A glimpse at Sweden’s most popular baby names

January 25, 2016 § Leave a comment


Even though I haven’t been writing, I’ve never turned off the Google alerts for this blog’s research. I love when it sends me overseas, to a world of names I’ve never thought much about from my corner of the planet. Sometimes one link turns into several links, until I can’t believe how many open tabs I’ve got reading about names. Today it sent me to Sweden, where Statistics Sweden has recently released their list of top baby names from children born last year, and, knowing little about Swedish names, of course I needed to know more.

Naturally, my instinct was to compare the list to English-language choices, and I found that even modern Swedes are opting for Anglicized variations of many Scandinavian names. The top three boys names are William (equivalent Ville is 71st), Lucas (2014’s number one), and Liam, fastest risers are Kian (which might actually be the result of Middle Eastern immigration, as Muhammad also makes the list) and Henry (not Henrik). The girls top ten features Ella, Lilly, and Olivia, which are just as popular in the English-speaking world. Elias, which Michael Buble and wife Luisana just picked for their second son, born January 22, is number seven on the boy’s list, and trendy Axel knocked traditional Alexander from the Top 10 (seeing them paired together, I really like the nickname potential of Axel to Alexander, and I’m not sure why it didn’t dawn on me before now!) Still, that’s not to say the list is dominated by non-Swedish names. On the contrary, while these names stood out as being commonplace here at home, many others stood out because they’re not.

Names like Sága, Ebba, Hedvig, Lo, My, and Tindra, or Algot, Folke, Sixten, Hjalmar, Melker, and Ture.

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About A Name: Bowie

January 24, 2016 § 2 Comments

(c) Masayoshi Sukita, 1977/David Bowie Archive: David Bowie from the Heroes album cover shoot, among my favourite incarnations of Bowie's sound.

(c) Masayoshi Sukita, 1977/David Bowie Archive: David Bowie from the Heroes album cover shoot, among my favourite incarnations of Bowie’s sound.

The death of iconic musical journeyman David Bowie earlier this month caught most of the world by surprise, and the long line of tributes for the artist who helped bring down the Berlin Wall, who changed the face (and sound!) of popular music, the conversation around gender and sexual identity, and even the digital accessibility of music, inspired me to wake up from a three-year slumber, so imposed by a long list of incredibly non-interesting reasons (that I can’t guarantee are entirely in the past). So, now that we’ve established that I don’t know if I’m back back, let’s get back into things with a look at a unique baby name that trended just under the radar for years before Bowie’s death, and will probably trend higher in tribute to a man whose mere existence inspired so many. I’ve had this post in the draft folder for years (and yes, I know Abby at Appellation Mountain has already done this name better than I could possibly – twice, and I digress), but it’s well past time to write it now.

The name Bowie is said to mean “yellow/fair-haired” in Gaelic. It’s believed to derive from the Old Irish buidhe, meaning “yellow”, and from this derived the surname Bowie. Bowie himself (born David Robert Jones) was inspired by 19th Century American frontiersman Jim Bowie and his popular ‘Bowie knife’ when he changed his stage name in 1965. Then known as Davy Jones, he was frustrated by confusion with The Monkees frontman, and wanted something more unique. In 1976, he called his use of Bowie as a show name “the medium for a conglomerate of statements and illusions.”

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