Posts Tagged With: Farah

Barely Legal Drivers

Today I want to talk about a controversial BBC Three show thats recently finished it’s second series called Barely Legal Drivers. For those not familiar – and as the video above explains – the premise of the show is that various youngsters are lent the family car for the wee. Whilst they think they’re part of a show looking at modern life of young people in Britain, but actually they’re driving is scrutinised by their parents and ex-traffic officer Judith Roberts. There has been several cases of pretty shocking (and in more than a few, downright dangerous) driving in the series thus far (you can see some in the video), which has caused some controversy amongst the general British public.

Now, I’ve been watching the show with a bemused look on my face since I’m 20, and thus in the exact demographic for participants, however I hasten to add that unlike those on the show I do have my own little runaround (Gypsy, whom I’ve mentioned in passing before) and almost 3 years no claims bonus.

But we’re not here to snipe about others driving, but instead to look at the names, which also happen to be a look into the names of my own generation. Perhaps the most notable naming I’ve seen thus far on the show is a set of twins named Zahra and Farah. I think that it’s the first time I’ve seen the two names paired together, and I kinda loved it, despite the match-y-ness. The name Zahra (or Zara) almost certainly came into the English speaking world as an offshoot of Sarah, a name that comes from Hebrew and means princess. The name is also similar to Zahrah, an Arabic name that means blooming flower. The name Farah is Arabic in origin and means joy/delight.

Another set of twins that have appeared have less match-y names of James and Brian.

Another interesting fact is that there has been both a Chantal and Chantelle featured. The name Chantelle is a respelling of Chantal, which isn’t as modern as some may think: she comes from Old Provençal word cantal and means stone. The name Chantelle was #83 in 1994, but has fallen all the way to #750 since then. Ouch. It’s not much better for Chantal, who ranked at #571 in 1996 and now doesn’t even rank for 2013 (i.e. less than 3 girls were given the name). Clearly, the names are sadly past their best.

Another girl popped up with the name Dominique (using the nickname Dom). This is an interesting one for me to look at as I used to work with a girl my age with the same name, but at the same time the name appears to be more male-centric across the channel in France. Dominique is the French form of Dominic, which comes from Latin origins and means of the Lord. The name has fallen from #309 in 1996 to #2460 in 2013.

A young lad with the name Renaldo appears. Now, the name could be a respelling of the Portuguese name Ronaldo who ultimately comes from the Ragnvaldr (via Scottish name Ronald). The name is formed of two Old Norse elements:

  • regin, meaning might, counsel
  • valdr, meaning ruler

Many of the names on the show are what you might consider popular picks for my generation of youngsters born in the 90s, but have sadly fallen out of favour since.

Two examples of this are in Bradley and Dean. The former is a surname-turned-first name that means broad meadow. He’s fallen from #34 to #117 since 1994. Another name is Dean, who also comes from Old English and means valley. He’s had less staying power than Bradley, having fallen from #67 to #429 since 1994.

Nicknames – or what appears to be simply nicknames – appear frequently. A girl with the name Caz appears, with Caz being short for Caroline. I have a close friend who is also a Caroline nn Caz. Caroline was a Top 100 name from 1944 to 1984, but she’s fallen a long way since then, ranking at #733 in 2013. The name comes from the Karl family of names and so mean either man or woman, depending on whether you feel feminising the name means feminising the meaning.

There’s also an episode that features a Jamie and a Jessie. Now, Jessie is pretty certain to be actually a Jessica – a name that was #3 in 1994 and hasn’t strayed too far from that ranking since as in 2013 she came in at #6 in England&Wales. I might not be a fan myself, but the British public has for her to be a consistent Top 5 name for almost 20 years. That’s impressive.

The name Jessica was introduced to the British public by Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice, where he got the inspiration from a Biblical character called Iscah, who was also known as Jesca; the name means he beholds.

As for Jamie, he could actually be a James, a name that was #2 in 1994. However, Jamie ranked at #26, so it’s not so certain. The name James is Hebrew in origin and means supplanter.

A Tommy appears, and since Thomas was #1 in 1994, you could make an educated guess that he was born a Thomas – especially since Tommy didn’t enter the Top 100 until some 20 years later in 2011. The name Thomas is like Jessica in that with a 2013 rank of #6, he’s a long time keeper in the eyes of the British public; the name means twin.

