Sunday, 4 June 2006

Phoebe and Nathan are both at No. 35

The top five baby names for 2005 in the UK were Jessica, Emily, Sophie, Olivia and Chloe for girls, and Jack, Joshua, Thomas, James and Oliver for boys. If you really want to know more on this gripping topic, such as how the popularity of names is changing over the years (Libby has climbed four places since last year, up to No. 48, wow!), and the extent to which the soaps and sport are influencing it (in 2005 Eastenders’ Ruby went up 16 places to No 15, wow again) then look here.

Things are different in the USA, where it is unlikely that Jack has been in top place for eleven years as he has here. In a fascinating piece about lifestyle choices, Joe Queenan in the Independent (see, I read more than one paper) reports that "a friend of mine found that in Boise, Idaho—recently designated by the previously sane Forbes magazine the best place to live in America—the children in her daughter’s ballet class were called Melynda, Kelsee, Chelsea, Caitlan, Aidan, Ciera, Allegra, Hailey, Courtney, Collette, Cataline, Shelby, Sarraye, Maren, Koreen, Oakley, Adelle, Sadi, Marisa, Natania, Jade, Raquel, Kinsey, Leela, Elia, Kendall, Michaela, Ayla, Cami, Becca, Alyson, Arianna, Tymer, Kaitlynn, Kieron, Taylor, Morgan, Amari, Whitney, Brittany, Storm and Ireland, and this is a town where even the downscale non-lifestyle girls have names like Tira, Denae, Bailey and Salix, and where the lost boys have names like Cree, Piute and Leaf”.

Of course, once a made-up name has been attached to someone famous we get used to it: Rudyard (a lake) never caught on but was probably not thought to be extraordinary at the time. Nyree (Dawn Porter, Irene in the 1967 Forsyte Saga) and Ngaio (the writer Dame N. Marsh, named after a tree) were famous New Zealanders so there may be some others with those names down there.

Wendy is in a class of its own: now unremarkable, it was thought to have been invented by James Barrie, but actually wasn't; three of them crop up in census records in the nineteenth century. Barrie's god-daughter Wendy B became an actress and, later, so did Wendys Hiller, Craig and Kweh.
It is doubtful whether the two Chinese Emperors called Wendi (or Wen-Ti) are really part of the history of the name, since it disappeared for a long time after the Han dynasty one (179-157 BC) and the Sui dynasty one (501-564 AD). mis2


PerfectlyVocal said...

I recently came across a child called Panini. It's possible she was been named after the Sanskrit grammarian (520-460BC), but I somehow suspect she was actually named after the toasted sandwich - poor soul.

PerfectlyVocal said...

....and the phrase "she was been" is, of course, using the Sanskrit grammar.

Tony said...

Oh, I see, right. I thought it was, 'appen, just some quaint usage you have oop in't North.