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A news story I quoted on the weekend said that when it comes to the most popular names, each region of New South Wales tended to be quite similar. This story, on the other hand, says that there are subtle differences between the names chosen in different areas.

At Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s west, the most popular names are Joshua, Ethan and Lucas for boys, and Olivia, Mia and Chloe for girls.

At the Royal Hospital in Randwick in the eastern suburbs, the most popular names for boys are William, Alexander and James, and for girls, Isabella, Sophie and Grace.

On the upper-class north shore, boys were most likely to be called Oliver, Thomas or Jack, and girls Chloe, Charlotte or Emily.

In the southern suburban areas of Sutherland Shire and St. George, the most popular boy’s names are Lucas, Benjamin and Christian, and the most popular girls Olivia, Amelia and Zoe. (Overseas readers may be interested to know that the Australian equivalent of Jersey Shore is set in Sutherland Shire).

The article says that this means that in the west, they choose “Hollywood movie star” names, while in the east, they opt for more “conservative, traditional or Biblical” names. I find this quite confusing, because Joshua, Ethan and Chloe are names from the Bible, and from the other group, only James is Biblical.

And whether a name is “Hollywood” seems rather subjective, because of course there is Will Smith, Alexander Skarsgard, James Dean, Isabella Rosselini, Sophie Monk and Grace Kelly! I couldn’t actually see why the west was more “Hollywood” than the east.

The ones from the eastern suburbs hospital do tend to be names which have charted since 1900, and the ones from the west are all modern classics. So perhaps we can say, very vaguely and generally, that people in more affluent areas of Sydney are more likely to prefer classic and retro names, while working-class areas prefer modern classics.

However, the working-class choice was Sophia, which is a retro name charting since 1900, while affluent choice Sophie is a modern classic, so it’s not cut-and-dried by any means. Both areas liked James, Chloe and Isabella, so there are several name choices which apparently suit all classes.

Away from Sydney, on the Central Coast and in Newcastle, the popular boys were Cooper, Noah, Riley, Lachlan and Tyler, and the most common girls Ruby, Sienna, Ava and Ella. Interestingly, if you live somewhere regional and coastal, you do seem more likely to call your son Cooper or Riley, and the addition of Tyler makes it seem this is where surnames-as-first-names rule.

Rather typically, neither of the articles from Sydney bothers to look at other regions of New South Wales or even acknowledges they exist. I would have been very interested to see the popular names from other regional centres.

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