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Modern Baby Names

Mastering Your Baby’s Domain
Baby names in the digital age have become so complicated that some parents now make sure their child has their own e-mail account, Twitter handle, Facebook page, and website before they are born.

And since it gets frustrating finding the baby name you want to register has already been taken, you can do a sort of “reverse look up”, where you use a website that will tell you which names are still available. Such a website is the misleadingly-titled Awesome Baby Name, which suggests names based on domain availability.

Naturally I had to give this a try, and it’s easy enough. You type in your surname, and say you want a boy, girl, or “whatever” name, and receive a list of ten names that haven’t been taken yet. If you don’t like the ten they offer (and you probably won’t), they offer to sell you another 100 names for $3. You would be crazy to actually make this purchase, since every time you use it you get another ten names, and by simply clicking it again and again would soon find 100 names all on your own for free.

The site promises to find you the “very best matches” possible, but in fact it’s just a random list of names that may or may not sound even half decent when matched with your surname. The names have a very American bias – I was offered quite a lot of Hispanic names, and names currently trending in the US, like Jayceon. I’m not sure how the algorithm works, but I tried it with fifteen very different surnames, and each one offered the name Colton.

I was quite pleased by most of the boys names I was offered (except Colton, a name I now utterly loathe from having it thrust on me so many times): Alistair, Axel, Declan, Jude, Matthias, Maximilian, and Thaddeus seemed nice. Girls names were uniformly terrible. They were either dated, like Megan and Julie, very modern like Kyra and Brylee, or variant spellings, like Kaitlynne and Brooklynn. Maybe all the good girls’ names are already taken?

The “whatever” button is a complete waste of time: it doesn’t give you unisex options, as I thought, but just five girls names and five boys names.

Our surname is relatively uncommon, so that almost every name could be matched with it and still not be registered, and yet I wasn’t offered even one Top 100 name. Furthermore, different surnames didn’t get you a different range of names: I was offered relatively uncommon names, no matter if I said I was named Smith or Hetherington-Smitherswaithe. I wonder if the surname has been factored in at all?

The About on the page says it started as a joke, but doesn’t say whether it still is one or not, or how funny the joke turned out to be. I rate it as Mildly Amusing.

Names at Work
Could your name be holding back at work, muses Kochie’s Business Builders in Yahoo Finance? Short answer, from researchers at the University of Melbourne, is yes. They found that people with simple, easy to pronounce names had an advantage in the workplace, and would be more likely to be elected to political office.

Dr Simon Laham, from the University of Melbourne’s School of Psychology, said research findings revealed that it wasn’t the length of a name, or how “foreign” it seemed, or how unusual (or even made up) it was, but its pronounceability that made the difference.

It’s quite interesting, because we’re often told that names have to be familiar, recognisable, “non-ethnic”, or short for people to feel comfortable with them, but it seems that isn’t really that important, as long as they can intuitively guess the pronunciation. This might be something to bear in mind when choosing names.

Worried about your hard to pronounce name and how it’s ruining your career? KBB suggests using a nickname or short form of your name for easy communication, but sensibly comments that your skills and experience are far more important. An article on names which says your name is less important than who you are and what you do! Let’s hope this trend continues.

Capital, By George
There was royal baby name spotting during the royal visit in Canberra in April. The Canberra Times had a light-hearted look at a few baby Georges around town, including a George Louis, a George Middleton, and a Giorgio. The name George appears to be on the rise in the ACT, with 14 registrations in 2012 climbing to 22 in 2013. Between Prince George’s birth and his visit to Australia, 15 Georges were registered in our capital. What that means for the 2014 data is anyone’s guess.

Mothers of Dragons in the West
And those other royal names … Perth Now tells us that baby names from Game of Thrones are rising in Western Australia. Unfortunately, no actual data to support this plausible theory, but a couple of anecdotes instead. Fascinated by the mother who chose Khaleesi for her daughter in 2012, because “it had some sort of history”. I guess almost every name has some sort of history … in this case, a purely imaginary one! The meaning of “queen” was also a drawcard.

Names All Over the World
The Essential Baby website has got a little map of popular names from around the world. It doesn’t cover every country, but it does look at several regions. Africa and the Middle East are completely missing (I guess they have bigger issues than putting out birth name data). Worth a look to see how different the Top Tens are around the world.