One of these lists is not like the other

May 22nd 2008

Here's a top-10 name list. What strikes you about it?

1. Isabella 1. Angel
2. Emily 2. José
3. Mia 3. Daniel
4. Sophia 4. Anthony
5. Ashley 5. Jacob
6. Emma 6. David
7. Madison 7. Luis
8. Ava 8. Ethan
9. Samantha 9. Jesús
10. Elizabeth 10. Michael

What leaps out at me is that the boys and girls look very different. The boys clearly represent a heavily Latino population. Almost half of the boys' names are exclusively Latino, and several of the others (Daniel, Anthony, David) are cross-cultural names especially favored by Latino families. The girls? Well, they look at lot like a cross section of the United States.

So, any guesses where those lists come from?

They're the top 10 baby names of 2007 for the state of Arizona. Arizona's population is about 30% Latino, twice the national average. Among young families, the percentage is probably higher. And as the name lists above show, American Latino families still lean toward traditional Spanish names for boys...but not for girls. The boys' names Angel, José, Luis, Jesús, Carlos, Diego, Juan, Miguel, Alejandro, Jorge, Victor, and Francisco are all more popular in Arizona than the top distinctly Spanish girl's name, Maria -- and even Maria is used cross-culturally.

(A quick aside: all of this makes it tremendously difficult to come up with style-matching "sibling" suggestions for the Baby Name Wizard book. There is no crop of timeless Spanish girls' names to match with José, Juan, Carlos and friends.)

So what are little Latinas named? The top-10 list does give us some clues. Ashley is #5 in Arizona compared to #13 nationally. Ashley is an English surname, popularized by a Welsh/English fashion designer and an Anglo soap opera star. Its sound and spelling are virtually impossible in Spanish. Yet Ashley is one of the top names for girls in the same communities where José and Luis lead for boys. In fact, for a number of years now the "Ashley rate" has been a pretty good indicator of any state's Latino population.

Such different approaches to boys' and girls' names used to be the widespread norm. If you look back at the decades before World War I, the top 10 boys' names in America were reliably the pure English standards. The girls' lists, though, were studded with the trendy names of the moment: Bessie, Mildred, Ethel. My grandmother was one of those Ethels, and her brothers, predictably, were Charles, George and Richard.

Over the past century, the naming gap between boys and girls has been slowly closing. Today trendy new boys' names like Jayden (in all its spellings) are more popular than any traditional name. But that's for the country as a big, diverse whole. You still see echoes of Ethel, Charles, George and Richard in families named Ashley, Carlos, Jorge and Ricardo.

There's a difference, of course. Charles, George and Richard were traditional English names, chosen by my immigrant great-grandparents who were not native English speakers. Today, not only do many immigrants choose names from their native cultures, but their American-born children and grandchildren often choose them too. You shouldn't assume that a Carlos is the son of immigrants today, any more than you would have assumed a Charles was the son of native English speakers a century ago. That's just one of countless cultural changes that separate my great-grandparents' generation from today's Arizona parents. Yet the boy/girl name gap is one tradition that lives on.


By Barnyardmama (not verified)
May 22, 2008 12:13 PM

I always wondered who was naming their kids Ashley--it felt like a late seventies/early eighties name to me yet it stayed so close to the top while Jennifer and Heather fell. You've explained it!

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
May 22, 2008 12:21 PM

Thanks, Laura. This is fascinating! As part of my job, I helped to write a movie script (telenovela style) to teach Spanish to health care workers. My colleagues and I wrote a scene between an English-speaking character named Ashleigh (the spelling was not my choice!!) and three Mexican immigrants in a bar. The humor in the scene results from this man trying to repeat the name Ashleigh and coming out with something like "Asheesh". I guess we should have done our research and looked at the stats for states like Arizona and New Mexico!

I have found that at least here in North Carolina, many Mexican immigrants have used the names Brandon and Dylan (Dillon, Dilon, etc.) for their sons. All I could think the first few times I heard of children with these names was that "Beverly Hills 90210" must have been a huge hit south of the border and that families who were thinking of moving north were paying attention to what they assumed (rightly) to be the naming norms of the land.

I'm going to be pondering this data for a while...

By Wendy (not verified)
May 22, 2008 1:09 PM

This is definitely true in Southern Cal. The latino boys that I know who are early elementary and preschool have spanish names about 50% of the time.

