Saturday, February 17, 2007

What's in a name?

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is how I got to the website in the first place. It started with an IMDB search of Fiddler on the Roof, to the role of Fruma Sarah (my pearls! my pearls!) to "what's 'Fruma,' anyway?" to this baby name site (Yiddish for Pious) where one can self-indulgently search one's own name for facts that should have no bearing this late in your life.

What I learned from the Behind the Name baby name site.
(about my actual name, not Miss Bender's name. I haven't slipped that far. And since I have an ambisexual name, recently outed on this site by the equally ambisexual "Pete," I got to learn twice as much as you. nyeh.)

On the ratings page, pictured above, I learn that my name is overwelmingly "good," and equally so for males or females. Which is nice, because family legend has it the Germans advised against it.
It is also overwhelmingly "Natural," which is opposed to "urban," and I can imagine several reasons why they would choose "natural" as the opposite of "urban," instead of other options
- pastoral ("what, like...religious...?")
- rural ("Like, Fern? Or Half Pint?")
- white ("oh no you di'int.")

It is more "classic," than "modern," say the 57 respondents (including me) which made me wonder if that's a compliment. So I went to the "popularities" section, where you get a chart like this:

Americans are not naming their boys this anymore. And certainly, the census ratings back up the opinion poll -- not many people naming their girls this either. Still in the top 100, but in its day, when it was given to me, it was #34. And it just kept falling.
You know what's #34 today?
Specifically this spelling. I am the Kaitlyn of my day. #32 is Destiny.

Here are names you may not believe are so popular they are actually in the top 1000 - meaning, more than 1 person thought of it. In order of popularity.
Genesis. # 155. Higher than Karen.
Paris is # 206. And I am so sad for those girls.

My dear sister, greatest of all sisters, without whom I would never survive, was very nearly named Maude. God Bless Miss Maudie, she deserved the honor, but in 1960, it didn't even rank. She got Miss Maudie's middle name instead, a cool # 56.

Incidentally, when in high school, Greatest of all Sisters announced she would name her daughter Autumn. As always, she was ahead of her time. It was only #328 in the 70's, but it was the first decade it made the charts.

The story comes full circle because she did not, in fact, name her daughter Autumn.
She named her after me.

#130 rank be damned.

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