I mentioned the name Navarana in the post on Greenlandic names the other day. The name means “the one that alternates between different parties” and can be traced back to the proto-Eskimo root *naverar, “to exchange,” “to trade.”
According to The Language Secretariat of Greenland, the name came from Inuit mythology. Navarana, the main character in the story, essentially “alternated between two different tribes and ended up creating disunity.” In Greenland’s version of the tale, the two tribes were the Greenlanders and the Norsemen.
One real-life Navarana was the first wife of Danish polar explorer Peter Freuchen, who lived for many years in northern Greenland. She was a Greenlandic Inuit woman originally known as Mequpaluk (meaning “little feather”). Around the time they were married in 1911, she changed her name to Navarana — a fitting choice, given her new dual-tribe status. The couple had two children, a boy named Mequsaq (“featherlike”) and a girl named Pipaluk (“little possession”), before Navarana died of the flu in 1921.
Harper, Kenn. Give Me My Father’s Body: The Life of Minik, the New York Eskimo. NY: Pocket Books, 1986.
1. Malik 2. Aputsiaq 3. Minik* 4. Hans 5. Inunnguaq 6. Kristian 7. Nuka 8. Salik* 9. Peter 10. Inuk* and Ivik* (tied)
*Ivaana means “brood egg,” Naasunnguaq means “little flower,” Kimmernaq means “lingonberry,” minik is a glue-like whale oil that is used as a sealing for skin boats, Salik means “the cleanser,” Inuk means “human being” — Inunnguaq from the ’90s list is a diminutive form of Inuk — and Ivik means “(blade of) grass.”
The recent rise of Salik can be traced back to the 1980s:
In the beginning of the ’80s the artist Keld Hansen published a series of children’s books about a boy named Salik, who lived in Greenland in the 1600s. In that same period, Peter Berliner, a psychologist, did a series of radio programs where the main character was named Salik. Statistics Greenland depicted a rise in the number of boys names immediately after that.
The 2011 report includes many other Greenlandic names as well, but I’ll put those into a separate post a few days from now. Until then, which of all the above names do you like best?
P.S. Almost forgot to define Malu and Norsaq from the first sentence! Malu is a short form of Marie-Louise, and a norsaq is a harpoon-throwing stick.
Here’s the story of an unusual baby name that was bestowed way back in 12th-century Paris.
The parents were French philosopher and theologian Peter Abelard and his brilliant student, Héloïse d’Argenteuil. They started their infamous love affair (“one of the best known love tragedies of history,” according to Britannica*) in the year 1115, and in 1118 they welcomed their only child, a son.
Because he was illegitimate, it fell upon Héloïse to do the naming, and she chose Astralabe — after the Astrolabe, a sophisticated navigational device being used at that time in the Islamic world (which included much of Spain). Astrolabes coud “locate and predict the positions and risings of the sun, moon, planets, and stars.”
In Catholic France, where most babies were named after saints, “Astralabe” was a highly unconventional choice. (One science writer, in 2008, compared Héloïse’s choice to “a woman in a sci-tech backwater today naming her son iPod.”)
Abelard and Héloïse soon married and legitimized Astralabe, but that didn’t stop Héloïse’s outraged relatives from attacking and castrating Abelard. Both went into religious life, though they technically remained married. No one is certain what became of Astralabe, but name-based evidence (a “Canon Astralabe” at Nantes cathedral circa 1150, for instance) suggests that he entered the church as well.
The word “astrolabe” is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek compound noun astrolabosorganon, meaning “star-taking instrument.” Astrolabos is made up of the elements astron, meaning “star,” and lambanien, meaning “to take.”
With a first name as iconic as Kobe Bryant’s, who needs a middle name with an interesting story? Well, Kobe Bryant does. His middle name — Bean — is a touching tribute to his father, Joe Bryant. Because of his high energy and ability to jump (guess Kobe must have inherited that particular skill), his father was nicknamed “Jellybean.” Luckily, Kobe’s parents didn’t go for the full candy-coated name and instead just dubbed him Kobe Bean Bryant.
The names for Beatrix Potter’s much-loved cast of animal characters may have come from ageing headstones.
Peter Rabbett, Jeremiah Fisher, Mr Nutkins, Mr Brock and Mr McGregor have all been found on stones at Brompton cemetery, west London, near where Miss Potter lived from 1863 to 1913. This seems to confirm local rumours that have circulated for years about the source of the names of her characters.
“Leisel was a very rare name when I was born in 1985… When I was born actually, my doctor said to my mum ‘you cannot call her Leisel because that’s not a name… You’re going to regret that one day,'” the Olympic swimmer said.
“And they absolutely did.”
The 32-year-old also went on to say having a unique name isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when no one can spell it right.
“The only problem with my name is it’s spelt L-E-I-S-E-L — and everyone spells it wrong. Everyone spells it as L-I-E-S-E-L,” she said.
“So that is a bit painful, it’s a bit annoying. But I do love my name and I love that it’s different.”
From the 2003 book Exploring Twins: Towards a Social Analysis of Twinship by Elizabeth A. Stewart:
“[I]n such cultures as those of the UK and the US the implication of twinship in the broader realities of social structure is clearly indicated by the link between the ‘naming’ process for twins and class differences: higher socio-economic groups tend to choose more separate, less ‘twinsy’ names for their children, emphasizing values of and possibilities for individuation and autonomy, whereas the greater tendency for lower-class groups to actively emphasize and encourage unitary ‘twinness’, whether through naming, dress or referencing (as in the ‘twins’ as a social and linguistic unit) may well reflect values of familial solidarity and fewer opportunities for individual social advancement.”
The grandmother of a new baby named after murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer insists the name was meant as a tribute to the dead girl.
Tiahleigh’s furious mother Cyndi Uluave unleashed on a young couple whose baby was born last Friday, and named Tiahleigh, claiming it was disrespectful to use the name of her daughter who was killed in 2015.
‘Who names their baby after a dead girl? This wasn’t their name to use,’ she said.