[DWJ] In which I satisfy the curious (I hope!)

Katarina Hjärpe head_overheels at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 22 00:37:19 EDT 2006

You know, it occurred to me that the use of -a names in Sweden might relate 
to Swedish word endings in general. Many of the Swedish women's names that 
end in an A are originally nicknames, and nicknames for men tend to end in 
an E.  So while we have Lena, Malla, Maja, Kajsa, Greta, etc. for women, we 
also have Janne, Krille, Macke, Nicke etc. for men. (Interestingly enough, 
the male nicknames remain nicknames, and new nicknames for women are more 
rarely A names.)

This fits into a larger pattern. The words "kvinna" and "flicka" (but not 
"tjej", which is taken from Romanes) are A words for woman/girl. The words 
"pojke" and "kille" (but not "man") are E words for men. A "skådespelare" is 
a male actor and a "skådespelerska" a female one, though that's not so 
strict anymore.

Common names for women that end in an E are often French in origin, like 
Charlotte. As for the two common men's names on the SCB list, they're both 
nicknames for names that originally ended in -af: Ola from Olaf and Gösta 
from Gustaf. Don't know what that signifies...


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