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I find the opinions of people who don’t particularly vest much time researching names fascinating. They always range from one extreme staggering accuracy to the other of misguided inaccuracy. Wandering around from place to place in the world, I very rarely get the opportunity to announce the fact that I author a name blog prior to any name discussion – which has lead to me witnessing some rather bold claims in the past. Here are the five which stood out for me over this past year, feel free to add your own in the comments:
1. Soffie/Sofie is more popular than Sophie
Let’s start with the most bizarre statement. It was whilst on a train platform in Wales that I was somehow drawn into a conversation with a lovely Welsh bloke who claimed to me that Sophie spelt with a double f (Soffie) was a more popular name in Wales than Sophie. Perhaps lovely Kay could shed further light on this, because this happened a few months ago, yet I remain perplexed. Consider the statistics: for the separate Top 100 list for Wales the name Sophie ranks at #9 – with Sofie ranking at #910 for the combined England&Wales data.
2. Nature names only work on females
Location: Gt. Yarmouth
A topic quite often alluded to, but my tuppence? The first time I came across the name Briar was on a male, albeit in a book. It is worth acknowledging that this person has reason and it could simply boil down to personal taste. It is, however, worth noting that Rowan is infinitely more popular for boys (#142) than girls (#709) in England&Wales. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rowan Atkinson had a slight role to play in this state of affairs.
I will admit, however, that nature names have caught on more for females than males. Lily is a top 10 name for girls, whilst Rose, Ruby, Amber, Summer and Jasmine are all inside the top 100.
3. The Beckham kids all have weird names no one else uses
Location: CrossCountry Train Service
Said by a friend of a friend, and again, it’s another matter of opinion, but the thing to remember? Out of their four children, only Harper’s name remains outside of the Top 1000 (and only if you’re looking at the female stats – Harper is inside the male Top 1000) in England&Wales. They may have been one of the first to use Brooklyn et al, but you’re no more likely to meet a Romeo in the park than a Laurence; a Cruz than a Brendan or Wyatt; a Brooklyn than a Lloyd. I’m also pretty sure you wouldn’t bat an eyelid to the names Joseph, James and David – which are their son’s middle names.
The bottom line is, all names rising in popularity names may have seemed a little ‘weird’ in their early days of rising, but do they really warrant that title once they’ve broken, say, the Top 250 like Brooklyn has for boys? I would say not. And clearly, people are using the names the Beckhams have used.
4. Some who names their child [insert top 10 name here] hasn’t put much thought/effort into their decision
Location: London Underground
My take? If you knowingly use a Top 10 name, kudos to you. My Auntie rather thoughtfully said the other day that we all strive so hard for status as individuals that we forget the value of a group. My surname is Sycamore, so of course I managed to end up in the same class as a Lucy Moore. Two-syllables difference, and it never particularly bothered me because that Lucy was, and likely still is, an absolutely lovely lass.
There likely are people who chose the name Lily/James at random when they saw their child for the first time, and that’s perfectly fine. S/he’s their child, thus they have every right to do this. Equally, I see plenty of parents on nameboards agonising over whether they’d be doing their child a disservice by giving them a popular name. These people are clearly thinking about it, and thus immediate disprove the above statement. As a matter of fact, I think some names are simply popular because they are fantastic names. I really like both James and Emily, despite their status as a Top 10 name here in England&Wales.
5. Enzo is popular in France because of Ferrari
This came from an Englishman who’d migrated to France after retiring. I met him in a French café, which is where he ‘let me in on this little secret’. I’ll admit whilst possibly a turning factor, it’s more likely to be due to former French international football star Zinedine Zidane who helped boost this name in France when he gave it to his son way back in 1995. He was named after a Uruguayan football player: Enzo Francescoli.
The only French person my age who is also into F1 in a big way is a huge Ferrari fan, though. She went nuts when we took her to the Ferrari shop in London. That said, there are no French teams, nor drivers currently [2011 season] competing, so she has free choice on who to support. For the 2012 season, there have already been at least three French drivers confirmed to have a race seat, so it would be interesting to see if she changes allegiances or not.