A few days ago, a friend asked me for some help in finding a list of Estonian baby names for her soon-to-be-born child. A simple matter I thought...what with today's technology...internet access and Google & Neti searches at my fingertips ! Little did I know...
http://cdn-cf.aol.com/se/smi/0201d20638/01 You truly do learn something new every day !
Americans aren't the only ones to obsess over baby names. Apparently, things have gotten so bad in Estonia that the government has actually seen the need to step in ! I guess they must have been having a run on Moon Unit Zappas or something ! Note : For those of you born after 1970 or not aficionados of American Rock & Roll of the 60's & 70's, Moon Unit is the daughter of Frank Zappa...a rock musician with the penchant for giving his kids...um...er...unusual names. His son was named Dweezil.
Anyway...on December 15, 2004 the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) passed with 58 votes in favour the Names Act (369 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic. The Act establishes a totally new regulation for persons' names. The Act establishes the procedure for the formation of person's names and the bases for the uniform use of person's names of Estonian citizens and aliens staying in Estonia. (Note: The name of the civil servant responsible for passing the related bill through its parliamentary approval process was Carina Rikart. Under the new law...giving her first name to a child would be illegal !
Source : http://www.riigikogu.ee/index.php?id=14977 and http://web.riigikogu.ee/ems/plsql/motions.show?assembly=10&id=369&t=E
The whole topic has been a real hot button issue for at least the last 1 1/2 years filling newspapers, blogs, TV & Radio, talk shows, etc. Some of the comments are pretty hilarious (click on the "loe kommentaare" box of http://www.delfi.ee/archive/article.php?id=7681820 since the new law which took effect on March 31, 2005 outlaws the use of famous people's names (example : Lydia Koidula or Lennart Meri) and most non-Estonian names or Estonianized versions of foreign names in addition to anything really strange or obscene ! Comics have had a field day, because there does not yet appear to be a list of government approved acceptable suggested names.
Although it is rumored that some civil servant somewhere is dutifully in the process of preparing one.
Minority groups and people in in theatrical, musical and literary circles are up in arms...as are followers of ancient Estonian pagan religions...who wish to name their children Vihmapiisk (Raindrop) or Väle Põder (Swift Moose).
To date, the Estonian Supreme Court has upheld the law, but several more appeals are pending. The Estonian Bar Association has even put forth a special issue of it's law journal on the whole matter. A brief summary of this issue by Piret Mõistlik (Bridget Sensible...no joke...that is the real translation of her name) follows :
Legal regulation of personal names Piret Mõistlik http://www.juridica.ee/show_cv.php?uid=55447&lang_id=2 (pp.191-199)
Two aspects are important in the legal regulation of personal names : the person's right to self-realization and right to the inviolability of family and private life on the one hand, and public interest in the preservation of the Estonian nation and the Estonian language for the future generations, on the other. The Supreme Court holds that interference of the state in the choice and changing of personal names is justified for the purposes of preservation of the Estonian nation and culture and thereby for the protection of the person's right to national identity. The author addresses some of the problems in the legal regulation of personal names encountered in Estonia, specifically the use of symbols in a name, non-Estonian features of a name, generality of bases for changing names, the creation of compound family names on marriage and naming a child, and the freedom of choosing a new name when the name is changed. The author examines how such issues have been dealt with in the new draft Estonian Personal Names Act as well as in the law of the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) and makes suggestions for the amendment of the draft Act.
Source : http://www.juridica.ee/juridica_en.php?document=en/articles/2003/3/55409.SUM.php
After reading all of the aforementioned, I've come to the conclusion that most existing Estonian names are now banned...and your choice of true Estonian baby names consists of the following :
1) Kalev (mythological king of Estonia)
2) Kalju (Rock or Boulder)
3) Linda (Kalev's wife)
I'm not even sure that names #1and #3 would be allowed, since they are famous (at least in Estonia) !
Hope you enjoyed the chuckle ! Who knew a simple request for help with Estonian baby names could be so much fun !
P.S. : I did finally find an internet accessible listing of Estonian names. OK...now I'm beginning to understand why the Estonian parliament saw the need to pass a law governing first names ! The attached list is from some sort of a parents/kids website in Estonia. The heading reads : The names in this list are given for the purpose of familiarization and expanding ones horizons (outlook). When choosing your child's name please exercise good judgment, a sound mind and the new Personal Names Act !
Tüdrukute nimed = girl's names
Poiste nimed = boy's names
Apparently... Estonians also name kids according to the day of the month on or near which they are born. The above website has a list of Nimepäevad (Name Days)...and the somewhat more traditional names attached to each.