One of the hardest things to do when having a baby in a bi-national family is choosing names for your baby.  Most Norwegian names will get you teased in English speaking countries and a lot of English speaking names will be mispronounced in Norway.  As Moose and I live in Norway we thought it appropriate to find Norwegian names that would not be used for teasing in English speaking countries – and boy is it difficult!

There are a lot of common names in Norway that just won’t do, especially in Australia, for example:

Dag, pronounced Dahg, is a common name for boys in Norway.  However, in Australia the word ‘dag’ is a friendly teasing name given to someone who has done something really silly.  ‘dag’ in Australia actually means the clotted fleece under a sheep’s bottom made by pooh.  So you can see how this name is not good for an Australian audience.

Åse, pronounced Aw-seh, is a common name for girls in Norway.  However, in Australia you can misinterpret the mean into a few forms of ‘bottom’.

Wenche, pronounced Vehn-keh, is well known in Norway as a girls name.  Australian males would delight in being allowed to call someone this name in public.

Odd is a common boys name in Norway.  This would just make people hysterical in Australia (especially if his last name was ‘Person’ (pronounced Pear-shon in Norway).

Moose and I have gone through so many names.  It was always me who didn’t like the names.  I’ve finally realised that a lot of the Norwegian sounds seem very dorky to listen to as an English speaker and, unfortunately, a lot of the Norwegian names are used as joke names in the English speaking world.  However, there was one element that I wasn’t thinking about when choosing a Norwegian name and that is ‘origin and meaning’.  In Norway the meaning of names are quiet important.  A lot of names come from Old Norse during the Viking Age.  Names were written in runes on stones and in sagas and it is surprising that a lot of the names haven’t changed to this day: Geir still means ‘spear’, Bjorn still means ‘bear’ and Hilda still means valkyrie.  So in order to get my head around Norwegian names, I started to study them out.  Hence the creation of the Norwegian Name Day series (first post: Norwegian Name Days in July).

It has been a lot easier now for me to accept Norwegian names as I now have an understanding of origin and meaning.  A lot of Norwegian names have a prefix and a suffix which are used to describe a person such as:

Torvald: ‘Tor‘ or ‘Þórr‘ meaning ‘god of thunder or strong‘ and ‘-valdr‘ meaning ‘ruler‘.

Sigve: ‘Sigr‘ meaning ‘victory‘ and ‘-veig‘ meaning ‘powerful‘.

Still in tradition today are the prefix and suffix Norwegian names.  In English we would see the first name as a first name and the second name as a second name, but in Norway is it usual to have two names as a first name: Per-Bjorn and Tord Eirik etc.  And because of this you normally don’t have a middle name.  If there is a middle name it is usually the mothers maiden name or something similar.

Another concern I had was ‘nicknames’.  Australians are notorious with nicknames – if you are called ‘Scott’ then ‘…no friends’ would follow, if you where an ‘Anna’ then you’d be called a ‘goanna’ and if your last name was Simpson you’d be called ‘Simo’. However in Norway they don’t use nicknames at all.  They usually just shorten the first (compound) name to make life easier.  For example Per-Bjorn might be shortened to just ‘Per’.

In Norway they have very strict rules on baby names and we will be posting about that shortly. However, there are some very beautiful names in Norwegian too like: Aurora, Linnea and Maia, Andrea, Kai and Finn.  But each to their own, I guess.

Here are a few websites that we particularly like which present Norwegian baby names with statistics, origin and meaning, etc:

www.norskenavn.no (in Norwegian)

www.behindthename.com (in English)

www.nordicnames.de (in English)

A Collation of Viking Names (in English)

Happy Hunting! 

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