Researcher bemoans dearth of new names

Norwegian name researcher Gulbrand Alhaug has called on parents to use their imagination when it comes to naming their children in order to increase variety and to combat the advance of internationalisation.

They might lack “imagination”, according to Norwegian name researcher Gulbrand Alhaug, whose own name is typical of a traditional Norwegian name.

Names here traditionally don’t translate well into English. Names like Odd, Baard (pronounced “bored”) and Ole have for example being a cause for consternation for their owners when travelling in English-speaking countries.

Over the years, parents tried hyphening or “doubling" names for grandeur or to please the grandparents — Odd-Roger, Bord-Alexander, Ole-Mortin. Alhaug has argued that Norwegian parents just have to try harder.

“Unfortunately, no new names are being created in Norway today,” the Tromsø University professor told The Local adding, "the new names appearing are mostly brought in from abroad."

"If you go to page 400 or so, you'll find the formula for creating a new name," he said.

His new book, "10,001 Names: Norwegian First-Name Lexicon", is the most comprehensive name book to be printed in Norway, according to publisher Cappelen.

In his book, Alhaug recommends that people follow the northern Norwegian tradition of blending names to create new ones rather than using the hyphen. He points to Rudwin, which combines Rudolph and Edwin.

Alhaug said Annalius, which was a tribute to the name Anna (only in the Lofoten Archipelago), lost its appeal as contact increased with the English-speaking world.

Some Norwegian names are even unluckier, Alhaug said. He recalled the stories of two men travelling to the USA whose last names were Aas and Sørass.

They were late for their plane, so their names were called out in the airport.

“They were surely not happy when Mr. Ass and Mr. Soreass were called out."

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Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness

A statistical analysis has found that immigrants in Norway experience greater loneliness and exclusion from society than the rest of the population.

Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness
Photo by Keenan Constance from Pexels

A report from Statistics Norway analyses data from several different studies.

Just under one in five immigrants are a little bothered by loneliness and nearly one in ten are very bothered by loneliness, whereas only five percent of the rest of the population are very bothered by loneliness.

“It has to do with the fact that immigrants are more often than others exposed to living conditions challenges such as low income and reduced health,” the report found.

There are over 700,000 immigrants in Norway, and they make up around 14 percent of the total population according to Statistics Norway.

People with health and financial problems are among those most likely to be affected by loneliness. 25 percent of those with health and financial problems are severely affected by loneliness.

Poor Norwegian language skills, limited contact with family, as well as facing discrimination and abuse are all cited as important factors in loneliness amongst immigrants.

“Loneliness among immigrants is also related to poor Norwegian skills, and that they face discrimination and problems with family contact,” the report states.

On the other hand, those with less to worry about financially, good Norwegian skills and frequent contact with family are less vulnerable to feeling the effects of loneliness.

READ ALSO: Seven things foreigners in Norway struggle with when trying to settle in

Homeowners are also less likely to feel lonely than those that rent.

“The fact that renting a home is associated with the risk of loneliness may be due to the fact that renting is often shorter term than home ownership and that it takes time establish roots in one place and establish relationships with neighbours and friends,” the report states.

Those whose partners aren’t in Norway are also more vulnerable to loneliness. The report found that having a spouse or partner that isn’t in Norway was a large risk factor.

Furthermore, being single, missing friends, and not trusting others are associated with significantly greater loneliness.

There were few differences in gender when it came to loneliness. However Polish women are rarely bothered by loneliness, the analysis found. On the other hand, women from Sri Lanka, Turkey and Somalia are more likely to feel lonely than the men.

Categorised by global region, those from Africa and Asia are the most likely to feel lonely and excluded from society and are two-and-a-half times more likely to feel lonely than the rest of the population.  

The report concludes that the Norwegian government should look at more general measures to improve living conditions and reduce inequality to reduce and prevent loneliness and social exclusion.