French Names

Names In Translation

from pinterest.com

I recently took delivery of a rather exciting package from Amazon – Harry Potter et L’ordre du phénix.

Whilst the French isn’t really tripping me up so much, it did take me an awful long time to figure out who the character called Rogue was. It’s one thing to adjust to reading in a different language, but completely another thing to suddenly start referring to a character you’ve know for several years by a different name.

I thought I’d make a post out of this, because there are actually some rather notable name translations in the book and indeed beyond as I’ve since received three more of the French translations of  the Harry Potter books.

Before the list, it should be noted that in French particularly (although not in other translations) the majority of major characters simply kept their English names because they seemed to work well enough in French, this includes the entire Weasley clan amongst others. There are also cases when the only change is an accent, comme Pétunia Dursley; or in some cases simply an added e, comme Draco Malefoy.

  • Alastor Maugrey (Alastor Moody)
  • Bartemius Croupton
  • Mme. Bibine (Madam Hooch)
  • Helga Poufsouffle (Helga Hufflepuff)
  • Lavande Brown (Lavender Brown)
  • Mimi Geignarde (Moaning Myrtle)
  • Pénélope Deauclaire (Penelope Clearwater)
  • Pomona Chourave (Pomona Sprout)
  • Pompom Pomfresh (Poppy Pomfrey)
  • Riesu (Peeves)
  • Salazar Serpentard (Salazar Slytherin)
  • Severus Rogue (Severus Snape)
  • Tom Elvis Jedusor (Tom Riddle Jr., aka Voldemort)
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Quirky, yet Popular names in France

Originally this post was dubbed Names like Capucine, a perhaps more zippy title than the one it was eventually bestowed. The name Capucine was in the French top 100 in 2010, but isn’t the most well known of French names, comme Angelique et tout ça.

That is, essentially, the brief for all the names in this list: names which are popular in France, but ones which you may remain unfamiliar with.

For the purposes of this post, I used Behind the Name’s list of the Top 500 names in France in 2010. I also made a point to only include names of legit French origins, i.e. names like Clelia (Italian), Manel (Spanish), Sakina (Arabic) and Enola, whilst remarkably popular in France, sadly had to go.

Garance (#129)

The French name for a plant, it appears as a character name in the film Les Enfants du Paradis.

Lison (#114)

In a similar style to the more popular Manon, Lison is a French pet form of Elizabeth.

Zélie (#88)

An intriguing name of multiple possible origins. The name could be a diminutive of either Solène or Azélie. Equally, the name could be the French form of the name Zelia, which itself could either derive from Zillah or Celia. The name Zillah is a Hebrew origins and means shade, whilst Celia is of Latin origins and means sky (almost the complete opposite!)

Bertille (#360)

The French form of the slightly outdated Bertha, a name which derives from Old German and means bright.

Cyrielle (#298)

The French feminine form of Cyril, a name that means lord.

Louison (#274)

Another name like Manon, Louison is a French pet form of Louise and is also popular for boys.

Aliénor (#444)

The original Provençal form of Eleanor.

Alizée (#208)

Although this name looks to be a variation of Alice, it is in fact a modern French name. Alizée derives from the word alizé, which means trade winds.

Ludivine (#301)

Possibly derives from Leutwin, which means friend of the people, but that’s not certain by any means. It’s popularity in France is most likely due to the French TV series Les Gens du Mogador, which was on air in the 1970s.

Agathe (#58)

Mostly on the list because who’d have thought the French form of Agatha could be so popular? Remember the French taxi girls I mentioned the other day? One of them was called Agathe, said a-GAHT, and her names means good.

Nesrine (#251)

A rather fascinating French form of the Turkish name Nesrin, a name which derives from Persian and means wild rose.

Tiphaine (#303)

In french folklore, Tifaine was said the be the mother of the fabled Three Kings. The name is closely related to Tiffany, and both are said to derive from Theophania, a Greek name meaning a vision of God.

Philippine (#458)

A rather elaborate French feminine form of Philip, which also just so happens to coincide with the name of the country, The Philippines. The name Philip means friend of horses.

