Monday, December 05, 2011

7 Recent Naming Trends

I've read a lot of articles about which names are trendy these days.

For example... Latin/Italian/Spanish versions of names as opposed to French forms of names are in. I.e., Michaela is IN, Michelle is OUT. Daniela is IN. Danielle is OUT.

Old-fashioned names are in (Isabella, Hannah, Grace etc.) and made-up nicknamey names are out (Traci, Kari, Jennie, etc.)

Biblical names are generally IN! (Elijah, Jacob, Ethan, Nathan, Noah)

But really, when are Biblical names ever NOT in?

What articles don't generally touch on are naming trends among the non-white and/or working classes. I know this is a touchy subject, since nobody likes to admit that not everyone in the USA is middle class, but naming trends really do follow socioeconomic lines pretty predictably.

Here are some trends that you are probably totally unaware of if you live in middle class areas on up!

Trends in Girls' names (boys' names don't hop on trends as fast for a variety of reasons, so I'm focusing on girls' names right now)

1. -ianna names. These names have been popular for years (Brianna, Ariana, Ayana etc.), but since the rise to fame of singing diva Rihanna, they've gotten way more popular. Also, Rihanna's spelling has influenced all sorts of names. Before 2005, you'd be hard pressed to find a single Brihanna, but in 2010 there were 81 (and 30 Brihanas). There were also a number of Arihannas, Gihannas, Khiannas, Tyrhiannas and others. It seems like pretty much any consonant can get an -ianna added to it to make a name, and it makes sense, because it's kind of a built-in naming element. Kiana, Ziana, Quiana, Viana... they all sound perfectly normal as names.

2. -iah, iyah, iya etc. names. Take a syllable and add -iah to the end, basically is this trend. Mariah was probably the touchstone for this trend (Mariah itself was how they pronounced "Maria" in England for a time up through the 1800s. It later got the "h" on the end to distinguish it from Maria). However, there are several Arabic names that are often anglicized with the ending -iya or -iyyah (Safiyyah, Samiya, Rabiya) as well as Russian forms of names that are sometimes anglicized with that ending (Sofiya, Lidiya). In the Russian and Arabic cases, the "y" actually stands for a letter: The "ya" (Я or backwards R) in ЛИДИЯ (Lidiya in Cyrillic; I'm not sure if the Unicode is working right). In Arabic, feminine names often end in ي ("Ya"). However, in modern American usage, -iya, -iyah, -ya, -yah, -iah and -ia are all used interchangeably. Some examples: Oliviya, Miyah (could be either Mia or Maya, probably more often Mia), and a host of recent additions, like Amiya, Aniyah, Kiyah, Diya, Giya, Amariyah, Kamariyah, Jamariyah, Maliyah etc.

3. Spanish-speaking Americans are adding a lot of the top names in the naming charts. There are several names in the top 200 that are mainly given to Latinas: Jocelyn (#37), Evelyn (#51), Gisele (#99), Genesis (#108), Stephanie (#134; higher if you count all the spellings of Estephanie/Estefany etc.), Leslie (#158), and Daisy (#163) to name a few.

4. -lani and -ani names. For every -ana name, there is probably an -ani form. Hawaiian names like Leilani, Ailani and Kealani have given way to Naylani, Alani, Milani, Jaylani, Malani, Maylani. Names that normally end in -ana, like Juliana, now have forms like Juliani, Briana/Briani, Eliana/Eliani, Ayana/Ayani.

5. Intangible or Concept names. The Puritans brought us such lasting concept names as Faith, Hope, and Charity (as well as some non-lasting names like Fear, Obedience, Sin-Not, and Flee-Fornication). The Victorians extended the conceptual names to include seasons like Autumn and Summer, though they never really caught on until the Hippies took this to new heights adding names like Sunshine, River, Rain etc. These days, anything goes! Names like Honesty are now found in multiple spellings (Aunesti, Ahonesty etc.), Cherish, Angelic, Savvy, Miracle, Twinkle, Shiny, Lyrical, Sweet, Heavenly, Bless/Blessed/Blessing (all verb forms! as well as the plural noun Blessings) Reality, Secret, Solace, and Allure are climbing the charts along with not-necessarily favorable names like Envy, Tyranny, Vanity and Racy (!).

6. British Isles Names. There are a lot of people of Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh descent in the USA. Many of these people are fiercely proud of their heritage... enough to name their kids Irish, Ireland, Scotland, Britain and England. It doesn't end there, though. Alternate forms, like Briton, Brittyn, Irelynn, Irelyn, Scotlyn, and Scottlyn are also found in the top 2000. Not to be outdone, English place names like Brighton, Brixton and Bristol (thanks to Sarah Palin for the last one) are getting more frequent, as is London in multiple spellings: Londyn, Londynn, Lundyn, Londen, Lunden, Londan, Londin, Lundon, Lundynn, and Lundin.

