Arto: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on October 24, 2012

English: Finnish lion stamp, 1919. Design: Eli... English: Finnish lion stamp, 1919. Design: Eliel Saarinen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take Arthur, add a dash of Arlo, and mix.  You’ll arrive at this surprising possibility.

Thanks to Rachel for suggesting one from their shortlist: our Baby Name of the Day is Arto.

Arthur is a big name.  There’s Conan Doyle.  Aquaman.  The legendary king.  The fish and chip shop chain.  A Top 20 pick in the nineteenth century, and a Top 100 staple through the 1960s, he’s been out of favor in recent years.  Now he shows some signs of a revival – a brother for Henry, a successor to Oliver.

Arthur translates easily to most European languages, morphing into Artur or Arturo, and in Finnish, Artturi.

Arturri is a smidge too close to Atari for an American child.  Short form Arttu tempts us to ask about C3PO.  But Arto is another Finnish diminutive for Artturi, and it might import well.

A few notable figures have answered to Arto:

  • Finnish skateboarder Arto Saari was named 2001 Skater of the Year by Thrasher magazine.  He’s a playable character in several skating video games, introducing the name to another generation.  Saari is all grown up now, lives in the US, and is dad to Ella Aina.
  • Experimental musician Arthur Morgan Lindsay sounds more like a banker.  Maybe that’s why he’s known as Arto.  His roots are American, though he spent time in Brazil, too.
  • I found another musical Arto, the Turkish-Armenian Arto Tuncboyaciyan.  If you recognize him, it might be because of his collaboration with System of a Down.
  • And one more – Finnish fiddler Arto Järvelä.

All of this makes Arto seem rather international, but he’s definitely most common amongst Finns.  Athletes, writers, academics, scientists, and a handful of politicians answer to Arto.  If not Finnish, most Artos seem to be Aremnian, like Tuncboyaciyan.

But with choices like Leo, Mateo, Nico, and Milo considered mainstream, stylish names, Arto doesn’t feel tied to his roots necessarily.  Just as I can imagine a non-Italian Enzo, Arto doesn’t scream Finnish to me.

The hurdle to using Arto is probably American English.  I can imagine Arto coming out sounding more like Ardo, the crisp “t” sound muddied to a “d.”  Finns don’t have that tendency – listen to Arto pronounced by a native speaker hereArlo doesn’t have that challenge, either.  I’m less certain how Arto would fare in British or Australian English.

Still, Arto is on trend.  It is easy to imagine him as an unconventional short form of Arthur, or as a Finnish heritage choice easier to wear than, say, Jussi.  If you’re looking for an unexpected option that feels breezy and modern, but still has deep roots, Arto is one to consider.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah A October 25, 2012 at 5:27 AM

I like it, but I do see the “Ardo” pronunciation as a stumbing block. Though that didn’t stop a lot of middle aged men named Martin who go by Marty even though it sounds like “Mardy” ;) The muddied “t” to “d” sound is why I’m not a bigger fan of names like Martin and Otto.

I did know a lovely Latino guy in college named Arturo so that’s my favorite form, although I really love Arlo too.

Good luck Rachel and congratulations!

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Rachel Emma October 24, 2012 at 3:33 AM

Delightful information here. I did not know about Artturi. You’re right – a little close to Atari!
I can see your concern about the ‘possibility of ‘Ardo’. I’m sure it would happen in Australia too. We can get a little lazy with our t’s!
Still a charming name in my opinion.
Thank you Abby!

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appellationmountain October 24, 2012 at 4:14 AM

You’re welcome! Arthur is a HUGE family name for us, and I’m a huge fan of ends-in-o, so I really do love Arto. Can’t wait to hear what you decide. :)

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