Names Now and Then
It seems like everything else, names go through changes with each decade. Unique names become more and more popular as each parent decides he doesn't want his child to have the same name as everyone else! In order to find unique names now though, some parents are just making up there own!
I read an article in our local paper (Daily Freeman) about the 'new' names people are using and how they are often "asexual", having no sex and no way to tell if it's a boy's name or a girl's name. After reading that article I decided to look into the matter and came up with this short piece about names.
I knew there was a plethora of new names on the books, names like Chaqita, Aisha, Afiya and more. What ever happened to John and Mary? Maybe they sank with the Mayflower!
If you look back to the early 1900s you find names like Evelyn, James, Elizabeth and William. Common, standard names of the time. Interestingly enough the two top names in the early 1900s were John and Mary according to babiesonline.com! ( I do not point this out because my name is Mary, but because they really were!)
As we move to the 1920s John and Mary are still up there and they are joined by names like James, Charles, Helen and Margaret. (I'm taking most of this information from the Social Security website on Popular Baby Names. Yes, they have a website like that. They actually have ones with popular names for the last 100 years.) Although it was the "Roaring Twenties" names were still pretty common. Another way to tell the names of the decade is to look at the famous people of that decade. Henry Ford was certainly a very basic name. Charles Lindbergh, Louis Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway...all famous names that we're used to hearing.
In the 1950s...according to Social Security still James, Mary, and Linda joined by Michael. Funny, every site I visited listed these same four names as the most popular so I guess they really must've been. Even the psychedelic '60s have common names with the top names being Michael, Lisa, David and Mary.
The 1970s ah, the names begin to change. The top names now are Michael, Jennifer, Christopher and Amy. A departure from what we've seen in the past but still pretty common and distinguishable. 1980s,,,Michael, Jessica, Christopher and Jennifer. 1990s...Michael, Jessica, Christopher and Ashley. 2000...Jacob, Emily, Michael, and Madison.
Are you seeing any patterns here? I know I wouldn't want to name my son Michael because there's got to be thousands of them out there in every age group. The names have changed slightly but I repeat they are still common and distinguishable.
The difference comes when you look down the list in 2000 and see names like Hayden, Devon, Riley, Peyton, Braden, Trenton...they're moving away from common names and while they are more creative they are still recognizable names. Parents are becoming creative but conservatively so.
Popular Baby Names Through History
Sophia, Ava, Emma
Aiden, Mason, Lucas
Sophia, Chloe, Lily
Aiden, Logan, Liam
Isabella, Sophia, Olivia
Aiden, Jackson, Jacob
Emma, Madison, Ava
Aiden, Jayden, Caden
Sophia, Addison Emily
Aiden, Ethan, Noah
Emma, Kaitlyn, Abigail
Aiden, Ryan, Jack
Emma, Hannah, Makayla
Aidan, Nicholas, Tyler
So we've taken a quick glance at the past. Names didn't really make any drastic changes. They were what we would call 'normal' names. Still names you can understand and think of as common names.
What happened? That's the million dollar question. How did names go from John and Mary to Shawna, Seferino, Lizandra, Ajamil, Ambakisye ...these are real names taken from my local newspaper! (The last two are boys names.)
Well, as is to be expected, celebrities are the first to change the direction of baby names. How about the following in 2008;
Zahara, Pax, and Shiloh Jolie Pitt
Nahla Aubry (Hally Berry & Gabriel Aubry)
Sunday Rose Kidman (Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban)
Bronx Mowgli (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz)
If celebrities can do it why can't we? People are beginning to look at 'alternative' names. For example, would you seriously name your son Bubba? It is a suggested name for a future chef! How about Atticus for a future lawyer? We all know Atticus is from "To Kill a Mockingbird" but are people really using it? (Actually I kind of like Atticus.)
Babynames.paenting.com has several lists you can choose from to make your baby's name unique. Select groups include Irish names, Arab names, exotic names from around the world, Japanese names, etc. Now don't get me wrong I think exotic names are lovely if you come from exotic places but, and to me its a big but (not my butt, this but), names like Adisa (a girl's name from Ghana), Naira (a girl's name from Quechuan - I don't even know where that is!), Lindell (a boy's name from Sweden), Lawan (a boy's name from Thailand) just don't seem right here. And pity the poor teacher the first day of school! She looks down at her roster and sees Ajamil, Bronx, Seferino and more...are they boys or girls? How should she make her seating arrangements? She doesn't want a group of four boys and one girl or whatever, you get the picture. There's no way to tell!
Maybe I'm just old fashioned but it seems to me if you're American you should have American names, or at least names you can pronounce and possibly spell. I know Sanasha is fairly easy to spell but would you name your little girl Sanasha or Jarnie? What happens when you want to buy one of those cute little toothbrushes with your daughter's name on it? Do you really think you're going to find one with Sanasha on it?
I guess the bottom line here is, its none of my business what someone else names their child. It is a personal thing between parents, however, even though names now and then have changed, think about your child. I always thought about kindergarten and how hard it would be for them to learn to spell their name....think about their little five year old friends, will they be able to even pronounce this new name you've found? Then there's the word play that can turn a simple name into a torment in junior high school. These are things parents need to think of when choosing an exotic name whether it was then or it is now. So that's my little recap of names now and then.
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