I only know one little latina with a "spanish" name.

I think it is because of the tendency to name boys after their fathers.

By KRC (not verified)
May 22, 2008 2:20 PM

Can someone remind me what the book is called that was referred to in the comments on the last entry - the one that discussed similar sounds repeating in first and last names? Someone suggested Olivia Soh as an example.

I tried to use the search function, but clearly I don't understand how to use it properly...

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 22, 2008 3:00 PM

KRC -- It's called The Perfect Baby Name: Finding the Name that Sounds Just Right.

By Ash (not verified)
May 22, 2008 3:23 PM

As a proud NE representing the great state of Arizona, I got super-excited looking at the original post, waiting for verification that the Top 10 lists were, in fact, those for Arizona!

Looking at Arizona's lists, I've always been both struck and not surprised by the fact that the girls' names look normal-trendy and the heavy dose of Hispanic influence on the boys' names. Of the Top 10 boys' names, only Ethan is one that I would be surprised to see on a little Latino boy (or his father).

I would disagree with Ms. Wattenburg in one sense, and that is that while some of those names fit a Latino or non-Latino equally well (Michael, David, etc.), those that are of distinctly "Spanish origin" would be highly unlikely on a non-Latino, especially in our (sadly) anti-immigrant political climate (which is hotter than the sun in July around here). So I would be shocked Carlos, from her example, were not Hispanic if encountered in these parts.

On the girls' side, however, the lack of Hispanic names, though odd, is unsurprising. I know my own mother, in spite of her rich Hispanic heritage, was given a "white" name to help assimilate the family. Ditto for my (Hispanic) best friends' family wherein the childrens' names became increasingly mainstream as the family climbed the socio-economic ladder.

By KRC (not verified)
May 22, 2008 3:40 PM

Thanks, Amy3. I just ordered it!

By sme (not verified)
May 22, 2008 3:46 PM

Texas is the only other state besides Arizona that has Jose in the top five (number one to be exact). I checked the top five girl names for Texas to see if Ashley was included, and it isn't. I did however notice that both Texas and Arizona are the only states with the name Mia in the top five. Mia is ranked #15 nationally so I wonder if this name is also popular among Hispanic girls. Maybe a coincidence, but I thought I would throw it out there.

By annemarie (not verified)
May 22, 2008 4:38 PM

Ash-- I don't believe Ms. Wattenberg was saying that a Carlos wouldn't necessarily be Hispanic, only that he is not necessarily the son of immigrants (pointing out that tradition remains for generations in the case of boys, not so much for girls). There are many, many Hispanic U.S. citizens who are neither immigrants nor the children of immigrants, but whose families have been here for several generations (perhaps before my own immigrant ancestors came from Denmark... who knows?). :)

I am quite interested in the differences in naming boys and girl. Isn't it interesting that naming a son for a father is such a common practice, while I don't know of a single mother who would have even considered naming a daughter for herself?

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 22, 2008 4:42 PM

I don't have any stats, but Ashley is super popular among little Asian girls. I attend a primarily Asian church and little Ashleys are everywhere.

I read The Perfect Baby Name Book regarding matching sounds. The author and I have different ideas about what names sound good together. I actually try to *avoid* repeating sounds, or at least separate them with several syllables. They sound too comic book or sing-songy otherwise. Juno Soh or Yoshi Soh don't sound great to me. Olivia Soh, sounds pretty good, but I think that is because there are 3 syllables separating the repeating sounds. Also, I pronounce it more like UH-livia than OH-livia.

Anyway, I returned the book.

By Jill C. (not verified)
May 22, 2008 5:13 PM

sme, I think you may be right about Mia being popular with Hispanic parents. Strangely, Nymbler says it's of Scandinavian origin, but it sounds much more Spanish/Italian to me.

To go back several hundred posts from the last blog entry, I was interested to read from a few of you who disagreed that FN and LN are infrequently used together. Could it be that I just don't get out much? I'm just thinking of a child's typical life -- perhaps their whole name is said on the first day of school each year, and maybe by others when talking about the child, but I don't see many other occasions when they would be spoken together (obviously writing is another topic, but you hardly have pronunciation issues on paper). Children don't typically introduce themselves with both FN and LN, do they? And, with a more unusual name, no one is going to need to refer to the LN to differentiate between children (which Hyacinth?). As an adult, I suppose she could be in a job where she frequently meets new people to whom she must introduce herself. However, she could just as easily be a professor who is only called by her LN, or a SAHM whose coworkers only call her Mama. Or she could get married and change her name! Then, what a waste it would have been to pass over such a terrific name, only to have her fall in love with Joe Thesaurus. Now, if the FN LN combination makes you like the name less, then by all means pass it over. But if you still love the name and your only hang-up is the FN LN issue, then I still say go for it. Have I mentioned that I really like the name Hyacinth?

