The Viking name game

I’ve heard that Spanish folk can have a nomenclature as long as Don Quixote’s spear but there’s a practice here that intrigues me.

Take the newly crowned tennis king of Denmark, Frederik Løchte Nielsen., known to his friends as….what? Well, his English doubles partner calls him Freddie, as one might; but the commentators on Danish telly can’t seem to find out. He’s Freddie Løchte, just Løchte or all three names, but never Freddie Nielsen, and I can’t fathom why. Nielsen for some arcane reason is nomen non gratum.

Just like the NATO chief, ex PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He’s always Anders Fogh, just Fogh but never Anders Rasmussen.

Is it snobbery because Nielsen and Rasmussen are common names? It can’t be to avoid confusion – after all how many Fred Nielsens are at Wimbledon, how many Anders Rasmussens in NATO?

Btw Danes I have asked can’t explain. We just do, they say. Fine.

Author: Janus

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8 thoughts on “The Viking name game”

  1. In Iceland people with more recent Nordic ancestors often use that name rather than the
    more common patronyms. The chanteuse Birgitta Haukdal, for example, uses her Norewegian family name.
    I also once had a Norwegian acquintance who had to surnames — one was rare, the other quite common.
    She only grudgingly used the common one when it was absolutely necessary for her to do so.

  2. Yes, Christopher. Many of the middle names are obviously ‘Old Norse’ and probably ‘rare’. So it’s a ‘class’ marker.


    There’s your top 100, Janus. Not a Løchte or Fogh in sight.

    Talking of three names. I was in Fopp (CD/DVD/Book shop) the other dayand was astonished to see Mario Vargas Llosa’s (Peruvian Spanish writer, full name: Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa) books filed under V. Naturally, good librarian that I am I moved them to the L section.

  4. They don’t use them in Wales either. They often call people by their property names.
    For example a friend of mine, Elwyn Thomas living at Beili Ficer, (Vicar’s glebe lands) is more often than not called El Beili, It is standard procedure by the banks to print on people’s property name on cheques.
    Thus he would get, Elwyn Thomas Beili Ficer. The banks might well have a dozen or more Elwyn Thomases!

    I am still Tina Cwmdu in Carmarthenshire, most people don’t remember my surname or never knew it in the first place. It certainly hasn’t got anything to do with class in Wales just the sheer convenience of sorting out too many people with the same surname and a limited pool of Christian names.

    Maybe it is the same in Denmark?

  5. Christina, soldiers in Welsh regiments always answer the phone with their names and the last two digits of their regimental number. ‘Jones 52, Evans 63,’ and they often refer to each other that way two, as in, ‘I was in the pub with Jones 52 and Evans 63 last night. (The numbers are two acquaintances of mine 😀 )

  6. That is interesting Bravo a nice military equivalent of the Carms farmers! It really is quite impossible in some areas to use names, in Carms, Thomas and Williams appear to take up half the phone book in some communities. Hundreds of the buggers!

  7. Janus: many Danes also referred to old Fogh as Fjo. My Danish mate as well. They thought it couldn’t get much worse. Then they saw Gucci Helle and said that he wasn’t so bad after all…

  8. Late one evening in November 1942 a suspicious looking gent knocked on the door of 33 Cymdonking Terrace in Llareggub, the home of Dai Evans the local baker.

    “Herr Evans?” the stranger asked.
    Dai replied “No I’m Evans the Bread, it’s Evans the Spy you are wanting. Two doors up.”

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