About That New York Times Article: Studying Baby Name Trends

Jul 14th 2011

On June 24, the New York Times Magazine ran a short piece about baby name trends. I found it puzzling, but let it pass -- if I attempted to correct every mis-statement about names in the press, I'd never have time for anything else. I've received so many questions about this particular article, though, that I figured I should comment.

To be blunt, much of the article is off-base. The evidence doesn't support its basic premise; in fact, even the graphs the writer supplies to illustrate his point don't support his statements. I was also baffled by some of the analysis, such as the suggestion that a recent nostalgia craze for the top American baby names of the 1900s could be based on Jane Austen films. (I must have missed the part in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth and Jane do the Charleston.)

Rather than simply attacking the article, though, I'd like to use this as a case study of what I do when I come up with a hypothesis about baby name trends. Here's the writer's core claim:

"About two decades ago, an entire generation of girls’ names — those from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — started coming back into fashion...Now the nostalgia wave, which peaked in 2004, is ending."

Interesting concept. How would we know if it's true? First, let's paint a picture of what that proposed trend would look like. We'd expect to see a broad wave of girls' names that were popular around 1900 reappear in the early 1990s, hit a new peak in the early-mid 2000s, and then decline sharply in the late 2000s. Here's that pattern in graphical terms:

trend graph

OK, now let's test our theory. The obvious approach is to look at the names popular around 1900 and see if their historical graph resembles the prediction above. Here's a graph of the top 50 girls' names of the year 1900:

Top girls' names of 1900

Hmm. To start with, the claim that "an entire generation of girls' names" from that era has come back is clearly false. In fact, it takes only a glance at the top names of that generation -- names like Mildred, Florence, Dorothy, Frances, Gladys, Ruth -- to know that 2004 was no repeat.

As for the "nostalgia wave" in the 1990s & 2000s, you can, indeed, see a tiny bump around that period. The trick is, it's small enough that removing one hit name makes the "wave" disappear altogether. (More about that one name later.)

Does this disprove our theory? Not necessarily. Maybe it's a mistake to include names like Mary that aren't tied to one particular time period. Instead of looking at the most popular names of the 1900s, let's look at the most typical names, the ones most tied to that time period. Here's a graph of all of the girls' names that peaked in the 1900s decade (you can graph that with the Expert NameVoyager):

Nope, no dice. Very few of them have come back, and the ones that have appear to be still rising. Same story for the names that peaked in the decades before and after the 1900s.

But let's not give up yet. Perhaps the fall of the nostalgia names that did come back has been the dramatic story. Have antique revivals plummeted as other styles held steady? Let's graph the top falling girls' names of the 2000 decade:

Fastest falling girls' names of the 2000s

Again, no. No matter how you slice and dice the data, you're just not going to come away with the Times writer's conclusion.

Certainly, you can find some examples of individual names that fit the pattern he described...if that's what you set out looking for. (Even so, some of his examples are mistaken. I think he may have been misled by the fact that his data set started with the year 1880. A name like Hannah actually peaked in the early to mid 1800s and was already in deep decline by the period he looked at.) But to make any broader claims, you have to look at the whole population, including facts that could prove you wrong.

The truth is that antique revival names are a subtle and complex phenomenon of sound and style. For instance, parents drawn to actual revivals like Grace also tend to favor "faux antiques" like Olivia and Ava -- names that sound like our romantic image of Victorian days, regardless of the reality of the matter. Plus the names parents choose from the past tend to sound more like contemporary hits than like the typical names of the old days. The hit antiques Sophia and Amelia, for instance, are closer in sound to Arianna, Malia, and Saniya than Mildred and Florence. And by the way, Amelia and Sophia are positively soaring. The "nostalgia trend" is far from dead.

Where did the writer's claim come from, then? I don't pretend to have any inside knowledge of his process, but indulge me for a moment as I speculate.

To me, the really telling bit in the article is the Jane Austen reference. Why would you think Austen had anything to do with a 1900s revival? As a group, her heroines' names don't follow the pattern described in the article at all. Not Jane or Elizabeth (or Lizzie or Eliza), not Marianne or Elinor or Anne or Catherine (in any of their spellings), and definitely not Fanny. But Emma? Ah, Emma.

