Friday, October 7, 2011

More on Norwegian Names

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I wrote about Norwegian naming systems in Serendipity Happens? Dear Randy: Can you Help with my Lelands? and Dear Randy: How do you enter Scandinavian farm names in your database?  Reader Mike offered the following information about the Norway patronymic system via email:

"While the change from the patronymic system in Norway began about 1870, it wasn't until the 1920s that it became mandatory.  Lots of people apparently thought it was a good idea early on and began to change their names or adopt invariable surnames in the American style early on.  Nonetheless, lots of women were known as someone's daughter (Kari Petersdatter, for instance) when they married in the US.

"Further, the change from Sjur to Sivert is apparently a fairly common one.  Sjur is not a name that American tongues find convenient (pronounced roughly Shoor).  The names Sjur, Sigurd, Siegfried, and Sivert apparently constitute a package of interchangeable names (something like John and Jack or William and Bill in American/English speech).  Americanization of difficult names seems to have been a frequent occurrence in both Scandinavian and  Germanic families.  Alternatively, farm names which were often chosen as surnames in America sometimes were so difficult in English that they were dropped entirely in favor of the patronymic.  My own grandfather, born Sjur Oliver Iversen Aasen, became Sivert Oliver Iverson in the States."


Thank you, Mike, for the information.  Interested readers should also read:

Norwegian naming practices, by John Føllesdal

Scandinavia: Names article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki

1 comment:

Taco Goulooze said...

On the other hand, when researching in Norway, it's pretty handy when you want to figure out the name of someone's father.