Years ago, I mentioned that Malta was the only nation I knew of in which parents were not allowed to register baby names in the national language.
Why couldn’t they? Because Malta’s government IT systems could not handle Maltese font.
But “a collective overhaul across government IT systems [is now] being done to ensure Maltese orthography is accepted across the board,” and Malta will soon be allowing parents to officially bestow traditional Maltese names.
Maltese, a Semitic language that descended from Sicilian Arabic, has six letters that English doesn’t have. One of them, ie, is easy enough to replicate on a computer; the other five (below) are not.
Here’s how to pronounce them, roughly:
C-with-a-dot makes a ch-sound
G-with-a-dot makes a j-sound (without the dot, G makes a g-sound)
Gh-with-a-line is silent*
H-with-a-line makes an h-sound (without the line, H is silent*)
Z-with-a-dot makes a z-sound (without the dot, Z makes a ts-sound)
Without these letters, a large number of traditional Maltese names are unable to be rendered properly.
(I would love to list some of those names, but, ironically, I can’t — WordPress hasn’t played nicely with special characters ever since the introduction of the Gutenberg editor a few years back.)
Anyway…well done, Malta! I’m proud of you. :)
Mallette, Karla. European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
*More on the silent letters: “Maltese orthography continues to reflect the presence of some letters that are no longer pronounced in order to indicate semantic provenance — a convenience that makes it possible, among other things, to look up words in the dictionary under the three-consonant root (as one does with Semitic languages).”
Update, 6/13: Here’s an image of a list of traditional Maltese names…
The list above includes Maltese names that are equivalent to: Angelo, Beatrice, Francis, Elizabeth, Jacob, James, George, Juliet, Justin, Joseph, John, Hilda, Lucia, Luigi, Theresa, and Vincent.
P.S. While gathering these names, I happened to find out that the surname Buttigieg — as in former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg — is Maltese and means “poulterer.” Specifically, it comes from a pair of Sicilian Arabic words meaning “father, master, owner” and “fowl.”
The Dolores-like baby name Dellora appeared in the U.S. data for a total of six years, seeing peak usage in 1922:
1924: 8 baby girls named Dellora
1923: 13 baby girls named Dellora
1922: 14 baby girls named Dellora
1921: 7 baby girls named Dellora
1919: 7 baby girls named Dellora
1918: 5 baby girls named Dellora
Much of this usage is attributable to heiress Dellora Angell (1902-1979) of St. Charles, Illinois.
Her name first started popping up in the newspapers in late 1918, upon the death of her maternal aunt, Dellora Gates. Aunt Dellora was the widow of wealthy industrialist John W. Gates, and she left the bulk of the Gates fortune to her last two close relatives: her brother Edward, and her teenage niece/namesake Dellora (the daughter of her deceased sister Lavern).
In the early 1920s, the newspapers began linking young Dellora to various suitors (e.g., a Brazilian physician named Vantini, an oil man named Campbell).
In late 1922, she finally got engaged to a childhood friend from St. Charles named Lester Norris, described as a “poor artist and son of the village undertaker.” (He was a newspaper cartoonist; he later became a businessman.)
They had a small wedding in March of 1923. After that, they rented a small apartment in St. Charles, where Dellora “began housekeeping, doing her own cooking and sewing, and having a lot of fun doing it.”
For several years the newspapers continued to report on Dellora’s growing family, and her unusual decision to live so simply:
The richest young woman in the world, who, from the number of her millions, and her youth and beauty, one would expect to find wintering at Cannes, moving with the seasons from one smart watering place to another and filling her wardrobe with Parisian gowns and jewels, lives quietly in a Middle Western town, wears gingham dresses, as she does own housework, and looks after her two babies herself.
(They went on to have a total of five children: Lavern, Lester*, Joann, Robert, and John.)
A baby boy born in the Philippines on April 8 was named John Covid Castillon by his parents Jose and Jemima.
Here’s how Jose, a policeman, explained the baby’s name:
As one of the frontliners in the fight against COVID-19, Castillon said that he chose to give his son the name John Covid because “John” meant God was gracious and merciful, and he thanked the Lord for keeping them safe and their baby from COVID-19.
Before John Covid, the most recent virus-inspired baby name we covered was Sanitizer.