As it happens, Emma is that "one name" I mentioned in the 1900 graph that drove the tiny bulge. And it's the one Austen name that fits, too. Could it be that the writer started off looking at the name Emma, and over-extrapolated an entire trend from it?

Comments

1
By almk42 (not verified)
July 14, 2011 6:35 PM

And this is why I love this blog. You make names like a science. Imagine, actually looking at data and graphs! Shocking! :)

2
July 14, 2011 6:39 PM

The only problem with the thorough nature of your statistical studies, Laura, is that following your site for the past few years has made articles like this (and the commenters! Ahh!) drive me totally crazy. It makes me sound like I'm a little too obsessed when I chime in on friends' naming conversations...you set a high standard for excellence in data evaluation, and I really appreciate the time you put into the breakdown and analysis of trends and patterns for groups or individual names. Thanks for feeding my addiction, and for keeping me up at night with my head whirring over what I'm going to name my future kids, friends' kids, pets, inanimate objects...you know. Love it!

3
By mk (not verified)
July 14, 2011 6:47 PM

Honestly, I thought the Jane Austen comment was meant to be sarcastic and not taken seriously. Otherwise it doesn't make sense (he only mentions Emma, and doesn't even bother to put it on the graph?). Also saying that A as a first letter was "once-obscure" doesn't make much sense either. It's been popular since at least the 70s.

It's a fluff piece with no real research to me. It's almost like he was rushed to write it.

4
By KateW (not verified)
July 14, 2011 6:58 PM

"Could it be that the writer started off looking at the name Emma, and over-extrapolated an entire trend from it?"

Isn't that the basis for the entire NYT Styles section? Writer meets one person/notices one thing, then over-extrapolates that it's a new "trend?" This is the publication that has, in the past, proclaimed that pot bellies were now "in" for hipsters and that people were no longer cleaning themselves.

5
By Loi (not verified)
July 14, 2011 8:04 PM

I just want to echo the other comments - I am so very appreciative of this blog's scientific approach. The beauty of studying baby names is that the data is there! Why someone would ignore the data and speculate is beyond me. People who study things like fashion would love to have access to concrete #s like this. You also make social science accessible. Bravo.

6
By Amy3
July 14, 2011 8:50 PM

I'll echo the others and say how much I love your analysis and insight, Laura. You take statistics and make them sing! So much fun to read, and I agree that it's entirely changed my reaction to those "fluff" name pieces in the press.

From the last thread ...

Re: Rosalind, I love the way this name looks, but I'm always bothered by the Roz- or Rose- pronunciation issue. If it doesn't bother you, though, go for it!

Re: Susanna(h) M ... I much prefer Susannah, and I love it paired with Margaret. That's all at once a whimsical, sunny, grounded name.

7
By knp-nli (not verified)
July 14, 2011 10:39 PM

"It makes me sound like I'm a little too obsessed when I chime in on friends' naming conversations..."
Exactly! I agree! But it can be about any conversation that touches on names, not even naming a baby!

Couldn't that little bump in Emma be due to the baby on Friends too? Not really because it is an old name come back...

Interesting name observation: a woman was considering Clover, with a nickname of Chloe-- this seems weird or backward somehow to me, but I can't really think why. So I'm going to accept it and the more I think about it, I kinda like it?

8
July 14, 2011 11:03 PM

knp-I agree with all you wrote. Any convo that has anything to do with names and I am right there. Love this blog!

The Clover thing does seem a little backwards to me also maybe because Chloe is a more traditional "expected" name than Clover. Also maybe because they are two different styles of names.

9
By Guest Mom (not verified)
July 15, 2011 12:22 AM

I had not read the NYT article, but I admit that after following this blog, I find much of what I read in magazines and newspapers about baby names puzzling. I suppose people base their ideas of what is happening in the naming world just on their little corner of life...for example, there are NO Lucys in our life corner, but I know from this blog that Lucy is downright trendy in some areas. We are still overrun with -aydens here.

Thank you for your feedback on Lucy Juniper. I remain undecided, but I appreciate all the comments. You all were much more helpful than my father, who said, "Lucy What?". He thought Juniper was a joke. It reminded me of Steve Martin in Father of the Bride II, when he said "I am going to have a granddaughter named Sophie Zenckman?". Love that scene - so typical of baby naming!

