Barely Legal Drivers

Today I want to talk about a controversial BBC Three show thats recently finished it’s second series called Barely Legal Drivers. For those not familiar – and as the video above explains – the premise of the show is that various youngsters are lent the family car for the wee. Whilst they think they’re part of a show looking at modern life of young people in Britain, but actually they’re driving is scrutinised by their parents and ex-traffic officer Judith Roberts. There has been several cases of pretty shocking (and in more than a few, downright dangerous) driving in the series thus far (you can see some in the video), which has caused some controversy amongst the general British public.

Now, I’ve been watching the show with a bemused look on my face since I’m 20, and thus in the exact demographic for participants, however I hasten to add that unlike those on the show I do have my own little runaround (Gypsy, whom I’ve mentioned in passing before) and almost 3 years no claims bonus.

But we’re not here to snipe about others driving, but instead to look at the names, which also happen to be a look into the names of my own generation. Perhaps the most notable naming I’ve seen thus far on the show is a set of twins named Zahra and Farah. I think that it’s the first time I’ve seen the two names paired together, and I kinda loved it, despite the match-y-ness. The name Zahra (or Zara) almost certainly came into the English speaking world as an offshoot of Sarah, a name that comes from Hebrew and means princess. The name is also similar to Zahrah, an Arabic name that means blooming flower. The name Farah is Arabic in origin and means joy/delight.

Another set of twins that have appeared have less match-y names of James and Brian.

Another interesting fact is that there has been both a Chantal and Chantelle featured. The name Chantelle is a respelling of Chantal, which isn’t as modern as some may think: she comes from Old Provençal word cantal and means stone. The name Chantelle was #83 in 1994, but has fallen all the way to #750 since then. Ouch. It’s not much better for Chantal, who ranked at #571 in 1996 and now doesn’t even rank for 2013 (i.e. less than 3 girls were given the name). Clearly, the names are sadly past their best.

Another girl popped up with the name Dominique (using the nickname Dom). This is an interesting one for me to look at as I used to work with a girl my age with the same name, but at the same time the name appears to be more male-centric across the channel in France. Dominique is the French form of Dominic, which comes from Latin origins and means of the Lord. The name has fallen from #309 in 1996 to #2460 in 2013.

A young lad with the name Renaldo appears. Now, the name could be a respelling of the Portuguese name Ronaldo who ultimately comes from the Ragnvaldr (via Scottish name Ronald). The name is formed of two Old Norse elements:

  • regin, meaning might, counsel
  • valdr, meaning ruler

Many of the names on the show are what you might consider popular picks for my generation of youngsters born in the 90s, but have sadly fallen out of favour since.

Two examples of this are in Bradley and Dean. The former is a surname-turned-first name that means broad meadow. He’s fallen from #34 to #117 since 1994. Another name is Dean, who also comes from Old English and means valley. He’s had less staying power than Bradley, having fallen from #67 to #429 since 1994.

Nicknames – or what appears to be simply nicknames – appear frequently. A girl with the name Caz appears, with Caz being short for Caroline. I have a close friend who is also a Caroline nn Caz. Caroline was a Top 100 name from 1944 to 1984, but she’s fallen a long way since then, ranking at #733 in 2013. The name comes from the Karl family of names and so mean either man or woman, depending on whether you feel feminising the name means feminising the meaning.

There’s also an episode that features a Jamie and a Jessie. Now, Jessie is pretty certain to be actually a Jessica – a name that was #3 in 1994 and hasn’t strayed too far from that ranking since as in 2013 she came in at #6 in England&Wales. I might not be a fan myself, but the British public has for her to be a consistent Top 5 name for almost 20 years. That’s impressive.

The name Jessica was introduced to the British public by Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice, where he got the inspiration from a Biblical character called Iscah, who was also known as Jesca; the name means he beholds.

As for Jamie, he could actually be a James, a name that was #2 in 1994. However, Jamie ranked at #26, so it’s not so certain. The name James is Hebrew in origin and means supplanter.

A Tommy appears, and since Thomas was #1 in 1994, you could make an educated guess that he was born a Thomas – especially since Tommy didn’t enter the Top 100 until some 20 years later in 2011. The name Thomas is like Jessica in that with a 2013 rank of #6, he’s a long time keeper in the eyes of the British public; the name means twin.

Two final mentions go to Jac and Lauri, in which Jac is likely a respelling of Jack, and Lauri is most like a nickname for Laura.

Jack has been in the Top 3 since 1994, making him the ultimate male name of the past two decades in England&Wales, whereas meanwhile Jac has been hoovering around the 300 mark – and he’s currently at #350. Jack is a nickname of John and in 1984, the name John outranked Jack at #14 to #74 before Jack launched into his two decade long dominance; the names means Yahweh has favoured.

Laura was inside the Top 10 in 1994 at #9, and since then has fallen all the way to #146 with little signs of a reverse in fortune. The name comes from the Latin laurus and means bay tree. Whilst Lauri has hovered around the 3-baby-per-year mark, the spelling Laurie fares better at #910 for boys and #1360 for girls (both down from around the 500 mark in 1996).

All in all, the names are a little snapshot of the 20-somethings of today here in England&Wales, and that’s of personal interest to me as someone who grew up amongst them.

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One thought on “Barely Legal Drivers

  1. Pingback: Barely Legal Drivers | Name News | Scoop.it

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