Sunday, January 14, 2007


I seem to be in the 'A's at the moment. Anyway, I'm going to focus on Alice because I consider it to have a very interesting journey to it's spelling, pronunciation and use today.

Firstly, some statistics:
Alice is not setting the world alight, #414 in US, #47 in UK, #93 in Scotland, #61 in Belgium...
Where it is really popular is Sweden where it leapt to #4 last year.
I would describe Alice's popularity as solid - it's there, and it's not going away any time soon. Not taking into account a whole country, but Alice was also the #1 name listed in the Daily Telegraph's birth announcements last year.

Alice did not suddenly come into being (let's combine the letters A-L-I-C-E, hey that's a nice name), it was rather the product of a process.

The majority of my information has Alice coming about as a pet form of Adelaide, which itself is the short form of Adalheidis. From Adalheidis is much easier than from Alice to see where the name comes from - adal meaning noble (as touched upon in Ada) and heid meaning kind. My conflicting information has Alice coming from Adalheit meaning 'noble woman'.

Alice came about via the step of Adelice, Adelise, Adeliese and Adelais. Another variation is Alys used in Medieval times (such as the daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France - Alys of Vexin - 1160-1220).

Alice really shot to fame as the heroine of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


'Adal' is Old High German for nobility - and therefore names which stem from 'adal' mean noble.
Ada did not become popular until the late 18th century (whereas Alice, Adele, Adelaide etc. - other names stemming from 'adal' had all been around a lot longer). There is a Hebrew name - Adah - meaning decorated, and so Ada is also credited with being the Latinate form of Ada, as well as a short form of Adelaide and Adele. Adah had been popular with the Puritans, but from the appearance of Ada and onwards it was eclipsed.

Ada appeared before the 18th century as the sister of Charlemagne for whom the Ada Gospels were dedicated. Ada of Caria (which is a region of Turkey) was reinstated as satrap or governor of Caria but Alexander the Great. Ada was also the name of a 7th century abbess of Saint-Julien-des-Pres at Le Mans.

When Ada reappeared in the 18th century, it was used by poet Lord Byron for his daughter. She then upon marriage became Ada Lovelace. She was well educated in mathematics and science and this led to her coming into contact with Charles Babbage. She wrote notes on Babbage's 'Analytical Engine' - the first 'computer'. Since her death Ada has been remembered as a computer programming language.

In recent years Ada has reappeared as an alternative to the wildly popular Ava. Similarly palindromic, with almost the same letters and sounds - only time will tell if Ada shares Ava's charms and woos the public.