7. -ii, -ye and -ei endings. Not content with the regular long e endings (e.g. as found in Ashley, Ashlee, Ashly, Ashli, Ashlie and occasionally Ashliee), a new group of eeee endings is out there. You can now spell this name Ashlei, Ashlii or Ashlye. The ye ending has been around for a hundred years or more, showing up in names like Bettye, Jessye (as in Jessye Norman the opera singer born 1945) etc. However, what makes all these names difficult is that sometimes they are pronounced /EYE/. For example, Danii as in Danii Minogue is pronounced like Danny. However, sometimes you find it pronounced like /dan EYE/. Ditto for names like Janei, Janye, Janii. Names ending in the /EYE/ sound are becoming more popular as well, so look out elementary school teachers of the future! You may have difficulty calling attendance in a few years! Note: names ending in -ih are almost always pronounced like 'eye'. We can thank the R&B singer Jeremih /JER eh mye/ for this. This is another new thing, but the -ih ending is mostly found in boys' names these days.

So there you have it-- 7 trends you probably won't run into in Beverly Hills or suburban Connecticut, but are alive and well in the USA!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Name Statistics in Norway

Who's been dying to check out name statistics in Norway? I know I have! Here's the site for it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Data!

Top 3400 Names in England and Wales, 2010

here are the top 3400 baby names in England and Wales arranged by spelling!

Friday, July 01, 2011

top 7000 names of 2010!

At long last, the top 7000 names of 2010 are grouped by spelling!

Popularity Lists

It took me forever this year because I worked from the long list (39,000-ish names) instead of the normal short list (2,000 names).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"The lack of recent Jane Austen movies has probably played a role."

Say Goodnight, Grace (and Julia and Emma, too)
New York Times Published: June 24, 2011

When the Social Security Administration released its annual database of baby names earlier this year, there were plenty of grabby little details. Isabella and Jacob remained the most popular names for the second straight year — Jacob has been the No. 1 boy’s name since 1999 — while Iker, Crew and Zuri each cracked the top 1,000 for the first time. But a closer look at the database reveals several deeper trends.

The nostalgia wave among girls’ names appears to be over. About two decades ago, an entire generation of girls’ names — those from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — started coming back into fashion: Grace and Emma, Julia and Anna, Ella and Hannah. Nothing like it had ever happened before. Individual names obviously came back into style. But an entire era’s never had. Now the nostalgia wave, which peaked in 2004, is ending. Emily fell 41 percent between 2004 and 2010, Sarah tumbled 49 percent and Hannah 54 percent. The lack of recent Jane Austen movies has probably played a role.

Girls’ names are more diverse than ever. Andrew Gelman, a statistics professor at Columbia and an amateur name-ologist, argues that many parents want their boys to seem mature and so pick classic names. William, David, Joseph and James, all longtime stalwarts, remain in the Top 20.

With girls, Gelman says, parents are attracted to names that convey youth even into adulthood and choose names that seem to be on the upswing. By the 1990s, of course, not many girls from the 1880s were still around, and that era’s names could seem fresh again. This search for youthfulness makes girls’ names more volatile — and increasingly so, as more statistics about names become available and parents grow more willing to experiment in an attempt to get out in front of the curve. The 1,000 top girl names accounted for only 67 percent of all girl names last year, down from 91 percent in 1960 and compared with 79 percent for boys last year. Similarly, the most popular first letter for boys’ names is J, as it was for much of the 20th century. The most popular first letter for girls is the once-obscure A, thanks partly to rising names like Avery, Arianna and Ava.

Brevity is in. Names grew longer for most of the last century until about 20 years ago, also the start of the nostalgia boom. Since 1990, the average length has fallen to 5.9 letters from 6.2, a significant change given how little the average tends to move. The one name that may best embody recent trends — a long 19th-century girls’ name that rose and then fell — is, fittingly enough, Victoria.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Neveah and Friends

The name Nevaeh, or "heaven" spelled backwards has been popular since the early 2000's when Christian rocker Sonny Sandoval of the band P.O.D. gave it to his daughter. The whole point of the name seems to be that the name is "heaven" backwards. Otherwise, why the weird spelling? People aren't entirely sure how to pronounce it-- some say /nev EYE ah/, some say /nev AY ah/ and I've even heard /neh VAY/ and /neh VYE/ (I think the most common pronunciation is /nev EYE ah/.

Anyway, like most name trends, this one has spawned a number of spin-offs, alternate spellings and the like. What's funny is that there's only one way to spell "heaven." Thus, all these other names spell something else backwards. Let's take a look at some of them that appeared in the USA in 2010. Some are a bit strange, but I guess they're still better than Lleh or Yrotagrup. Actually, Obmil might be kinda cute.

