History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-05-21

About First and Middle Names in Sweden

Introduction

A common “rule” in the US is that names generally follow the pattern: FIRST-MIDDLE-LAST. That is, a person has a first name, a middle name and a last name (surname). In casual conversation people are generally addressed by their first name. Occasionally, you will find someone with two or more middle names but otherwise this pattern is very common. There is no special rule about first and middle names in Sweden. You can have one, two or even three or four given names. However, the name by which you are addressed is not necessarily the first one of the given names. For example, my given names are Hans Sture and I go by the first name of those two, i.e. Hans. My father also has been given two names, Nils Sture but he goes by the name Sture, which is the second of his given names. So, there are no special rules for this.

Tilltalsnamn and Förnamn

Given names in Sweden are not referred to as first name or middle name. The name by which you are addressed is called Tilltalsnamn”. “Tilltalsnamn” can be translated as “first given name” (even if it isn’t the first name – although it might be). A collective name for all of the given names is “Förnamn” in Swedish, which really means “the names before your last name”. My father’s förnamn” is Nils Sture but his “tilltalsnamn” is Sture. My “förnamn” is Hans Sture and my “tilltalsnamn” is Hans. So, you can say that both FIRST-MIDDLE-LAST as well as MIDDLE-FIRST-LAST applies in Sweden. On application forms where you are supposed to enter all of your “förnamn” you underline the “tilltalsnamn”, for example “Hans Sture”. In Swedish genealogy you normally put an asterisk after the “tilltalsnamn”, for example “Hans* Sture”. We also have double names, i.e. both names are used. My brother’s name is Lars-Eric and he is called by both those names (like the practice common in the American south, for example, “Joe Bob”). My mother’s name, Anna-Greta, is another example of this.

Use of Hyphens

In former days when parents began to give their children several first names, all names were used (for example "John Erik" or "Anna Margareta"). Some name combinations eventually became so common that people started regarding them as "one" name, a "double name" - like Anna-Greta or Lars-Erik - and we began using hyphens to emphasize that both names should be used. However, hyphens were unheard of 200 years ago. Some name combinations eventually became so common that they actually became a totally new name. A name like Marianne started out as "Marie Anne". Today a person named "Anne Marie Louise" could be addressed by any of those names, but if you use a hyphen Swedes would immediately realize how the names should be used: "Anne-Marie Louise" or "Anne Marie-Louise". In the old days "Anne Marie Louise" would have been addressed by all of those names: "Anne-Marie-Louise", i.e. no "hidden" middle names that aren’t used.

Smeknamn

Then we have “smeknamn” which roughly means “nickname”. A guy called Hans is often nicknamed “Hasse” - like Ted for Edward etc. A "smeknamn" is usually shorter than a "tilltalsnamn" in sound, but not always in the number of letters. Hans has a long “a” (long vowel) while “Hasse” has a short “a” (short vowel). Other examples of ”tilltalsnamn” and ”smeknamn” are: Lars – Lasse, Olof – Olle, Per – Pelle, Karl – Kalle, Jan – Janne, Ulf – Uffe, Bo – Bosse, Mats – Matte, Mikael – Micke, Sven – Svenne, Kent - Kenta. All these given names have a long vowel while the corresponding "smeknamn" has a short vowel.

Acute Accent

The acute accent marks the stressed vowel of a word and in Swedish the acute accent is used to indicate that a terminal syllable with the vowel e is stressed. Examples of Swedish names with acute accents. André (a first name) Iréne (a first name) Rahmé (a last name)
xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

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History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-05-21

About First and Middle

Names in Sweden

Introduction

A common “rule” in the US is that names generally follow the pattern: FIRST-MIDDLE-LAST. That is, a person has a first name, a middle name and a last name (surname). In casual conversation people are generally addressed by their first name. Occasionally, you will find someone with two or more middle names but otherwise this pattern is very common. There is no special rule about first and middle names in Sweden. You can have one, two or even three or four given names. However, the name by which you are addressed is not necessarily the first one of the given names. For example, my given names are Hans Sture and I go by the first name of those two, i.e. Hans. My father also has been given two names, Nils Sture but he goes by the name Sture, which is the second of his given names. So, there are no special rules for this.

Tilltalsnamn and Förnamn

Given names in Sweden are not referred to as first name or middle name. The name by which you are addressed is called “Tilltalsnamn”. Tilltalsnamn” can be translated as “first given name” (even if it isn’t the first name – although it might be). A collective name for all of the given names is “Förnamn” in Swedish, which really means “the names before your last name”. My father’s “förnamn” is Nils Sture but his tilltalsnamn” is Sture. My “förnamn” is Hans Sture and my “tilltalsnamn” is Hans. So, you can say that both FIRST-MIDDLE-LAST as well as MIDDLE-FIRST-LAST applies in Sweden. On application forms where you are supposed to enter all of your “förnamn” you underline the tilltalsnamn”, for example “Hans Sture”. In Swedish genealogy you normally put an asterisk after the “tilltalsnamn”, for example “Hans* Sture”. We also have double names, i.e. both names are used. My brother’s name is Lars-Eric and he is called by both those names (like the practice common in the American south, for example, “Joe Bob”). My mother’s name, Anna-Greta, is another example of this.

Use of Hyphens

In former days when parents began to give their children several first names, all names were used (for example "John Erik" or "Anna Margareta"). Some name combinations eventually became so common that people started regarding them as "one" name, a "double name" - like Anna-Greta or Lars-Erik - and we began using hyphens to emphasize that both names should be used. However, hyphens were unheard of 200 years ago. Some name combinations eventually became so common that they actually became a totally new name. A name like Marianne started out as "Marie Anne". Today a person named "Anne Marie Louise" could be addressed by any of those names, but if you use a hyphen Swedes would immediately realize how the names should be used: "Anne-Marie Louise" or "Anne Marie-Louise". In the old days "Anne Marie Louise" would have been addressed by all of those names: "Anne-Marie-Louise", i.e. no "hidden" middle names that aren’t used.

Smeknamn

Then we have “smeknamn” which roughly means “nickname”. A guy called Hans is often nicknamed “Hasse” - like Ted for Edward etc. A "smeknamn" is usually shorter than a "tilltalsnamn" in sound, but not always in the number of letters. Hans has a long “a” (long vowel) while “Hasse” has a short “a” (short vowel). Other examples of tilltalsnamn” and ”smeknamn” are: Lars – Lasse, Olof – Olle, Per – Pelle, Karl – Kalle, Jan – Janne, Ulf – Uffe, Bo – Bosse, Mats – Matte, Mikael – Micke, Sven – Svenne, Kent - Kenta. All these given names have a long vowel while the corresponding "smeknamn" has a short vowel.

Acute Accent

The acute accent marks the stressed vowel of a word and in Swedish the acute accent is used to indicate that a terminal syllable with the vowel e is stressed. Examples of Swedish names with acute accents. André (a first name) Iréne (a first name) Rahmé (a last name)