Hollywood names get lost in translation in Finland - Monocolumn | Monocle


A daily bulletin of news & opinion

6 December 2011

In Finland there are Ridges, Brookes and Frodos, all queuing to get their names changed at the local registry offices.

For some reason this Nordic country has been particularly keen to follow popular culture when it comes to giving names to children.

It was a reaction to a Soviet shadow falling over my home country that meant in the past we adored American culture and the trendy names that came with it. 

In the 1990s Finland went mental about American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. As a result there are quite a few Ridges and Brookes who have just reached adulthood. It’s unfortunate that in Finland the glamour of the LA fashion world is far removed from their everyday lives. Finnish Brookes and Ridges rarely reach the level of wealth of their American soap world counterparts. And actually, in Finland, Ridge is pronounced as “Reetge” and Brooke as “Brogte”. Not very glamorous is it?

In this millennium we found the world of films. I am pretty sure that during the next 10 years there are going to be quite a few Frodos, Arwens and Samwises who would rather be called something traditionally Finnish instead of something from the Lord of the Rings.

In Brazil the list of most common names was published last week. In a way it’s quite telling of their culture that religious and biblical names stay on top of the list – at the moment the country has approximately 21 million Marias and Josés.

In Finland the most popular names are not always biblical, more often they are the ones passed down from our grandparents, or even their parents. But we would never consider giving names of our parents to our own children.

My own name is very common in Finland. It derives from the Roman god Mars, a name bestowed upon me by my parents who deigned me worthy of such grandeur, hoping no doubt for me to live up the Mars, god of war legend. 

I chose instead to become a journalist. Funny that.


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