would certainly expect a history of immigration to America to start with Leif Erikson and the story of the discovery of North America. And indeed, the very first Scandinavian colony was Vinland in present-day Newfoundland, Canada. Thanks to the doggedness of the Norwegian lawyer-adventurer Helge Ingstad and his archeologist wife Anne Stine, it has been estab-...

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Naming Traditions in Scandinavia

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pp. 69-79

T e subject of this book is Scandinavian given names. However, there is a close relationship between a Scandinavian given name and the patronymic name, often used today as a last name, or surname. In order to gain a perspective on naming practices, we need to take a brief look at the larger context of naming in Scandinavia by look...

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Namesakes in the Scandinavian Tradition

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pp. 80-84

Modern American naming books encourage parents to choose a name for their child that is trendy, cute, or distinctive. In contemporary Scandinavia we can see a similar tendency. But up until quite recently, such motives were a very far cry from what Scandinavian parents were up to when they chose a name for a new baby. What mattered was the family. Names were chosen from a limited palette of family names and ...

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Adapting Names in Scandinavian America

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pp. 85-119

What did Scandinavian immigrants do when they had children in the New World? With such a rigid naming system and tradition, it is reasonable to assume that families in the New World felt obliged to carry on with it. The pressure was certainly most strongly felt in the Norwegian communities, as Norwegian immigrants tended to settle together in rural areas and quickly established Norwegian Lutheran churches ...

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Scandinavian Given Names in Historical Perspective

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pp. 120-134

Names in Scandinavia have come into use in different historical periods. As we will see, naming practices have undergone fairly radical changes due to historical developments. But older names have largely not disappeared as a result of expanding the corpus of names. Since the history of the Scandinavian countries is not a common series of events, the history of names differs somewhat from country to country. But ...

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Name Laws

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pp. 135-138

In contrast to the United States, some countries feel that name giving should be regulated by law. T is is true for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. To meet the needs of a multicultural society, these laws have been revised in recent years.In Denmark a child must be given a name by the time she or he is six months old, and both parents must sign the form. Very many couples live together without being ...

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Top Names in Scandinavia Today

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pp. 139-145

Following the Christianization of the North about 1000, more men’s names of Scadinavian origin have remained in use than women’s names. Naming girls seems to be more prone to follow fashion and trends. Due to this phenomenon, the dictionary section of this book contains many more boys names than girls names: around 1,000 boys names as opposed to about 550 girls names. In recent years, however, the ...

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Names from Norse Mythology

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pp. 146-148

Until the end of the Viking Age (ca. 750– 1050), the Scandinavian peoples had their own religion. By the year 1000, all of the countries were in the process of adopting Christianity. While the old religion was still being practiced, it was not common to give children names of the gods and goddesses. However, there were a number of given names that contained a holy name, especially combinations starting ...

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Name Days

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pp. 149-158

In Sweden, Norway, and Finland (but not in Denmark) there is a calendar of name days. The custom of celebrating name days has its roots in the early Catholic Church. Each day of the year, except Christmas Day and a few others that were considered too holy, was dedicated to a Christian saint or martyr. Early Christians thought that celebrating birthdays was a barbarian custom, due to their belief in original sin. Since ...

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Naming Tradition in the Royal Families

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pp. 159-172

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all constitutional monarchies, whereas Finland and Iceland are republics. In this section we will take a look at the naming practices. Even though the Scandinavian monarchies are challenged in today’s society and are in many ways an anachronism, the reigning regents and their heirs apparent are all very popular among their subjects. The christening of a new prince or princess, ...

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A Scandinavian Name for Your Baby

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pp. 173-182

Are you looking for a Scandinavian name for your baby? Of course, you are free to choose any name in this book, but some of them will work better in English than others. We will therefore recommend a number of names. The main considerations here are how the names will sound in English, and whether they are readily associated with a Scandinavian heritage. International names, even though they enjoy high ...

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pp. 183-184


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pp. 185-188


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pp. 189-195

E-ISBN-13: 9780299248338
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299248345

Page Count: 195
Publication Year: 2010