FIRST NAMES




Ed Jajko writes: A couple of comments on Eugen Solf's very interesting posting on German forenames:

The usage for first names leaves many options open: a boy may be called Maria if they have another clearly male first name (I only know boys called ... Maria ... in Catholic families),

Monks of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order (the Trappists, O.C.S.O.) are given a new name on profession, as commonly are other monks, friars, and nuns.  The Trappists, in addition, add the name Maria. A Trappist historical novelist of some minor fame was M. Raymond, OCSO, i.e. Maria (or Mary) Raymond.  The more famous Thomas Merton's name in religion was M. Louis.  In the 1960s or 70s, the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere, although I am not sure of this) began what I cannot help but think of as the pernicious practice of giving nuns male names.  To this day, parish schools are staffed by Sisters John, Robert, James, etc.  Heaven forbid that the male pastor of the parish should have been renamed Father Anne, Joan, or Katherine.

What many parents do not realise is that a fashion of today is something the child has to live with for his or her next 95 or so years - how many boys are out there who changed their names from Adolf to anything else?

It's not just Germany.  Humorists and social commentators in the US have noted that someday American nursing homes will be filled with decrepit nonagenarian females named Heather, Jennifer, Tiffany, Stacy, Brandi, and Britney

For Americans the best-known Imogene may be the late comic actress Imogene Coca, who partnered with Sid Caesar for several years in the 1950s.  The name "Imogene" may originate in Latin "imago," but the shift from "a" to "o" and the "gene" ending indicate that the name must have gone through medieval French.

RH: How long will Pope John Paul II survive, and will the Catholic Church be headed by some one willing to make real reforms? As for the Trappists, years ago I visited their headquarters in La Trappe, Normandy... The only time Trappists are allowed to speak is when they are showing around visitors:  Our guide talked a blue streak for about an hour to make up for his days of silence. It is said that the Trappists have grown phenomenally in the US. They sound quite un-American to me.  They must be getting away from the yak.yak.yak of our society, made worse by cell-phones.


Ronald Hilton 2004

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last updated: February 28, 2005