The German language has given us some rather harsh, if very useful, words and phrases: schadenfreude, gesundheit, zeitgeist. Of course, it’s also given us a lovely and wildly popular name for girls, Emma.
And while Helga isn’t likely to crack the Top 10, there are two appealing German imports that just might race up the popularity charts: Lorelei and Anneliese.
Until recently, Lorelei was seldom heard on these shores. It wasn’t unfamiliar, exactly – the myth of Lorelei appears throughout poetry and music. The stories vary, but the gist is this: disappointed by a faithless lover, Lorelei leaps to her death from a large rock, from which she now lures sailors to their deaths. Lorelei translates to “murmuring rock,” but perhaps – at least in pop culture terms – it has come to mean siren. It was the name chosen for Marilyn Munroe’s femme fatale character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (Incidentally, in the movie Lorelei married a Gus.)
Then came The Gilmore Girls, back in 2000. The show used the variant spelling Lorelai for not one, but three characters – the mother/daughter duo and a grandmother. The daughter was known as Rory; the matriarch as Trix.
The name failed to crack the Top 1000 during the show’s early years, but it gained momentum. As of 2006, the original version – Lorelei – charted at #784. Lorelai was #989.
Given the enduring popularity of Laura and Lauren, it is safe to say that we’ll hear more of this name in coming years.
With Annabelle gaining in popularity (#206 last year, not counting Annabel and Anabelle), it’s no surprise that Anneliese is attracting attention.