Baby names get shorter – and sweeter?

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Luca was the most popular boy's name in Switzerland in 2007, ranking high in all four national language regions, with Sara or Sarah the favourite for girls.

This content was published on August 6, 2008 - 21:33

One noticeable trend is the gradual shrinking of boys' and girls' names in Switzerland from an average of 6.0 and 6.3 letters respectively in 1999 to 5.7 and 5.9 letters in 2007.

Last year the births of 36,310 girls and 38,184 boys were recorded in Switzerland, launching 74,494 sets of parents on the search for the perfect name: 416 of them opted for Luca and 445 for Sara(h).

Lena and Tim topped the list of most popular baby names in German-speaking Switzerland in 2007, while Nathan and Emma were the favourites in French-speaking regions.

According to the latest "first name hit parade" released by the Federal Statistics Office on Wednesday, Sara and Nina were next in line after Lena, with Noah and Luca not far behind Tim.

In Italian-speaking Ticino, the leading names for bambini were Alessandro and Sara.

Switzerland's 35,000 Romansh speakers do reproduce, but the small number of births means the lists vary greatly from year to year. In 2007 three Daniels, Livios and Lucas were born, enough to top the boys' charts. Six girls were named Laura.

Often "rapid climbers" reflect the popularity that year of people in the public eye. For example Kevin rocketed in Switzerland after the success of the Home Alone films and Fiona more than doubled between 2003 and 2005, possibly as a result of Fiona Hefti, Miss Switzerland in 2004.

It is unclear why two of Switzerland's biggest jumpers in 2007 were Eliza and Ethan.

The biggest losers of the 2007 were compound names, such as Jean-Michel or Anne-Sophie, which failed to feature in the top 48 names in any region.

Rafael Federer?

Swiss parents have traditionally opted for relatively traditional, often biblical names.

One of the reasons why they didn't in the past go for unusual names was that they couldn't: local registry offices would veto any names deemed inappropriate. Objects are banned, although flowers are allowed.

In one relatively high-profile case ten years ago, Christine Lauterburg, a famous-within-Switzerland musician, was told she couldn't call her daughter "Lexikon".

Nowadays however all local registries agree with the line taken by Zurich's civil registrar that "parents are basically free to choose their child's name as long as it is not likely to damage the interests of the child".

While Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt would probably be accepted, the authorities might have had a word in actor Nicholas Cage's ear when he called his son Kal-El (Superman's birthname).

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In brief

The Federal Statistics Office has been publishing a list of the most popular names in Switzerland since 1987.

The figures are based on data provided by the official registry offices in the 26 cantons.

Of Switzerland's 7.4 million inhabitants, 63.5% speak German, 20.5% French, 6.5% Italian and 0.5% Romansh.

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Key facts

Tim and Lena were the most popular names in the German-speaking part of Switzerland in 2007.
Emma and Nathan were top of the list in the French-speaking region.
Sara and Alessandro were top in the Italian-speaking regions.

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Most popular baby names around the world

United States (2007): Jacob, Michael, Ethan and Emily, Isabella, Emma.
England and Wales (2007): Jack, Thomas, Joshua and Grace, Ruby, Olivia.

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