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Baby Name Cultural Indicator

Where do they come from??
  [vote for,

Baby names are baffling. Where do they come from? Why do certain ones become popular then drop away? Creative people think they are giving their baby a really cool, original name, then discover that the chosen name was #11 in popularity for that year. Names like "Brooklyn"?

I think that baby name choice provides an incomparable window into the psyche of young men and women, in their prime childbearing, money earning, and stuff-buying years. Big lists of baby names in order of poplarity are now available (link). I propose that baby name popularity could be crossreferenced to other indices of popular culture such as popular toys, cars, beverages, etc. These names have to be coming from somewhere, and the things that name choice are hooked to could be used to devise new products that likewise would capture the public imagination and sell, sell, sell. Likewise, the wane of popularity of certain names (I was shocked to find that for 2002, "Kari" was 999th most popular, below "Baby".) must be hooked to indicators which could predict for declining popularity of certain styles/products - saving money by steering developers away from them.

bungston, Sep 05 2003

Baby Names http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/
Fun site. Check out the old names at the bottom of the page as well. Did you know "M" was a popular girl's name in 1900? [bungston, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Emily The Strange™ http://www.emilystr...eware/indexmain.cfm
I'm seeing this stuff everywhere, the grocery checkout line, clothing stores, even in Canada. [bristolz, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Think! Baby Names http://www.thinkbabynames.com
Here's a baby names resource for baby names enthusiasts. It lists popular baby names from 1900 to the present. [kianhuay, Jan 06 2005]


       // popular toys, cars, beverages, etc //   

       I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere, in some dark corner of America, lurking in the shadows, waiting to unleash its bloody vengeance upon an unsuspecting world, hides a small white child named Frappachino.
DeathNinja, Sep 05 2003

       Names of soap opera characters are popular choices. Lisa, Carly, and others came from the soaps.
TeaTotal, Sep 05 2003

       //What's the (big) idea?// Study baby name popularity in an organized manner, then parlay cultural comprehension into great wealth.
bungston, Sep 05 2003

       If my daughter had been born a Viking, I wanted to name her "Crangar." But she wasn't.
beauxeault, Sep 05 2003

       So we decided to use family names. Other peoples' families.
beauxeault, Sep 05 2003

       I don't know what the idea is but I think you’re on to something. The name Ashley for girls was absolutely huge for a few years in Canada, and the name Braden for boys. I've always wondered what causes these random alignments across an entire culture.
Chaos theory?

       Jonesing to keep up.
thumbwax, Sep 06 2003

       I'm betting that the hugely popular, and dirt simple, Emily The Strange™ products concept was based on the fact that Emily has grown to be the number one girl's name in the US starting in about 1990. It is the 13 year old girls that this stuff is aimed at and they adore it.
bristolz, Sep 06 2003

       bungston: the rubric states that no effort has been made to cleanse the data, which is why initials like M show up.
DrCurry, Sep 06 2003

       Perhaps you've heard of socialite Paris Hilton. I'm waiting for her daughter, Hanoi.
feiacrianca, Sep 08 2003

       Without looking too far:

       Any of these might be used without much chance of repetition if that was wanted.
k_sra, Sep 09 2003

       [Reensure] - if you were a merchant sailor 200 years ago, you would study the weather to learn when conditions might suit a voyage. Careful study might lead you to note other associations - perhaps the appearance of certain birds - which would be useful to you in making accurate predictions and having successful voyages.   

       If you ran a whale watching boat, you would want to predict where whales would be, so as to provide a good experience for your clients. Careful observation might lead you to other factors - such as weather, tides, other animals - which you could use to predict where and when whales might appear.   

       "Random alignments across a culture", as [2 fried] eloquently puts it, may not actually be random - just as weather and whales appearances may not be random. Understanding the patterns which underly these cultural alignments could be used to predict future cultural trend - which is at the root of successful marketing.   

       It is a measure of my desire to procrastinate that I just bothered to type all that. Maybe I will get a bun for my efforts.
bungston, Sep 09 2003

       My real name, which I won't tell you all, is the second most common in Pet names. boy was i proud of that :/. If I had a son he would be named ROTAR THE BARBARIAN! I mean thats a great name!   

       I like this - kind of like a cultural version of the Big Mac Index so beloved of economists.   

       // Perhaps you've heard of socialite Paris Hilton // ..don't forget her dog, Raffles.   

       The Baby name Index would need to be cross referenced with local celebrity names (including local soap stars), local religions, local generals and politicians - it could be used as a measure of the strength of a culture, perhaps. Or the extent of cultural globalisation (say if there's an increase in the number of Britneys in Kazakhstan)... or just how dysfunctional a culture is ("Virgil, there's an increase in children being called 'Sandwich', 'Moulin' and 'Inveterate' in Bali. Go check it out. We've gotta save that culture before it's all axe murderers and daytime TV!")
moomintroll, Jan 07 2005


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