Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meet my daughter, Vagina (va GEE na)... is awesome. Here's an interesting article about the common urban legend names we're always hearing about.

Another is about comments from a Congresswoman about giving hurricanes African-American names that were warped and painted with racism.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unwanted baby names!

Send us your unwanted baby names

Why waste a perfectly good name like, er, Leopard?

Everybody has one. No, not one of those. We're talking about that list of brilliant but unused baby names. Most people come up with something like 2,734 good ones before having to settle on just one or two - unless, they really go nuts and knock out maybe three. But still, think of all the wasted potential...

New trend: biblical names

Cox News Service

Hollywood is a long way from Puritan New England, but celebrities are harking back to an old tradition: biblical baby names.

Robert De Niro's son Aaron.
Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin's little girl, Delilah Belle.
Annie Potts' Isaac Harris.
Albert Brooks' two-for-one Jacob Eli.
Not to mention all the Elijahs, Hannahs and Jacobs in Beverly Hills preschools.
Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Moses Paltrow-Martin are among the newest additions to the rolls of Scripture-based baby monikers.
Judith Tropea, author of "Classic Biblical Baby Names," says she thinks the trend shows that people want names that are "meaningful, spiritual and have lasted through the course of time."
Tropea, who lives in New Jersey, is expecting her third son. Matthew is 8; Daniel, 6.
She's considering Noah for the newest addition.
Tropea has some suggestions that go way beyond the obvious in scriptural appellations.
For her:
Damaris -- a woman who listened to Paul as he preached about Jesus in Athens.
Elisheba -- wife of Moses' brother Aaron.
Kezia -- Job's second daughter.
Tirzah -- the youngest of five sisters who protested Moses' division of Canaan based on sons. God agreed with the girls.
Zipporah -- given to Moses as a wife.
For him:
Aeneas -- a paralyzed man healed by Peter in the name of Jesus.
Gaius -- a popular name among Christians in Rome.
Nicanor -- an early disciple of the church in Jerusalem.
Othniel -- the first judge of Israel after Joshua's death.
Zuriel -- a Levite ruler during the exodus from Egypt.

I've been pushing Keziah and Tirzah for years! I also love Damaris. The Pilgrims used Damaris quite a bit.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Names and Socioeconomic Status/Race

Here are a couple of articles about the socioeconomic differences in naming trends, as well as the difference in naming trends between blacks and whites in the USA.

A Roshanda By Any Other Name

Where do Baby Names Come From?

I am totally fascinated by African American vs. white naming trends. White people have a tendency to make fun of names like Lakisha, Shaniqua, etc., that are pretty much exclusively used by African Americans. I've heard comments like, "adding -isha to a name doesn't make it African," and "it's so obvious that they're black" (implying that if LaShondra had been named something "whiter," she might be taken more seriously).

Today I met a pregnant black woman who plans on naming her daughter Samaria (pronounced like Sa MAHR ee a (second syllable rhymes with 'car'), not like sa-mary-a, where the 2nd syllable rhymes with 'bear')-- she made it up after the Samartian women in the bible. She asked me if I'd heard of the name, and I said "no, but I've heard sa-mary-a." She breathed a sigh of relief, saying she wanted her daughter to have a totally unique name. In fact, the baby's middle name is going to be Eunique (baby's dad picked that one out).

The woman stressed the "unique" thing several times. It's funny, because white people seem to want just the opposite. When white people are talking about baby names, they are always worried that the child's peers will make fun of it, or that a boy's name will be "girly" (a really big fear). A name's uniqueness doesn't seem to enter into the equation at. all.

I would love to do some kind of project on naming and race, but I'd look like a total freak walking up to random black people and being like, "what's your name? How did you get that name?" I'd also like to talk to white mothers of babies with (1)really common names and (2) really odd names. Ahh, the things I would do if I had the time and money to do stuff!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

How popular is your first name?

I have no idea where this information comes from, but Name Statistics is kind of a fun site. It will tell you how common your first name is, and then give you some HTML to paste in your blog or webpage or wherever you'd like.

For Example:

Otto is the #504 most common male name.
0.018% of men in the US are named otto.
Around 22050 US men are named otto!

Dorcas is the #1388 most common female name.
0.005% of females in the US are named dorcas.
Around 6375 US females are named dorcas!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How many people have your name?

This site is really fun: it tells you "how many people" have your name (first and last) in the USA. By "how many people," it doesn't count the number of actual people who have your name; how it works is it takes the popularity of your first name and last name and then figures out the probability that someone will have both your names, based on the US population (which recently hit 300,000,000).

It's fun, though. I threw in some fairly improbable (or just silly) name combinations just to see what it would come up with:

According to the statistics,

There are 12 people in the U.S. named Abdul Murphy.

There are 20 people in the U.S. named Herschel Lopez.

There are 15 people in the U.S. named Julio Chen.

There are 4 people in the U.S. named Tanisha Wong.

There is 1 person in the U.S. named Mohammed Goldstein.

There is 1 person in the U.S. named Monique Gupta.

There are 21 people in the U.S. named Jesus Singh.

There are 12 people in the U.S. named Marilyn Manson.

There are 78 people in the U.S. named Martin Barton.

There are 529 people in the U.S. named Kelly Kelly.

There are 2 people in the U.S. named Dick Head. (heheh I couldn't resist)

...and, look out world, because There are 503 people in the U.S. named George Bush!

Name your kids David & Susan to invite wealth?

Here's a kind of pointless article from Netscape News: It's about the richest people, and what their names are. The article implies that in order for your children to be successful, name them things from these lists.

However... John is a pretty common name all around. If you could take a poll of the *poorest* people out there, I'll bet John will rank pretty high as well. Would that mean that your baby John is destined to become a hobo?

The name is Bond...

A man, formerly named David Fearn, has legally changed his name to James Bond, with his middle names being all the titles of the Bond movies thus far. What will happen when they come out with another movie?

I'm too sexy for my name

From The Atlantic:

What's in a Name?

If you feel that the opposite sex isn't giving you the attention you so richly deserve, maybe you should consider making a change—a name change, that is. According to a preliminary study by an MIT cognitive scientist, the vowel sounds in people's names may have an impact on how others judge their attractiveness. Specifically, when the men in the study were assigned names with a stressed front vowel (a vowel sound spoken at the front of the mouth), they were rated as more attractive than when they were assigned names with a stressed back vowel. (In other words, good news for Dave, Craig, Ben, Jake, Rick, Steve, Matt; bad news for Lou, Paul, Luke, Tom, Charles, George, John.) In women the effect was reversed, and a stressed back vowel (Laura, Julie, Robin, Susan, Holly) boosted sex appeal, whereas a stressed front vowel (Melanie, Jamie, Jill, Tracy, Ann, Liz, Amy) had the opposite effect—to the author's disappointment, no doubt.

—"What's in a Name? The Effect of Sound Symbolism on Perception of Facial Attractiveness," Amy Perfors, MIT

This study has been written about in a few different places, including New Scientist, on Netscape News, and MSNBC. While the spin may be slightly different for each article, they all agree on one thing: Amy is a pretty un-sexy name. No wonder I changed mine!

Welcome to the Onomastics Blog!

We'll post any interesting articles out there in the world of naming.