Oops! I'm five days late with this. Blame the start of the new school year and all the marvellous chaos it involves. August, for me, was a fantastic month for looking up the 2017 name stats from different countries and there are lots of goodies to be had in them.
The number one names were William and Ida with Milas and Hannah as the biggest risers.
One name that caught my eye especially was Naja at #46. In part, what struck me was that Naja looks like it would be more at home in Spain or Portugal, but it first captured my notice when Google automatically translated the page for me from Danish into English. Amusingly, Google translates Naja as "Oh yeah" in Danish, and Mynte, at #44, became "spearmint" (see image, right).
Despite this translation, the Danes aren't really going around calling their daughters "Oh yeah" -- as a name, it actually comes from the Greenlandic endearment term meaning "little sister (for a boy)." In Denmark, it was popularised by a main character in the poet Bernhard Severin Ingemann's novel Kunnuk and Naja - The Greenlanders (1842).
In August, Judith at Nordic Names posted the 2017 Finnish top 50, and it's another fascinating list. Top for boys is international Leo, while top for girls is the decidedly Finnish Aino.
Aino derives from the Finnish term ainoa meaning "only one," and, like Naja, was coined as a given name in 19th century Scandinavian literature. Naja was created in 1835 by Elias Lönnrot for his Finnish national epic Kalevala. Originally, the character had no name but was called aino tyttö "only girl (daughter)" and aino sisko "only sister".
Thanks to the popularity of the Kalevala, Aino became used as a given name in Finland in the late 19th century, and was especially popular at the beginning of the 20th century, making it a perfect example of a "100 year rule" revival name.
Once I'd started looking at these 2017 European stats, I went in search of others, and Spain provided a wonderful list. Like England who currently have twin variants Olivia and Oliver in the top spots, Spanish parents favoured Lucas and Lucía in 2017.
At #99 in the girls' list, Nahia caught my eye: a lyrical Basque name which means "desire."
At #81 for boys in Spain, Biel also captured my attention. It is a Catalan short form of Gabriel, which itself ranks at #37. If Gabe feels like a natural English short-form for Gabriel, it strikes me that Biel makes for the perfect Spanish diminutive.
Finally, we will end this tour of 2017 stats in South Africa. There the #1 name for girls is the same as it is for boys. Enzokuhle, which means "to do good" or "expected to do great things" in Zulu and Xhosa, was the top name for both boys and girls.
In fact, the top 5 for both boys and girls contains the same four names: Enzokuhle, Melokuhle, Lethabo and Amogelang.
This massively high level of the use of unisex names is almost alien in English-speaking countries, and just shows the difference that culture can make in the choosing of names. According to Stats SA itself: "In South Africa, and in most African countries, traditional African names often have unique stories behind them. From the day or time a baby is born to the circumstances surrounding the birth, several factors influence the names parents choose for their children. Whichever ethnic group you look at, the name a baby is given at birth may reveal a wealth of information about the bearer.[...] The most popular middle names in 2017 are generally expressions of pride, joy and thankfulness and appear to be religiously influenced."
Another fascinating aspect of the South African name stats is that they give the most popular middle names as well. Junior, Blessing, Gift, Prince and Innocent were the top middle names for boys and Precious, Princess, Angel, Blessing and Faith topped for girls. You can see the full table of the top 10 first and middle names from Stats SA below: