Monday, April 21, 2008

Poor Mandy...

I found the following name:

Amanda Lynn Blowe

This poor girl not only has the annoying combination of Amanda Lynn (like a mandolin), but Amanda Blowe? Were her parents really that clueless? Or did they just have a sick, sick sense of humor?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random pointless name factoid!

There were 108 males and one female in Texas given the name Gareth between 1907 and 1997. 82 males and 0 females received Gareth as a middle name in that same time period.

You can look up all sorts of useless statistics like this (as well as useful statistics) at!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Boy Named Sue, and a Theory of Names

New York Times, By J. MARION TIERNEY
Published: March 11, 2008

During his 1969 concert at San Quentin prison, Johnny Cash proposed a paradigm shift in the field of developmental psychology. He used “A Boy Named Sue” to present two hypotheses:

1. A child with an awful name might grow up to be a relatively normal adult.

2. The parent who inflicted the name does not deserve to be executed.

I immediately welcomed the Boy Named Sue paradigm, although I realized that I might be biased by my middle name (Marion). Cash and his ambiguously named male collaborator, the lyricist Shel Silverstein, could offer only anecdotal evidence against decades of research suggesting that children with weird names were destined for places like San Quentin.

Studies showed that children with odd names got worse grades and were less popular than other classmates in elementary school. In college they were more likely to flunk out or become “psychoneurotic.” Prospective bosses spurned their résumés. They were overrepresented among emotionally disturbed children and psychiatric patients.

Some of these mental problems might have been genetic — what kind of parent picks a name like Golden Rule or Mary Mee? — but it was still bad news.

Today, though, the case for Mr. Cash’s theory looks much stronger, and I say this even after learning about Emma Royd and Post Office in a new book, “Bad Baby Names,” by Michael Sherrod and Matthew Rayback.

By scouring census records from 1790 to 1930, Mr. Sherrod and Mr. Rayback discovered Garage Empty, Hysteria Johnson, King Arthur, Infinity Hubbard, Please Cope, Major Slaughter, Helen Troy, several Satans and a host of colleagues to the famed Ima Hogg (including Ima Pigg, Ima Muskrat, Ima Nut and Ima Hooker).

The authors also interviewed adults today who had survived names like Candy Stohr, Cash Guy, Mary Christmas, River Jordan and Rasp Berry. All of them, even Happy Day, seemed untraumatized.

“They were very proud of their names, almost overly proud,” Mr. Sherrod said. “We asked if that was a reaction to getting pummeled when they were little, but they said they didn’t get that much ribbing. They did get a little tired of hearing the same jokes, but they liked having an unusual name because it made them stand out.”

Not too much ribbing? That surprised me, because I had vivid memories of playground serenades to my middle name: “Marion . . . Madam Librarian!” (My tormentors didn’t care that the “Music Man” librarian spelled her name with an “a.”) But after I looked at experiments in the post-Sue era by revisionists like Kenneth Steele and Wayne Hensley, it seemed names weren’t so important after all.

When people were asked to rate the physical attractiveness and character of someone in a photograph, it didn’t matter much if that someone was assigned an “undesirable” name. Once people could see a face, they rated an Oswald, Myron, Harriet or Hazel about the same as a face with a “desirable” name like David, Gregory, Jennifer or Christine.

Other researchers found that children with unusual names were more likely to have poorer and less educated parents, handicaps that explained their problems in school. Martin Ford and other psychologists reported, after controlling for race and ethnicity, that children with unusual names did as well as others in school. The economists Roland Fryer and Steven Levitt reached a similar conclusion after controlling for socioeconomic variables in a study of black children with distinctive names.

“Names only have a significant influence when that is the only thing you know about the person,” said Dr. Ford, a developmental psychologist at George Mason University. “Add a picture, and the impact of the name recedes. Add information about personality, motivation and ability, and the impact of the name shrinks to minimal significance.”

But even if a bad name doesn’t doom a child, why would any parent christen an infant Ogre? Mr. Sherrod found several of them, along with children named Ghoul, Gorgon, Medusa, Hades, Lucifer and every deadly sin except Gluttony (his favorite was Wrath Gordon).

You can sort of understand parents’ affection for the sound of Chimera Griffin, but Monster Moor and Goblin Fester? Or Cheese Ceaser and Leper Priest? What provokes current celebrities to name their children Sage Moonblood Stallone and Speck Wildhorse Mellencamp?

“Today it’s all about individuality,” Mr. Sherrod said. “In the past, there was more of a sense of humor, probably because fathers had more say in the names.” He said the waning influence of fathers might explain why there are no longer so many names like Nice Deal, Butcher Baker, Lotta Beers and Good Bye, although some dads still try.

“I can’t tell you,” Mr. Sherrod said, “how often I’ve heard guys who wanted their kid to be able to say truthfully, ‘Danger is my middle name.’ But their wives absolutely refused.”

Is it possible — I’m trying to be kind to these humor-challenged fathers — that they think Danger would be a character-building experience? Could there be anything to the paternal rationale offered in Johnny Cash’s song, the one that stopped Sue from killing his father: “I knew you’d have to get tough or die, and it’s the name that helped to make you strong”?

I sought an answer from Cleveland Kent Evans — not because he might have gotten into fights defending Cleveland, but because he’s a psychologist and past president of the American Names Society. Dr. Evans, a professor at Bellevue University in Nebraska, said there is evidence for the character-building theory from psychologists like Richard Zweigenhaft, but it doesn’t work exactly as Sue’s father imagined it.

“Researchers have studied men with cross-gender names like Leslie,” Dr. Evans explained. “They haven’t found anything negative — no psychological or social problems — or any correlations with either masculinity or effeminacy. But they have found one major positive factor: a better sense of self-control. It’s not that you fight more, but that you learn how to let stuff roll off your back.”

After hearing that, I began to reconsider my own name. Although I’d never shared Sue’s Oedipal impulse — I realized my father couldn’t have anticipated “Music Man” — I’d never appreciated those playground serenades, either. But maybe they served some purpose after all. So today, to celebrate the Boy Named Sue paradigm shift, I’m using my middle name in my byline for the first time.

Also for the last time. As Sue realized when it came time to name his own son, you can take a theory only so far.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Keeping Up With the Joneses: Boys

Here are some of the interesting names I found among babies born in California in 1995 with the last name Jones...

Boys' names are more conservative than girls' names usually. Boys tend to be named after their fathers or grandfathers, thus keeping the pool of boys names around longer. Thus said...

Different Spellings:
Alax, Aren; Ahrin, Bobie, Bow, Mycheal; Mykell, Briyn, Camrin, Cyle; Kiel, Shon, Alawishes, Coraey, Dametreous, Daunne, Dezmin, Kirt, Graigoree, Heith, Joshuwa, Jahshua Izayah, Jeremiha, Eligah, Jessi, Emmanule, Donavaughn, Juelian, Ugene, Jhon, Lundyn, Nyegel; Nijal, Banjamin, Myals, Phoenyx, Phyllip, Sederick, Stephvon, Toney, Trentyne, Aleq, Tyylr, Cindney, Wolter, Nickalous

New words/places as names:
Summet, Brae, Bishop, Quest, Britton, Brue, Cairo, Rucksac, Coy, Cutter, Pleas, Dreamius, Dynamite, Glendale, Travel, Blue, Iron, Ivy (boy), Jewell (boy), Kohl, Magic, Major, Moon, Nail, Reyn, Roche, Talon, Chicago, Mericle, Wren

Interesting combos:
Avie Hugh
Avondre Davalillo
Belafanti Desean
Bijon Christen
Bodhi Sage
Breeze Loyd
Grath Junior
Kelly Junior
Bronden Trinidad
Jehonathan Jesiah
Burk Tryon
Caesar Adolph
Malcolm Sadat
Carr Esquire
Charunn Chadonye
Cheapell Leesy
Dolan Obanion
Edker Ree
August Mandela
Jack Strongheart
Jaz E
Johnnie Danny
Kenneth Leviathan
Kerry Rhyanwy Stjohn Lars
Joseph Alexander Eaglebear
Justin Tyme
Kheywan Darnyeh
Kreol Deluch
Leif Lynn
Lucky Larrise
Love Ray
Master K
Royal Gene
Ruff Sidney
Sam Lucky
Sky Blue
StJoseph Love
Theopolis Q
Tito Tomito
Toussaint Louverture
Trinity Saint
Trinydad Azwad
Withfield Edison
Zonkiss Ailliot

interesting names:
Dwyan, Dimmak, Mecail, Quista, Gekill, Cacess, Ireno, Wyld, Benczesh, Boliver, Caitland, Aramis, Carzie, Cass, Celtin, Jonluc, Cisco, Claudie, Claster, Miro, Alaric, Cotrino, Jehoiakim, Dracy, Elza, Vlee, Ivyrage, MacAi, Dixo, Ney, Sil, Sio, Lonzie, Marquezze, Nethario, Phylester, Quayd, Shonga, Tavish, Tennyson, Yonex

Famous People:
Carlos Ponce Jones
Christian Dior Jones
Ralph Waldo Jones
Franklin Dwayne Roosevelt Jones
Zachary Taylor Jones
Frederick Douglas Jones
Germaine Quincy Jones
James Quincy Jones
Hans Christian Jones
Rickie Lee Jones (boy)
Indiana Jacob Harrison Jones
Milan Indiana Jones
Rusty Allen Jones
Jaime Lee Curtis Jones (boy)
James Earl Jones
James Taylor Jones
Jesse James Jones
Lynard Jodeci Jones
Aron Elvis Jones
Ptolemy Lee Jones
Ramses, Marsalis, Nero, Shaquille, Imhotep, Olajuwon

