Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Name Chart

Here's a figure from a recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing how frequently babies were given certain names in certain years. The message of this graph is "the faster they rise, the faster they fall." Which means Aidan as a name should pretty much disappear in the next few years!


Deanna said...

I was actually just on the SSA's website looking at baby names (big surprise), and I did a little math... The SSA only counts names by spelling. There are at least EIGHT different spellings of the name "Aidan" in 2008 (the last year for which complete records have been compiled and released), and the number of total births for all the boys named Aidan or some spelling variation thereof (they would all sound the same phonetically) was over 32,000 children - as compared to the #1 name, Jacob, which only registered 22,000 boys.

The equivalent in the UK was an article in one of the national papers (it was either the Telegraph or the Sun) that pointed out that the UK compiles baby names the same way, which makes it look like traditional British names are still the most popular. However, they did a little math and comparison, and discovered that Mohammed (and all of its spelling variations) should actually be #3 on the list for most popular boys name in the UK at the moment.

So, I do think the graph holds true to a certain extent, but I wonder if the variables like spelling were taken into account when the data was graphed.

Ben McFarland said...

They actually did not control for different spellings (the reasoning being they were looking at the name the parents CHOSE to give their child and considered the spelling they chose to be a part of that choice), and this kind of thing has always bothered me a bit because it's clear that many people really don't care that much ... so by this methodology Aiden and Aidan would be different (Aidan certainly insists that they are different because he always spell-checks his name tags!!)

The key conclusion isn't so much the sound of the name but the speed of its adoption by the culture at large ... so I'm assuming Aidan will be gone in a few years because it seems to have appeared relatively quickly! I'd like to chart the data and make an exact prediction and then see how it pans out ...