By Amber the Red (not verified)
May 22, 2008 5:28 PM

I wonder if it's not so much of fathers naming their sons after themselves as it is that being blatantly Hispanic is seen as a plus for the boys but as a negative for the girls. Like it's good and wonderful for the boys to be proud of their distinctive race, but it's better for the girls to be able to fit in with her peers?

By Valerie (not verified)
May 22, 2008 5:33 PM

Annemarie said: "Isn't it interesting that naming a son for a father is such a common practice, while I don't know of a single mother who would have even considered naming a daughter for herself?"

I've wondered about that too! My brother has my father's names as a MN, and my husband has his. The women in both families do not have something equivalent. I think it must be an instance where (very) old habits die hard- cf taking the husband's name as the family name.

By AK (not verified)
May 22, 2008 6:07 PM

I guess I must be in the minority because my mom and I both have the same first name. I go by my middle name to avoid confusion.

One of my students also shares a first name with her mother and goes by her middle name.

And I know several moms who have passed or will pass down their middle names to their daughters.

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 22, 2008 6:57 PM

At work, I answer my phone every day with "FN LN." Just my first name seems too casual when you don't know who's on the line.

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 22, 2008 7:06 PM

RE: Jill C.

I think you are right about children not using their whole names often. It isn't until Jr. High/ High School that kids start using last names. But we must remember we are not naming children, we are naming people, people who will grow to be adults.

I also think people using FN LN together often when talking *about* people. And I personally would like my child to have a nice combination so whether they say it or anyone else says it, it sounds right.

You are right, we don't know how long our children will use the name we give them, but I think we should put our best efforts into something we would like as a name. And I like a FN / LN combo that sounds nice to my ears, so I will try to give my child the same.

By Amber the Red (not verified)
May 22, 2008 7:17 PM

That's very interesting, AK! It must be a regional thing, because the idea of naming a daughter directly after the mother is unheard of here. I know I feel uneasy with the idea of giving any future daughters of mine my name, and I don't really like any possible variations of my name, either. The closest I'd do is use my name as her middle name.

Mind you, I'm not against mothers naming daughters after themselves. I find it to be an intriguing idea, and I suggest it when I can just in case the mother-to-be happens to like the idea.

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 22, 2008 7:24 PM

RE AK & Amber in the Red

I once knew someone a family with the mom and first daughter both named Bonnie. And they both somehow went by Bonnie. I would think it would be incredibly confusing.

I am named after my grandmother (FN) and mother (MN). It wasn't ever too confusing unless my grandpa was the one calling 'Madeline'. Everyone else just called her Grandma.

I am not a big fan of naming first names after people. It seems like the kids either get called by their middle name (what's the point!) or some childish nickname like Junior, or Bobby (which they can never grow out of because there is already a Bob in the family)

My brother named his son after himself and his whole life the kid has gone by 'Little FN'. Now, he's 16. I think that would get old!

By Guest (not verified)
May 22, 2008 7:46 PM

To AK in case you didnt see this on the other thread:

Nora = snorer - wouldnt work

Charlotte Rose and Lydia Claire are good

If there is support for Harriet at the end of this i would use Harriet Rose

By Megan W. (not verified)
May 22, 2008 8:13 PM

Well, I'm the fifth girl in a row with one same name.

I'm Megan Jane, Mom is Jane Ann, Gma, G-Gma, and GG-Gma were Jennie (Scots nickname for Jane).

I have always been VERY disappointed that Jane wasn't my first name too. I've also always been a bit sad that in my era, Jennie was far more common as a nickname for Jennifer. I like the name Jennifer, but never wanted it.

(FWIW, Gram always insisted that jenny was a jackass, and Jennie was a person).

But, I agree, it is far more common to name boys with family names.

And to hijack the last thread, I'm glad I'm not the only kid who checked baby name books out of the library!

