Name of the Day – Ylajali

I’m currently reading Hunger by Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. Early on in the novel, the narrator encounters an anonymous woman in the street and creates a name for her:

I stand and gaze into her eyes, and hit, on the spur of the moment, on a name which I have never heard before–a name with a gliding, nervous sound–Ylajali!

When he later fantasizes about the woman, he calls her by this made-up name. (I’m not done with the book, so I don’t know if he ever discovers her real name.)

I believe Ylajali would be pronounced something like “ill-a-ya-lee” in Norwegian. It’s been used for a restaurant and an album, but I have yet to track down a human named Ylajali.

3 thoughts on “Name of the Day – Ylajali

  1. Definitely a pleasant sound, but its a bit of a tongue twister. It reminds me of Nayeli, which is a Zapotec phrase that means “I love you”, but has recently become popular in the Mexican American community as a female given name.

  2. There is even a Greek song under this name (and indeed referring to the mysterious woman from “Hunger.”

    (Thank you Yannis! Just had to make a quick edit — YouTube URLS are automatically turned into embeded videos, and those auto-embedded videos are always way too large for the comments section. -Nancy)

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