Athénaïs (#496)

This name is the French form of Greek name Athenais, which itself derives from Athena.

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Ou

Since I was talking about a Swiss family yesterday, it seems as if we should continue our continental talk by retreating once again back to France. You see, I was scrolling through the 2010 French data on BehindTheName, when I noticed that an awful lot of names contained the letters o and u side-by-side – especially a lot of lou names (Woo!).

Here’s a complete list of the names in alphabetical order, with the majority of meanings courtesy of MeilleurPrénoms:

BOYS:

Abdoulaye (#439) – servant of God, Arabic. Abdoulaye Méïté plays for Dijon FC and Abdoulaye Wade is the former President of Senegal.

Amadou (#468) – possibly a variant of Amadeus, which means love of God in Latin. Could also be taken from the French word amadou, which means tinder or derive from Arabic and mean praiseworthy

Ayoub (#95) – repentance, Arabic

Édouard (#209) – French form of Edward, which means guardian of wealth

Elouan (#170) – possibly derives from Celtic and means light

Lou (#451) – short for Lou- names

Louca (#307) – variation of Luke, which means from Lucania

Loucas (#325) – see Louca

Louis (#5) – derives from Ludwig and means famous warrior

Louison (#321) – could mean son of Louis or simply be a petform of the name Louis/Louise

Louka (#85) – see Louca

Loukas (#449) – see Louca

Mahamadou (#459) – praiseworthy, Arabic

Mamadou (#316) – newly weaned, Arabic

Marouane (#340) – rock, quartz, Arabic

Moussa (#251) – saved from the waters, Arabic

Ousmane (#475) – young serpent/snake, Arabic

Souleymane (#370) – healthy, intact, safe, Arabic

Titouan (#59) – variant of Antoine, which means flower, Greek or invaluable, Latin

Youcef (#335) – God will save, Hebrew

Younes (#105) – close to God, Hebrew

Youssef (#145) – see Youcef

GIRLS

Anouk (#154) – grace, Hebrew

Dounia (#237) – wealth, Arabic

Fatoumata (#214) – small camel that has just been weaned, Arabic

Leelou (#381) – variant of Lilou

Lilou (#12) – derived from the character in Luc Besson’s film The Fifth Element

Lou (#25) – short form of Lou- names

Lou-Ann (#156) – combination of the name Lou and the name Ann

Lou-Anne (#167) – variant of Lou-Ann

Louane (#29) – variant of Lou-Ann

Louann (#327) – variant of Lou-Ann

Louanne (#200) – variant of Lou-Ann

Louisa (#195) – famed warrior, Germanic

Louise (#10) – variant of Louisa

Louison (#274) – see Louison above

Louna (#19) – variant of Luna, which means moon

Lylou (#105) – see Lilou

Maimouna (#403) – happy, Arabic

Marilou (#284) – smoosh of Marie and Lou

Marylou (#291) – see Marilou

Nour (#117) – variant of Noor, which means light in Arabic

Soukaina (#486) – wellness, Arabic

Soumaya (#331) – perfect, high, Arabic

Youna (#453) – if, Celtic

Yousra (#256) – who has good character, Arabic

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French Music Scene

Coeur de Pirate, from blogger.com

You know when you get this idea in your head and you feel the need to run with it? I’m getting that a lot lately and it’s produced yet another slightly random post. Although, that said, it’s Eurovision tomorrow, so one could see this as a delightful prelude into French music before we get to see the French performance tomorrow night. Last year France sent a guy named Amaury, who performed in Corsican. This year France are fielding a girl named Anggun, yes that really is her name; she’s originally from Indonesia, but is now a naturalised French citizen.

Other interesting (at least to me) names from the French music scene are:

1. Lola (song w/ English&French lyrics)

Not the name of an artist, moreover the name of a single by French pop-punk band Superbus, fronted by Jennifer Ayache. The song was released in June 2007 and reached #7 in the French charts. It was this song and the single released before it, Butterfly, which essentially established Superbus in the French conscious. The album they both came from, Wow, was Superbus’ third studio album and won Best Pop Album at Victoires de la Musique in 2007. My second favourite Superbus song? Nelly. In both cases the songs are about girls named Lola and Nelly, respectively.

