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April 13, 2005


American Baby Names

I don't have much in the way of analysis about this, but Slate is running a series of pieces on trends in baby names in America, excerpted from a new book called Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, which offers some alternative (read: brilliant, sometimes crackpot) explanations of social phenomena in this crazy world we live in. I've always found trends in names to be fascinating, especially as related to class, region, and race, so here are a few links.

Monday's excerpt from the book examines baby names popular among different races (Em, you and I have total white girl names,) names that span multiple races, and how people's lives might be affected by having a typically black or white name. Tuesday's excerpt is about baby names popular among different classes, the growth of aspirational baby names, and how names once popular with the elite lose their value when poor people start adopting them. In response to this piece about certain names moving from one class to another: I don't care if it was popular among the wealthy educated classes at one point--Amber is still a stupid name.

And finally, here is an interesting bit of programming that ADM sent me a while back that I've been hanging onto, hoping to share: a Baby Name Wizard (requires java) that graphs the popularity of any name, or group of similar names, over decades. Very cool.

categories: Culture
posted by amy at 3:37 PM | #

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There has been a boom in Australia lately where parents take a name and put letters (like y) in places they shouldn't be and take out letters (like e) from where they should be. e.g. Jaymi, Braydn.

There are no more ordinary names about (with ordinary spellings).

In a discussion with my partner on names he commented that people want to be "different like everybody else".

Posted by: Georgina M at April 15, 2005 7:55 PM

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