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OK, just pretend the caption actually reads "Carl = Manly Man!"

OK, just pretend the caption actually reads “Carl = Manly Man!”

Yes, it really is Carl day! OK, OK, just happens to be my Name-day (namnsdag–and thanks to Margareta for reminding me). In Sweden (and many other European countries) each day of the year is attached to particular names, originally coming out of the Calendar of Saints. My name happens to be the same as that of the Swedish king Carl Gustav (whom I got to have lunch with last year… though we actually didn’t talk, as we were not at the same table), which means it is also a Flag Day in Sweden, so PUT UP YOUR SWEDISH FLAGS!!! (um, thanks again to Margareta for pointing out that connection for me… let’s hear it for Swedish relatives!)

En riktig karl.

En riktig karl.

The names Carl/Karl/Charles/etc are all related (duh… but maybe you didn’t know that about Charles), and karl means “man” in Old Norse (as I am overfond of telling my students). Actually, I had trouble for a long time saying my name in Icelandic–the -rl ending has that same sort of saliva-y explosion that the -ll ending has, as in, for example, the name of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. The nuances in the meaning of “karl” vary throughout history and depending on context–“churl” comes from Old English “ceorl,” and “karl” in Scandinavian sources can range from something along the lines of the “common/free man” (see the Eddic poem Rígsþula) to the churlish nuances of… um, churl. It is also used as a modifier (“male”), as in “karldýr” (male animal), or, funny enough, “karlmaðr,” male… um, man. Well, “maðr” is usually translated (and is related to our word) “man,” but in this case it is best taken as “person” for “male person.” The Swedish word “kille” is sort of a “nickname” version of “karl” ie “guy,” and is similar to my nickname in Swedish–“Calle.”

Whatever. I just want to be able to tell everyone that my name is synonymous with manliness. Not that anyone would be surprised. ;P  Hm, maybe I need to put this on my CV…

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