The name Lola was originally a nickname for Dolores, which means sorrows, but has come to be popular in her own right, like so many other names in the England&Wales Top 100 for 2010 (Lola ranks at #33).

2. Béatrice

The real name of artist Coeur de Pirate, who is currently expecting a baby at the end of summer 2012. Fun fact: the French nickname for Béatrice is Béa, said bay-ah, not bee. She released her self-titled album in 2009, which went on to be nominated for a Juno award.

The name Béatrice in whatever form derives from the Latin beatus, meaning blessed or happy.

3. Nolwenn

A lass by the name Nolwenn Leroy was the winner of season two of France’s Star Academy. The winners of the other seasons were: Jenifer (S1); Élodie (S3); Grégory (S4); Magalie (S5); Cyril (S6); Quentin (S7); and Mikels (S8).

This is a Breton name, which means holy one from Noyal. The singer has helped to spur the popularity of this name, and she pronounces her name nol-wen.

4. Florent

In 1998, Florent Pagny won the Victoires de la Musique award for Male Artist of the Year. He’s had several no.1s in France since his début in 1988, the most recent being in 2003 with Ma liberté de penser, which held the top spot for 6 weeks.

The name Florent is the French masculine form of the Latin name Florentius, which means belonging to Florens; the name Florens itself means blossoming.

5. Édith

It would see wrong not to mention the great Édith Piaf in this list at least once; the lady behind the great NonJe ne regrette rien. French names are consider to be über chic, which may just give Édith the edge. To me, I’ve always seen Edith as a classic English name, so the accent took some getting used to, even for me. I guess it works fine for the French, but I question its need if one does not interact either with or in French.

The name itself comes from the Old English name Eadgyth, which means blessed war.

6. Mylène

Ms Farmer is one of the most successful artists in France, perhaps due to the fact that she holds the record for the most no.1 singles in the French charts; I have a friend who calls her France’s answer to Madonna. Many of you may now be familiar with Myleene Klaas, the British celeb who had a baby named Hero Harper last March.

As for the name, it is a shortening of the compound name Marie-Hélène.

7. Maé

Christophe Maé has been around for a few years now, and it’s his surname which caught my eye. Kind of apt really, given that it is still (just) the month of May. Christophe is another pop singer, although he’s more of a acoustic guitar pop-singer than a synthesiser one.

The name of the month comes from Maia, who was the Roman Goddess of fertility.

8. Mika

Now, this is an interesting fact: in the list of the Top 10 best-selling singles in France in 2011, only one was sung in French, and it was released by London-based Mika. You may have heard of him, he’s released several English-speaking singles over the years too, infact, Elle Me Dit was his first single in French and it clearly went down well with the general French public.

We’ve covered Mika a few times, most recently here, but the general gist of the name from the masculine point of view is that it is a variation/diminuative of Michael, which means who is like God?

9. Yannick

Yannick Noah was first a successful tennis player, and now he spends his free time carving out a music career. Yannick mostly sings pop songs; the last time I was in France his single Angela was getting quite a bit of airplay. For the Americans reading, Yannick’s son, Joakim Noah, plays for the NBA Chicago Bulls.

Yannick is a relative popularity in France, deriving from the Breton name Yann, which is their version of John.

10. Kyo

I’ve covered the band Kyo at least once before, notably here, so there’s nothing really new to report, except that Kyo are expected to reform in October this year. Well, that’s the latest rumour. They’re a pop-rock band who were especially popular in the early so-called noughties.

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Weekend Post:Romilly&Friends

from string-or-nothing.com

The name Romilly is emerging as a stylish 21-st century pick, but her origins are less than clear. What’s for sure is that there are several villages in France which go be the name Romilly, and that got me thinking about other place names in France which have potential akin to Romilly. For the sake of my sanity, I stuck to the areas around Paris for inspiration, but may one day expand this to other areas.