By Miriam (not verified)
May 22, 2008 8:17 PM

I am sitting here writing in Arizona where the temperature was 110 Monday and Tuesday, and today it is in the mid 60s with high winds and steady rain....I am a short-term Arizona resident, so I was interested in the Arizona name lists in particular. The name that caught my eye was Isabella. Now the most famous Isabella I know was a Spanish Queen. In its French form Isabel(le)/Isobel is a hot topic, but what about Isabella? Is that a sign that hispanic families are using this name or not? Like Maria and Rosa, Isabella could be considered cross-cultural/multi-cultural--or not. Those who are more adept than I at determining these matters might try to figure out how popular Isabella is in states which do not have as many hispanic families as Arizona does.

Re naming daughters after mothers--

I read the New Orleans real estate transactions every week--it's a way of figuring out which of my friends and neighbors are giving up and which are sticking it out and re-investing in the city. (OK, it's an indirect form of gossip, now that I don't get much of the real, first-hand stuff.) Many of the real estate transactions are clearly part of settling estates, and so the name of the deceased is listed along with the names of the heirs (generally a parent and siblings). It is very common to see that a daughter is named for her mother. New Orleans has many unusual customs, some of which involve names (like the time I had three colleagues at once named Rosary), and naming a daughter for her mother may be one of them.

By Mari (not verified)
May 22, 2008 8:49 PM

I'm in the Boston area and Isabella is simply everywhere. It's #2 in our state. My daughter was in a Gymboree art class last year and out of 12 children, there were 3 Isabellas and 1 Isabelle (and an Ella and a was hell-a). Anyway, one Isabella was a red haired, freckle-faced 100% Irish lass with a McSomething last name. I thought it was such an odd choice for that family. I think it has indeed become a cross-cultural name. In any case, the name is overdone, which is a shame, because it's so pretty.

By Megan W. (not verified)
May 22, 2008 9:45 PM

It is fascinating how regional something can be. Before I had a child, I lived in Mass also, and knew a bunch of young Isabelle/as.

Here in Pennsylvania, I don't know a one. I have met a variety of Ellas on the playground though. Everything from Eleanor to Eloise.

By Amanda (not verified)
May 22, 2008 10:43 PM

Annemarie said: "Isn't it interesting that naming a son for a father is such a common practice, while I don't know of a single mother who would have even considered naming a daughter for herself?"

My step-MIL is hispanic and her name is Myra. Her three children are Jorge, Jose, and Mayra. (the added a being a "more hispanic" spelling pronunciation wise)

By Mari (not verified)
May 22, 2008 11:05 PM

Interesting to read the name Eloise here. I now know three under the age of four, having just met another last week. Two go by "Ellie" and one is called "Lulu" which I find impossibly ridiculous. But then, I do not care for any names of this style for women - Lulu, Kiki, Coco and the like. Posters have mentioned recently that the trend of using boys names for girls goes against feminist ideals, but I find that this "cutesy-wootsey" style of naming is far worse.

By Mari (not verified)
May 22, 2008 11:10 PM

I meant "cutesy-wootsy" of course.

By Amber the Red (not verified)
May 22, 2008 11:45 PM

I'm sorry to be bringing this up again, but I've been thinking about it more, and I believe the naming difference between the Latinas and the Latinos is a reflection of broader social issues about race and gender.

I'm kinda relating it to politics. The whole reason why the Democratic half of the presidency race is so much fun to watch is because one is Black and the other is a woman. By default, people who would never vote for a Black man would vote for her, while others who'd never vote for a woman would vote for him. But I doubt that a Black woman wouldn't stand a chance. Similarly, both Carlos Gonzales and Ashley Gonzales would have plenty of business opportunities in life, but would Maria Gonzales have as many?

I'm not saying that most Hispanic parents think this way. I doubt this top ten list tells us the complete Arizona story any more than the top ten national rankings could tell us about Aiden and company. It just could be a factor as to why the boys/girls rankings are so significantly different.

By Suzanne (not verified)
May 23, 2008 1:24 AM

It seems that parents have always been more willing to branch out and bend to the winds of fashion with girls' names. In the case of Latinos, parents may see girls' names as a chance to express creativity and style in a new culture, while boys' are a way to honor family and tradition... combining the best of the old and new worlds.

