Changing Norms

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Reuben Fischer-Baum of Jezebel has made a wonderfully entertaining GIF that presents six decades of the most popular names for girls, “state by state.” He writes:

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

Notably, the recession seems to have put a temporary damper on creative baby naming. In 2007, eight different baby names made the map—including less-traditional names like Addison, Ava, and Madison—and all carried at least two states. By 2012 the map has just five names, and 47 states went with either “Sophia” or “Emma.” A yearning for simpler times?

The fine folk at Language Log dig into the data with their typical, amusing obsessiveness.

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