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Category: Guest Bloggers

july14-denise2

By: Denise K. Potter

To the Western world and Northern Hemisphere, July marks the beginning of sunny beach vacations, shady afternoon barbeques and sweltering hot temperatures. To name nerds all over the world, it brings a fresh batch of names inspired by history. In addition to Independence Day fireworks and parades, we have a diamond tycoon’s birthday, a Continental Congress resolution and the anniversary of several record-breaking explorations to celebrate.

Cecil- Cecil J. Rhodes, a British businessman, mining tycoon, and South African politician, was said to have controlled about 90 percent of the world’s diamond production in the nineteenth century. Now his surname is most commonly recognized for the Rhodes Scholarship, which allows select foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. Though Cecil has lost much of its potency over the years, it still maintains a strong presence in the sports and jazz worlds and retains references to American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille.

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What makes a name a name?

Kid portrait

By Abby Sandel, AppellationMountain

What makes a name real?

To think bigger, what makes a word real?  That’s the question raised by English professor and language historian Anne Curzan in her TED talk.

They’re long-standing questions, but the speed of our modern age means that change happens fast.  Imagine a name like Nevaeh catching on before MTV, or Jayceon before YouTube.

Curzan points out that dictionaries are written by people, people who are listening very carefully to how the general public uses words.  So tweet and defriend make the cut.

The same thing happens with baby name books and websites.  Nevaeh wouldn’t have appeared in the 1980s, but she’s firmly installed today.  And while Jayceon might be too new to appear in print, the fast-rising variant can be found on most of the major baby name sites.

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baby name Reign

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

From Grammy Award-winning rapper LilKim to a previously anonymous mom in Alaska, some parents are thinking big when it comes to baby names.

Not every parent, of course.  Casual choices like Charlie and Molly, Mia and Jack have been popular in recent years.  And I’ve always thought that George Alexander Louis was a pretty low-key pick for a future king.

But whether the name is an outlandish borrowing from the dictionary or one worn by an accomplished historical figure, it’s worth asking: When is a name too much to live up to?

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starbaby-5-14c

by CaraMichelle

Here is the latest edition of CaraMichelle’s invaluable, comprehensive, monthly list of new starbabies, allowing us to get a broad picture of what’s new in the celebrisphere– the A-listers and beyond.   (Thanks as always, Cara!)

Girls:
Alijah Mary, sister of Hank (Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett)
Aria Sage, sister of Mason (Alisan Porter and Brian Autenrieth)

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abby--infantas

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Here’s something I overheard recently:

Olivia’s a nice name, but Aria?  Who names a kid after Game of Thrones?

There’s something to that statement, isn’t there?  Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade.  Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference.  They’re very different names.

Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar.  Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too.  After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.

Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.

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