Category: regional name trends
Guest blogger Sachiko, an LDS church member and mother of going-on-seven children, enlightens us on the ins and outs of the strange baby naming practices of the state of Utah.
If you’re familiar with Utah baby naming, you know what I’m talking about.
If you aren’t, then here’s a link to the Utah Baby Namer. I recommend you click on “The Cream of the Crop.” I know you’re busy. You only need to read a few.
No, really. Go on. I’ll still be here when you get back.
Do you see what some of the laughing is about?
Some of the subsets of Utah names, and what makes them seem so ridiculous to outsiders:
Scriptural Names — This one’s a no-brainer. Utah culture is not always the same as, but is connected to, LDS church history.
Like other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people view books of Holy Writ as prime baby naming material.
Unlike other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people have scriptures other religions don’t have, most notably the Book of Mormon. Which means names you probably haven’t heard before, unless you’re familiar with Semetic and Egyptian names from the ancient world such as Nephi, Moroni, Mahonri, or Moriancumr.
Is Everybody Here Named Smith, Kimball or Young? Most of the early converts to the LDS church were from the British Isles. Add that to a few decades of polygamy, and you end up with huge amounts of descendents with the same English last name.
This can help explain why Utah baby namers sometimes choose wildly divergent names: to differentiate themselves from all the siblings, cousins, neighbors and strangers with the same last name. This is also where Utahns get historical names like Brigham, Parley and Heber.
Don spent the past week poring over a quarter million names — yes, many of them pretty crazy — given to New York babies over the past few years. Examples include, with a New York theme, Harlem, Manhattan, and Bronx; with a sports angle, Jeter and LeBron; and with a religious bent, Rabbi, Priest, and Jesuskingoftheworld.
You’ve got your Sully, after the pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, and your Matisyahu, after the hip-hop star. There’s a Royalty, a Success, and a Winner; a Tolkien and one poor boy whose name is Mudd.
And now Don is reaching out to find out YOUR unique New York baby name. If you are a New York City parent who’s given your child a distinctive baby name with a pop culture inspiration, Don wants to hear what it is and how you chose it. You can tell your stories here and/or contact Don directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-930-8656.
And sure, if you want to tattle on your neighbors who named their baby Keeno or just share a crazy New York baby-naming story, tell us that too.
Nameberry guest blogger Andrea, whom many of you may know for her intelligent and thoughtful advice on our message boards, and who most recently blogged for us on royal baby names, now focuses her attention closer to home, with this report on naming trends in the midwest.
On a recent Saturday somewhere in North Dakota, an athletic field was filled with fledgling 4-year-old soccer players, learning how to kick the ball and congratulate teammates when they did (or didn’t) make a goal. Behind them were their proud parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and volunteer coaches, all hollering at once:
“Maddox, where’s your soccer ball?” “Yay, Logan. Yay, Logan!” “Hustle, Camden, hustle!” “Chloe, take a time out.” “Go, Ethan!” After awhile the hard “C’s” and “an” ending names started to blend together. I could imagine next year’s preschool or kindergarten teacher mixing some of them up the way their soccer coach occasionally did.
The names of the kids on my nephew’s soccer team are a good example of some of the naming trends in North Dakota and elsewhere in the Midwest, which tend towards newer-sounding surnames, names with a western feel, and names that sound a lot like other names that are already popular. The differences seem more distinctive with boys than they do with names for girls. Many of the names are also common everywhere in the United States, but it seems like some of them are adopted here before they hit the southern or eastern U.S. William, at the top of the charts in much of the South, is far less common in North Dakota, where 60 little Ethans were born last year compared with 26 little Williams. Ryan, popular in the eastern U.S., was most popular in North Dakota well over a decade ago and has now lost steam. Likewise, Jayden and variants have been popular here for over a decade and some of the North Dakota Jaydens have started college. Now, even as the name hits the top of the charts in New York City, North Dakota parents seem bored with Jayden and have moved on to Brayden, ranked at No. 7; Aiden, ranked at No. 9, Caden, which probably doesn’t rank higher mainly because there are so many spelling variants, all listed separately on the popularity chart, and Hayden. Jayden itself is No. 51. All are used for girls occasionally as well as boys. Then there are the sound-alikes like Zayden, Tayden, Trayden, Grayden and others.
There are also distinctive trends that sometimes don’t show up on the top 100 charts. There are more Swedish or Norwegian names here, thanks to the Scandinavian-Americans who settled in the Midwest a century ago. Greta appears on the top 100 list for Minnesota in 2009 and is not as often used anywhere else in the country. Over the years I’ve interviewed young boys named Ole, Nels, Jens, Odin, Thor, Kjell, Christ, Haakon and Soren and young girls named Solveig, Signe, Dagny, Siri, Marit, Ingrid and Kaari. Some traditional Sioux, Chippewa or Three Affiliated Tribes parents give children native language names, like Spotted Eagle or Chaske or Mato or Chenoa.
Western-sounding names for boys like Brody and Wyatt also seem more popular in the Midwest than in some other parts of the country. I’ve seen more than one birth announcement for a little Rowdy or Maverick or Colt. It’s fun sometimes to see how often the roster of bull riders or barrel racers at a summer rodeo actually sound like they belong on a ranch roping cattle. The child sometimes grows up to fit the name. I know that when one of my former colleagues named his son Cooper two years ago, he commented that it’s the kind of name he could imagine being called out by a basketball announcer 15 years from now when his son runs into a gym in front of a cheering crowd. “Go, COOPER! COO-PER! COO-PER!” was echoing in his ears. Cooper, which is also coincidentally my newest nephew’s name, ranked at No. 27 in North Dakota last year. Nationally it was ranked No. 84. In a state where nearly every small town kid plays multiple sports, there are probably a lot of parents dreaming of cheering crowds!
It’s always interesting to take a look at which names are most popular where. You can usually count on some surprises and this year is no exception. For instance Anna ranking in the top five in both Alabama and Mississippi, when it’s down at 29 across the country, and Logan, which is #17 on the Social Security list, now the #1 boys’ name in three widespread states—Idaho, Minnesota and New Hampshire.
Repeating the pattern of last year, the majority of names that popped out from the crowd were in the boys’ column; for the girls’ names across the country there was a remarkable uniformity of choice—with Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Madison, or Ava heading the list in all but two states, while on the male side, there were several top singletons, such as Wyatt in Wyoming and Ryan in Massachusetts.
But what are really most intriguing are the names that jump out of nowhere in one particular place—some of them throwbacks, some predictive of future popularity, some reflecting the state’s ethnicity, such as Gianna in New Jersey and José, the most common name in Texas.
Here are some of the names that were not even in the Top 25 nationally, but rated high in specific areas, with their national ratings in parenthesis:
To celebrate New Orleans’s triumphant Super Bowl victory, as well as today’s Shrove Tuesday launch of Mardi Gras, here is the fascinating blog created for us last year by guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of ”You Can’t Call It It.” Elisabeth is a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York.
An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, from zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu, Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries. Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of Haitian, African, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names. Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood. While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified. Still more trace their roots to Classical Greco-Roman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.
So come on! Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!
Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian
Dixie- Used to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten.