I spoke to the Chicago Tribune about my thoughts on the decline of nicknames.
Go ahead and guess.
In an article in Live Science, Rachel Cruze revealed that after studying baby-name statistics from 49 countries, Laura Wattenberg discovered that the most popular baby name for girls in the whole, wide world (in it’s five most popular forms) is:
More specifically, Wattenberg discovered that Sofia and related names is the #1 name in 9 countries and either #2 or #3 in 20 other countries. Here’s what she said when she realized how dominant Sofia/Sophia was:
“It just blew me away that so many different languages and cultures would arrive at the same sound at the same time. I guess that really says something about the way culture is transmitted today.”
I suppose in about 25 years Sofia/Sophia/Sophie/Sofie/Zsófia will be considered “grandma names” and won’t be the world’s most popular girl’s names any more. For the moment, these are probably the last names you should consider for your baby girl (apart from ridiculous names like: Nutella, Cheese, Hashtag, and other names that make people wonder, “What were they thinking?”)
FYI, Sophia is a Greek name that means wisdom. This positive meaning has helped the name achieve worldwide popularity. So have famous namesakes like movie actress Sophia Lauren, movie director Sophia Coppola and TV star Sofia Vergara.
I’ve never understood why parents would name their baby boys Jackson (and variations like Jaxon and Jaxson) instead of Jack. (Jackson is a popular surname; Jack is a classic boys’ name. I suppose Jaxon and Jaxson are attempts by parents to bridge the difference.)
Yesterday I read an article by Eleanor Jones (of Good to Know) called “Could Maiden Names Be the Latest Baby Name Trend?” in which Jones argues that using family surnames (maiden names) as given names for baby boys and girls is a hot new trend.
To check out this trend I took a quick look at the latest Social Security Administration boys’ and girls’ top-100 lists in 2014. I noticed nine surnames on the boys’ top-100 list in 2014: Mason (#3), Jackson (#17), Hunter (#36), Landon (#43), Tyler (#63), Parker (#73), Cooper (86), Carson (#90) and Lincoln (#95). The only surnames I could find on the top-100 girls’ list were Kennedy (#54), and Taylor (#77).
But it’s hard to get excited about this “maiden-name trend” when you consider that of the eleven surnames I’ve just mentioned, only four increased in popularity last year: Kennedy (+10), Lincoln (+8), Mason (+1) and Parker (+1) (the numbers in parentheses refer to the gains these names as they increased in popularity last year).
You may have noticed that six of the popular surnames I’ve mentioned (Mason, Hunter, Tyler, Parker, Taylor and Cooper) are trade names or occupational names (e.g., a mason is someone who does masonry; a hunter is someone who hunts). Of those trade names, only Mason and Parker increased in popularity last year, while the popularity of Hunter, Tyler, Taylor and Cooper declined.
But the surnames on the top-100 lists that exhibited the most dynamic increase in popularity last year belong to popular presidents: Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Seems to me the dynamic trend here is that more parents are giving their children surnames of famous namesakes they admire—a category that includes popular presidents and popular celebrities, like John Lennon and Jean Harlow and Jennifer Aniston. (Lennon, Harlow and Anniston are recent additions to the top-1000 list which I have written about in several recent posts. FYI, Anniston is the spelling parents prefer when they use Jennifer’s last name as a first name for their baby girls.)
You may want to browse the list of surnames Jones selected to illustrate the maiden-name trend. Notice that Jones left surnames that declined in popularity in 2014 (Jackson, Hunter, Landon, Tyler, Cooper and Carson) off her list. Consider that Reagan is the surname of a very popular president, Ronald Reagan; and that Marley is the surname of popular singer, Bob Marley. I should also mention that Taylor (-18) was one of the biggest losers on the top-100 girls’ list in 2014. That said, here’s her list:
P.S. I know that Andrew Jackson was the 7th president of the United States. But I doubt he is currently as revered a figure as John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Abe Lincoln–but I could be wrong. Perhaps the huge increase in the popularity of Jackson, Jaxon and Jaxson over the last five years or so was due to President Andrew Jackson’s popularity in the South.
Seven months ago, a massive tornado leveled the Plaza Tower Elementary School in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, killing six students. Teacher Jennifer Doan Rogers, who was eight-weeks pregnant, suffered a broken back and was crushed by rubble as she tried to grab a dying-student’s hand.
Seven months later, Jennifer Rogers has given birth to a child, but in her happiness she did not forget the students who perished. She and her husband have decided to honor one of the six students, Nicholas McCabe, who died in the storm, by using his name as her son Jack Nicholas Roger’s middle name. Nicholas’ father, Scott McCabe was touched by the gesture, although he is still “too overcome by grief” to fully appreciate what Jennifer Rogers has done.
I’m writing about this tragedy and about Jennifer Roger’s suffering, her courage, and her nobility because baby naming plays an important role in family life (and in this case it also plays an important symbolic role in the town of Moore, Oklahoma; in the state of Oklahoma; in the United States of America and in the English-speaking world.
You may think I’m getting carried away, but I read about this story in an article published in the Daily Mail, a British newspaper.That’s why I want to remind all of my readers, women and couples who are expecting, people who write about baby names and the media that reprints and distributes baby-name information that there is much more to baby naming than fads and fashion and ego. Fundamentally, baby naming is about the child in the context of family and community and society.