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!