Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Estonian names are close to each other

Back in university, we used to amuse ourselves with figuring out combinations of words at a Hamming distance of 1 from each other. In non-nerd speak, this means words that in a somewhat arbitrary way differ in only one letter.

To my frustration, Estonians have an amazing amount of names which are very hard to tell apart. Neither of these names are made up, we know of people called each of these names! :
  • Raimo
  • Reimo
  • Raido
  • Kaido
  • Raiko
  • Reiko
  • Radko
  • Raivo (two of them)
  • Aire
  • Aira
  • Airi
  • Aido
  • Aivi
  • Kadi
  • Kadri
  • Katri
  • Katrin
  • Katre
  • Urmas (two of them, with last-names also with distance 1)
  • Urmet
  • Urmo
  • Ainer
  • Einar
  • Janar
  • Silver
  • Silvar
  • Arvo
  • Ardi
  • Ahti
  • Ahto
  • Aare

In comparison, these are all the Swedish similar names I can come up with:
  • Marie
  • Maria
  • Peter
  • Petter
  • Caroline
  • Carolina

4 comments:

† herzleid † said...

There are more Swedish names with Hamming 1, duh. Since you also include names with +1 letter, it increases the pool too.

Einar
Eivar
Eivor

Katrin
Katrina

(and every other combination of these short forms that can take an extra letter:

Sofi
Sofia
Sofie
Kari
Kara
Karin
Maj
Maja
Else
Elsa
Elle
Ella
Elna

or male to female (or v.v.) such as
Karl-a,
Kaj-a,
Eva-r,
Ragna-r,)

I'm not saying your Estonian list isn't impressive or interesting, just saying we're not as boring in Swedish as you might think. ;)

Notably it's plenty of older names though, so the reason the Estonian ones are more prevalent might just be that they have kept their old naming traditions, where as Swedish children these days get named after book and videogame heroes (Ronja, Zelda..), American movies and actors (Brad, Elvis, Orlando,) or just plain crazy (we all know Månfare, Kidd and Luleå by now)

Carl-Johan Sveningsson said...

Haha, your correction is accurate as always!

However, the only one I would acknowledge I "forgot" would be Sofia/Sofie, all the others I at least don't know anyone named, and as you remarked, it is noteworthy that most Swedish names with the same variations are old-fashioned. I really do know of people named each of those names in Estonian!

Regarding modern names, the plan is still lingering in my head to name my children Zelda and Megaman. :-P

Carl-Johan Sveningsson said...

Oh, and it is indeed intentional to consider inserting or removing a character be a distance 1 operation too, or maybe 2... have you never been arbitrary too? :-)

Liia said...

I just found this by accident, but you are right, Estonians have lot of similar names. They are the same name with different variants:) Good thing though, I like that because it gives one bigger variety to choose when looking for a name.