Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Columns

May 22, 2010

JACOBS: A rose by any other name ...

Corsicana — I found out last weekend that one of my cousins intends to name her soon-to-be daughter “Avi.” Her husband is an amateur airplane pilot, if that explains things.

So when the Social Security Administration announced this week that Isabella was the number one name in the nation and the state of Texas last year, I thought “Well, Avi is at least unusual.”

This time each year the Social Security Administration releases the top 1,000 or so names from the previous year, and that’s how I knew Isabella was hot. Jacob was the most popular boys name nationally, but Jose was the most popular in Texas. Daniel was number two in Texas, followed by Jacob.

Rounding out the top five girls names in Texas were Emily, Mia, Emma and Sophia. For boys, it was Angel and Christopher.

I’m not sure if the Angel thing is a Hispanic thing (which Jose likely is), or a reference to the TV vampire.

Interestingly, new names to the top 10 list are Jayden and Noah (for boys), and Mia for girls.

Some social scientist could probably do a study on “new” versus “traditional” names and what it means about the parental generation. Does it mean they’re creative, or just selfish? Does it mean they have traditional values, or just couldn’t come up with anything else?

President Obama has influenced the name thing some. The name “Barack” has cracked the top 2,000 names. There were 69 kids named that last year, putting the very unusual name at 1,993rd, up from 12,535th in 2007. I love the comment from the Social Security, though: “Barack continues to move up the list ... but still lags well behind First Dog Bo at 782.”

Now, I’m as patriotic as the next person, but I would think it would behoove a parent to name their kid for a president or any public figure only after that person has gone down in history as a positive influence. Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, you can get behind these, and although I admire Woodrow Wilson, I don’t recommend it for any kid you like.

And it’s not just politician’s names, it’s also other public figures, like movie or television stars.

Maliyah, an alternate spelling of the youngest First Daughter, which the Obamas spell Malia, is the fastest growing girl’s name, while Isla was the second-fastest growing name, according to the Social Security Administration. Cullen made big strides, thanks to a certain teeny-bopper-seducing vampire (Edward Cullen is the vamp’s name). Miley/Mylee dropped in popularity, as did Lindsay, perhaps having something to do with the Lindsay Lohan’s public meltdown.

I can understand that. Imagine how thrilled thousands of parents were after they named their infants Britney only to have the country’s most famous Britney shave her head and flame out in a very public way.

“Well, we can always call her Knee,” they probably said to each other.

 Religious names continue to be very popular, including the girl names Heaven at number 275 and Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backwards) at 34, according to the Social Security administration. Messiah was number 663 for boys, which I think is a swell idea. Because living up to a name like that is sure to be a snap. And I’m equally sure it won’t get him teased, unless he should accidentally fall into a social situation involving, you know, humans.

Nearly 4 percent of the Top 1,000 boy names rhymed with the word “maiden” (Hayden, Aiden, Payden, Cayden, Braden, any of whom could also be called “Doomed” if their sixth-grade classmates have a poetic streak), and names associated with cities, states, or countries were popular, including, and this is not a joke: Memphis, which is the 605th most popular name for boys.

Here’s what’s wrong with that: Memphis was a Greek nymph, daughter of a river God. Even if the parents say that they named him after a city in Tennessee, Mom and Dad have some ‘splaining to do, like why they couldn’t at least Google the name before slapping some poor kid with it for his entire life.

The name Elvis slipped from number 713 in 2008 to 858 in 2009. Figuratively, Elvis is still leaving the building.

         —————

Janet Jacobs is a Daily Sun staff writer. Her column appears on Sundays. She may be reached via e-mail at jacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? E-mail: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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