Naming Consultancy services in Europe and America are offering anxious parents help in the delicate task of naming children.
One such company, New York-based My Name for Life, says its job is to “hand-pick names that match a family’s priorities” and runs a hotline on which parents can confide their hopes for their babies.
Most parents go to her because they can’t agree on a name or “want an American one that can be pronounced easily overseas” (like Ted, Bobby, Donald?). Sherri Suzanne, the company’s founder can spend 30 hours doing research and her charges start at several hundred dollars.
In Switzerland a company called Erfolgswelle (Success Wave) is reported to charge $29,000 for each child it names. Its founder Marc Hauser says that parents should consider a child’s name like a company brand name and it can take hundreds of hours of work to select the right one.
It makes you wonder if Gwyneth Paltrow took such advice when she named her children Apple and Moses and what about the Zappa children? Michael Jackson named his son Blanket (must have been a comfort to him) and let’s not forget Saint K, North West and Bear Winslet.
Skylar (derived from the Dutch surname Schuyler) is now more popular than Mary and can also be used for a boy’s name. Names change as people want to emulate their heroes. Their kids might take a different view when they grow up of course!
In France, Denmark and New Zealand there are laws restricting what parents can call their children. New Zealand has rejected names like Regal, Christ and Queen. Iceland is pretty strict too.
France is now making it easier for people to change their first names. Until now it has been a long and complicated process convincing a judge that your request for a name change has a “legitimate motive” and that your given name, your etat civil, causes hardship.
One group likely to take advantage of the easier process are young adults who want to get rid of lower-class names like Kevin – named after Costner or Keegan who were popular in the 1990s.
Research at the Paris Sorbonne University found that Kevins were 30% less likely to be recruited than men with more traditional names like Arthur.
Men and women with muslim names are also likely to take advantage to overcome the discrimination that candidates with migrant names experience 80% of the time.
The opposite will also apply with people converting to Islam able to adopt a muslim name.
And some people will want to adopt a younger-sounding name according to sociologist Baptiste Coulmont who specialises in names. “There’s a rejuvenation by first names …. you abandon Catherine and become Lea”
Does all this really matter? Well yes.
US Research on the effect your name has on people in terms of trustworthiness, playfulness, intelligence and ambition, found that men ought to be named Stephen, Christopher, Kenneth, or Thomas and girls should be named Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, Jessica or Jennifer.
Another American study showed that CVs with white-sounding names did better than ones with black-sounding ones (or even stupid, bizarre ones).
And for politicians manes are so important. So its bad news for Donald and Hillary. Not only are they the most widely disliked presidential nominees for over 40 years but have names no-one wants to give to their kids anymore.
Donald was one of the most common names over the last century and was the 13th most popular when Mr Trump was born in 1946. The name fell out of the top 100 in1991, the year that Mr Trump was divorced by his wife,and has now slumped to 441st place, its lowest standing since 1900.
Hillary has fared even worse with only 136 babies so named last year and din’t even make the top 1,000 girls’ names. Still either of them will have more poplar names than the current President; there were only eight Baracks last year.
Noah and Emma are currently the most popular names in America for the second year running with Mason, Ethan, Ava, and Harper also popular.
In England Eleanors are more likely to get to Oxbridge than Jades. In England we can call our kids what we want as long it’s not offensive e.g. calling a girl Cyanide (when does bad taste become offensive?).
The most popular names in England and Wales in 2015 were Oliver, Jack, and Harry for boys, and Amelia, Olivia, and Isla for girls.
See the full ONS list here
See earlier post on children’s names here