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NAMES

These are the unusual names parents in Germany are giving their newborns

Every year a million completely new names are given to newborns across Germany, according to the German Language Society.

These are the unusual names parents in Germany are giving their newborns
A newborn baby at a hospital in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Most parents want their child's first name to be something very special. So they browse through books or click through first name Internet portals – and sometimes even use their own imagination.

“You can see that parents are putting more energy into choosing a first name than they used to,” said naming expert Frauke Rüdebusch from the German Language Society (GfdS) in Wiesbaden. 

As a result, there are more and more newly-created first names. “We have just under ten million individual names in our database, and a good million new names are added every year,” she said.

Newly created first names such as Bennimilia, Jisildis, Julix, Laurelie or Sonek, for example, were given to babies in 2020. 

“They sound like names, and you can also usually tell if it's a name for a girl or a boy,” the linguist explained. 

READ ALSO: The very strangest surnames in the German telephone book

That’s an important prerequisite for these fantasy names to be recognised by the Standesämter (registry offices). 

In Germany, parents must apply to have their new child’s name approved at one of these offices, and a major reason for rejection is not being able to tell the gender of the child.

In cases of doubt, the Standesämter often asks the name researchers at GfdS for advice.

Overall, GfdS does not recommend five to 10 percent of the names they receive, said Rüdebusch. They include proposals such as Kiddo, Maybee, Berate and Churasko. 

But that’s not all. “Lamborghini we rejected. As well as Corvette, Borussia and Lucifer. Or names like King, Count or Prince,” said Rüdebusch. 

In general, nobility names were also not accepted. However, in about half of the rejections, a compromise is worked out with the parents. On average, the number of names that are given only one time in a year is five percent.

But many parents continue to stick with common or traditional names. In 2020, Emma, Sophia, Lina, Ella, Mila, Clara and Lea landed among the top ten names for girls. Among the boys, Noah, Finn, Leon, Elias, Paul, Henry, Luis and Felix made it onto the list.

READ ALSO: These are Germany's most popular baby names for 2020

Vocabulary

First name – (der) Vorname

Reject – ablehnen

Cases of doubt – (die) Zweifelsfälle

Work (something) out – erbeiten

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

Member comments

  1. “Every year a million completely new names are given to newborns across Germany”

    Given that less than a million children are born each year in Germany, this couldn’t possibly be true.

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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