A peek inside the Nameberry bubble

November 9, 2014 Whirligig

By Josie aka Whirligig

I have a theory that Nameberry has its own naming fashions, like our own microclimates. We follow the lead of the rest of the world but also have our own periods of sunny weather and rainstorms. This might be quite an obvious assumption but I wanted to delve deeper into Berry activity to get some supporting data on first and middle name combos.

(To see Josie’s charts and graphs supporting this data, go here.) combo summer 2014.pdf?dl=0

The first task was to engage people on the forum. I managed to collect combos from 83 Berries: 379 boys’ names and 405 girls’ names. Most people contributed five first names and five middle names for each gender and I really wanted to make a clear distinction between choosing first names and middle names. Middle names are often family names or names that would be too out-there to use as firsts.

I was quite surprised at the number of votes that James received. There was a balance in usage between the first and middle spots and James had twice the number of votes that second-place August/Augustus did. It is important to note here that I combined most of the spellings and variations because this was such a relatively small sample (I wanted each name to have enough votes to see a significant difference). Rose and her variations stand in first position on the girls’ list but she had six different variations so this probably contributed to her success.

Elizabeth was the most voted-for middle name for baby girls. Jane also climbed the charts when only looking at middles. Oliver, Alexander and Rhys score highly on the boys’ middle names but do not appear as firsts. I have a suspicion that people secretly love Oliver but are holding back due to his recently increase in popularity.

I also tallied up the frequency of use for each individual letter. We often joke about more babies being named from the start of the alphabet (due to alphabetical naming books) but my data seems to show that this is true even amongst name nerds. The moving average graphs in the original document have a distinctive negative correlation. Not too surprisingly, U was the least voted for letter, which is also true on the US charts.

Comparisons with other national charts revealed that our graph results were most similar to that of England and Wales, especially with boys’ names. Stalwart classics such as Oliver, James and Elizabeth feature strongly both here and internationally. Classic names are the spine of our Top 100 whether they are the not-so-plain Janes or Shakespearean classics like Ophelia. We do seem to lean towards the more unusual rather than the popular, which establishes the fact that Nameberry tastes do differ substantially from the rest of the baby-naming population.

Thanks to everyone who contributed their names.