Wednesday, February 6

Swedish Top 100: Boys

Belle Isle, Detroit / road trip message

After spending time perusing the girls top 100, the Swedish boys top 100 doesn't seem like entirely foreign territory, though the top 10 is basically a bunch of non-traditionally Swedish choices, including such English favorites as Liam, Charlie and Oliver. Digging a little deeper reveals themes similar to those found on the girls list. Names that sound dated to American ears are fresh and popular (Erik, Adam, Kevin, Jonathan), there are plenty of names that aren't English-friendly (Ville, Ebbe, Hjalmar), musty, super old-man choices seem popular (Melvin, Wilmer, Milton) and, of course, there are the incongruous standouts (hi, Mohamed and Neo). 

Where the girls' list is pretty thoroughly flowery and feminine, the boy list is made up of a wider range of sounds, from the uber-masculine to softer choices that would seem very feminine here in the US. The skew towards non-Swedish names is apparent if you look at the statistics: the newest names to the list are Henry, Julian, Colin, Levi and Matteo, and the names on the fastest decline in popularity include Ville, Linus, Rasmus and Carl. (Top risers are a mixed bunch: Ebbe and Elvin are there, but Henry, Charlie and Julian are soaring upwards, too.) It'll be interesting to watch and see what happens in the coming years.

Here are some of my favorite finds — 

Sixten — does it please anyone else that "Six-"ten comes in at #33 on this list? Math! Anyway, Sixten is one that is actually on my favorites list. It's just sort of fun to say, and I don't think it's too weird. It sounds like a name, it looks like a name, it has a bit of an edge — actually, the edge is the only thing that puts me off it, I fear it might get lumped in with the sort of "child of an emo child" names like Brixton and Bronx and Braxtyn or whatever. It's from Old Norse elements meaning "victory" and "stone," and is on the rise in Sweden, jumping 11 spots, from #44

Love — Love is the Swedish form of Louis, which comes from Ludovicus, which comes, ultimately, from Ludwig, which means "famous warrior." So, famous warrior meaning, but it looks like peace and love to me. For a pronunciation, click here. I think it's pretty sweet, and it's an interesting variant that I didn't know about before seeing it, at #51, on the list

Malte — #52 on the list is Malte, a short form of the German name Helmold, which means "helmet rule," which is so typically German. Helmet rule. Okay. Malte looks much nicer than Helmold, and appeals on that "sounds like an Olympic snowboarder" level that is a personal naming weakness for me. Variant Malthe is quite popular in Denmark (top 20) as well

Loke — Loke caught my eye right away. It's #70 on the list, and is a modern Scandinavian form of, you guessed it, Loki, the name of the Norwegian trickster god. Somehow this spelling makes it way more appealing, to me, though I've always liked the sound of the name. I fear it would fall flat in America, but there's something cool about it

Vidar — another name with Old Norse history, Vidar is from elements meaning "forest" and "warrior." I've always liked similar Vida and Vidal, and I think Vidar is really great. It almost has an Indian feel to it, sounds-wise, and I can see it working equally well on a young boy as on an adult. It seems a bit more dignified than something like Malte or Loke, but isn't too heavy 

Svante —  Svante's on the rise, moving from #96 in 2011 to #89. It's the short form of clunky Svantepolk, which comes from even clunkier Svyatopolk, which is actually a Russian  name meaning "blessed people." Such a great name lineage that really tells the story of Swedish naming — take a name with Slavic elements, filter it through Scandinavian history, then shorten it and sharpen it up for modern use. Very cool

Mio — probably on the list due to the influence of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, who used it in the title of her book Mio, My Son. It seems that she invented the name, which is pretty exciting — how popular books influence naming trends is so interesting. Hmm … I wonder if the established popularity of Mio, combined with the popularity of the Matrix films helped Neo make the Swedish list. (Neo is currently #69, though it's one of the fastest-falling names on the list, having been a skyrocket/trendy type presence since the early 2000s, and Mio has been a more stable presence, though it's currently at #91 after falling from #88.)

Tage — from the Old Danish name Taki, meaning "a guarantor," this name is taking off on the Swedish charts. It first appeared in 2011 and is currently at #97. I'm not sure what might be responsible for its rise, but I have found that it's unusual to find it on children, so perhaps it's having something of a comeback? Tage Erlander was the Swedish prime minister from 1946 to 1969 and actor Tage Danielsson was a popular Swedish comedian. For pronunciation, click here 

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