Super Welsh boys:
Dylan Emlyn, Bryn Gareth, Gareth Owen, Llewellyn, Scott Taliesin, Trevor Dylan

Say what?
Cheaquis, Cjance, Msonrerome, Jahkesce, Kamj, Ldewaynelee

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeping Up With The Joneses: Girls

I found a list of all the babies born in california in 1995 with the last name Jones. I don't know if it's having such a common name that inspires people to come up with interesting first and middle names, or whether people in California are just creative in general... here are some of the best ones. I've divided them up into categories:

Different spellings:
Aeriane, Moniq, Aijha, Airrika, Aarika, Jazzmn, Alehxa, Elizabith, Rynae; Ranae; Reanee; Ranai, Leea, Nikcole, Joszalynn, Channel, Justean, Jurnee, Athyna, Joiece, Bryttnie, Kayluh; K'la, Keilii, K'lin; K'Lynn , Cameil; Kimille , Celest, Maigen; Magen, Cymone; Cmone, Ileah, Destynee, Kireston, Dihaana; Dhyonna, Leaanna; Leeuana, Emylie, Errieyona, Launa, Elease, Dilynn, Jacci, Kurstie, Kyanha, Kyndahl, Lacrezha; Lecricia, Onnamerie, Lizzett, Llyandra, MacAela, Anet, Mechell, Khrystyne, Melonye, Natacheau, Aprol, Paje, Ulexis, Preshess, Raechel, Leesza, Veola, Sarha, Kelle, Daziree, Shylo, Taelar, Shunnice

Interesting changes to "standard" names:
Adriani, Chelony, Cheyennenicole, Cloverise, Dajonnaise, Dyniele, Erinique, Aerolyn, Amenda, Jaddie, Jasmanique, Jastine, Jesslin, Karci, Chasidi, Chastitty (oh lord, like Chastity needs "titty" in it!), Brigzette, Marymarie, Chellle (3 LL's?), Naycole, Deslie, Centhia, Kathaleen, Kathleena, Kimberlina, Kirtrina, Lawreca, Annettia, Michelae, Ashlina, Emmia, Kymber, Lynnta, Sharlie, Sienne, Skaylin, Taylia, Tellyn, Tessandra, Theesha, Titiyana, Winnerfrid, Anntionette

New words and places as names:
Arrabia, Capri, Caprice, Chariot, Arteria, Clariyon, Cleopatra, Cypress, Milan, Artesia Tierra, Divine, Diva, Evian, Fashionee, Lovella, Neon, Porsche, Queen, Radiance, Atlanta, Holland, Honesty, Kamio, Kamry, Avylon, Ikeia, Brazille, Minyon, Britania, Queenesther, Myangel, Reign, Sahara, Yugonda, Mafia, Magenta, Ontaria, Milaysia, Mohogany, Mystique, Nigeria, Normandie, Paradise, Passion, Parish, Peris, Persia, Espree, Saucie, Samoan, Infinity, Scoutt, September, Shalamaur, Shardinae, Shasta, Provincetta, Sheraton, Silken, Silver, Special, Suede, Sylk, Tanganyika, Tawnie, Teale, Tequila, Terrany, Tommorrow, Tribecca, Tuzday, Wednesday, Zyaire, Divenity, Coy

These combinations are just unusual and really cool/interesting sounding:
Valexia Xariah
Akita (like the dog?)
Alexandria Indiana Jones
Amekco Darsha
Angelon Bridjae
Typanga Leamber
Avion Gznell
Breeanna Brene
Clarencia Doll
Crysheena Precious
Venus Shalon Judy
Curtiss Lovejanice
Elmallah Ai
Taylor Dane
Taylor Omega
Gessie Orrie
Heavenly Day
Ironnisha Zanneka
Jazzreeal Letease
Yonta Cheramia
Shimerea Breez
Jetaime Noir (Je t'aime noir - I love black in French?)
Kashshay Benzanae
Zena Petrice
Krystalline Dawn
Laolen Bee
London Summer
Nevada Skye
Sommer Porche
Moonlight Redcloud
Stormi Sunshine
Precious Uniquejewels
Reverdia Shellique
Tranea Rhontich
Trasalia Rhunette
Sable Diamond
Stormiweather Lee
Whisper Nikowah

More interesting names: Lajodeci, Kotey, Laporscha, Tudie, Jazzy, McCall, Mauthee, Michivan, Lark, Remington, Mookie, Scharnell, Starsetta, Sabri, Tazz, T'pring (yes, like on star Trek), Zuzu, Zebora

There are no "standard" ways to spell a few names that have become popular: one that's like /day-zhaun-ay/ (kind of like the French déjuner) and just /zha NAY/