RE: Rosalind...I think it's a name that grows on you. If you love it, go for it. I think it's quirky, but in a smart, sophisticated way.

Re: Susanna - I am from the South and adore the Susannah Mae. I do think -ah and -ae endings give the name a southern vibe, which I personally love, but it isn't for everyone. I like Susanna Margaret also. I think it's timeless- it works for an adorable toddler, a young college student, or a CEO. I also like that it could easily travel around the world.

10
By GuestMissy (not verified)
July 15, 2011 8:03 AM

I think the author of the NYT article took some anecdotal data from his/her social circle and ignored the real data. I'm wondering if maybe we looked at data from just the five boroughs if there might be a kernel of truth.

11
By Coemgenus (not verified)
July 15, 2011 8:03 AM

That's just the nature of the New York Times trend piece. The writer takes some anecdote observed in Manhattan or Brooklyn and writes an article as though this event were typical of the whole country. Statistical proof? That would be too much work.

12
By Toby (not verified)
July 15, 2011 10:16 AM

Re Chloe/Clover -- our neighbors have a little white dog named Clover that they call Chloe. I thought it was backwards too, since their other dog is Sammy, just Sammy.

As my name is Toby, just Toby with no middle name (and I'm female), I'm very sensitive to the nickname issue (as well as androgynous names, and no middle names, and names that are too unique, and names that are very popular, and...). Clearly this is the blog for me.

13
By Tin Tin (not verified)
July 15, 2011 10:21 AM

The article did mention the emergence of the name "Crew", which I've spotted twice in the past year. It's such an unexpected name; the only current boys' name it really echoes is Drew, which is a nickname; and, as far as word names go, this one lacks dynamism (a group, a cab size in a truck, a haircut).

Where did it come from?

14
By Tin Tin (not verified)
July 15, 2011 10:24 AM

To the poster who was considering the name Rosalind--
I love that name! In fact, it's my #1 choice if I have a daughter, and has been for the past 12 years.
I also adore the name Geneva.

15
By TKB (not verified)
July 15, 2011 10:44 AM

I definitely agree that this blog, and knowing where to find actual data about names, can make me kind of a bore at baby showers! I wouldn't trade it, though. It's a wonderful resource.

The article might well be true for Brooklyn hipsters. I could definitely believe a story arch where a reporter's ignorance of when names came from, and him watching all his friends say "oh, god, we named out daughters Emma and Olivia in 1998 and now it's SO trendy, I heard it on MTV!", and some editor saying "Put a literary spin on it" lead to a perfect storm of bad research.

There's a few other I found that vaguely fit the pattern.
Lillian (Not declining)
Evelyn (Not declining)
Ella (peaked way before 1900, not declining), ditto Stella
Anna (Follows the 2004 decline, but peaked way before 1900)
Nina - ditto Anna, and never really became outdated. (What a perfectly timeless name Nina is.)
Belle then and Bella now, maybe. Also Olive/Oliva.
All the Is- names fell off a cliff in about 1910 and of course are tearing off the charts now. (Isobel, Isabelle, etc)
Elsie (tinnnny bump)

Names that COULD be rising stars if this were true:
Rose
Alice
Anne
Beatrice
Eleanor
Esther
Ethel
Fern
Opal
Ophelia

And a completely unrelated note from Babyname Voyaging: "Flor" squeaked into the top 1000 in 2005/6? What is this name? Is it in constant use amongst a subgroup, or was it a one-time minor success? The only "Flor" I know of is the carpet tiles, and the only Flor listed on Namipedia was famous in the 50s. There's... Fleur Isabelle Delacour from Harry Potter, from a movie released in 2005, but there's no Fleur bump, let alone a respelling.

