Baby Named Etruria for Ocean Liner

Ocean liner Etruria, Cunard

That recent post about Altruria reminded me of a similar-sounding name: Etruria.

In early January, 1907, the Cunard ocean liner RMS Etruria encountered rough seas while crossing the Atlantic. Two of the crewmembers were killed, several others were injured, and passengers were forced to wait out the storm below deck.

During that time, a baby girl was born in steerage to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Goldstein. Her name? Etruria Rachel Goldstein.

And records reveal that the ship had at least one other namesake: Thomas Etruria Walter, born at sea aboard the Etruria in November of 1887.

The ship was in service from 1885 to 1908. It was named after the ancient civilization that lived in what is today central Italy. The earliest inhabitants of Etruria (that we know of) spoke Etruscan — the presumed origin of a handful of modern baby names including Anthony/Antonio, Camille/Camilla, Horatio, Ignatius, Lavinia, Minerva, and Sergey/Sergio.

Source: “Seaman Killed as Waves Swept Decks of Ocean Liner.” Daily True American [Trenton, NJ] 7 Jan. 1907: 1.


The Baby Name Nayirah

nayirah, 1990, testimony

In October of 1990, two months after Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah testified in front of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She said she’d seen Iraqi soldiers taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and leaving them to die.

Her testimony helped sway public opinion in favor of the Gulf War.

But in early 1992, her testimony was called into question. New York Times writer John MacArthur revealed that Nayirah was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States. Her appearance had been arranged by a U.S. public relations firm and sponsored by a Kuwaiti organization pushing for military intervention. Most importantly, the claims she made could not be corroborated:

Saddam Hussein committed plenty of atrocities, but not, apparently, this one. The teenager’s accusation, at first verified by Amnesty International, was later refuted by that group as well as by other independent human rights monitors.

And amid this controversy in 1992, we see the baby name Nayirah appear for the very first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 13 baby girls named Nayirah [debut]
  • 1991: unlisted

The name, which means “luminous” in Arabic, dropped out of the data the next year. It remained a one-hit wonder until reappearing just recently, in 2015.

Sources:

What Do You Think of Altruria?

sunset-islandThe names Dorcasina, Malaeska, and Trilby were inspired by characters from 19th-century novels. Altruria also comes from a 19th-century novel, but not from a character.

A Traveler from Altruria (1894) by William Dean Howells was first published in installments in Cosmopolitan in 1892-1893. The protagonist is Aristides Homos, a visitor to America from the fictional island of Altruria, “a Utopian world that combined the foundations of Christianity and the U.S. Constitution to produce an “ethical socialism” by which society was guided.”

The fictional place-name Altruria is a play on the word “altruism,” which was coined relatively recently (circa 1830) by French philosopher Auguste Comte.

Though A Traveler from Altruria isn’t well-remembered today, it was influential during the 1890s. Altrurian Clubs started sprouting up across the country. A short-lived commune called Altruria was established in Sonoma County, California, in the mid-1890s. And at least two babies were given the (middle) name Altruria:

  • Carrie Altruria Evans, born in 1900 in Van Wert, Ohio
  • Lester Altruria Eby, born in 1895 in Des Moines, Iowa

The official history book of the Van Wert Altrurian Club even mentions Carrie by name:

Carrie Altruria Evans, born 1900 in Ohio
Carrie Altruria Evans, b. 1900

What do you think of Altruria as a baby name? Do you think it could be an alternative to the fast-rising Aurora (which broke into the top 100 last year)?

Sources: Science fiction The 19th and early 20th centuries – Encyclopedia Britannica, Altrurian Club History – Ohio Memory Collection, Altruism – Online Etymology Dictionary

Popular Baby Names in Switzerland, 2015

According to data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (OFS), the country’s most popular baby names last year were Mia and Noah.

Here are Switzerland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Mia
2. Emma
3. Lara
4. Lena
5. Sofia
6. Mila
7. Anna
8. Elena
9. Laura
10. Lina
1. Noah
2. Liam
3. Luca
4. Gabriel
5. Leon
6. David
7. Matteo
8. Elias
9. Louis
10. Levin

In 2014 the top names were Emma and Noah.

