Danish: female first name shortened to "Dell"

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Madrid829, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area

    I am trying to do some family research. My great-grandfather's name was Einer Hansen. He was born in the US but his parents came here from Denmark. He had a sister and we do not know her full name, but my mom remembers that my grandmother referred to her as "Auntie Dell." Are there any female first names you know of that are sometimes shortened to this?

    Tak! :)
  2. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Fortunately Danish names usually don't get short versions by similar principles as Robert becoming Bob, etc.

    So "Del" is probably a syllable of the name. If it is the first syllable it leaves us these possibilities:

    Delia, Deliane, Delicia, Delilah, Delphine
  3. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Great! We are planning on returning to Denmark in the summer (we got married there last winter) so I'm hoping to make progress before then, in case there are any ancestral towns or relatives I can visit/contact. Tusind tak, Sepia!
  4. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    It's true that we don't normally shorten names in Denmark. If the name is the short form of something, it was probably shortened in the US.

    All the names suggested above are rare in Denmark today, and as they aren't traditional Danish names, I would suspect that they were rarer still 100 years ago. I, for one, don't know anybody at all who answers any of the above names.
    What is more, I can't think of a single Danish name that begins with Del or Dell. I can, however, think of at least two traditional (and still common) Danish names that begin with El, namely Else or Ellen.

    Is it possible that Dell was El?
    Maybe Aunt El became Aun Tel and then Aunt Dell?

    Also 'dell' might not be the first syllable. Her name might have been Adele, although, again, this is not very common in Denmark (but I know an Adele). Also, I remember my Grandmother had a friend who answered Adelheid (a German name), which might also conceivably be shortened to Dell in the US.

    Anyway, if 'auntie Dell' is all you have to go by, you have a difficult task ahead of you. But don't let that stop you. We're only 5 million people over here. ;)

    Happy hunting! :)

    Or - as we say in Danish - Held og lykke!

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  5. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Funny you should mention, MindBoggle: I have since found some Census records that I believe may be for Einer's family in Minnesota. I'm not 100% sure because the variation in spelling of foreigners' names by government officials and Census takers is—forgive me—mind-boggling. The other day I was able to track down Einer's death certificate, which listed his parents' names. The Census record lists a sister spelled—depending on the year—Edel, Edell, Edele, and I think there's an Adele.

  6. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    In first grade (40 years ago) I had a teacher - an old woman - who answered Edel (also a German name). I don't know that the name is still in use in Denmark today, but I've seen the name in obituaries, so it must have been used earlier.

    Edel is a good guess, I think, especially if you have a record that says something like that.
  7. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    - and now that I think of it:

    If an American were to say 'Aunt Edel', wouldn't that sound exactly like 'Auntie Dell'?
  8. Madrid829 Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    US English, Great Lakes area
    Ha! I can't believe that hadn't occurred to me. I'll run that by my mom! A name with some German history would be plausible because Einer's mother's maiden name is listed as Volk.
  9. bicontinental Senior Member

    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Nice detective work!!! Hats off to you MB!
  10. nsv Senior Member

    Silkeborg, DK
    Decade <1900 -9 -19 -29 -39 -49 -59 -69 -79 -89 -99 -5 Total
    Count 254 637 1864 2304 1279 793 307 109 37 17 44 16 7643

    Above table (I hope it will be shown correctly) is the result of a query on the name Edel in the database

    As you can see there has been quite some girls who were given the name Edel; the peak decade being the 1920's. And the name is still in use...

    best regards
  11. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    On one hand, I am not sure you'd pronounce the name "Edel" with the hard "d" like in German. But on the other hand, where exactly did they live? Not all that is Denmark today was Denmark a Hundred years ago.
  12. Lavrentius New Member

    When you are trying to locate relatives this page may be of use to you:
    It is Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv aka The Danish Emigration Archives (which has an English language option) (I have just learned that as new member I'm not allowed to post links but the page can be easily found on Goggle). This is the official state archives of almost all Danish emigration to North America (394.000) in the period of1869-1908. It has some basic information. For example, going with the clever suggestion that the name in question is Edel, a search on Hansen, Edel (warning:fairly rigid search system!) gives you this: a woman named Edel Kirstine Hansen, 28 years of age, married, left Denmark in 1871 for the destination of Albert Lea, Minnesota. Her place of origen is listed as S. Næraa, Odense. Modern spelling Sr. Nærå. S. or Sr. is short for Sønder or Søndre, meaning Southern. Unknown: the name of the ship on which she travelled. The Archive just has a little basic information, but if you play around with variables you may do some succesful datamining. A one-year-old male child named Rasmus Hansen share origen and travel destination with this Edel (but the archive doesn't reveal whether they were in fact mother and child). As for a promishing father this man looks interesting: Hans Christian Hansen, listed as a farmer, left for St. Paul i 1869. His age is given as 25 (so in 1871 he would have been 27), and his place of origen was Allerup, Odense. If you look those two Danish villages up on Google Maps you will see that they are about three miles apart.
    Whether or not these people are family of yours, I belive you will find the archive useful.
    Held og Lykke.

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