Nevah = Haven (not too bad)
Evaeh = Heave (lol)
Nevaehtnes (there were 5 of these born in 2010)-- I'm assuming it's a form of "heaven sent." However, if you spell the whole thing backwards, it's "sent heaven."
Nevaen = Neaven
Nevaehmarie = I know this is kind of cheating on my part, since it's just Nevaeh + Marie, but still. Backwards it's Eiram heaven.
Kevaeh = Heavek
Levaeh = Heavel
Devaeh = Heaved (Seriously?)
Jevaeh = Heavej
Sevaeh = Heaves
Zevaeh = Heavez

Alt spellings (number given in 2010):

Neveah (295) = Haeven
Navaeh (101) = Heavan
Nevaeha (86) = Aheaven
Naveah (74) = Haevan
Navya (73) = Ayvan
Nevayah (30) = Hayaven
Navia (25) = Aivan (sounds a bit bird-like)
Naveyah (24) = Hayevan
Navaya (23) = Ayavan
Neviah (21) = Haiven
Nevaya (20) = Ayaven
Naviah (19) = Haivan
Navayah (19) = Hayavan Hay, a van! (ok, spelled wrong but still)
Navea (18) = Aevan
Neveyah (15) = Hayeven
Naviyah (15) = Hayivan Hay Ivan!
Naveya (14) = Ayevan
Nevea (9) = Aeven
Naviya (9) = Ayivan
Neviyah (7) = Hayiven
Neveaha (6) = Ahaeven- aha! Even!
Nevaha (6) = Ahaven
Neveya (6) = Ayeven
Navaeha (5) = Aheavan

So there you have it. In addition to those heavenly names, there were 979 girls named just "Heaven" (and 35 Heavyns).

There were 117 Heavenlys, 26 Heavenlees, 14 Heavenleighs, and 7 girls named Heavenli.
33 girls got the more vague name of Paradise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Survey Anomalies

People fill out my name consultation survey at least 15 times a day for fun (i.e., they don't want a consultation, they just feel like filling out the survey and sending it to me for whatever reason). I usually just delete them, but occasionally I get an interesting one:

*Does the baby have any sisters or brothers? If so, what are their names?
Kohen Lestaht, Maeleigha Reighhne

*Is there any particular language, religion or ethnicity you'd like to find names from?

Kohen Lestaht doesn't strike me as being the most Christian name out there! Reighhne with 2 H's?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Does Spelling Matter?

Gaddafi? Kadafi? Qaddafi? What's the correct spelling?

From the Christian Science Monitor By Eoin O'Carroll, / February 22, 2011

You say, Gaddafi, we say Qaddafi. Other variations on the leader of Libya include "Gathafi," "Kadafi," and "Gadafy," creating an unholy mess for newspaper editors.

Each time Libya appears in the news, scores of newspaper editors go bananas. Once possessed of faculties that could detect a breaking story as readily as a dangling participle, these poor souls are now reduced to a jabbering stupor, as though they had gazed into the tentacled maw of Cthulhu himself.

Blame it on the name of the country's head of state, Colonel Gaddafi. Wait, no, that's Kaddafi. Or maybe it's Qadhafi. Tell you what, we'll just call him by his first name, which is, er ... hoo boy.

Part of the problem here is that there's no universally accepted authority for transliterating Arabic names. Normally, news outlets will just go with whatever spelling the subject prefers, but this particular subject hasn't settled on a single Roman orthography for his name.

Instead, Libya's Brother Leader lets a hundred flowers bloom. The banner at the top of his official website spells it, "AL Gathafi." But if you go deeper into the site, you'll see it variously rendered as "Al Qaddafi," "Algathafi," and "Al-Gathafi." Adding to the multitude of his spellings is the increasingly ironically named "Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights."

And that's just the surname. Variations on his given name include Muammar, Moammar, Mu'ammar, and Moamar, and many others. Once you've settled on how to spell his first and last names, you then have to decide whether you want to add the Arabic prefix "al-" before his last name. Which can also be spelled "el-." And then you have to decide whether the prefix should be capitalized.

This is the point where most editors give up and run a story on Justin Bieber instead.

RELATED: Justin Bieber cuts his hair

For those few brave editors who press on, the result is a multiplicity of spellings. The Associated Press, CNN, and MSNBC spell it "Moammar Gadhafi." The New York Times spells it "Muammar el-Qaddafi." At the Los Angeles Times, it's "Moammar Kadafi." Reuters, the Guardian, and the BBC go with "Muammar Gaddafi." The Irish Times goes with "Muammar Gadafy." ABC News – which spells it "Moammar Gaddafi" – has posted a list of 112 variations on the English spelling of the Libyan strongman's name.

At The Christian Science Monitor, we go with "Muammar Qaddafi," a spelling that is no more or less defensible than anyone else's.

All this would just be a matter of idle curiosity if it weren't for the Web. Go to Google News and type in "Gadhafi." Now try "Qaddafi." And now try "Gaddafi." Notice how it returns three completely different lists of stories? How you choose to spell it determines what news you get.

This may be the point at which one feel's one's grip on reality loosening. Do we change the spelling to whatever is the most-Google-searched-for rendering? What if it changes again? How do we find stories on our own site if we keep changing the spelling of the guy's name? And where did all these variations come from in the first place, if not the news media? Can't we just get together at the next ASNE conference and all agree to spell it one way? At this point, having a dictator doesn't sound all that bad.

But don't feel sorry for us. After all, it's rare that we can write about someone whose job security actually may be more tenuous than our own.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Names Really Do Matter!

Especially if you want to name your new government building after former mayer Harry Baals.