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What’s in a (Baby) Name?

Jul
8
2008

Italians are now back to doling out grandparent’s names or those of patron saints to the few precious bambini they’re having after a wave of Sue Ellens, Naomis and Kevins, according to a recent data from National Statistics Bureau ISTAT.
Back on Italy’s baby-name hit list are classics like Francesco, Alessandro, Matteo, Paola and Elena. The two most popular Italian baby names are Francesco for boys and Giulia for girls, with 10,000 kids in 2004-2006 named after each.
Other popular names were more regional, such as Matteo and Alessandro (Northern Italy), Lorenzo (Central Italy, Tuscany and Lazio), and Antonio and Giuseppe (Southern Italy.) The North-South divide was less pronounced in female names with faves like Francesca and Martina popular all through the peninsola.
Foreign names, many of them plucked from soap opera and movie stars, were a seductive fad and a constant hassle. Even though the Italian alphabet reintroduced the letters K, J, H, W and X (they were outlawed during Fascism) pronunciation was difficult and many parents resorted to improbable spellings like Gessica, Illary — pronounced E-larry — and Gionatan (that’s Jonathan, to you) to make sure fellow citizens could get the sound right.
Children were saddled with these trendy monikers for good because Italian courts only allow name changes in very limited circumstances — and having to go through life as Uma or Britney isn’t one of them.
Famous Italians, however, are still stuck on strange names. One does nearly feel sorry for their children, who like their U.S. counterparts, are saddled with guess-whose-kid-I-am names, such as soccer star Francesco Totti‘s daughter Chanel, or actress Monica Bellucci’s daughter Deva, fabulous in Sanskrit but in Italian sounds like a contorted version of “have to” or “must.”

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 9:17 AM | Permalink

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