Category: baby name Jane
By Haley Sedgwick
I’ve always loved reading classic books. By the time I was twelve, I’d read a few Shakespearean plays, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Shakespeare was great of course; however, Jane Austen gave me even more. With her novels, I got the charming, delightful gentlemen I’d always dreamt of (and still do dream of!), the romance, the passion, and, a new range and style of names. After reading Pride & Prejudice (and falling in love with the thought of finding my own Mr. Darcy), I fell in love with the Georgian style of naming.
A time of great elegance, the Georgian era – named for the four British King Georges who ruled over it — lasted over 115 years, from 1714 to 1830. Along with Eliza Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Georgian era often conjures images of powdered wigs and stately architecture. Many of the buildings and styles of the Georgian era are still extant today – including the Georgian taste in names.
No, it’s your politics.
This week’s baby name news was packed with explanations for why we choose the names we do.
Some of the research rings true. We know that the parents’ age matters. So does where they live, their educational level, and lots of other demographic data. And hey, it’s more interesting to read all that analysis than, say, another essay dismissing unusual baby names as silly and self-indulgent.
The names in this week’s baby name news were all over the place, from the sweetly vintage to the thoroughly modern.
Call me crazy, but I think that great names can be chosen by any one, regardless of their background. The community of the name obsessed is diverse, incredibly welcoming, and forever surprising.
There were dozens of stories in the baby name news last week, but they all shared a common theme: the Social Security Administration’s release of the 2012 baby name data
We talked about Titan and Briggs, Landry and Geraldine. About how Jacob remained number one, but only if you didn’t tally up the many spellings of Aiden, Jackson, and Jayden. Television’s influence was clear – Arya and Aria, Litzy, Major, and Jase. Movies, sports, and music shaped our choices, too, as did faith. Nevaeh’s little brother might just be called Messiah.
But what about the quiet classics, the names that rise and fall, but still appear in nearly every generation? Hemlines change. We graduated from the party line to the iPhone, the horse to the Prius. And yet these names remain, worn by men and women, boys and girls of every age.
There’s no sweeter pleasure than serenading your baby with a lullaby, which can even be nicer if the song’s title references the sweetness of your daughter’s (or son’s) name. An amazing number of songs fit this bill, dating from the early days of the republic to the Golden Age of jazz and swing, right through to contemporary rock— from the barbershop quartet harmonies of Sweet Adeline to the Rolling Stones’ rendition of Sweet Virginia. Most of these songs have lyrics you can actually croon, while just a few are instrumentals you can set your own words to.
Here they are:
ADELINE—Sweet Adeline is an old standard that was a favorite of barbershop quartets. JFK’s grandfather John F. Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston, made it his theme song, and Mickey Mouse serenaded Minnie with it in a 1929 cartoon. Sweet name Adeline reappeared on the pop list in 1999, and is now Number 288.
I recently watched one of the seemingly countless Masterpiece Theater/BBC/theatrical versions of Jane Eyre, and I couldn’t help noticing how many times this particularly dreamy Rochester (Toby Stephens) repeated the heroine’s name, imbuing it each time with various shades of sweetness, sadness, passion, and more–and it made me fall in love with not only him but the name Jane. And to start wondering what’s become of baby-name Jane, one of the most classic girls’ names.
For a long time Jane was so popular that she became the Generic American Girl’s Name, as in Jane Doe/John Doe and G.I. Jane/G.I. Joe and the everygirl in the Dick and Jane readers. In 1935 there were 8,900 baby Janes born in this country, whereas in 2010, there were just a little over 800 in all of the U.S.
So why did Jane get shunted aside, while her male equivalents have survived and thrived? Was it because—unlike Mary and Elizabeth—she didn’t have biblical roots? Was this strong, simple name a victim of over-smooshing—too many Maryjanes and Bettyjanes and Sarajanes for it to stand alone? Was it mortally injured by the pejorative phrase Plain Jane?