... Ah, here we go, she was an Argentine pop star. In case the history of Flor is interesting to anyone else, I won't delete this paragraph. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flor_(singer)

16
July 15, 2011 10:46 AM

bazinga, mister new york times! wonderful post laura; i love it when you get all science-y. i also found this line particularly amusing:

"I must have missed the part in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth and Jane do the Charleston." ha!

re: rosalind i like it in theory, but was rather disappointed when i learned that the "correct" pronunciation was roz-a-lind. i much prefer rose-a-lind, but i believe that might not be the accepted pronunciation. unless i'm mistaken? but the roz pronunciation isn't *bad*, and either way, it's gorgeous on paper.

re: chloe/clover. hmm, using chloe as a nickname for clover seems a bit backward to me too. i would imagine it the other way around. ah well, to each his own.

knp,
i don't think the bump on emma is due to friends--emma rose steadily throughout the 90s (from 130 to 17!), and in 2001, the year before rachel had her baby, it was ranked 13. so, i think friends chose a name that was already quite popular. (but that's not to say that friends didn't give it an extra boost!)

sadly, in my time away, i've quite forgotten about who was pregnant and what names were being considered (so, if you've had a baby since last september could you please tell me their name? please? :]). the only exception is pennyx.

pennyx, are you still considering ursula sabine (or ursula anything, for that matter). this randomly crossed my mind the other day, and i'm still really pulling for it! i love it!

so what names is everyone else considering?

17
July 15, 2011 11:16 AM

Hi, emilyrae! Good to see you again, I missed you.

Regarding name obsession, I was involved in a spirited discussion about names on a game website, and there were people who demanded I take it back when I said that Madison wasn't considered a girl's name until the 1980s. It got crazy because some people couldn't imagine Madison as anything other than a girl's name, and one guy needed to hear that it was used before the 1980s on at least one girl (which, since Madison was a surname, made sense). Of course, I just pointed out that Michael and John were used on even more girls, and are still considered solidly boys' names. So just because there's a girl named Madison doesn't make Madison a girl's name, any more than Michael Learned makes Michael a girl's name. Heads were exploding.

18
July 15, 2011 11:59 AM

Linnaeus-Ha ha to those gamers.

emilyrae-Welcome back! I will update for you in case the others are too busy with their new little ones. The most recent are Chimu who decided on Astrid Elodie (i can't do the accent over the first E) and Elizabeth T (i hope that's right) who had Alexander James. I haven't seen PennyX on recently either. There are a few currently expecting but I think the big wave is over. You knew about hyz's addition I think. Oh and alr is getting a few new adoptees soon. You missed some good discussions so you may want to scroll back when you get the chance. :)

19
By EVie
July 15, 2011 12:34 PM

Re: Crew/Crew(e) - I would be inclined to think of this as a converted surname rather than a word name (my *immediate* association is Sara Crewe from A Little Princess, though I think I have probably been more influenced by that book than most people). As a surname, it comes from a place name, of which there seem to several (at least two Crewes in Cheshire, England, and Crews in several counties in Ireland). As a place name, the English version comes from a Celtic word meaning "fish trap, weir," and the Irish version (which in Irish is spelled Craobh) means "sacred tree."

... although I'm pretty sure that most people choosing Crew as a name didn't look that up the way I did, because I'm a nerd. I suppose it could also be a sports name, used by people who are either really into rowing or just want to invoke that preppy image.

20
By TKB (not verified)
July 15, 2011 1:25 PM

Could Crew be being used as a preppy luxury brand name, in the way of Bentley and Mercedes, too? I can see it being chosen for a lot of different reasons - it could be a more masculine Cole, or a less Hollywood Cruz. It could be a preppy sibling match to Porter or a catalog sibling match to Chanel or a professions sibling match with Fletcher.

Crewe feels very different to me - much more of a classic English place name/surname, as you pointed out. I also immediately thought of Sara Crewe once you added the e. Crew is brashly forward looking American, Crewe is more traditional and literary.

21
July 15, 2011 1:47 PM

zoerhenne & linnaeus,
many thanks! i'm happy to be back. i can't explain how much i have missed the conversation and discussion here.

i like both astrid elodie and alexander james. :] and i think i do remember hyz having oliver. (oliver! yay!)

linnaeus,
that naming conversation is hilarious!

in honor of the release of the final harry potter movie today, i have a question for any UK people. i've actually been meaning to ask this for a long time, though it may have been already addressed in the past. before the publication of the books, the name hermione was virtually unknown in america--at least to my knowledge (hermy-own, anyone?). was it well known in the UK? it seems like it is a more "normal" (if not particularly common) name there, as there have been several british actresses with the name, right? when you wikipedia hermione, it's virtually all british/english women. so i was just wondering how the average british reader would have reacted to the name, back in 1997. would they have known how to pronounce it?

