Saturday, September 17, 2005

Name and Number

Somehow, this story about baby names made it to the front page of this morning's New York Times:
In the last several years, New York City has had more baby girls named Fatoumata than Lisa, more Aaliyahs than Melissas, more Chayas than Christinas. There have been more baby boys named Moshe than Peter, more Miguels than Jeffreys, more Ahmeds than Stanleys.

Yesterday, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released the name breakdown for the 124,099 babies born in New York City in 2004. That, together with data stretching back to 1920, shows that in a city that is fashion-conscious and full of immigrants, some foreign-sounding names have become arguably more New York than American classics like Carol, Susan, Stephen and Harry.
Recognizing the familiar, hey-the-furriners-are-takin'-over! storyline, I then looked up to see what all-American name the author had.

The answer? Jennifer 8. Lee. No, that's not a typo. Her middle name is "8."

Right. Keep lamenting the loss of "classic" American names, Seven of Nine.


Mrs_Thrillhous said...

I guess I can't be too surprised that her Asian parents didn't realize that the middle name is supposed to be a name, in yet another case of cultural misinterpretations. I saw plenty in Korea, with TP-type napkins in restaurants and fried chicken with the feet still attached.

But I digress. I'm glad to see names like Lisa and Harry disappear. In with the new! I think a lot of people shy away from their friends' and parents' friends' names.

The writer is obsessed with names because there was no escaping other Jennifer's throughout childhood. It's not good for the soul to have one's initial permanently attached to their first name.

Otto Man said...

I'm with you, Mrs. T. I like new names, though honestly not as much as I like really old ones. I'd love to see Eli and Clara make it back.

And I think you're right about why "standard" names drop by the wayside. Anecdotally, the top reason I've heard friends give for why they didn't go with a certain name is that the name reminded them of a creepy ex, a jerk from high school, or some kid who ate worms in the third grade.

When you make a name up or go with an outdated one, there's no point of comparison.

Which is why I'm giving my children classical Greek names, like Fallopia and Testicles.