Technology and Top Ten trends
We’re still learning new things from the US baby name charts for 2018. On the blog recently we’ve looked at the beauties below the Top 1000 and the hottest trends in place names. Elsewhere on the internet…
Now that virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana have been around for a few years, we’re starting to see a common trend in the popularity of their names for children. All three names rose in the charts in the year they were released, but then fell in the following years – dramatically, in the case of Alexa.
(Incidentally, have you seen the video of a baby who ignores her mother saying her name, but looks up when she hears “Alexa”? Maybe she thinks Alexa is her name, but my theory is that she knows that fun things happen when her parents say Alexa, like music magically starting.)
It’s interesting that Samsung chose a name for their assistant – Bixby – that sounds namelike and has trendy sounds, but has barely been used for babies. It’s too early to say how that will play out in baby names, but it’s one to keep an eye on in next year’s stats.
In other news from the charts, if you love a good infographic, check out this moving chart of the Top 10 names in New Jersey changing over the last 50 years. As it gets towards the end, it shows just how changeable the top names have suddenly become in recent years.
Celebrity news: the long and the short
There’s something to be said for short and sweet baby names, and they don’t come much shorter than Liv Rae, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s new daughter. If you like those, here are more one-syllable girl names in every style.
At the longer end of the scale, Zak Williams, the son of the late great Robin Williams, has named his son McLaurin Clement. That unusual first name was Robin’s middle name – but the new baby will be known as Mickey. It’s a perfect example of a popular nickname for an uncommon name, which we know lots of Berries love both in theory and in practice. What else could Mickey be short for?
It’s all change on the Isle of Man! This island, midway between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, has a tiny population, so it’s not surprising to see big changes in the top baby names there from one year to the next. The Top 5 names of 2018 for boys – that’s Harry, Alexander, Charles, George and Theodore – are all completely new from 2017. The top girls’ names were Grace/Gracie, Sophia, Amelia, Isla, Ava and Phoebe, with the previous number one, Olivia, nowhere in sight. All these names are popular across the UK, but if you’re interested in more distinctively Manx names, this is the list for you.
Hopping across the sea to Ireland: if you like Irish names (which is, er, quite a lot of us) check out the latest episode of the podcast Motherfoclóir. Don’t worry, it’s in English. The topic of the week is Irish names, including traditions, changing fashions, silent letters, and why English speakers are so scared of Irish names. By coincidence, some of the names they mention also popped up in a new YouTube video this week, like Tadhg, Colm and Orlaith.
Would you name your child after the hospital it was born in? Since many hospitals and medical centers are named after people in the first place, it can work out quite well, like for two babies in the news this week.
In Scotland’s Orkney islands, the first baby to be born in the new Balfour Hospital was named…Balfour. It’s a Gaelic placename-turned-surname, meaning “pasture settlement”, and it belonged to the hospital’s first patron. It’s a one-of-a-kind name, and wasn’t registered at all in Scotland (or the US, for that matter) last year.
Meanwhile in Israel, baby girl Hadassah–Esther was born in the Hadassah Medical Center, helped by a midwife named Estee. If you’ve studied your baby name books carefully, you might know that Hadassah is another name for the biblical queen Esther, making it a bit like naming your child Simon–Peter or – to use a modern queen of sorts – Beyoncé-Sasha.
Lots of parents find baby name inspiration in their favorite books, and literary baby names like Atticus and Holden have gained lots of momentum in recent years. If you’re looking for something off the beaten track – or just looking for a bit of nostalgia – BookRiot has made the most comprehensive collection of names from books I’ve ever seen. They range from mythology to novels published last year, although there’s not an Atticus in sight.
Of course, if you name your child after a character before their story has ended, there’s always an element of risk. In this article, a father defends his decision to name his daughter Khaleesi before the character took a turn for the worse in the last season of Game of Thrones.
Speaking of dragons, if your literary tastes lean more towards the middle ages, this list of names from medieval literature includes lesser-known gems like Emaré and Cador.