Category: Nick Turner
It’s been said that history is written by the victors. But losers leave a legacy of their own.
That’s the case with U.S. presidential elections, in which fondly remembered statesmen often wind up as the runner-up — not the chief executive.
In an earlier column, I examined the names of American presidents (specifically, their surnames) and whether a candidate’s rise to power influences baby-name trends.
This time around I’d like to look at names of presidential losers.
Anyone who watches panda videos online (and what kind of monster doesn’t?) knows that the animals often have names with repeating syllables: Bei Bei, Gao Gao, Lun Lun and so on.
This is a popular naming convention in China, where pandas originate, and it’s undeniably cute. In France, they create diminutive names by adding an “-ette.” Spanish speakers may tack on an “-ita” or “-ito.” But in China, they’ve doubled down on doubling down.
Among U.S. babies, “reduplicated” names like Ling Ling and Tian Tian are uncommon. Still, there’s a fairly strong tradition of repeated-syllable names in English-speaking countries.
There are many places to seek out baby-name inspiration: your relatives, a favorite book or movie…maybe even the pages of a celebrity rag.
But it takes an especially brave soul to name your baby after a corporate brand.
And yet, every year lots of U.S. parents do just that. There were 73 baby girls named Lexus in 2014. Twenty-three kids went by Kia, and 20 were christened Audi. And those are just some of the car names.
Fans of William McKinley complained that our 25th president — assassinated in 1901 — was getting snubbed for political reasons. Supporters of the Denali name, meanwhile, pointed out that McKinley had no connection to the area (he never set foot in Alaska, which became a state almost 60 years after his death).
For me, the controversy is less interesting than the implications for baby name picks.
What are the best colleges in America? Well, you could consult rankings published by U.S. News & World Report and others. They’ll probably tell you the answer is Harvard or Princeton or some other predictable choice.
But in my view, no college is worth anything if people aren’t naming their children after it. That’s why I’ve created the First Annual College Baby Name List — a ranking of the most popular university-themed monikers in America.