Kris just wrote to us and said, "We were in the other room talking when we heard this "auction" kind of talk going on. Here is what we found..."
Look at those intense little faces. Such serious stuff.
By Melanie West
We posed our questions to expert Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard” and creator of the popular website with the same title. It turns out we have Britney Spears to thank for the triumph of Jayden, and Utah could teach New York City a thing or two about creative names.
Metropolis: Give me a sense, nationally, of the baby naming scene. What are the trends?
Wattenberg: It’s easy to look at a list of the top baby names and find familiar names, like Matthew, and say: “Oh, names are traditional.” The names that ruled English baby naming for centuries are disappearing. Mary and John are the obvious examples. William, James, George and Henry were dominant names.
Even in last 30 or 40 years the percentage of babies getting a name in top 10 or 20 has plummeted. Individuality has become a prized virtue and there’s a kind of competitive landscape — a baby name arms race — where parents are determined to make their child stand out.
And we all think it’s a personal quirk of ours that I happen to like unusual names. But, in fact, that’s the trend for the whole country.
Metropolis: Does New York lead the nation in creative names?
Wattenberg: New York does not have a particularly creative baby naming culture. Utah is the creative baby naming capital.
Metropolis: When we look at the list of girls — Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Emily, Madison, Olivia — they are romantic names or soft names. What is behind that?
Wattenberg: You are sensing something about names. The most powerful trend in baby names is something individual parents are almost never aware of: we don’t like consonants anymore. Every parent will say I like old-fashioned names, quirky, I’m looking for something really powerful and creative. What they don’t say is, I’m really looking for a name with no two consecutive voiced consonants. That is really what America wants.
Metropolis: Let’s talk about Jayden.
Wattenberg: Oh, that’s an interesting name. A boy’s name usually, but not always. Some will tell you they chose it as a Biblical name (Jadon). Jayden started taking off after Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith named their son Jaden. That was perfect timing for an explosion of every name rhyming with Aiden: Jayden, Brayden, Caden, Zayden, Haden.
There were all different spellings of Jayden and all equally popular. Then Britney Spears named a son Jayden and she established the standard spelling. Jayden is at the top of the list because parents have agreed on one spelling.
Metropolis: Selfishly, I have to ask: Melanie is a rising name for baby girls born to Latina mothers. Is there a sudden resurgence in popularity for “Gone with the Wind?”
Wattenberg: Speaking of “Gone with the Wind,” you’ll note that Ashley is still a top ten name in New York and not at all in the rest of the country. And that’s because it’s increasingly a black and Latino name. New York is such a diverse city that a name can’t climb to the top of those lists without appealing to a broad cross section of races and cultures.
Metropolis: What about baby girl middle names, any standouts?
Wattenberg: Grace is the hottest middle name. Grace and Rose. The United States keeps no statistics on middle names, but Grace and Rose dominate as middle names much more than any first name dominates. It’s overwhelming.
So I ask:
Does anyone know what a name with "two consecutive voiced consonants" would be? Can you give me an example of what they are talking about here. I didn't get that part.
And I wish Dennis would let me call him George, but he won't. I've always loved that name! His mother obviously liked it too.