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The New International Names

international baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

There was a time when the top baby name lists of different countries reflected their own distinctive native cultures. When John and Mary headed those of most English-speaking countries, just as Giovanni and Maria and Juan and Maria and Jean and Marie et al were in first place elsewhere.

But that has changed. With the homogenization of culture in general, with an increase in international travel, the spread of the internet and global audiences watching the same TV shows, we are no longer surprised to find the Irish appellation Liam ranking high on the list in Switzerland or the Old Testament Ethan suddenly Number 3 in Monaco. This is a moment when certain names, often in a variety of indigenous forms, are spreading epidemically across the world.

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Baby Name Inspiration: Naia, Noa, and Jett

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The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Royals are out, television characters are in.

No, that’s not it.

Celebrities are out.  Family names are in.

As we look back at baby name news from 2013 and ponder what’s to come in 2014, it is tempting to wrap it all up in a few sentences.  But names are as diverse as the children who wear them.

Baby naming in our age is creative, and we’re welcome to find inspiration anywhere, borrowing and reinventing until we find the perfect name.

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This week, Appellation Mountain ‘s Abby Sandel travels around the country and across the pond to discover which  names ranked Number 1 where.

Baby name news is fast and furious at year’s end.  Lists of Worst and Best Celebrity Baby Names abound.  (Did anyone else notice that Zuzu Audrey, daughter of Top Chef contestant Tania Peterson, has made both Best and Worst lists?)

Then there are the lists of top names from local hospitals and birth centers, as well as a handful of state and local authorities, and plenty of websites, too.  Sometimes the data is drawn from only a few hundred births.  And yet, if your child is going to attend the same schools as other kids born in the same maternity ward, then it is a pretty good indicator of whether he’ll share his name.

Many of the articles end with a little onomastic treat: a list of the wilder appellations given to children in the past year.  Gems from recent articles include Wynter, Rhemidy, Savi Fair, Zyier, Nixen, Passion, Tuff, and Lijah.

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