Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Name Game

One of the first questions you are asked after the big announcement is, "Have you picked out names yet?" The truth is you probably started thinking about it as soon as you saw the results on the little stick. It's a dilemma and an important decision since your child will live with this name for a long time and you may go down in infamy for a thoughtless choice! Then again you might get the nice reward that two of my adult children gave me, "I've always liked my name and I'm glad you chose it."

I was always one of many with the same name. Even so, I managed to name three of my children top ten names (for the years they were born). I guess there's a reason they're popular - we just LIKE them!

Because we tend to fall in love with names of book or film characters, heroes, great leaders, role models, superstars, or not-so super stars, we gravitate to common names in a given time (I was born in the Debra era when Debra Paget was a big star (I know, you're saying, Debra who?). Any new Debras are likely to be named for family members, Debra Winger or Debra Messing but a big boom in the name hasn't yet been noticed - maybe because it was so well-used by the previous generation. After a while a name goes out of vogue as "old fashioned" only to make a resurgence in popularity in future generations because it becomes "novel" again (like Grace).

I suspect with the popularity of the Twilight series of books and the movie we will be seeing a host of Isabellas, Bellas, Alices, Jaspers, Esmes, Rosalies, Jacobs, Edwards, and, yes, Renesmee on coming lists. Of course Jacob is already number one (has been popular for many years) and Isabella is number 2 - after all the book has been out for a while.... The name, Emma, zoomed to the top along with the Friends character, Rachel's baby's birth. But, did Rachel choose Emma because it was becoming popular, or did Emma become popular because Rachel picked the name? The chicken and the egg, once again.

Combining family names to form a new one is not uncommon. I have a friend named, Glenae, after her parents, Gleno and Renae (I wonder if Gleno was a combined name?). Needless to say when she did a name search she was the only one with that name in the U.S.

So, be unique if that's your desire, but I would recommend not spelling the name so strangely that nobody can pronounce it, much less spell it. I once had a pediatric patient named Dylan - seems easy enough, but the parents pronounced it "Dallin". They were always annoyed when I would call him to see the doctor and mispronounce it as I read his chart. With hundreds of patients it can be hard to remember these little details. I also know a Khase (they pronounce it "Chase"). At least in English where c and k are sometimes interchangeable, ck still does not make the "ch" sound - thus, he's often called "Kase."

Why make life tough for your child? It's OK to be creative, but probably a good idea to follow basic pronunciation rules for the language. Some creativity might be better left to other ventures. In the name of humor, some names are downright mean. Do you really want your child to be the butt of the jokes? I knew someone with the last name LeBaron, who wanted to name his son Chrysler. Fortunately for him, his mother had the last word. Check this out for some interesting name commentary such as the fruity names Gwyneth Paltrow chose (Apple) in 2004. Some more crazy celeb names are noted here.

In the "Hippie" era, people were naming their babies after nature (like Sunshine, Peace, and Love Child) or Zodiac sign names (like Gemini or Libra). After all, it was the "Age of Aquarius." Now you're apt to see Lexus and XBox or other high-tech names. Texting is creating a whole new spelling so you might see some creativity along those lines as well. We'll see how the name lists look in this century.

Traditional names from the Bible and history books have always been popular (David, Michael, James, Matthew), especially with boys. Besides the feminization of previously masculine names and surnames means there are fewer boy specific names in general. These days you certainly can't presume gender based on the name alone.

For fun ~The ten most popular U.S. baby names last year according to the Social Security Administration are:

Boys Names
  1. Jacob
  2. Michael
  3. Ethan
  4. Joshua
  5. Daniel
  6. Alexander
  7. Anthony
  8. William
  9. Christopher
  10. Matthew
Girls Names
  1. Emma
  2. Isabella
  3. Emily
  4. Madison
  5. Ava
  6. Olivia
  7. Sophia
  8. Abigail
  9. Elizabeth
  10. Chloe
Utah's list varies just a bit but Jacob and Emma are right up there (Isabella takes the number 11 spot)...

Boys Names
  1. Ethan
  2. Jacob
  3. Joshua
  4. Benjamin
  5. Samuel
  6. William
  7. Mason
  8. Isaac
  9. James
  10. Andrew
Girls Names
  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Abigail
  4. Elizabeth
  5. Ava
  6. Addison
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Emily
  9. Sophia
  10. Madison
Have fun naming your child and be unique if you like, but think it through carefully first - it will stick for a long time, even after the popularity and interests fade.

Thanks to About.com and Social Security Online. Click here to see the most popular twins' names. Click to see Top 100 boys names and Top 100 girls names if you want more info and some food for thought on naming your baby can be found here.

Looking for a list of some strange baby names? Check out Wiki More odd celeb names here. Best Blogger Tips

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