Saturday, 11 June 2011

Antonio and María still live here ....

... so do Manolo and María del Carmen
ANDALUCIA (Agencies) Pope Benedict would be pleased. Three months ago, during a mass christening of children in the Sixtine Chapel, he asked that his followers turn back to using traditional Christian names, instead of those popularised by sports and television, so much in vogue today. He would be pleased with the Campo de Gibraltar, at any rate, because the most popular names hereabouts are those that have passed down through generations. Indeed, if you were to shout "Antonio!" in the street, aside from probably getting arrested for disturbing the peace, you would find 5,660 men answering your call. If the name were Francisco (or Paco or Curro in the familial), it would be 5,221; Manolo (officially Manuel), 4,895; and 4,853 Josés (also known as Pepes). Antonio (nowadays often shortened to Toni thus leading to confusion among Americans addressing a man with a female name as it is in the States) is the most popular name in Algeciras, La Línea, San Roque and Tarifa; while Francisco heads the list in Los Barrios, Jimena and Castellar. As for the females of the species,>María stands out with 4,667 women thus named in the Campo, and leading in La Línea, San Roque, Los Barrios, Jimena and Castellar. In Algeciras and Tarifa, however, the most popular names for girls are María del Carmen y María de la Luz.

It should be noted here that María followed by del or de la is considered a name on its own, almost always the nomenclature for a Virgin (other examples, though not local as the girls tend to be named after local patron saints: María de las Mercedes, María de los Angeles -the patron saint of Jimena-, and so on). Quite often, María is followed by another name (e.g. María Dolores) and the woman is called by the second name (in this case, Dolores).

An interesting development in Algeciras is the influence of Moroccan immigration, which puts Mohamed among the top male names there, ranking 33rd, ahead of Pablo, Raúl, Ángel, Jorge, Alfonso, Enrique and Sebastián, for example.

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