1. Neuilly (Neuilly-sur-Seine, neu-ee)

Perhaps too ‘French’ to really be accepted by England speaking parents, it is the name of an area in the western suburbs of Paris, and is considered to be a rather bourgeois area of Paris, i.e. Kensington. Historical records sometimes showed this area to be named Nully, which makes this name remind me of Nelly. The current spelling was influenced by the French Academy standardisation of pronunciation.

2. Évry

Like Evie? Well, consider this her French place name sister. Évry can be found in the southern suburbs of Paris, and is twinned with the London borough of Bexley. In the 1960s it was earmarked by the French government to be part of it’s ‘new town’ initiative to prevent city crowding by the expansion of villes around major cities such as Paris and Lille. Confused? Think of Milton Keynes.

3. Sucy (Sucy-en-Brie)

Perhaps I could use this name to make a case for Susie, since the pronunciation is rather similar to if one were to say Susie with a French accent, like Lucy-with-an-s. Sucy-en-Brie can be found in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, and is twinned with Camberly in Surrey.

4. Chelles

I’v actually really taken a shine to the name Shelly recently, and this name reminds me of her. Like many things in French, the final s is not pronounced. Chelles can be located in the eastern suburbs of Paris, as an area in Marne-la-Vallée, which is famed for being the location of Disneyland Paris.

5. Bailly

Kind of like the French version of Bailey, which can be found in the Yvelines department in the outermost area of Paris.

6. Bonnelles

Bonnie and Nell are both considered stylish choices, and this seems to be the best of both worlds. Like Bailly, this too can be found in the Yvelines department.

7. Fleury (Fontenay-le-Fleury)

Lies also in Yvelines, and Fleury is a slight change to the already-in-use name Fleur, which means flower in French.

8. Mézy (Mézy-sur-Seine)

Like a jazzy version of Maisie, this is another area in Yvelines.

9. Thoiry

I’m not such what name to compare this to, maybe Thora which has received a lot of chatter about her of late. This town also lies in the Yvelines department.

10. Vélizy (Vélizy-Villacoublay)

Another jazzed-up-with-a-z kind of name, it can be found in the south-western suburbs of Paris. Vélizy also happens to be twinned with a town named Harlow in England.

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Weekend Post: Recent French Finds

from uni.edu

There were two posts competing to be this edition of the weekend post, but this one won out since I’ve been talking about French names quite a lot. But these have mostly been of fictional ones. Today I want to mention to you the names of some recent acquaintances of mine, who just so happen to be French.

The first one I want to mention is Marie-Marie. Her name is actually this, and certainly seems a case of the parents loving a name so much they gave it to their child twice. It’s not so far-fetched when you consider that the same principle or repeating sounds is the basis of names such as Lulu, Coco and Mimi – however few people simply call their child Co and Mi, and even Lu – but Lou is becoming quite popular as a female name in her own right over here in Europe. Another notable example of this comes from the Pixar film The Incredibles, wherein the youngest of the Parr children is called Jack-Jack – although I have seen it mentioned that his full name is John Jackson, two names which share origins.

Another interesting name I’ve come across is Lodie. Now, you may have heard of the name Elodie before, or even seen her frenchified as Élodié, but I’ve never seen Lodie before. Elodie is the French form of the name Alodia, of which there is a Spanish St. Alodia, who had a sister called Nunilo. The exact meaning of the name Elodie is unclear, although a common theory is foreign riches, coming from Germanic elements ala meaning foreign and od meaning riches. As for Lodie? If we can love Jodie and names such as Lola and Lacey, then Lodie stands good ground between them.

The final name I want to mention is Oréliane. Now, Google didn’t like this name at all, suggesting that the name I was really after was either Aurelia, Elaine, Coraline or Eliana. The name Orelia is a legit variant of the name Aurelia, so Oréliane could indeed have originally come from her. The name Aurelia is of Latin origin and means golden. I’ve always had a fonness for the name Aurelia, and to be honest still prefer her over Oréliane. Either way, she’s a fascinating name that sits well in French.

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Au Revoir Les Enfants

Jean and Julien, from dvdtalk.com

What do you know, a complete drought of French name-related posts and two come along in quick succession. Yesterday we looked at one of my favourite French language films, and this week we’re looking at one based in the same period of French history, and this one is also based in a all-boy boarding school and was released in 1987. It is based on the childhood of the director – Louis Malle.