The willingness to experiment with girls' names seems to have been the case for US parents in general over the last century... popular girls' names have come from many languages and cultures, while boys' have stuck to the same old sources. A girl might have been Mary or Maria, Elizabeth or Isabelle, Rose or Rosa, no matter what the parents' ethniticies. But it's much more likely a boy named in this country would have been Robert, not Roberto, or John, not Gianni or Juan. That is still mostly the case today, but more parents seem willing to branch out with boys' names now, i.e. those with Irish heritage choosing a relatively unheard of name like Declan (even when for several generations their families had been using standard "American" names), or using a new creation like Jaidon.

By Karyn (not verified)
May 23, 2008 2:12 AM

As I was sitting here reading the comments on a previous post, I was also listening to an interview of the actress Poppy Montgomery on a late-night talk show. One of the first questions was regarding what her first name is short for, and I thought that her response would interest readers of this blog.

Poppy is not a nickname. Rather, her parents bestowed upon her the name (*deep breath*) "Poppy Petal Emma Elizabeth Deveraux Donahue Montgomery".

AND, as a little gift for readers with an interest in sibling names, her sisters are named:

Rosie Thorn
Daisy Yellow
Lily Belle
Marigold Sun

Apparently her then-hippie parents wanted to create a little garden for themselves.

By Keren (not verified)
May 23, 2008 2:39 AM

Fn/LN - one way of thinking about whether you've chosen a good combination is to use your potential name alongside the words 'reporting for News at ten' or Her Honour Judge...

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
May 23, 2008 8:03 AM

The thing that fascinates me about the young Isabellas in Arizona is that they are Isabellas and not Isabelas. The double ll combination is not pronounced like an "l" in Spanish, so Hispanics naming their daughters Isabella are adopting the English spelling. Maybe it's a way to fit in with the broader culture while at the same time using a name from their own heritage?

By molly h (not verified)
May 23, 2008 8:32 AM

i love my name and for a long time wanted to save it for a future daughter even though there were so many other names i loved (or maybe because of that reason - it would have been easier than choosing between them all!).
but then the first of my sisters to have a child asked me if she could use it for her daughter. it was such an honor. and 'little molly' is a pretty awesome kid.

i'm getting ready for a move to california - can't wait to see how the naming trends differ from the north east where i currently live.

By hyz (not verified)
May 23, 2008 8:54 AM

Jill C.--on the frequency of the use of FN LN--like Tirzah, I answer my phone at work every day with FN LN. When I introduce myself to colleagues, clients, or other professional contacts, I say, "Hi, FN LN, nice to meet you" (or whatever). When I stand up in court, I identify myself as "FN LN with Law Firm, on behalf of Client." Basically, I'm in a field where FNs alone are too informal, but Ms. LN is too formal in most cases. I can think of many, many fields/positions like this.

And on the topic of women changing names--my mother didn't, I didn't, and I'm going to assume my daughter won't. I wouldn't try to stop her if she *wanted* to, but I certainly wouldn't expect that her name will ever be any different than the one we give her 10 weeks from now. And that seems like a big responsibility! :)

By hyz (not verified)
May 23, 2008 9:06 AM

Mari, I definitely agree with your distaste for the cutesy names for little girls. I don't even really like them for NNs, but at least in that case the girls have a serious full name to fall back on should they grow up to decide that they don't want to be little miss cutesy-pants anymore (although, I think that if their parents have always encouraged and valued "cutesiness" in them, they may be less likely to take themselves seriously later). Little kids (of both sexes) are totally cute, and it's great to revel in that, but I also like to keep in mind that they're little people in training, not kewpie dolls, which is what those cutesy names bring to my mind.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 23, 2008 9:10 AM

I agree with those who have said they use their FN-LN combination frequently in daily life. I'm another one who answers her phone at work with FN-LN. When I call almost anyone I identify myself as FN-LN. And, in the case of my daughter, I often use her FN-LN to identify her.

Although I did change my LN when I got married, I have no idea if my daughter would make the same choice. My husband and I very much wanted a FN-LN combo for her that sounded great and would last a lifetime.

Somewhat OT, a friend of mine growing up had no MN because her parents assumed she would take her husband's LN and move her "maiden" name to the MN position.

By Nikki (not verified)
May 23, 2008 9:16 AM

I have also noticed the Asian Ashleys. I live in a mostly Korean (with a few Taiwanese) neighborhood and I can't even count the number of Ashleys I see and hear every day. It is a little funny to me, because I consider most Ashleys to be in their late teens to early twenties.