22
By hyz nli (not verified)
July 15, 2011 2:18 PM

hi emilyrae, glad to see you back. And yes, young mr. Oliver is almost 9 mos old now--how time flies! :)

I've seen Crew popping up here and there, too, and I rather like it. To me it sounds preppy with a sporty edge (The J. Crew connection didn't occur to me until TKB mentioned it, but along those lines, maybe Crew could be Brooks' athletic younger brother?). It's a surname/place name that still sounds fresh to me.

As for the NYT article, it does sound uninformed, but I like the suggestion that maybe the author is reflecting trends witnessed in NYC more particularly? Is there any easy way to verify that possibility?

23
July 15, 2011 2:28 PM

You're right, zoerhenne. Alex was born June 23 and is now a strapping lad of three weeks. :),
RobynT also had a baby recently named Olive.

Welcome back, Emilyrae!

I read my alumni magazine today hoping to find some interesting names in the births section, but no such luck. All the names were staid and boring (which means they're names that I'd actually consider giving my own kids--hee hee).

Going back to last week's post, I thought of some other board game names:
Rico (for Puerto Rico)
Bohanza
Elfie (short for Elfenland)

24
By hyz nli (not verified)
July 15, 2011 3:09 PM

Oh, and closing loop from the last thread, to Anna S.' comment on Dresden--I agree with Linnaeus that Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse V probably has a LOT to do with my (and other Americans') impression of the city.

I heard something that seemed relevant on the radio last week. Glenn Beck (not my political cup of tea, but I do hear his show now and then) was discussing his recent trip to Poland and going on about how he was shocked and horrified to see regular houses with normal life still going on, kiddie pools, etc., less than a block away from the death camp at Birkenau. It sounded like he thought the whole town should've been razed and replaced with a memorial, but to the people there it was just their hometown and the horrors that happened there were only one part of its history, not its sole defining feature. I guess that's a bit similar to my feelings about Dresden, because my first/main acquaintance with it was through history class and Slaughterhouse V, whereas to others, particularly Europeans, perhaps, it's just another city that happens to have had some bombings in its past.

25
July 15, 2011 3:15 PM

Ahh, thank you for this! That article drove me crazy. My theory is that the author based all of his data on his own children and their friends. Whatever his method, it wasn't very scientific (or accurate).

26
July 15, 2011 3:24 PM

Wow those babies are getting big and time does fly hyz! My apologies to RobynT for leaving out Olive.

Re Crew: I find it a very preppy name as well. It seems the sibling names mentioned are mostly boy names. What would be a good girl sibling to go with it?

OT-I found an interesting post about how to pronounce Irish/Celtic names and thought I would pass it along here.
http://www.nancy.cc/2008/03/17/how-to-pronounce-popular-irish-names-aoife-cian-niamh-oisin/

27
By KimberlyL (not verified)
July 15, 2011 4:26 PM

To be fair, if you look at the individual graphs for the specific names he mentions, like Julia and Grace, they look like that "sample" graph you show. Julia and Grace weren't the most popular or typical names of 1900, but their comeback and fall look pretty obvious from their graphs.

But you're right, that Jane Austen comment was just silly.

28
July 15, 2011 5:12 PM

Add me to the long list of those who love Laura’s scientific approach to naming trends and who can no longer have normal conversations about names with less obsessed others.

I hope no one will mind if I drag on the discussion of Rosalind a bit longer. It’s at the top of our list of girl names for the baby I’m expecting in October. Our interest in the name is heavily influenced by Rosalind Franklin (back to the hero name post again). As others have mentioned, I do anticipate some pronunciation issues and would greatly appreciate any additional feedback. I expect we’d frequently hear Rose-a-lind rather than the Roz- pronunciation, and I’m afraid that we might cause further trouble by using a nickname. I really like Rosa. Would it be odd to use the Roz- pronunciation for the full name and a Rose nickname? In other words, will people be confused if “Rosa” = Roz-ah when part of Rosalind, but “Rosa” = Rose-a when said alone? My partner likes Roz and Rozie as nicknames, but I worry that substituting the Z in the nickname might lead to misspellings of the full name. Do you think these are likely problems or am I over-thinking things? Thanks in advance for any help.