For me, this film is the origin of my love of the name Quentin, for in French he sounds so much better to my ears – more like CAWN-ten. The main character was called Julien Quentin, and he had an older brother who also attended the school called François. Julien was played by Gaspard Manesse, and the name Gaspard always brings to mind Gaston from Disney classic Beauty and the Beast. His mother was played by actress Francine Racette.

The film revolves around the Nazi occupation of France. The boarding school which Julien attends has taken in a Jewish boy by the name Jean Kippelstein (although renamed Jean Bonnet), a secret revealed by kitchen-hand Joseph to the local Nazis after the school dismisses him when they discover that he was running a black market amongst the boys. This is based on a real-life experience of the director, who also attended a boarding school which took in Jews. Tragically they were discovered and both them and the headmaster ended up at concentration camps.

The name Jacqueline was the name of two minor actresses in the film; I work with a lady named Jacqueline, who more often goes by the name Jacqui. A much disliked ex-politician here in the UK is called Jacqui Smith, famed for her husband’s rather seedy expenses claims. Thanks to Jacqui from work, I actually love the name Jacqui and we used to call my brother this when he was little because his hair grew so quick he looked very feminine for most of his toddler-days. I think this is very much proof that who you know with a name really does have an impact on how you view their name.

Speaking of the names of the actors, a couple of notable surnames amongst the actors which stood out to me are:

  • Genoud
  • Henriet (One part Harriet, one part Henrietta)
  • Rivet

There were some interesting first names used too. I won’t deny that Benoït – the French form of Benedict – is a pet-love of mine. Then there is also the French form of ArnoldArnaud which is pronounced ar-NO and means eagle power. I always think of the 90s cartoon Hey Arnold! and indeed the character Rimmer from Red Dwarf when I hear the name Arnold. With Archie and Alfie so popular here in England&Wales, one does have to wonder as to whether Arnie could follow in their steps. I’d call it a long-shot, but wouldn’t rule it out.

My love for the name Marcel derives from another French-language film: La Gloire de mon père. The main character was a young boy named Marcel, with a brother named Paul. They had a male friend named Lili and a sister whose name was never revealed in the film. However, the film is based on a book by one Marcel Pagnol, which was autobiographical. Alongside real-life brother Paul, Marcel had two other siblings: another brother named René and a sister named Germaine. His mother was called the rather lovely name Augustine.

An interesting point to make with the name Germaine, despite having nothing to do with the main film focus of this post is that she ultimately comes from the Latin name Germanus, which meant brother. This does rather pose the question: if you feminise the name, do you feminise the meaning? This rings home for the name Caroline too, since she’s the feminised form of Charles, a name which means man.

Moving back to the names given to characters, you come across the cutesy Babinot, the rather eyebrow raising Hippolyte and the rather modern sounding Perrin.

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Les Choristes

Snapshot from the film Les Choristes. Mathieu is conducting, with Pépinot sitting on the desk behind him, from grouchoreviews.com

Les Choristes is a modern classic film from France, released in 2004, depicting the tale of a problem-child all-male boarding school. It’s an adaptation of the film A Cage of Nightingales (La Cage aux Rossignols) from 1945.

The basis of the story is that the widely successful orchestra conductor Pierre Morhange returns to France when his mother dies. With his old friend Pépinot, he reminiscences about his childhood inspirations through the pages of a diary kept by his old music teacher Clément Mathieu.  The film travels back to 1949, when a young Pierre is the badly behaved son of a single mother. He attends a boarding school Fond de L’Etang (roughly translates to rock bottom), which is for difficult boys. The new teacher, Mathieu, decides to assemble a choir, which leads to the discovery of Pierre’s musical talents and a transformation in the boys behaviours.

There are so many lovely names associated with this film, despite many of the characters only being known by their surnames. Starting off with the music teacher, his name was Clément Mathieu. Both names have been used as first names, and I do believe that both names are also relatively popular in France at the moment.