I also wondered if Hispanic folks naming their daughters Isabella are pronouncing it is-a-BAY-A. I don't really know how to write that...but with the double L being pronounced like a Y.

By another amy (not verified)
May 23, 2008 9:36 AM

Guest: Clearly you don't like Nora but I did want to say that I love Nora. If our august baby was going to be a girl she would have been Nora (how is that for struggling through future and past all at once?). But its clearly a boy so Nora is out.

Harriet Rodgers sounds fine to me. And as I've said, I like Harriet Vane. Someone mentioned Hettie and that is very cute.

Re: cutsey nn--that was the problem I had this semester that got us on that long honorifics conversation! The girl wanted to be called 'Weesie,' which I just had a hard time doing.

By hyz (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:01 AM

another amy and Guest--I like Nora, too! It was actually one of DH's (few) suggestions, and we're still somewhat considering Eleanor nn Nora for our July/August baby.

By jen (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:03 AM

Re: a mother passing down her name...I worked in underwriting for a brief time during college and one application I will never forget. The parents were David and Mary and the children were David and Mary. I remember thinking it would be so confusing. In our family, the women all have the same MN, the ubiquitous Ann. And in my husbands family, the men get the dad's fn as a MN.

While it is nice to have the MNs decided, when choosing a name, I actually wanted to make sure the FN-MN-LN sounded well together, even knowing that combination is rarely used. I actually couldn't bring myself to use any boy names ending with -n because DH's name begins with -n. So I can understand why most people would want FN-LN to flow because that is much more commonly used...I would say at least once a week I use FN-LN in some instance. And it's a little sad but I wouldn't have changed my LN when I married if I hadn't liked the way it sounded with the rest of my name.

By Mari (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:08 AM

I knew a Harriet who went by the nn "Ree" or "Reesa" -- although I'm not sure that's how she actually spelled it. However, Reesa Rodgers may not be the best combo. Has Etta been offered as a suggestion? But if you love Harriet, just call her that!

Sisters Poppy, Daisy, Rosie, Marigold, Lily??? That's wild.

hyz: You're right on saying that all little ones are cute, and a cutesy name doesn't make them cuter. Love the kewpie doll reference btw. When I named my daughters, one question I'd constantly ask myself is: "Would I want this name?" Sometimes I don't think parents are doing that. If I was called Lulu or Kiki, I think I'd be so so very sad.

By Eo (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:11 AM

Karyn, thanks for that list!! I had read that about Poppy Montgomery before, but couldn't remember all the names. Very amusing.

Amber the Red, whenever politics is introduced on this board, I humbly feel obligated to give another perspective, rare though that may be here! I don't go in for "identity" politics at all, but it's pretty exciting to watch another side of the race too-- to see a mature individual, John McCain, who spent YEARS being tortured in a prison camp for his country, get to run for its highest office....

Incidentally, I COMPLETELY respect your prerogative to bring up politics in the discussion-- it's in the "ether" and often very relevant to our musings...

Hooray for democracy!

By the way, I noticed for the first time during this campaign season, that McCain uses the nickname "Jack" at times-- during some campaign rallies supporters were yelling "Jack is back!" "John" is such a strong, traditional name, but I also love its playful nicknames, like the nostalgic "Johnny"...

I wish I could remember what magazine I saw it in the other day, but somewhere I noticed a woman with three tiny children-- "George", "Edward", and one-year- old "Harriet". I do hope Harriet hasn't become "hip" but I fear it has...

By Mari (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:17 AM

And to comment on the FN LN discussion - I think it is v. important that it all flows well. I actually doctored up a "resume" with my daughters names to see how they would look in official print. I also did that with letterhead, fake certificates and pretty much anything I could monogram. I thought my fellow NEs would understand this lame admission.

And I did change my last name when I married my husband. I grew up with a super Italiano last name. It's nice to now have a generic blank slate type last name. I feel more mysterious or something, like I have a secret identity. Who is this Mari Blankslate? What's her background? Much better than hearing "Oh, you're Italian, eh?" every time I said my full name.