29
By knp-nli (not verified)
July 15, 2011 5:55 PM

Jen PH:
of your worries, I think the last you mentioned is the one you should worry about least. People are used to spelling nicknames differently from the regular name (example the 5 Jennifers in my class of 40 were Jennie, Jenny, Jen, Jenni, and Jennifer-- the i to y switch doesn't make people spell it Jennyfer for Jenniefer. I also really like Roz, Rozie, Rozah for nicknames if you want to keep the short vowel-- the z lets me know how to say it

If I came across a little Rosa, and then saw her name was Rosalind, I would probably first try Rose-a-lind for her name. HOWEVER, this problem is not insurmountable so if you like Rosa as a nickname for Rosalind, use it. It is like Liam for William. I can figure out to say Liam (lee-am), but don't say William as wil-lee-am! :)

welcome back emilyrae! I am also expecting in January, so will be around for naming discussions (if it is a girl-- we've got the boy's name down)

30
By hyz nli (not verified)
July 15, 2011 6:06 PM

Zoerhenne, the first girl sib for Crew that jumped to my mind was Paige, then Brooke (still stuck on that one because of Brooks, maybe). Maybe also Piper, Harper, Sloane, Marlo, Blaire, ... ?

Jen PH -- congrats on your expected babe, and I'm so glad to hear Rosalind is high on your list! Like emilyrae mentioned, I was also a bit disappointed to learn that roz- is the standard pronunciation rather than rose-, but it's grown on me and I still love the name. And to address another of the comments from the last thread, I totally love that it looks like a flower name (Rose) but the meaning actually relates to horses--a double whammy for me since I love both. To your question, I don't think there's any problem at all with using Rosa, Rosie, or Rose as a nn for Rosalind. To me, it's just like using Kate/Katie for Katherine, or Meg/Maggie for Margaret, etc.--that initial vowel doesn't have to stay exactly the same between the name and nn if you don't want it to.

31
July 15, 2011 6:15 PM

"As for the NYT article, it does sound uninformed, but I like the suggestion that maybe the author is reflecting trends witnessed in NYC more particularly? Is there any easy way to verify that possibility?"

The NYC bureau of vital statistics (or whatever it's called) publishes annual lists of registered baby names similar to the lists published by Social Security. However, the NYC lists are broken down by race/ethnicity which allows for analysis of trends in the various communities which make up the NYC populace. I don't have the url to hand, but it is findable by googling.

32
By EVie
July 15, 2011 6:45 PM

I wonder why Rosalind is pronounced as ROZ, and Rosamund is pronounced as ROSE? (At least, that's how I've always heard it—maybe I'm wrong?) They're derived from the same word, Germanic hros (horse, as discussed above—which, by the way, I would have loved as a little girl, since I was horse-crazy). I would guess that the pronunciation of Rosamund was altered due to the influence of the "rose of the world" false etymology from Latin, except that Rosalind had the same thing happen to it ("beautiful rose").

Also, I just read a fascinating bit of trivia in the Oxford Dictionary of First Names, in the entry on Rosamund: "The spelling Rosamond has been common since the Middle Ages, when scribes sometimes used o for u, to distinguish it from n and m, all of which consisted of very similar downstrokes of the pen."

33
By hyz nli (not verified)
July 15, 2011 7:30 PM

EVie, good question--I've heard that, too (and I think I was able to confirm it on forvo or howjsay or whatever those sites are in the past). Wonder why....? As for Rosamund/mond, I knew both were established spellings, but I didn't know why--makes sense, though. That's another name I love, but you should've seen the face DH made at that one when I suggested it. He actually thought I'd made it up. :shrug :)

Also, to Jen PH, forgot to mention that I had a Great Aunt Rose, went by Rose her whole life, but my mom informed me that she was actually named Rosalind, in case that makes you feel better about the Rosa nn.

34
By Anna S (not verified)
July 15, 2011 8:29 PM

Re: ROZ vs ROSE (or ROZ-uh vs ROE-sah)

The site thinkbabynames.com lists both pronunciations for Rosalind and Rosamond - first ROSE-a, then ROZ-a. Why do people use different pronunciations... well, my guess would be that some people know other Rosalinds/Rosamonds who use the ROZ-uh pronunciation, and per default use this pronunciation themselves. Other people see the name in writing, assume the Rosa-part is the Latin word for rose-the-flower, and therefore pronounce it ROSE-a. Plausible?

