More About Norwegian Names

As I continued to read A Handbook of Scandinavian Names, it was fun to see the names in our own family, especially a few that I have questions about.

The name “Borre,” for example, is not common as a given name, at least not here in the USA, and I never have been able to learn much about it. This book groups it with Borge, Borje (with / through the o), and Byrge, and then desribes them as “younger forms of Birger.” Birger is described as Swedish, but common in all the Scandinavian countries. Its meaning in Old Norse is “helpful” or “helper, ally.”

The “Esten” as in Estenson is listed as a variant Oystein (/ through the o). This latter was a very popular name in Norway, and in the Old Norse is a compound of two words meaning “luck” and “stone.”

Another name I wondered about was “Gina.” The name appears in America from other traditions with a soft “g.” This book finally verifies Gine as a Norwegian name – the “e” and “a” ending are interchangeable in the language (“e” is usually more Danish, such as Ole vs. Ola). Still, the book does not provide separate information on the name. My guess, however, is that Gina is a shortened form of Jorgine or Jorgina (/ through the o again). Among boys’ names, Jorgen’s English form is George. So maybe that’s it.

When you see Anne in one of its many forms in Norwegian, know that you are looking at the most popular girl’s name in all of Scandinavia since 1500. It derives from the Hebrew name Hannah, and is a reference to the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Ole, the name of Norwegian caricature, was Ola until, under Danish rule, the Danish pastors spelled it Ole. Ola or Ole has a noble heritage: it comes from Olaf, the name of the king or saint of Norway of the same name.

So, there are just a few examples from a book that’s fun to peruse. I haven’t seen a better source for learning about Norwegian names.

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This entry was posted in Bertinus Estensen, Elias Borreson and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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