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

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Fri Sep 22 03:10:22 EDT 2006

Katarina Hjärpe wrote:
> 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...
> Katta
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I have a memory of reading somewhere that though standard Swedish is 
like the rest of Scandinavia in distinguishing only common and neuter 
gender,s there are rural dialects which still retain some vestiges of 
masculine/feminine? and isn't  -a a characteristic feminine ending in 
these dialects? (I'm talking of common nouns, not names).

Am I remembering right, or is this nonsense?


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