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1.9 German first names

We have met a number of German first names in this chapter. But which are the ones that we are most likely to meet in everyday life? In 1997, sixteen researchers at the "Kulturbox" in Berlin collated the frequency of first names in the Berlin telephone directory. Click here to see the full list. The top twenty male and female names from their survey are listed below:

  Male Female      Male Female
1. Hans Ursula    11. Gerhard Gerda
2. Peter Hildegard    12. Joachim Sabine
3. Wolfgang Gertrud    13. Werner Ingrid
4. Heinz Helga    14. Manfred Erika
5. Klaus Renata    15. Andreas Karin
6. Horst Margarete    16. Thomas Ingeborg
7. Jürgen Monika    17. Bernd Petra
8. Dieter Brigitte    18. Karl Gabriele
9. Günter Charlotte    19. Frank Erna
10. Michael Gisela    20. Kurt Elisabeth

These are probably names which the outsider would recognise as "typically German". Yet recent years have seen parents choosing quite different names for their children. According to the German Language Society (GfdS), the ten names most commonly given to babies in 2006 and 2007 were as follows:

2007 Boys Girls    2006 Boys Girls
1. Leon Marie    1. Leon Marie
2. Maximilian Sophie    2. Maximilian Sophie
3. Alexander Maria    3. Alexander Maria
4. Paul Anna/e    4. Lukas Anna/e
5. Luca Leonie    5. Paul Leonie
6. Lukas Lea    6. Luca Lena
7. Felix Johanna    7. Tim Emily
8. Elias Charlotte    8. Felix Johanna
9. David Hanna(h)    9. David Laura
10. Jonas Sophia    10. Elias Lea(h)

A book on German first namesTrends
It is true to say that fewer traditional or religious names are chosen now than at the start of the century. In an ongoing survey carried out by the German magazine Familie Online for example, 42% of parents stated that they chose the name of the offspring "because they liked it", and 21% "because it was an unusual name". Names are indeed becoming more individual. The nineties witnessed the birth of children named Fritzi-Bo, Sammy-Joy, and Dana-Fee.

Whilst only 9% of parents surveyed chose the name of their baby because of biblical connotations, it is clear from the above list that biblical names are by no means dying out - in the mid-1990's they even experienced a renaissance, as evidenced by Boris Becker calling his son Noah. German parents are also increasingly drawing on a broader range of cultures and backgrounds when naming their children. Italian names are becoming ever more popular, especially girls' names such as Chiara and Gina.

Regional variations within Germany
In South Germany it is more common to find children with two or three first names (such as Franz Josef). In the former East Germany (GDR), parents still tend to give their sons shorter names such as Tim or Tom than those in the West. For girls, the name Michelle is much more common in the East than in the West. Here is the list of the most popular names given to children born in 1996 in Eastern and Western Germany:
(Source: Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache e.V. (GfdS))

West Boys Girls    East Boys Girls
1. Alexander Maria    1. Maximilian Maria
2. Lukas Julia    2. Lukas Lisa
3. Maximilian Katharina    3. Philipp Laura
4. Daniel Anna/e    4. Florian Anna/e
5. Michael Laura    5. Kevin Sophia
6. Christian Marie    6. Max Julia
7. Philipp Sophie    7. Felix Sara(h)
8. Marcel Lisa    8. Paul Michelle
9. Jan Sara(h)    9. Tom Vanessa
10. Tobias Lena    10. Erik Jessica

According to Statistik Austria, the top 20 most popular names given to babies in 2006 are listed below. Lukas has now been the most popular boys' name in Austria since 1996 and a total 1,131 Austrian boys were given this name in 2006. This year marks the first time however that Lena has become the most popular girls' name. It only entered the top ten of names in 1999 and has since gradually become more popular among Austrian parents. Click here for a fuller table that gives you the top 60 names for both genders.

Boys Girls    Boys Girls
1. Lukas Lena    11. Felix Lea
2. Tobias Leonie    12. Jakob Lara
3. David Sarah    13. Elias Viktoria
4. Florian Anna    14. Philipp Selina
5. Simon Julia    15. Daniel Vanessa
6. Maximilian Katharina    16. Jonas Sophia
7. Fabian Hannah    17. Paul Elena
8. Alexander Sophie    18. Michael Nina
9. Sebastian Laura    19. Matthias Johanna
10. Julian Lisa    20. Nico Magdalena

The top 20 names given to babies born in the German-speaking region of Switzerland (die Deutschschweiz) in 2006 are listed below. Anna replaced Leonie as the most popular name given to baby girls. Luca, which had been the most popular boys' name in German-speaking Switzerland from 1997-2004, regained its position at the top of the list of male names from David.

Boys Girls    Boys Girls
1. Luca Anna    11. Lukas Elena
2. Noah Lena    12. Jakob Sarah
3. Leon Lara    13. Leandro Chiara
4. David Laura    14. Fabian Mia
5. Joël Léonie    15. Robin Jana
6. Jan Julia    16. Gian Selina
7. Simon Lea    17. Dario Vanessa
8. Tim Sara    18. Fabio Alessia
9. Nico Nina    19. Janis Jessica
10. Jonas Alina    20. Julian Michelle

The Swiss flagThe difference between the various language groupings in Switzerland is quite pronounced. In the French-speaking areas, Léa regained its position in 2006 as the most popular name given to baby girls from Laura, whereas Samuel, Noah and Nathan were the most popular names given to male babies. In the Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, Luca and Alessandro were the joint most popular names given to baby boys in 2006; Sofia, Giulia and Giada were the most popular names given to girls in the Italian-speaking area. In the Rumantsch-speaking regions, Nico and Anna topped their respective lists in 2006. Click here for further information on the names given to Swiss children between 2004 and 2006.

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Weiter!Chapter 1.10: Spelling German names

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