About A Name: Giulia

October 20, 2011 § 5 Comments

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (4)

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy welcomed daughter Giulia yesterday in Paris.

We won’t see any pictures, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has promised us. But we did get a name! Frankly, that’s what I’m interested in!

France’s First Lady delivered the first baby born to a sitting French leader since Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife, Marie Louise of Austria, in 1811 welcomed son Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles, later known as Franz, Duke of Reichstag, and then Napoleon II. Bruni-Sarkozy and her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, welcomed daughter Giulia on Wednesday evening in Paris.

Giulia Sarkozy is the first girl in her family, though both have children from past relationships. Sarkozy has sons Pierre, 26, and Jean, 25, with first wife Marie-Dominique Culioli, and son Louis, 11, with second wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz. Bruni has a son Aurelien, 9, with ex-boyfriend Raphael Enthoven.

This name is Julia – it’s pronounced the same, and they are both Latin for “Jove’s child; youth.” Jove was another name for Jupiter, the mythological Roman king of the gods. It’s also the feminine form of Julius/Julian.

Giulia, the vowel-heavy Italian variation (Carla Bruni was born in Italy and emigrated to France when she was 15) is generally too much for western namers, but actress Debi Mazar of Entourage, whose family is Italian, chose it for her second daughter, Giulia Isabel, born in 2006. The spelling has also appeared over the original in Romania, where Giulia Anghelescu is a popular singer.

The same variations that exist for Julia, for the most part, exist for Giulia. Juliana or Julianne/Giuliana, for example. This week, American TV presenter Giuliana Rancic (also Italian), whose infertility struggles have been chronicled at large in the media and on her reality TV show, announced she has breast cancer. In January, wrestler Kurt Angle and his Italian wife, Giovanna, welcomed daughter Giuliana Marie. French Juliette/Giulietta in Italian. In Verona, Italy, a bronze statue of Shakespeare’s Juliet at ‘Casa di Giulietta‘ invites visitors to touch the right breast for good luck. The Italian male form is Giulio/Giuliano.

In Italy, Giulia is currently the most popular girl’s name, but its popularity is minimal in most of the English-speaking world. Julie/Julia, and all it’s variations suit western parents just fine, and there are so many choices! In North America, the popularity of Julia peaked in the late-’90s, but has begun to decline within the Top 100. Of all western nations where Julia is or has been popular, it’s nowhere more popular than Sweden, where the name is still in the Top 10.

Giulia has been around for a millennia, and in cultural reference has appeared on 15th Century Giulia Farnese, known as ‘Giulia la Bella‘ (‘Giulia the beautiful’), mistress of Pope Alexander VI. Giulia Grisi was a 19th Century Italian opera singer, known as Madame De Candia.

The Italian form of this name has jumped out of the headlines this week, but do I think it’s a trend that will go anywhere? It’s not likely in North America, where, as I mentioned, it’s probably too vowel heavy. But when we have names that we’re all too familiar with we start to search for alternatives, and maybe now that it’s the name of the much-publicized daughter of the President of France, perhaps it’s influence could expand outside Europe. You’ve got time before that happens, if you’re into it.

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