Articles

Favorite Czech Baby Names: Where Is Nicolas?

In Language, Life on August 11, 2007 by Petr Bokuvka

Czech PM Mirek Topolanek’s son was named Nicolas. And I have a friend who named his son Nico. Czech parents’ imagination has been on the rise lately. Given that there are no middle names here [in general use, I mean, with the exception of conservative Roman Catholics], one first name will have to do the job.

The Czech Stats Office publishes annual statistics of the most favorite baby names. The 2007 numbers say the following:

GIRLS / BOYS:
1.Tereza / Jan
2.Karolina / Jakub
3. Natalie / Tomas
4. Anna / Adam
5. Eliska / Ondrej
6. Adela / Lukas
7. Katerina / Matej
8. Lucie / Filip
9. Kristyna / Vojtech
10. Nikola / David

Quite a big number of “apostles” among the boys, which is odd in a country that is 70-percent atheist. The explanation is very simple: many Czech families, if not the vast majority, choose the name because they like how it sounds, or because they like the diminutive thereof, or because they like how the first name matches their last name [note: I am ignoring family tradition here because it has nothing to do with the name, as a word…].

Girl names in the Czech Republic have been subject to fashion and other strange influence much more. In the late 1990’s many Roma women named their daughters Esmeralda under the inlfuence of Leticia Calderon’s characeter in a Mexican soap opera. And some time later there would be many girls named Milagros – just because there was a Natalia Oreiro soap opera Muneca Brava.

There is only one court-approved expert in the Czech Republic who specializes in names. When parents are in doubt as to whether the unusual name they want to give th baby is gonna get approval, they can write to this lady and she will write a special expert evidence for them. To me, the best expert evidence is asking ten friends of all kinds: married ones, singles, younger, older…and wait for their reaction…

A man comes to a Register Office. “I want to have my name changed,” he tells the registrar. “Hold on, sir, it is not that easy. You must fill this form and we have to evaluate the reasons. Sometimes we dismiss such requests,” she tells him. “What is your name?” The man looks around and whispers: “Tomas Curacek” [Littledick]. The lady tries not to laugh and says: “Okay, in such case there is no problem. Do you know what name you want?” “Yes,” replies the man. “Michael”.   

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