Personally, I don't think one pronunciation is more or less correct than the other. It's just like Helena (HELL'en-uh or he-LAY-nah) and Philippa (PHI'lip-uh or phi-LIP-pa) and a whole lot of other names.

35
July 15, 2011 9:17 PM

On Rosalind:

I think Rosalind nn Roz or Ros is just fine. I say "Rahz-a-lind".

Rosalind is a Germanic dithematic meaning "Horse-gentle" or "gentle horse". As the Visigoths migrated to Spain, the local Latinates transformed the name to Rosalinda, meaning "beautiful rose". It was just one of those false-friend situations that worked out nicely. Rosalyn/Roslin/Rosslyn are similar false-friend adaptations through Celtic, meaning "promontory waterfall" or "moor where holly grows".

It's just a great name all around that worked well in lots of languages, but in completely different ways. I say go for it and name your daughter Rosalind.

36
July 15, 2011 10:13 PM

Emilyrae - good to see you back! I indeed have a 3 week old Astrid Élodie!

Just catching up.......

Re Susannah: I love Susannah and for me it's definitely this spelling. It is on my long list and I like many of the suggested middle names. I vote fo Susannah Margot or Susannah Margaret.

Re Rose names. I like plain old Rose, but only as a first name. It's totally overused as a middle name for me now. As a first name it still seems fresh. I actually really like Rosamond too. I also prefer the 'Rose' rather than 'Roz' pronunciaitons.

So Astrid is now 3 and a half weeks and most people seem to like her name. The usual comments are 'that's pretty' and 'oh I haven't heard that in a long time'. I did laugh the other day when out buying some lunch and the person serving me asked her name. When I said Astrid, she asked so what are you calling her for short? I said 'Astrid' and she just looked at me blankly :)

37
July 15, 2011 10:31 PM

Oh and I really like Lucy Juniper! Juniper was a strong contender for Astrid's name so thumbs up from me there. I know pletny of just 'Lucy's' and I find it a perfectly serious name.

38
By alr as guest (not verified)
July 16, 2011 12:39 AM

When I first heard "Crew" I cringed a little, not sure why. But to be honest, I'm starting to kind of dig it. I, like most of you, also get a preppy-but-sporty vibe. Has anyone mentioned the flat out connection to the sport? I must admit I've been skimming, but I only saw the J. Crew connection mentioned. Those are the two things that come to mind to me, and they add up to preppy sporty for sure.

I love thinking of girls for a Crew sib set. My first thoughts were Marley, Hayden, Reese... but I could also see some "preppy" parents pairing Crew with something like Ava. Nymbler suggests noun names, but I think this is the sort of thing that can't be generated by data - when a name isn't very widely used but still gives off a pretty strong vibe.

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By alr as guest (not verified)
July 16, 2011 12:43 AM

AH HA!! I just realized why Susannah (with the h) is my gut spelling -- I grew up in the south. Savannah! That explains it. I wonder if that's the case for anyone else?

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By alr
July 16, 2011 1:06 AM

Every time I post I remember something else I wanted to say - oops. ;)

New name in my social circle that made me go "hmm": Kend@lyn

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July 16, 2011 10:25 AM

alr-I like Kend@lyn. I had Kendra on my maybe list but dh said no for lots of reasons (too modern, too close to relatives names, run into LN, etc.)I bet it would be misheard as Gwendolyn quite often though.

Thanks for the ideas for girls names to go with Crew. It totally says rowing to me so I think something like Blair would be perfect. Of course, this is all for fun :)

JenPH-My first inclination is that Rosalind is ROZ-uh-lind. I could be taught to say it with the ROSE-uh-lyn pronunciation if that's what you intended. However, as Linnaeus explained the derivation, the extra -a on the end in Rosalinda makes me say the ROSE version first. Do you want the ROZ or the ROSE version? Maybe the extra -a on the end would work if you were after the ROSE pronunciation. I don't think the nn matters but to me it would just be a little off if it was ROZ-uh-lind spelled Rosalind with a nn of Rosie.

