Trend for foreign names causes stir in Albania

Trend for foreign names causes stir in Albania
Children at a primary school in Albania (Image: World Bank Photo Collection under a CC licence)

1 August 2016

Research highlighting the huge popularity of foreign names in Albania has caused outrage among experts, who claim that the trend represents a threat to national identity.

The recent study shows that none of the 20 most popular names given to Albanian newborn children in 2014 were Albanian.

Of the 35,760 births registered in Albania during 2014, statistics shows that the girls name Amelia was the most popular name, being chosen 363 times. Other foreign girls names that made it to the top 20 included Ajla, Melisa, Klea, Sara, Kejsi, Noemi, Alesia and Leandra. Among boys names, Noel came top of the list, with Joel taking second place.

This development has caused concern among sociology experts. According to Dr Edmond Dragoti, a sociology professor at the University of Tirana, the trend is the result of the banning of foreign names under the former communist regime.

“All the frustration about not being able to name their children as they wished exploded after the 1990s, when Albania opened up. The unlimited and uncontrolled new freedom quickly surpassed the need for a national identity,” said Dr Dragoti in an interview with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

He also linked the craze with mass migration of Albanians abroad, and the related perceived need for integration with the new local community in which the migrants find themselves.

“Foreign names are given to children [...] to raise the family status and make the process of integration smoother,” he stated.

“This phenomenon is dangerous for our identity and culture and harms our roots,” said Agron Tufa, a writer and literature professor at the University of Tirana.

Source: Balkan Insight