Monday, October 13, 2008

Swedish Name Order

Last night, my best friend told me she had no middle name. That piece of information caught me by surprise. I told her she was the first person I knew without a middle name. And then I remembered the wedding invitation I had received last summer.

My Swedish brother-in-law does not have what we would call a "middle name" in America. He has two given names, which is fairly common in Sweden. When I received the invitation to attend his and my sister's wedding, the first name that appeared on his behalf was a name I had never seen before, one of his two given names, followed by the name everyone calls him and the last names of his mother and father. Neither of his two given names would be referred to as a middle name in Swedish culture.

In Sweden, "tilltalsnamn" refers to the name everyone addresses you by. It's a part of your “förnamn," which literally translates to "before-names" (all of the names that come before your last name). Just to confuse you more (if you're not Swedish), I am told that when you fill out paperwork in Sweden, usually (but not always) the "tilltalsnamn" is what you put on application forms when asked for your "förnamn." But sometimes applications will ask for all of your given names. In such cases, Swedes would underline/highlight the name they are addressed by.

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