Two final mentions go to Jac and Lauri, in which Jac is likely a respelling of Jack, and Lauri is most like a nickname for Laura.

Jack has been in the Top 3 since 1994, making him the ultimate male name of the past two decades in England&Wales, whereas meanwhile Jac has been hoovering around the 300 mark – and he’s currently at #350. Jack is a nickname of John and in 1984, the name John outranked Jack at #14 to #74 before Jack launched into his two decade long dominance; the names means Yahweh has favoured.

Laura was inside the Top 10 in 1994 at #9, and since then has fallen all the way to #146 with little signs of a reverse in fortune. The name comes from the Latin laurus and means bay tree. Whilst Lauri has hovered around the 3-baby-per-year mark, the spelling Laurie fares better at #910 for boys and #1360 for girls (both down from around the 500 mark in 1996).

All in all, the names are a little snapshot of the 20-somethings of today here in England&Wales, and that’s of personal interest to me as someone who grew up amongst them.

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Categories: Names from the Box | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weekend Post: Super Saturday etc.

Snapped by me at Stratford. l-r, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jess Ennis, Phillips Idowu & Laura Trott

I was in London yesterday, once more, and was part of a screaming crowd moments away from the Olympic stadium watching the nearest TV when Mo Farah capped off a brilliant night for British athletics and for those interested, I’ve covered Mo Farah’s first name before: Mohammed. And indeed, I’ve also covered the name Jessica as inspired by another one of the gold medalists yesterday, Jessica Ennis.

For those interested in blog stats, page views for my post on the name Camille have gone through the roof since the Olympic swimming kicked off, courtesy of the French male swimmer Camille Lacourt.

That initially left me in somewhat of a predicament as it seemed like I’d covered the names of some of the big medal winners previously due to a rather annoying foresight.

Eventually I decided instead to pick out 5 surnames from members of Team GB who have so far won a medal, and hope that in the process of writing this post, our athletes would kindly not win any big ones (NB: but then Andy Murray had to go and thrash Federer about half an hour into the commencement of writing this post. Bah.):

AINSLIE

Today, Ben Ainslie took his 4th gold in the Finn class of sailing. It has a link to my home shire too, because the name’s origins possibly lie in Annesley, Nottinghamshire. But it may also lie instead in Ansley, Warwickshire – which historically is the home shire for people from Coventry, such as lovely Elea of British Baby Names. However, back in the 1970s, Coventry became a part of the West Midlands county instead.

The name either means Anne’s field or hermitage field.

BAILLIE

A man named Timothy Baillie and pal Etienne Stott took gold in the C-2 Canoe Slalom earlier on this week, with the other British duo of David Florence & Richard Hounslow taking the silver.

I wanted to mention this name because it makes a point about the spellings of names. Bailey is the most popular version of the name, ranking at #79 for boys in England&Wales in 2010, and the name means bailiff.

ENNIS

Jessica Ennis missed the Beijing Olympics due to injury, and she’s been the face of the London 2012 Olympics. A lot has been said about whether she’d be another Cathy Freeman (want to know more about her?) who was the face of Sydney 2000 and won her event, the 400m or another Liu Xiang; he was the face of Beijing 2008 and ended up pulling out after a false start aggravated an injury. There was speculation, however, that the pressure was a factor in his withdrawal. Happily, Jess fulfilled her dreams last night and took gold in the heptathlon.

We’ve talked about her first name previously, but consider her surname. Ennis, or Inis, is the name of a town in Ireland, and the name itself means island.

FARAH

Mo Farah was born in Somalia, and came to the UK when he was 8. In 2011, he was voted European Athlete of the year and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get a BBC Sport Personality nomination at the end of the year following his 10,000 m win on Saturday as he was the first Briton to take the gold in the event. Want to see more Mo? He’s also due to run the 5,000 m.

As a link to another Team GB athlete, Mo Farah’s father comes from England originally, specifically from Hounslow. If you were reading carefully a few lines up you’ll know that a man named Richard Hounslow took silver in the C-2 Canoe Slalom.

Again, whilst Mohamed has been covered, Farah has not; it’s of Arabic origins and means joy. It’s also worth noting that Mo’s wife is also expecting twins in September, so congrats to them.

