A reader named Alexis wrote to me a few weeks ago:
My husband and I are expecting a baby girl in February 2009. He is Irish and I am Swedish so we are trying to find a simple girl’s name that is either Irish or Swedish. If you could help us it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
About a month ago I listed a few simple Swedish names, such as Elin, Inga and Lina. Simple Irish names are a bit harder to come by (Deirbhile? Muirgheal?) but there’s always Fiona, Nola, Oona or Orla.
Personally, I like both Molly and Nora.
Molly tends to be associated with Ireland–perhaps thanks to Molly Malone–and is currently popular in Sweden. (It ranks 30th in Sweden, 18th in N. Ireland and 23rd in Ireland.)
Nora has literary connections to both countries: it was the name of James Joyce’s wife and of a character in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. (It ranks 36th in Sweden, but doesn’t rank in Ireland.)
Many other simple names, though not specifically Irish or Swedish, are popular in both areas as well:
Anna (#10 in N. Ireland, #20 in Ireland, #56 in Sweden)
Clara/Klara (#13 in Sweden, #84 in Ireland, #74 in N. Ireland)
Ella (#3 in Sweden, #3 in Ireland, #22 in N. Ireland)
Emma (#2 in Ireland, #4 in Sweden, #5 in N. Ireland)
Hanna/Hannah (#9 in N. Ireland, #13 in Ireland, #20 in Sweden)
Sara/Sarah (#1 in Ireland, #7 in N. Ireland, #26 in Sweden)
What other name suggestions would you offer Alexis?
Update, 4/18 – The baby is here! Check the 2nd comment to find out what her name is…
A reader named Carin recently e-mailed me. She and her husband are expecting a baby in December, and they’d like help coming up with a name. Carin says:
We live in England, but I’m Swedish and my husband is of Indian background (born in England). We’d like to find a name that’s got Indian or Scandinavian background, but is still easy to pronounce in English. At the moment we’ve come up with Siri (Swedish) or Millie/Mili for a girl, and Alek or Sameer for boy. However, they don’t feel completely right! If you have any suggestions, I’d be very grateful!
I like that Carin and her husband are zeroing in on short, simple names. I think that makes a lot of sense in this case. Here are some similar suggestions:
(For each gender, Swedish names are on the left and Indian names are on the right.)
What other names can you come up with?
Update, 6/03 – The baby girl is here! Check the comments to find out what her name is…
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”