PDA

View Full Version : Connotations of Non-English Names



AZ_Dawn
06-19-2008, 12:12 AM
Anyone know where I find out the connotations of non-English names, especially for French and Spanish names? Websites would be nice, but book suggestions are good, too. I've got some long lists of period name I gathered that I'd also like to post on my blog as a resourse for others. I've already double-checked with foreign language dictionaries to make sure they weren't puns, nasty slang, etc. I got some critique on the names to weed out the ones that were too pun-like, corny, or famous for pirate fiction, but it was mostly from an English speaker. I may be writing cheese, but I don't want people to laugh at it for the wrong reasons!

If you think I'd be better off posting the names here for advice rather than going around the web, let me know which forum to post them in. I'll warn you, though, I wasn't kidding when I said these were long lists. Thanks!

Mr Flibble
06-19-2008, 12:50 AM
Baby names site (http://www.aboutbabynames.com/)

Has various language meanings

This one (http://www.123-baby-names.com/a_1.html) has all sorts of origins from Abkhazian to Zuni Indian

I'm not sure where you'd find other connotations, but pick a name and google it to see hwat comes up?

JamieFord
06-19-2008, 01:03 AM
Check this out. Behind the name. (http://www.behindthename.com/random/)

Sarpedon
06-19-2008, 01:17 AM
If you are asking for connotations like 'John' is a prostitute's client, or that 'Norbert' is someone who is stupid or incompetant, (even though these have nothing to do with their actual meaning) I guess I don't know where to begin to look.

AZ_Dawn
06-19-2008, 03:51 AM
Thanks, guys!


If you are asking for connotations like 'John' is a prostitute's client, or that 'Norbert' is someone who is stupid or incompetant, (even though these have nothing to do with their actual meaning) I guess I don't know where to begin to look.
Yes, that's more or less what I'm looking for.

Ravenlocks
06-19-2008, 11:13 AM
The best way is probably to ask a native speaker, if possible. Otherwise it's really difficult to (1) find out and (2) trust your non-native sources.

What I often find in lists of foreign-language names is that there are errors in spelling and suggested usage (sometimes in meaning as well) that a speaker of the language would spot instantly. Most lists of Russian names and how to use them make me cringe.

It sounds like you're trying to avoid a cringe-worthy list, so more power to you! :)

johnnysannie
06-19-2008, 03:40 PM
A good baby names book - available in about any bookstore - should have both the meanings of names as well as the foreign variations.

Menyanthana
06-19-2008, 03:53 PM
If you are asking for connotations like 'John' is a prostitute's client, or that 'Norbert' is someone who is stupid or incompetant, (even though these have nothing to do with their actual meaning) I guess I don't know where to begin to look.

"John" is actually mentioned in the dictionary with exactly that meaning. How can parents name their children "John"? Seems to be a cruel thing to do.

Never heard about "Norbert" though. But I remember some people using the name "Horst" to describe a stupid person. (I assume, that's only used in Germany.)

johnnysannie
06-19-2008, 04:02 PM
"John" is actually mentioned in the dictionary with exactly that meaning. How can parents name their children "John"? Seems to be a cruel thing to do.

Never heard about "Norbert" though. But I remember some people using the name "Horst" to describe a stupid person. (I assume, that's only used in Germany.)

The meaning of the name John is actually "God is gracious" and it has been a favorite name for centuries. The use of the word "john" has little to do with the name and has other meanings, including a restroom. Many, many names have other meanings when used as words.

Parents choosing a name have to outweigh the value of the name, any family history with the name, and how the name sounds over cultural uses of the same name as a word.

Believe it or not, "Gay" used to be a popular name for both genders; my best friend in high school, female, was named "Gay" and one of my aunts was married to man named Gaylord who was called "Gay" by everyone. It's not a name, however, you hear or see much in usage any more because of the newer connation to mean "homosexual".

Sarpedon
06-19-2008, 05:16 PM
I only know about Norbert because of watching British movies. It isn't used as such in the USA.

Menyanthana
06-19-2008, 05:30 PM
The meaning of the name John is actually "God is gracious" and it has been a favorite name for centuries. The use of the word "john" has little to do with the name and has other meanings, including a restroom. Many, many names have other meanings when used as words.


Yes, and I am almost sure, schoolchildren will use every meaning a name has when used as word to make fun of the children they don't like.
Children are like this. :(

AZ_Dawn
06-20-2008, 01:39 AM
Thanks guys!

The best way is probably to ask a native speaker, if possible. Otherwise it's really difficult to (1) find out and (2) trust your non-native sources.

So unless I can find native speakers, I've done about all I can with the dictionaries? Finding a Spanish speaker shouldn't be too hard for me, though most of their advice would be biased towards Mexican Spanish. French speakers are a bit rare in my stretch of the desert, though.



It sounds like you're trying to avoid a cringe-worthy list, so more power to you! :)

Well, some of them I wouldn't give to a real live modern American child (Nicaise or Betolina, anyone?), but you've got the picture.



"John" is actually mentioned in the dictionary with exactly that meaning. How can parents name their children "John"? Seems to be a cruel thing to do.


They probably think it's a common enough name to be safe from the more unfortunate connotations. The usual reason I hear for parents rejecting the name John is because it's so common; toilets and harlots are rarely mentioned.

StephanieFox
06-20-2008, 09:10 AM
Check this out:

http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager

pdr
06-20-2008, 02:01 PM
had a Dictionary of names from different countries, arranged by country. It might be useful. Oxford UP do dictionaries of Christian names.

AZ_Dawn
06-21-2008, 02:16 AM
had a Dictionary of names from different countries, arranged by country. It might be useful. Oxford UP do dictionaries of Christian names.
Thank, but I already have the names. I just need to know if they have strong or bad connotations, like Fabio is associated with romance novels or Adolph has that genocidal dictator thing going against it.

Danger Jane
06-21-2008, 02:25 AM
On behindthename, people leave comments. Some of them are just "I love this" or "I hate this" but some are just what you're looking for.

AZ_Dawn
06-22-2008, 12:00 AM
On behindthename, people leave comments. Some of them are just "I love this" or "I hate this" but some are just what you're looking for.
Thanks; I didn't notice that feature before. Of course, the tiny type didn't help, but really! :e2smack:

Haven't finished looking yet. Most of the comments are from an English-speaking perspective, but I have found a few useful tidbits from them (Alphonse is French for pimp? :eek: ).