Chimu-What did the server expect? The limited nn possibilties is certainly a hang-up for some.

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July 16, 2011 2:05 PM

I haven't posted much in the past 5-6 months but I just wanted to drop back in and announce that J@m3s Ph1l1p was born on Wednesday little brother to P@ul, Cl@r3, M@rk, and K@th@rine. Thanks for all your help!

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July 16, 2011 4:29 PM

Congrats another Laura! Hugs to you and the family. That is another wonderful addition.

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By Coll
July 16, 2011 5:08 PM

Congrats Another Laura! That's a lovely name.

I live the probably the epicenter of Brooklyn NYTimes trend pieces. Basing my hypothesis off nothing but my *own* anecdotal evidence I'd say the conclusion is entirely wrong. We're awash in Lillians, Ellas, Sophias (oh, the Sophias), Chloes, and the like. Nostalgia is definitely not dead.

Welcome back, Emilyrae. I don't know if you remember me--I also was gone for quite a long time, over a year I think. I'm now expecting a baby in October, as well. We've decided on Simon Kelly LN for a boy and Josephine Kelly LN for a girl. We were debating other girls' middle names (Edith and May, primarily) but decided we like the sound, flow, and family significance of our boys' choice better. So whatever gender this baby is, Kelly will be the middle name.

Rosalind is really ravishing and so underused. And Rose or Rosie are beautiful nicknames. Go for it!

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July 16, 2011 6:52 PM

Congratulations, another Laura! I was wondering if the baby had made his appearance yet. Super name! We seriously considered James as a first name, but a friend has two sons named Peter and James and it seemed a little weird to go that route.

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By C-line (not verified)
July 16, 2011 9:30 PM

I'll stop lurking here for just a second to ask for some feedback from you wonderful people who are as name-obsessed as i am:

I've got an Axel Anders, "Axel" being a family name. I thought that just in case "Axel" turned our to be too aggressive to live up to, "Anders" was a little softer, and he could even choose to go by "Andrew" if he so pleases when he's older--
much more practical than the unpronounceable-in-the-U.S. Scandinavian middle name my husband originally wanted. I'll admit, though, to giggling over "Axel Anders" as a silly suggestion after my husband shot down "Alexander"...then we just kept returning to it.

Enter son number two. This time, I'm giggling over "Edward Ian" , (Hee hee, could have named the first one "Victor" - as in "Victorian"...) and again, we keep on returning to it, "Edvard Ian" as the more Scandinavian option and more suited to the last name, but perhaps harder to pronounce?

Any other ideas?

I'd love to hear your reaction, positive or negative.

...LOVE "Juniper."

(On the botanical side, my elderly father's reaction to "Axel" was "What's wrong with a normal name like 'George?'" so my husband told him that we're naming #2 "Bouganvilla." My mother stepped right up to the plate and suggested that "Jackaranda" would be more seasonal. "...Oh, it's a boy, isn't it. What about 'Jackarando?'")

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July 17, 2011 5:30 AM

Linnaeus - just don't tell them about Ashley and Courtney. They'll really flip.

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By Beth the original (not verified)
July 17, 2011 9:53 AM

Congratulations, another Laura. I love your sibset; so classic.

I think there ought to be a 50-year moratorium on newly adding -leigh or -lyn to any name, to prevent names like Kend@lyn. Otherwise it's only a matter of time before we have Avaleigh, Olivialyn, and Aidenleigh.

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July 17, 2011 11:56 AM

C-line: I don't think Edvard Ian is bad at all. However, my thoughts about Axel and Edward being a sibset is that they are two different styles. Axel seems very Scandinavian/German and a bit rough. Edward leans a bit British to me. So my suggestions are these:
Eric Maxwell
Stefan Isaac
Magnus Ivan
Hans Gregor
Gunnar Bram

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By D.B. (not verified)
July 17, 2011 3:03 PM

TKB- Flor means flower in Spanish. I have thought it would be a cute nickname for Flora or Florence.

Kend@lyn...well it sounds nice but it's NMS. strangely though, I've found myself really liking Kendra although this is NMS at all either. Am I the only one who thinks it has a sort of 'witchy/magical' sound?