WHITLOCK

Well, the British Gymnastics team is having a good time as well aren’t they? Today we grabbed bronze & silver in the Men’s Individual Pommel Horse final, courtesy of Louis Smith (a bronze medallist in Beijing) and Max Whitlock. Both were also part of the almost-silver-winning Men’s team, until Japan complained.

A few weeks ago I covered the name Whitton, and if you combine him with the name of a legendary detective you get Whitlock. The surname comes from Old English and means white enclosure.

Congratulations to the wonderful athletes of Team GB and their amazing achievements.

Snapped by my father inside the Olympic Stadium last night

Categories: Sport Names, Weekend Post | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Closet Chemistry: Amines and Esters

I’ve been thinking about organic chemistry quite a bit recently, and the combining of it with the topic of names struck me when we mentioned Amine last week. It’s a name of relative popularity in France, but it’s also the name of a functional group containing a nitrogen with a lone pair of electrons. For those interested, they can look like this:

Primary Amine, from wikipedia.org

You may have no idea why they’re important but it’s from amines that we get amino acids, which collectively make up proteins. That makes them vital for life. So, one could call Amino a slight variation of the name Amine – especially given that the French slightly altered the Arabic name Amin to get to Amine. Amin comes from the Arabic word for truthful and the female form of the name is Amina(h). Aminah was the name of the prophet Muhammad’s mother, who died when he was young. The Arabic word and name Amina means feel safe. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, Amina was the #1 female name in 2010; the most popular male name that year was Amar.

Names that sound like they’re related to the above ones include the Iranian name Minoo, sometimes seen as Minu, which derives from Persian and means heaven or paradise. Like the English name Heaven, or alas the infamous Nevaeh, Minoo is a feminine name. A name of Arabic origins which means heaven, or indeed sky, is the female name Alya. Going back to the French, in 2009, the name Alya ranked at #259 in France.

The reason Arabic names feature in French name popularity is Algeria and Tunisia. Both are former colonies of France, from which many immigrants have moved to France, and brought their naming tendencies with them. For both, Arabic is the official language and both earned their independence from France in the middle of the 20th century.

Other popular names of Arabic origins in France include Mohamed, Rayan, Mehdi, Nassim, Farah, Naim, Sana, Marwa and Salma, to name just a few.

And for those wondering whether we’re using Amine in England&Wales, we are – to a certain extent. In 2010, 11 boys were given the name Amine with a further 37 named Amin, putting the latter name at #792. Amina ranks even higher for girls, at #182, with 285 girls given the name and Aminah ranking at #254 with 128 of them born.

Another group of organic compounds are called Esters, said pretty much the same as you would the name Esther. She fit’s nicely with our already established post-theme of names inspired by our friends from the East as Esther means star in Persian. An Ester looks like this:

Ester, from tqn.com
Of course, it’s not concrete that Esther derives from Persian and hence means star. The name Esther comes from the Bible, being given to Hadassah upon the moment she entered the royal harem of King Ahaseurus. Esther could also have derived from the name Ishtar, the name of the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love, war and fertility; the Phoenicians called her Ashtoreth. What is worth noting is that the Dutch word for star is ster, which has given birth to the Dutch name Sterre (ster-ra).
Esther has given birth to a plentitude of variations: from Hester to Estee; Eszti (Hungarian) to Esteri (Finnish). What’s worth noting is that the spelling Ester is a legitimate international variant of the name Esther, used by Scandinavians, Spaniards, Czechs, Finns and the Portuguese.
When it comes to Esther vs. Hester in the popularity charts for England&Wales in 2010, Esther wins outright. She’s at #156 with 334 girls given the name compared to Hester, who is much further down at #1815 with only 15 born.
The -er ending for male names is starting to be touted as an upcoming trend, but there are some undoubtedly pretty girls names which end the same way, like Esther and Hester:
  • Amber
  • Aster
  • Clover
  • Demeter
  • Ember
  • Ginger
  • Grier
  • Harper
  • Heather
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Miniver
  • Piper
  • Skyler
  • Summer

Notice how most derive directly from English words? What’s more both Jasmine and Jasper are names popular in England&Wales, and of Persian origins, as Esther could be; Jasper means treasurer in Persian. Colour names Azure and Scarlet also have links with Persian words, and that’s where we shall end this post.

Categories: Chemistry Inspirations, French Words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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