Saturday, July 05, 2003

Interesting, if somewhat long, article on baby naming trends - Where have all the Lisas gone?
What is missing from the article is a sense of scale -- The difference between Emily at #1 and Keeley (?!) at 1000 is 100-fold (24,262 vs 221), but it is also only 24,041 names. So, out of ~1.4million girls listed the most popular name has less than 2%. The article also did not mention the role cultural traditions play in naming children. I almost felt bad for not considering an independent and fresh thought as a name for my child, as it seems everyone else is doing -- like naming their kids Madison. However, many coltures have simpler strategies for naming children. For example, in our family it is the names of deceased relatives that are given preference with the idea that as long as the name is used the person is not forgotten.
But names are often resurrected when the generation that bears them dies out. Although our mothers may joke that the play group made up of Max, Rose, Sam and Sophie sounds like the roster of a convalescent home, contemporary parents find those names charming. Doubtless, today's Brittany will name her daughter Delores.

I do not know if contenmporary parents find these names charming, as much as meaningful and memorable. Between many european cultures that tend to name children after close living relatives and friends, jewish (perhaps other middle eastern) traditions of naming after close deceased relatives, traditions of naming children after saints whose days are closest to the child's birthday, etc. I do not see the weight of the top 20 compares to the rest of the names to change in the future.


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