Category: French baby names 2010

Most Popular Names: Quebec 2009

The official lists of most popular names of 2009 are starting to come in, and one of the most intriguing is from Quebec, the Canadian province where French is an official language and baby names have a distinct style.

The most popular names in Quebec are very different from those in the U.S. and other primarily English-speaking places, but different too from France.

While some choices on the Top 50 most popular names for each gender are familiar, others are wildly divergent. Emma, number 1 in the US, is number 3 in Quebec, for instance, with Chloe, Sarah, and Emilie (as opposed to Emily) also in the Top 25. The international William is Number 1 for boys, with U.S. most popular Jacob in 11th place and Zachary, Benjamin, Noah, Anthony, and Justin in the Top 25.

But then you have other names near the top of the list that are unusual or virtually unknown in the U.S. and the U.K. Lea, usually with an accent as Léa, is the Number 1 girls’ name, with such exotic choices as Maika, Noemie, Coralie, Laurence, Maelie, and Oceane in the girls’ Top 25. For boys, the Top 25 includes Olivier, Alexis, Felix, Antoine, Emile, Loic, and Mathis, pronounced Mat-TEES.

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To check out the latest trends in French baby names, we turned to a true expert, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleurspré and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2010.  For anyone conversant in French, the site is filled with interesting lists, charts and analysis on French baby names.

And for those whose high school French is as shaky as mine, we asked Stéphanie to give us a recap, which she’s been kind enough to do:

Baby names in France have never been shorter: exit Sébastien, Alexandre, Frédéric, Caroline, Nathalie, Angélique—the popular names of the 1980’s.  Emma, Léa, Clara now take the limelight as the most popular feminine names, while Lucas, Enzo and Nathan dominate the masculine ranking tables.

As a result, diminutives such as Lou, Tom, Théo and Alex are doing wonders.  Few analysts would have predicted such a phenomenon in a culture which used to disdain diminutives as merely “half names.

Ending sounds are also shaping to a large extent what becomes trendy and what does not.  Fashionable feminine names tend to end in the vowel ‘a’ (Emma, Sara, Léa, Clara, Lola, Éva, Louna and Lina being in the forefront).  Then there’s the explosion caused by Lilou, a new name which has led to the discovery of Louane and renewed interest in hyphenated names such as LouAnne.  For boys, names with ‘eo’ vowel juxtapositions abound, as in Léo, Théo, Mathéo, also o-endings (Hugo, Enzo) and names ending in ‘an’—Nathan, Ethan, Kylian, Evan, Esteban.

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