By Any Other Name

09 September 2008 · 5 comments

Kris and I went to the local Methodist church rummage sale last weekend. I found a 25-cent label maker, a “cartigan sweater”, and a hideous lime green-and-yellow turtleneck. Kris found some treasures of her own.

For some reason, I took my camera, but the only thing I found worthy of photographing was the attendance chart in the children’s Sunday school room. It started with March 6th and ended in late June, but was still on the wall. There was heavy attendance from mid-March to mid-April, but otherwise things were sparse. I wouldn’t call any of the kids “regulars”, either. I don’t think anyone made it even half the time.

But what interested me was the list of names:

Alstin, Zachery, Daniel, Cameron, Devin, Damon, Caprial, Jacob, Aidan, Ellie, Stephen, James, Ryan, Sierra, Spencer, David, Berkeley, Gerome, Adrianna, Lauren, Samantha, Conner, Aaron, Ben, Taylor, Kim, Tiffany, Brandon, DeLancey, and Hannah.

Aside from Alsin an DeLancey, there’s nothing too strange here. Some of the names (Conner, Taylor, Sierra, Berkeley) make me tense, but that’s just personal preference.

Still, this list of names is pretty different from a similar list you might have found 30 years ago, when I was going to Sunday school. The crossover names are: Jacob, Stephen, James, Ryan, Spencer, David, Lauren, Aaron, Ben, Kim, Tiffany, and Brandon.

What I find interesting is that it’s the boys’ names that are most likely to stay the same from generation to generation. I’ve noticed this in the past. When looking at a list of popular baby names by decade, you’ll find that the girls’ names are much more changeable. There’s fluctuation among the boys, to be sure, but the girls’ names, especially after 1910, are subject to all sorts of whims and fancies.

1 Denise September 9, 2008 at 11:02

So why did you buy a turtleneck that you describe as hideous?

2 Tiffany September 10, 2008 at 14:39

Having the name ‘Tiffany’, I have always been surprised by how many ways it can be spelled. I’m glad to see that the little girl spelled it correctly. :)

3 pam September 11, 2008 at 17:40

Caprial and Berkeley don’t make your tense list?? How ’bout Track, Trig, Bristol and Willow?

Anyway, I play a game at work: guess the patient’s age based on name. For women, you’d be shocked how accurate I can be (sadly, Pam is an automatic 48-57 year old guess for me). Men’s names are more stable because we name our boys after their fathers (think of all the juniors). many women’s names do have a sine wave distribution, as we tend to name girl’s more after grandmonthers (think emily, emma, sophia, and grace). Biblical names are by far the hardest to pin down, particularly for boys.

4 Mom September 16, 2008 at 14:00

Did it occur to anyone else that the little girl named Caprial might be related to or parented by an admirer of chef Caprial Spence? That was one name that jumped out at me.

Another name that I had to wonder about was DeLancey. Can you imagine uttering that name in anger? I don’t think it’s possible. The kid has it made in life. ;-)

5 The Ridger September 20, 2008 at 09:23

Girls’ names are like that in lots of languages. Sometimes I think they’re just thought of as ornaments.

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