And here are the top names within each of the main language groups:

Language Group Girl Names Boy Names
German speakers
(64% of Switzerland)
1. Mia
2. Emma
3. Lena
1. Leon
2. Noah
3. Luca
French speakers
(23%)
1. Emma
2. Alice
3. Eva
1. Gabriel
2. Liam
3. Noah
Italian speakers
(8%)
1. Sofia
2. Emma
3. Noemi
1. Leonardo
2. Alessandro
3. Liam
Romansh speakers
(less than 1%)
1. Alessia 1. Laurin

Sources: Most popular Swiss baby names in 2015 (via Clare’s Name News), Switzerland Statistics

Five-Name Friday: Boy Name for Vivian’s Brother

five-name friday, boy name

You’re on a quest to find a couch, so you’ve driven to the furniture warehouse to test out every couch they’ve got. In the middle of your mission you take a break to chat with a fellow couch-hunter who happens to be pregnant. After comparing notes for a bit — frames, fillings, fabrics, etc. — she mentions that she’s also in search of a name for the baby. Then she tells you the gist of what she’s looking for:

Vivian, Leona, and Lawrence are getting a new baby brother. What are some traditional-ish names outside the current SSA top 50 that don’t start with the letters A, L, H, and V?

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of great suggestions on the spot. But you’ve still got aisles and aisles of couches to inspect, so you only have time to give her five baby name suggestions before you get back to your shopping.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with (which is what you’d be forced to do in real life) you get to press a magical “pause” button, brainstorm for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer her the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in a furniture store?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

Vivian, Leona, and Lawrence are getting a new baby brother. What are some traditional-ish names outside the current SSA top 50 that don’t start with the letters A, L, H, and V?

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]

Sierra Leonean Babies Named After Tony Blair

Kosovo isn’t the only place in the world where babies have been named after Tony Blair. There’s also the West African country of Sierra Leone:

[Blair’s] decision [in 2000] to send in British troops at the height of a brutal civil war is widely seen by Sierra Leoneans themselves as the critical moment in their country’s salvation. It turned the tide in the conflict and helped bring an end to an 11-year nightmare.

In 2010, The Guardian noted that “nine and ten year-old boys called Tony Blair are not uncommon now in Sierra Leone.”

One of these babies, Tony-Blair Kamara, was born in 2001 in the capital city of Freetown. His father said that he “would not be here speaking to you [if not for] all these risks Tony Blair took, because it was a political risk intervening where you know some of your troops will die.”

Sources: Sierra Leone: Tony Blair Born in Freetown, ‘I would not be speaking to you if it weren’t for the risks Blair took’, Free healthcare for Sierra Leone – and a whole lot of Tony Blairs

Iraqi Baby Names, During and After Saddam

Baghdad, April, 2003
Baghdad, April, 2003
When the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March of 2003, tens of thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq fled from their cities and villages and took shelter in the hills.

One of these displaced Kurdish families included a boy named Awara, which means “refugee.” His older brother said Awara’s name would be changed to Azad, or “freedom,” once it was safe for the family to return to their home village.

By April, Saddam Hussein was out of power.

And along with the change in regime came a change in baby naming trends. The name “Saddam” and the names of Saddam Hussein’s children (e.g., Udai, Kusai, Rajad, Halla), which had been trendy up to that point, quickly fell out of favor. An employee of Iraq’s National Registry in Baghdad said in late 2003, “We haven’t had even one Saddam since the fall of the regime on April 9th.”

Instead, Iraqi parents started opting for other namesakes. The director of the National Registry mentioned that more than 20 babies had been named for religious leader (and Hussein enemy) Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim after he was assassinated in August, for example.

I couldn’t find any follow-up articles about Awara’s family, though, so I don’t know if they ever made it back to their village, or whether Awara’s name was finally changed from “refugee” to “freedom.”

Sources: