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Analysis | The mysterious tyranny of trendy baby names

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article explores how the spelling of names in the United States has evolved over time, with certain name endings becoming more or less popular at different periods. It examines how trends in name endings, rather than specific names, have shaped naming patterns in recent decades.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Name Trends and Endings

1. What are some of the key trends in name endings that the article discusses?

  • Names ending in -ly were most popular in the 1970s, while -ley gained popularity in the 1980s, and -leigh saw a rise in the 2010s.
  • For boys, names ending in -son (e.g., Jason, Mason, Jackson) became a major trend in the 21st century, replacing the singular popularity of names like Jason in the 1970s-80s.
  • For girls, there has been a boom in -ia names and -ani/-ari names, potentially influenced by names like Kehlani.
  • Boys' names increasingly end in the letter -n, with nearly 40% of newborn boys having a name ending in -n by 2010.

2. How does the article explain the shift from traditional family names to more trendy name endings?

  • In the past, people often chose names based on family tradition, but the counterculture movements of the 1960s led to a shift where parents started straying from traditional names.
  • With the decline of a shared monoculture, people have adopted a "username creation" mentality, leading them to tweak names slightly to make them feel more unique, even though this results in following broader name ending trends.
  • The article calls this phenomenon "lockstep individualism," where people think they are choosing unique names but end up following identifiable suffix trends.

3. What is the "grand theory" of baby names proposed by Laura Wattenberg? Wattenberg's "grand theory" is that the rise of unlimited media options and the annual SSA name rankings have led to a "username creation" mentality, where parents try to make their child's name feel unique by tweaking it slightly, but end up following broader name ending trends.

[02] The Melcon Family's Name Choice

1. How did the Melcon family choose their son's name, Cyrus?

  • When Margot Melcon was pregnant, she and her husband Jon wanted a distinctive name for their son, but couldn't decide on one from their list of 20 options.
  • With time running out before Margot's hospital discharge, they found inspiration in Jon's family Bible, where they discovered the name Cyril, which they then tweaked to Cyrus.
  • Melcon felt Cyrus had a versatile feel, suiting both a poet/painter and a jock.

2. How does the Melcon family's name choice fit into the broader name trends discussed in the article?

  • The article shows that Cyril and other "-il" names peaked in the early 1900s, while "-us" names like Cyrus became more popular in the 2010s.
  • So even though the Melcons felt they were choosing a distinctive name, Cyrus still fits into the broader trend of "-us" names that was emerging at the time.
  • This demonstrates the "lockstep individualism" concept, where parents think they are choosing a unique name, but it still aligns with broader naming patterns.

[03] Data Analysis and Trends

1. What other name ending trends did the article uncover through its data analysis?

  • For girls, the article notes a boom in "-ia" names and "-ani/-ari" names, potentially influenced by names like Kehlani.
  • For boys, the article states that the nation's interest in "-on" names appears to have crested, while parents remained fixated on names ending in "-den" (e.g. Aiden, Jayden, Brayden).

2. What surprising finding did the article uncover about boys' name endings? The article found that by 2010, nearly 4 in 10 newborn boys were given names ending in the letter "-n", a dramatic increase from the 1950s when "-n" was just one of several common name endings.

3. How does the article's data analysis support the concept of "lockstep individualism" in naming trends? The data shows that even when parents think they are choosing a unique name, it often aligns with broader trends in name endings. This is exemplified by the Melcon family's choice of Cyrus, which fit into the rising popularity of "-us" names, despite their desire for a distinctive name.

Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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