Thursday, July 12, 2012

Naming Patterns

    A few posts ago Far Side of Fifty made some comments on how her grandchildren and some relatives were named. It was interesting post and got me thinking about patterns used by different cultural, ethnic and religious groups for naming children.

     Far Side got me thinking about naming children in my family. My ancestors came to Canada in the late 1800' to early 1900's. They came from Volhynia which is in the Ukraine. They had gone to the Ukraine in the late 1700's. So they were cut off from the main German culture. They remained as Germans from the late 1700's.

    So the German naming pattern usually went this way. The first grand son or son was given the paternal grandfather's name as his second name. The second grandson or son was given the maternal grandfather's name. They also had a pattern of giving a child a first name after a saint. The second name would be the name used every day. As with most groups these were general guidelines and variations occurred.  The same pattern applied to female names.

    Now it only took a few generations for these patterns to be forgotten or changed. Many did not learn the German language. Many Anglicized their names. My name was originally spelled Klein. My Dad changed it to Kline.  Some of his family were not very pleased with him.

    The Jewish religion has many fairly strict guidelines for naming children. My friend told me that the Rabbi had to approve the names he wanted to give his children.

    The English had a custom where a child was quite often given a surname for a second name. As a result you see many English names which include  surnames. My brother in law was named John after his father and Elliott after his mother's family. To my way of thinking many of these names had a rather elegant ring to them.

    Icelanders use a patronymic system of naming children. Jon Larson's son becomes Peter Jonsson. His daughter Anna becomes Anna Jonsson. Again they liked to use Saint's names.

    Naming by our aboriginals was interesting to say the least. Children were given names that had significance in a spiritual, animal or place origin. Names were changed when circumstances called for it.  Someone could be renamed if there had been a misfortune and they wanted to change their status to become more fortunate.

    I did not use any pattern in naming my children. I picked up my adopted son a couple of days before Christmas. It was a very unexpected placement and we hadn't thought of any name. Since we were going to my parent's place for Christmas, my wife said, "We need a name before we go for Christmas. I don't want your Dad to name him."

     So I've had a brief look at naming patterns and you don't have to look very far to learn a great deal.