The name Clément comes from the Late Latin name Clemens, which meant merciful or gentle. As for Mathieu, he’s the French form of the name Matthew, a name that means gift of God.

Another name from the teaching staff was Rachin, the name of the strict headmaster. Strictly speaking, it’s his surname, but there are plenty of surnames used in the film which have potential: Boniface, Pépinot and Corbin. My favourite character was Pépinot – the t is silent – who was the youngest boy at the school. He would wait by the gates every Saturday for his father, but his father would never turn up. Near the end of the film Mathieu is fired and when he leaves Pépinot runs after him and asks to go with him. Eventually Mathieu relents, and the two board a bus together. The touching part? This all happened on a Saturday.

As for Pierre, his mother was called Violette. And she’s not the only Violette associated with the film, and actress named Violette played one of Rachin’s daughters. His second daughter was played by a Lena, and his wife was played by a Marielle.

Other names of actors from the film:

Armen

People from Armenia are known as Armens, thus some have suggested that this name means son of Armenia. Taking this further, the name Armenia has been theorised to have derived from the name Aram, which means excellence in it’s Armenian capacity. The exact origins of the name Armenia makes this only one of many theories, however.

Didier

I know of two brothers named Didier and Dieudonne. The name Didier is the French form of the name Desiderio, which means longing, desire.

Fabrice

This name derives from the Latin word faber, which means craftsman. It is worth noting that the name Brice is not related, it instead means speckled.

Simonet

The real surname of the lad who played Pépinot, who was credited as Maxence Perrin. His father, Jacques Perrin, played the adult Pierre in the film. Maxence’s brothers are called Mathieu and Lancelot and Maxence’s cousin, Christophe, directed the film.

Theodule

There is a Spanish name Téodule, which comes from the name Theodulus. It has the meaning of slave of God. Presumeably, therefore, Theodule is the French interpretation of the name.

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Slightly More French

Julien Quentin, from Au Revoir Mes Enfants, from yggnoise.com

Last week we talked about French names which could work just as well in the English-speaking world. Now it’s time for a look at the flip side of the coin at which popular French names are less likely to work well, whether it be due to cultural settings or pronunciation problems. This list is subject to opinion, however, as what I’m not saying is that you should avoid all names mentioned here. What I am saying is that these names have the potential to cause fret if used outside a French-speaking region. In the last post I highlighted the name Thibault, with the less than obvious pronunciation of tee-bo – but there are plenty of other French names which could trip you up when it comes to trying to say them correctly:

That’s one of the biggest issue when it comes to using names from other cultures: the pronunciation problems. Mireille certainly looks pretty, and sounds pretty when said the way the French do: mee-ray. It’s also worth warning that the French pronounce Camille differently to the English – the ls are silent, plus the name is also considered very much unisex over there. Same goes for Sacha, and Jocelyn is strictly male. As for Quentin, he’s said something like CAWN-ten. The other classic example is Guillaume – the French form of William – which they pronounce as gee-om.

The sole female name I find myself strongly advising against you want to use a legitimately French name, but live in the States, or worse yet England? Fanny. It’s actually quite reasonably well-used in France to this day, and certainly used to enjoy a reasonable amount of popularity back in ye olde days, but given what it’s become slang for in the English-speaking world – especially England – it’s a name that will likely never take off as fellow Frances-derivative named Frankie is. If you want to use Frances, but don’t want you’re daughter to become Frankie, might I suggest Annie or Effie as alternatives.

I also mentioned in the last post how the French use Bastien as a short form of Sebastian – but like Fanny could lead to associations to less-than-wonderful words. It’s a slight shame really, and Bastien could work if you wanted it to. Bastien has popular use in his own right in France. Two other male names which takes on a whole new meaning in France are Come and Loan.

Capucine is a female name in France, and it distinctly similar to our word capuccino. Is it slightly too French? I hesistated when it came to including this name in this post, but feel it’s worth highlighting the name either way.

Whilst not strictly a French name, they do love the name Thais – said tah-eese – which strictly speaking comes from Ancient Greek. It’s popular following it’s use by French composer Jules Massenet. French film Les Enfants du Paradis has been attributed to the popularity of the female name Garance.

