Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Baby Names

Last night, Evelin and I were going through the stacks of books J--- loaned us on Sunday. Evelin was looking through The Miraculous World of Your Unborn Baby while I focused on the baby names books. No, we're not back-tracking on plans to keep the sex of the baby a secret, and even if we do let people know if he or she will be a she or a he, we'll probably not reveal a name until there is a face to go with it.

That said, back when we first were getting into this babymaking journey, we did find one or two names that we both liked, but now there is some reëvaluation, which is only natural. Flipping through Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What To Name Your Baby Now and The Mother of All Baby Name Books: Over 94,000 Baby Names, we found a few options, a few horrible ideas, and a few new permutations of first/middle name to work with old favorites.

I also found more than a few things that annoyed me about the way both baby name books were set up. My gold standard for baby name books remains Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma: and 10,000 Other Names for Your New Millennium Baby, which we picked up a few years ago. It's great fun, and full of helpful tips about various names, including all the pop culture (and '70s television) references I was having to search my mind for with the other books. Anita's been reviewing pregnancy and birthing books; maybe I should work up reviews of baby name books ...

In any case, after coming to one or two possible names, we started googling. Fortunately, only one permutation turned up a porn star. The cooler tool -- I know, it's harder to get cooler than Google, but some times a specific tool will work better for a given task -- is the Social Security Administration's popular baby names index. It helps figure out how popular any given name is (based on data from 1990 to 2002) and which way the trend is going. For example, "Carter" is gaining in popularity (Evelin blames E.R.), rising from 575th in 1990 to 108th most popular in 2002; "Evelyn" is even more popular, rising from 215th in 1990 to 98th in 2002. "Evelin" (spelling counts with this tool) only pops up in 2002 in 769th place.

Just as cool is pdom's suite of tools. They're designed for selling domain names or "personal net identities," but they also have a wealth of baby name information, including top 1,000 boy and girl name lists and a cool tool for seeing how common any given prénom, surname, prénom+surname combination, prénom+last initial, and first initial+surname combination is in the United States.

According to the results, of the ~12,100 people with Carter for a prénom and the ~264,500 people with the surname Ross, about 10 of us in the U.S. are Carter Rosses.

There are also lists of the top 100 Arabic, Indian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish names, as well as tools for finding out more about the frequency of surnames.

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