Friday, January 8, 2016

Top Baby Names in Estonia

Tere lugejad!

Today we have another installment in my Global Names series! In the past, I've looked at Brazil, Germany, Sweden, Israel, and Russia - but now we'll be looking at names from a slightly smaller nation.

I've chosen a few names from each gender's top 25 list from 2014 - not too many nations have released official 2015 lists yet, so hang tight! I'll also be including any relative English equivalents, for clarity's sake. 

I've also already reviewed some of the other names (Artem, Kirill, Arina) in the top 25 - check out the Swedish and Russian lists if you're interested in similar names!

Female Names

Lisandra - Millicent, Melisande, or Lysander
Currently at #5 in Estonia, this long and feminine name was only given to 15 baby girls in the US in 2014. But there are plenty of reasons Lisandra should be more popular: the aural cadence like Samantha and Amanda, the honorific possibilities for Lisa or Andrea, and the substantial meaning- "strong in work".

Mirtel - Myrtle
A botanical name that isn't Lily, Rose, or Violet? Sign me up! While the English version is still a little dated, the Estonian spelling seems softer and more amicable to nicknames - Mira or Tilly, for instance. And given that it's never been recorded in US name data, the odds of running across another little Mirtel on this side of the Atlantic are highly unlikely. 

Meaning "from Milan", this name is already rising in the US - at #762 in 2014. Milana's melodic sound and M-beginning help it fit in with other popular names, but somehow this name seems more classic. It's also a great alternative to trendy Mila, Amelia, and Melanie. Sister name Milan is even higher on the charts, for fans of London and Paris

Lenna - Lena or Leona
Pronounced like Jenna, this name can also be considered a more feminine alternative to Lennon. It definitely has more of a Scandinavian aura, but works cross-culturally for a variety of languages. Personally, I'm more of a Lena fan, but Lenna is too interesting to pass up!

Marleen - Marlene
While the English equivalent can be pronounced Mar-LEEN or Mar-LEE-Na, the Estonian name is the former. I'm a huge fan of Marlene, especially because it's a combination of Mary and Magdalene, two infinitely intriguing women in the Christian faith. And while Marleen was more popular in the 1940's and 1950's, the similarities to cute Marley can't be ignored. 

Male Names

Rasmus - Erasmus 
This name means "beloved", and it's topping the charts in northern European countries - why hasn't the US gotten ahold of Rasmus yet?! There are dozens of incredibly cool namesakes, the sound is close to Russell, Amos, and Roman, and it's virtually unknown in the states. With or without the E-beginning, this name is a fantastic choice. 

While I can't find a definitive meaning/origin for the name, it seems to be close to the Estonian word for "joy". I think this name could definitely fit in with current trends - the -et ending like Everett or Bennett, the Rom-beginning like Rome or Roman, and the easy pronunciation. You might raise a few eyebrows, but I much prefer Romet to Rocket!

Maksim - Maxim
I included Maksim not because it's an unusual name, but because the Estonian spelling is unusual. For those who like creative spellings, this one has a linguistic base! Maxim means "greatest" and is currently on the top 1000 in the United States. 

Marten - Martin
This is another less-heard spelling for a popular name, but with a twist: for fans of Fox and Bear, a marten is a ferret-like animal native to the northern hemisphere.  If you're looking for a nature name that doesn't belong in a zoo, why not Marten? It also means "warlike", and could honor a familial Martin

Sander - Alexander
A cute diminutive that sounds like an occupational name, Sander fits well next to Sawyer or Sailor. It means "defending men", and has a friendly, down-to-earth quality about it. A personal plus is that it could be an homage to my favorite presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders!

Tell me your picks in the comments!

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