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« End Abortion -- Doctor’s Orders | Main | I am Mommy, hear me roar »

October 30, 2006

What’s In A Name?

Thanks to Bill Simmons, a.k.a., "The Sports Guy" at ESPN.com, I have yet another way to fritter away the time: The Baby Name Wizard.

All you do is type in a name and you can see how its popularity has waxed and waned over the past 125 years. Now, it isn't a complete waste of time. Like tree rings and ice-core samples, if you know how to read it, you can learn a lot about the years in question.

(Father Richard John Neuhaus has often commented on the lists of most popular boys' and girls' names and what it might say about our attitudes towards the sexes. He notes that girls "are much more frequently pinned with novelty names, while boys are, more often than not, given names with some serious historical resonance, usually religious in nature.")

For instance, if you type in my name you get a "hockey stick" graph with an almost tripling in the percent of boys named "Roberto" in my lifetime. Obviously, it's an artifact of immigration and the growing Latino population in the U.S. (The results for my brothers' names, Efrain and Josue, are even more dramatic.)

During the same time, the fortunes of familiar English names like Robert, Betty and even Mary sank faster than the Titanic. At this point, if a kid is named after the Mother of Jesus or her cousin, she's very likely a Latina or the daughter of Spanish teachers. (Ditto for the rest of la Sagrada Familia: few Josephs, lots of Joses.)

I note that the age of "Brittany" and "Crystal" seems to have mercifully drawn to a close and that "Lindsay" has really cratered, perhaps in tandem with our esteem for the most famous "Lindsay" out there. One can only hope.

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I loathe the trendy names given to girls (I can't even count how many Madisons or Brittanys there are in my daughter -- ahem -- Victoria's school). I never did like my middle name (Lynsey), and loved it when no one knew me at college so I could go by my first (Catherina), but at least Lynsey has some meaning: something about a Linden tree . . . yeah, I'll stick with Catherina.

Fr. Dcn. Raphael

A year or more ago, I blogged about the significance of my names and my wife and children. I get TONS of hits on it, showing just what an important topic it is to people.

Thanks for the "Baby Name Wizard"

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