Monday, October 22, 2012

Names England Borrowed from the USA

I just finished ranking the girls' names in England and Wales by spelling for 2011.

The USA has borrowed many things from England-- most notably, a language. Among other things: the judicial system, John Lennon, that movie "Fever Pitch" and a disdain for French things.

However, the time has come for England to borrow from us (not just Madonna, we don't want her back)-- in the naming pool! Here are some names that are in the top 500 for England and Wales in 2011 that probably originated in the USA (or at least North America somewhere)

Shaniqua - ok, there were only 3 born in England & Wales last year, but still. This name is about as American as apple pie. OK, I'm not sure why apple pie is considered American, since apples were brought to North America from Europe, but whatever. Actually, it kind of works metaphorically in this sense, since Shaniqua is an African-American created name, and the ancestors of African- Americans were brought over by Europeans from Africa. So there! Anyway, the three Shaniquas in England are playing alongside Pippas and Poppies and other little English kids. Score! USA! USA!

T'Keyah- There were 3 T'keyah's born in England and Wales last year. How many in the USA? None! How about that-- especially since its most famous bearer is American actress/comedienne and writer T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh. 

Nevaeh - there were 495 of these born in England and Wales last year! Holy cow! There were also 23 Neveahs, 6 Nevayas, 4 Navayahs, 3 Navayas, 3 Nevaehas, and 3 Neviahs. Wait, there's more! Double-names are pretty popular in England and Wales right now, so add to that Nevaeh-Grace (4), Nevaeh-Mai (5), Nevaeh-Mae (3), Nevaeh-Marie (3), Nevaeh-Rae (3), & Nevaeh-Rose (6). That's a whole lot for a name that was probably invented in the USA in the 1990s (its charm is that it spells HEAVEN backwards, and nobody can agree how to pronounce it).

Savannah - a city in Georgia, though sporadically used as a name from the 1880s on through the 20th century, it was not widely used as a name in the USA before the 1980s. It was the 1982 movie Savannah Smiles that made this name take off. In England last year, there were 390 born (along with 51 Savannas)

Dakota - another US place name, there were 66 female Dakotas and 10 boys born in England & Wales last year. Interesting, since it has been more common for boys than girls in the USA (though now the popularity is evening out for both genders, probably at least in part due to the rise to fame of actress Dakota Fanning).

Indiana- the 19th state admitted to the Union, Indiana as a name is best known for the rogue archaeologist Indiana Jones of cinema fame. In the USA, it's been used sporadically as a girls' name since the 19th century. In England and Wales last year, there were 50 girl Indianas (and 22 Indianna/Indyanas) and 24 boy Indianas. In contrast, the USA had 42 boy Indianas and 54 girl ones.

Texas- There were seven girls in England and Wales named after the Lone Star State last year. The USA had none (or 4 or fewer). There were, however, 7 boys named Texas in the USA (and 7 named just Tex). I find it interesting how when America's 28th state crossed the Atlantic it switched genders!

Sookie - There were 7 of these born in England & Wales last year, as opposed to 6 in the USA. Pretty impressive for a name that comes from the American tv show True Blood. The name is pretty American,  Charlaine Harris, the author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries books that True Blood was based on, picked a "fine old southern nickname" to use for her protagonist. However, as a first name, Sookie (rhymes with "cookie") wasn't given to any babies (or at least fewer than 5 a year as that's the lowest number the SSA records) before 2010. Anna Paquin, the actress who portrays Sookie Stackhouse in the television series was born in Canada and raised in New Zealand.

Demi - Demi Moore (born Demetria) was once the highest paid actress in Hollywood. Strangely, the name Demi never really caught on in the USA. It peaked at #763 in the top 1000 in the 1990s, then fell off the charts, crawling back on in the 800s a few years ago. Moore did spawn one famous namesake - tween star Demi Lovato, which may have helped boost the popularity of the name in recent years. Beyond that the name never took off. Not so in England and Wales, though, where there were 235 born last year (plus 23 in other spellings and 143 hyphenated with other names like Leigh and Rose).

Scarlett - Most notably the heroine from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone With the Wind, it was probably Vivien Leigh's portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 film adaptation that sparked the use of the name Scarlett. In the USA, the name was first used in 1939, and though it was quietly used throughout the remainder of the 20th century, it wasn't until the 21st century that it became really popular.

Nayeli -  In the USA, it is used exclusively by Spanish-speaking Americans. It means "I love you" in Zapotec, a native American language spoken in the southwestern-central highlands of Mexico, mainly in the Oaxaca region. It was the 1080th most common name in the USA in 2011, and there were 5 of them born in England and Wales.

Renesmee - We've been absorbing literary names from England for centuries now. I mean, without Shakespeare alone, we'd have no Olivia, Jessica, Miranda, Imogen or Nerissa. How many literary names go from the USA back to England? Well, this one did. Renesmee was the name of the daughter of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen the vampire in the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. There were 5 of them born in England and Wales in 2011. The name is a combination of Renee and Esme, the name of zzzzzzz I didn't actually read the book. OK, reportedly, they were the names of Bella's grandmothers. The USA bore 38 Renesemees last year.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Nevaeh should be outlawed.