In France, Etienne is clearly masculine as he’s their form of Stephen, but I’ve had plenty friends mistake him as a female name. You can understand why, given that many French female names end -enne, think: Adrienne;Vivienne et al. Elouan also falls slightly foul of this, as does Rayane. In France, Valentin is more popular for lads than Valentine is for females, although both are relatively well-used in their own rights. My sister’s favourite name in this category which we shall end with is Sofiane, which is a popular name for males, not females.

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Not too French

Christophe Maé, from christophe-mae.fr

We kicked the week off looking at a very modern sounding French sibset, so it seems fitting to return to the topic of French names to end the week. Not French words, just French names. Specifically French names that are not too French, like Thibault is. I love the name Thibault, but chances are that you haven’t a clue how to say him, and neither will the majority of the English-speaking population. He’s likely too French for those who don’t have a grasp of the language. If you’re still musing about how to say Thibault, it’s tee-bo.

At the other end of the spectrum is the second most popular girls name in England&Wales: Sophie – the French form of Sophia. And I recently met a Manon/Matisse sibset at a very British cricket club. Other French forms of popular English names include:

Alexandre

Ambre

Bastien (short form of Sébastien)

Christophe

Émilie

Guillaume

Mathieu

Mathilde

But it’s the middle ground of popularity we’re looking at. Something distinctly French. Like Clement. Meilleur Prénoms put him at #19 in 2009 for France. You may have heard Clementine mentioned more and more often, but it’s the masculine name which has really taken off in France of late. On the same list, Clemence ranked at #34 for girls.

Another male name example is Jules. The only Jules I know who aren’t Julians are French. French singer Christophe Maé and his partner Nadège welcomed a son named Jules in 2008. We seem to spell it differently here in Britain as British chef Jamie Oliver is married to a Juliette ‘Jools’ and we also have the widely popular Jools Holland here in Britain, who was born Julian Miles. Jools Miles sounds quintessentially jazz, doesn’t it?

The name Enzo is hugely popular in France, too. I’ve seen people call him the male equivalent of called your child Porsche. The name reportedly became popular in France following Zinedine Zidane using it for his son. Yes, the Zinedine Zidane who famously headbutted an Italian player in the 2006 World Cup final. Enzo is a somewhat controversial name in France, given that it’s Italian, not French. Moreover, the Italian short form of Vincenzo and Lorenzo. Enzo is a zippy little name, especially good if you think Ezra is going to the girls – a name Abby recently featured as a re-run.

Another zippy short name popular in Frenchy-land is Axel. To English ears, this may sound like a somewhat rugged name – and that may add to his charm for you. My other favourite French male name beginning with an A is Aurelian, and we can’t forget to mention Rémi. Yes, he has an accent but I’ve seen plenty parents forgoe this. Infact whilst on the subject of accents, I have a friend named Chloé because her Dad became mixed up when he went to register her – she should be a Chloë.

One of the more popular female names in France right now is Clara – currently at #201 in England&Wales, and not strictly a French name per se. A very French invention cooking up a storm in France is Lilou. Yes, I love Lilou, she’s like a Lily/Lucy smoosh that just seems to work. In a similar vein, the French also love Luna, or their slight variant spelling of Louna. They also recognise the rocking-awesomenous of Lou.

Romain and Romane are popular for boys and girls, respectively; Same goes for Leo and Leonie; Valentin and Valentine. Whilst we may consider Agatha still slightly aged for our babes, the French are embracing their version: Agathe. Another A name they love is Amandine: their version of the once popular name Amanda. There’s also Amine for the lads which has origins in Arabic, and means truthful. For me, I think of the organic compounds known as Amines, but that’s by-the-by. The French and Dutch variation of Anna is also popular: Anouk.

Finally, there’s the Mae– group of names to consider: Maëlys;Maëlle;Maeva;Maeline; Maelie. They all sound distinctly French, but the pronunciation may not come naturally to you. For Maëlys, it’s mah-el-EES; for Maëlle, it’s mah-el.

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