Category: baby name Sophia
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.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child in April, and rumour has it that they are going to have a princess, rather than a prince (rumour also said that Prince George was going to be a girl, so don’t get too attached to the notion).
However, suppose Prince George did have a sister rather than a brother, what might her name be? I looked through the names of all those born in the House of Windsor to a monarch, or to an heir to the throne, and found that the names chosen for them tended to follow fairly clear patterns.
There’s a lot to be said for having a name that is familiar in many countries. It makes travel and working overseas just that little bit easier, and if you have a particular cultural background, it’s nice to know that relatives in your country of origin will easily be able to spell and pronounce your child’s name. Even if your child never leaves their native shores, we live in a global village, and they will most likely meet, study, and work with people from other countries.
To me, a name with high international recognition needed to be popular in as many regions as possible, so that as a mimimum, it needed to be Top 100 in the English-speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, England/Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, and the USA. It also needed to be popular in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.
It happens all the time.
You’re expecting your first – or second, or third – and the perfect name eludes you. There are lots of possibilities and maybes, but none of them are The Name.
And then along comes a movie, a television show, a celebrity, a song, and that’s it. That’s the name.
The numbers tell us that pop culture is a major influence in baby naming. And yet we resist the idea. A name from a Jane Austen novel? Classic, sophisticated. From a soap opera or a Disney Channel series? Sometimes we’re a little dismissive of those choices.
But here’s the thing about names: we can’t consider them until we are aware that they exist.
This week’s names all come from movies and television, books and blogs. You may have heard them before, but seeing them on the screen could make the names feel fresh, interesting, and just right for a daughter.
You probably remember a show from the eighties called The Golden Girls, which was about four “previously married” women living together in Miami. While they often seemed mismatched, the success of the show lay in the strong bonds of friendship these women shared, and is said to have been the inspiration behind many other shows and movies, including ‘Sex and the City‘ and ‘Girls‘.
Although the ladies had some great names (on and off screen), at the period when ‘The Golden Girls‘ was airing, from 1985 to 1992, people were rather unlikely to want to name their sweet babies after characters in a show about mature women, or the actors who played them. They would have seemed a little fusty in a world of Jennifers and Ashleys; Jessicas and Amandas.
These days their names have much more of an appealing retro/vintage feel, and are again finding favour with today’s parents.