Sunday, December 15, 2013

Baby Names

Your name says little about you but it speaks volumes about your parents. Children's names are clear markers of parents hopes, dreams, aspirations, education and political leanings. It's why most common name studies are so closely watched by many soon to be parents (or more likely mothers).

This year's official tally (using social security data)won't be released until May, however The Baby Center has jumped in with their most popular list based upon reporting families. Not quite the same but there will be a great deal of overlap.

I remember "The baby name book" sitting on my wife's nightstand for several years. I doubt I ever flipped through it's pages; somehow our children were named, and we've a defendable story for each. The chapter on "do names matter" in Freakonomics was my entry into the American baby naming ritual.

Using data collected by the state of California, the authors of Freakonomics reached the following conclusions: "As a mother becomes better-educated, she’s much more likely to give her boy or girl a popular name, and much less likely to give her an uncommon or unique name. And one of the statistics that just leaps out at us about this that is amongst African American mothers with less than a high school degree, 36 percent of them give their daughters a unique name. Now, the statistical probability that you could give your child a name that nobody else would have is really kind of remarkable. And if you think about it as an act of imagination, it’s pretty astounding."

So what are the most popular baby names for 2013?
For boys:

Jackson (up from 22 last year), Aiden, Liam, Lucas, Noah, Mason, Jayden, Ethan, Jacob, Jack


Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Mia, Ava, Lily, Zoe, Emily, Chloe

Not one of those names was ever in consideration for my children.

PS: For those keeping score, author, raconteur,  polemicist Christopher Hitchens died two years ago on this date.


NCJack said...

For quite a long time, first grade teachers could nail the name of Miss America six years earlier: at least five little girls in a class of 25 had that name

I recall reading about a "Baby Naming Consultant" service, probably in NYC or SoCal, charged big $$$ to advise on "power names"

When you are named Jack, people assume your "real" name is John, even with your birth certificate in front of them. Trust me on this one.

Anonymous said...

I trust you, Jack, as I'm married to a man named Don and the entire universe wants his name to be a nickname for Donald, it isn't.

As for names, most of my clan carries names of our ancestors [I was named for my mother, and her mother]. Pulling names from a book seems alien coming from such a tradition.


Toad said...

A neighbor was at war with her sister. Each was pregnant at the same time and wanted the same name for their child.

One named her son Sean, the other Sien, what ever a Sien is

NCJack said...

And there are those old families who don't have ten first names among them, but trade off, e.g. Jones Smith Butts IV is cousin to Smith Jones Butts III who's cousin to Jones Butts Smith III etc. To avoid confusion, they all go by their prep school nicknames

GP said...

Names are now brands. Wishing someone as articulate as "Hitch" (move evidence of his branding) had something to say about Newtown -- or something more than "Tweet,""Follow," and "Join" the memorials -- which somehow feel like the kids were victims of an act of nature, e.g., a mudslide, more than the result of an untreated mentally ill person with an assault weapon.

Patsy said...

Funny, Flo - my husband's name is Ron, not short for Ronald (it's short for Byron).