Here are a bunch of ways it's been spelled:

Daishenae, Daijonae, Daijanee, Daeshonaye, Dashanae, Daejione, Dajohnia, Dashanae, Dazhane, Deozjane, Deajuane, Deshanai, Deshaunay, Deshonna(?), Dezjona, Dezohnaye, Dezsanee, Dijone (?), Deshanee, Dejanae, Dashanay, Daeshaney

J'nae, Janay, Janae, Jinae, Janee, Jenee, Jenae, Jenay, Genee, Jonnay, Zanae (?), Janaay, Zhane, Jene, Chanae, Jhanay, Johnnai, Johnnae, Jonae, Jonay, Jynae, Shanae, Jaunae, Jenea, Jeanae, Shanay, Shanaye, Shanea, Shenaye, Jonaye, Shaneye, Shenai, Jahnae, Jeneh, Chaney, Zchonae

Feminine forms of masculine names (or just usually masculine names on girls):
Calvinisha, Alvinisha, Willisha, Clarencia, Dylana (x2), Edwanesha, Haroldnesha Glennae, Paulnisha, Tommielee, Anthoniece, Jeffrie, Jimmia, Jimmie, Johnna, Johnnia, Johnetta, Joshlyn, Justann, Johnniece, Ericee, Leroyia, Pierra, Marcel, Dimitri, Richandra, Rickia, Israela

I've been studying names for decades, and I am stumped as to how to pronounce these:
Mlyn, Kginia, Myqui, Ksa, Cynkerenee, Neae, Ahynee, Macyk, Niekiha, Ryclynn, Qawiyelaine, Dijieshon, Synyahnadell, Victishalynd, Xjhunneh, Tychaniquean Latayzatelen

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Welsh Names Saga

I've been working on a site for Welsh names. In my research, I decided to look through newspapers and such to find names of *real* Welsh people, since all my books do is list names and meanings. I know many of these names are from mythology and aren't really used for people these days. Thus my search began.

I found this site of Female Mathematicians from the University of Wales and, always on the lookout for new and interesting names, found these listed among them:

Arvonia Decima Jones (graduated 1911)
Sylvie Tryphena Chapple (1924)
Dilys Eluned Francis (1925) - her parents weren't kidding around with Welsh names! Everyone else with Welsh names had the middle name of Mary, Margaret or Elizabeth.

From the rest of the site:
Lesbia Laurence Merron Boyd (Edinburgh University, 1929)
Beatrice Mabel Cave-Browne-Cave
Frances Evelyn Cave-Browne-Cave - both grads of Cambridge University (Girton College) in 1898)--- Three last names? Yikes!
Zona Cone (London University, 1933)
Gladys Diaper (London University, 1923)(this just made my inner 10-year-old giggle)
Alphonsine Josephine Elizabeth Deckers (Cambridge University, 1890)
Hettie Hardy (Cambridge University, 1930)-- that name's just fun to say!
Myma Kay Heathcote (Oxford, 1939) At first I thought it was "myrna", but it's MYMA.
Ismay Caer Levy (Cambridge, 1939)
Rosamond Moncrieff Leitch (Cambridge, 1902) -- this is a serious, serious name.
Blodwen Myfanwy Leeson (Reading, 1939)-- there goes my Welsh middle name theory!
Jemima Arulman Manuel (London University, 1940)
Ethelberta Mary Morris (Cambridge, 1928) - I'm glad my name isn't Ethelberta.
Gwneth Nesta Lilian Ruthven Murray (Cambridge, 1903) - interesting spelling
Ione Dorothy Vivienne Naish (Sheffield, 1924)
Shakuntala Paranjpye (Cambridge, 1929)-- this is the only non-British name I've come upon so far!
Dulcie Vivien Reynolds (London University, 1940)-- I love the names Dulcie & Vivien
Magdalen Harriet Ricardo (Cambridge, 1898)
Mary Shakespeare Richards (Cambridge, 1887)-- it's kind of awesome that someone with the middle name Shakespeare went on to study mathematics.
Nannie Savage (Belfast, 1933) --this sounds like a Horror Movie title.
Ottilie Shaw (Cambridge 1903)
Cecil Stokes (Cambridge, 1914) -- Cecil for a girl?
Vendla Harriett Matilda Thane (Cambridge, 1909)
Ethelberga Margaret Terry (Cambridge, 1938)
Olive Malvina Toogood (London Univ., 1924)-- that name is just 'too good' to pass over.
Eunice Oenone Wolstenholme (Cambridge, 1933)

Back to Welsh Names:
In skimming through newspapers, it looks like about 25% Welsh people have Welsh first names, with guys twice as likely to have one as girls. This is interesting, because when I lived in Ireland, my non-scientific survey told me that more girls than boys tend to have Irish names.

Why is this? Someone give me a grant to study it!