By Howard (not verified)
May 23, 2008 10:51 AM

I have noticed the difference in naming boys and girl in my wife's family, which is of Mexican extraction but American for a couple of generations. My wife is Nancy, her sister is Denise, she has an aunt named Mary (NOT Maria, she hates being called Maria). Then there are a lot of Glorias, that seemed to be very very popular for a couple of decades. The males have more distinctly Spanish names like Cesar, Arturo, Alfonso, Jaime and so forth. Apparently this difference is not uncommon. Very interesting.

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 23, 2008 11:33 AM

RE: Mari

I was just doing something very similar (Typing out the full names in typeface) with my future kids names (well perspective names) last night! Ha! Oh boy, we NEs sure can think alike sometimes.

By Sister Melinda (not verified)
May 23, 2008 11:39 AM

"I don't see many other occasions when they would be spoken together"

If young parents don't have kids in school yet, they may be unaware that many elementary schools CONSTANTLY use both names together--in awards assemblies and announcements. Daughter's school has a monthly assembly, in which each class has a student of the month, and each grade has several writing awards and such, and there are usually some athletic honors to bestow--and for each kid, the principal announces "Jessie Smith!" or such. You will likely hear your child's FN/LN combo many, many times in their childhood, once they hit school...

About Latino naming--please remember that in the Southwest, there are many Mexican-American families that have been English-speaking for five or six generations--so they spell and pronounce names exactly like other English speakers do (Theresa not Teresa, Christina not Cristina, etc.). Expecting otherwise would be like expecting your Polish-American friends to use names like Grazyna or Wislawa.

By Coll (not verified)
May 23, 2008 12:21 PM

Eo, I wouldn't take that sibling set as evidence that Harriet is trending up. George and Edward are very, very traditional and a bit antiquated, so Harriet as their sister fits perfectly.

I love all three names, particularly as George Edward was my grandfather's name (and is my uncle's, as well, speaking of namesakes-- though my grandfather went by George and my uncle by Eddie). To bring this all back around, one would assume from my grandfather's name that he was of British heritage, but he was the son of Irish immigrants, John and Geraldine. Back then Irish people did not generally name their children things like Declan or Saoirse. My family tree shows that my ancestors in Ireland all had very British sounding names. And my parents kept right with the trends as well, giving my sisters and me the "Irish-American" names Colleen, Shannon, Casey, and Maura in the '80s.

By Tiffany (not verified)
May 23, 2008 12:40 PM

I come from a family where I have a sister and a brother each named after my parents. However I, the eldest, is not named after either parent. It is my two younger siblings that have my parents' names paired with different middle names. They both go by their middle names at home. However, it was super weird when they had to use their full names for anything, because people would inevitably start calling by their first names and I just can't think of them like that.

PS - Of course I used to tease them that my parents were out of names when they were born - so they got the trusty first names of both. In actuality, my mother had always wanted to name a son after my father and my father always wanted a daughter named Tiffany. So when I came along first, I got Tiffany. When my sister came next, my father wanted to return the favor and names her after my mother. Then my brother came along...

By Tiffany (not verified)
May 23, 2008 12:43 PM

Damn typos:

"I, the eldest, am not"
"my father wanted to return the favor and named her"

By Claire (not verified)
May 23, 2008 12:48 PM

Well, I guess I'm part of the zeitgeist. I'm a third generation Latina--1/2 white and 1/2 Mexican. My daughter is Julia Claire (yep, used my name as her middle name), and there's little reference to any Spanish/Mexican roots. However, if we have a boy, we're considering Nathan Miguel--Miguel being a Spanish throwback to my dad's name, Michael.

By Lisa in Tx (not verified)
May 23, 2008 2:13 PM

Lots of girls get named after grandmothers or great-grandmothers, instead of mothers. My grandmother was an Elizabeth, her grandmother was also an Elizabeth, and I'm pretty sure there was another 1 or 2 before that. My mom told me that if they had known that when I was born I would have been an Elizabeth instead of a Lisa. It was only by luck that they were even in the same name-family. My own daughter has both of my husband's grandmothers' names, and we're considering my mom's middle name as a middle name for the new baby.

As a connector between the little Irish Isabella and all the Latina names... (warning, History Freak about to expose herself) Before Ireland was owned by England, it was owned by Spain. That's where the "dark Irish" looks come from, and also why it's common to see redheads and hear bagpipes in the Spanish province of Galicia (NW coast, between Portugal and France). The last viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) was a Juan O'Donojú O'Rian. So, historically, Isabella works for Irish kids, too.