Oslo Studies in Language (Jul 2012)

Immigrants in Norway and Their Choice of Names: Continuation or Adaption?

  • Guro Reisæter

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 2


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The article focuses on names chosen for children born into families in which one or both parents are immigrants to Norway, and it discusses whether the infants get names that show a continuation of traditions from the country of the immigrant parent(s), or names that point to an adaption to Norwegian standards. The data referred to in the article is mainly based on research conducted with bilingual families and individuals in Tromsø in Northern Norway, and it reveals that many of the children are given names that convey their bilingual background and emphasize naming traditions from the immigrant country. There are however also a frequency of names indicating that the parents have had in mind the children's growing up in Norway and their integration into Norwegian society. All along there are numerous cases showing the parents' perception of the close link between name and identity, and their wish to express identity through naming. In addition this article focuses on the names of adult immigrants. It reveals that when individuals change one or more of their names once they have settled in Norway, there are specific reasons for altering something that is so closely related to their identity. Frequently the name change a􏰄ects their sense of self and has an impact both practically and mentally.