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Last year I tabulated every example of a particular baby name I saw, combining spellings to give an idea of how common a name actually was. Examples were taken from birth announcements in newspapers, hospital announcements from websites and newspapers, newborn photography and parenting blogs, stories about babies from newspapers and magazines, and some babies I saw in real life. It also includes all the Australian celebrity babies from that year, all birth announcements on the blog, and birth announcements from Western Australia, supplied by Ebony on her blog babynameobsessed.

Combining spellings is a problematic exercise, as there is no way to determine how the parents pronounce the name. I tried to guess the most likely pronunciation, based on how most people would pronounce the name. In cases where a name could have more than one pronunciation, when possible I dealt with them as separate names, so that Louis/Lewis is differentiated from Louis/Louie. Of course this can provide only the most general information.

This also means that completely different names were combined together because they sound the same, such as the English name May and the Chinese name Mei. In cases where I wasn’t sure whether separate names should be regarded as homophones, I relied upon the “playground test” – not saying the names quietly and distinctly, but screaming them aloud, as if calling a child outdoors. Although I would say the names Amelia and Emilia very slightly differently in my normal speaking voice, when I shrieked them urgently across a paddock, they sounded virtually identical.

It was not practicable to show all the possible variant spellings given to a name, and I have only shown the traditional spelling, or in some cases, dominant spellings. Occasionally this gave slightly misleading results – for example, out of the babies I saw named Alicia, not one of them had their name actually spelled Alicia!

Where there was only a single example of a name and it had a very idiosyncratic spelling, I gave it the traditional spelling in case it should be unrecognisable at first sight. I did this especially with vocabulary names and place names, which might otherwise go unnoticed.

Not all the babies were born in 2015, as I took names of all babies up to 12 months old, so that many would have been born the previous year. (Where a baby had a very unusual name, I could not resist including it, even if was slightly older than 12 months). Neither are all the babies born in Australia, as Australians living abroad often put birth announcements for their children in the newspapers here, or have their stories covered in the media (this includes those Australian celebrity babies born overseas).

In no way is this intended to replace the current national Top 100, which will come out soon, or to provide an ad hoc full data set for Australia – it should be considered as a survey only. It does give some idea of the diversity of names used in Australia, and might provide baby name inspiration, or reassurance that an uncommon name is used more often than you might have thought (or at all).

If you would like a copy of the complete data in Microsoft Excel format for the Waltzing More Than Matilda Name Survey (includes both boy and girl names), please go to the E-books page and follow the prompt.

 

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