Thursday, July 19, 2007

Comparing the English-speaking world on names (girls)

Whilst Wikipedia lists that there are 75 countries where English is the official language, I am just going to focus on the few that I can get popularity data for, and the larger countries (apologies to Christmas Island and Tristan da Cunha). The general decision is US, England and Wales, Canada, Australia, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales (separate from England) and Malta, due to information available.

Popularity data used:
England and Wales: National Statistics
Canada: Today's Parent- government does not appear to publish one complete list
Australia: Baby Name Stats - again, only regional - this site shows all regions on one page
Republic of Ireland: Central Statistics Office
New Zealand: Department of Internal Affairs
Scotland: General Register Office
Northern Ireland: Statistics and Research Agency (pdf)
Wales: National Statistics (pdf)
Malta: National Statistics Office (pdf)

So...let's start with the USA, and starting simply with the top 10:
Name Frequency % Compared with previous yr
Position Generally
Emily 21118 1.0267 - falling
Emma 18838 0.9159 - falling
Madison 18395 0.8944 - falling
Isabella 17954 0.8729 +2 rising
Ava 16741 0.8139 +4 rising rapidly
Abigail 15429 0.7502 -2 falling slowly
Olivia 15244 0.7412 -2 falling
Hannah 14294 0.6950 -1 falling
Sophia 13313 0.6473 +2 rising quickly
Samantha 12316 0.5988 -2 falling

The 'Generally' results are based upon Name Voyager, the next information is from BNW
Language of origin Additional Information
Emily Latin 3 saints named Emily
Emma German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Madison English Surname of American President, place name
Isabella Hebrew via Italian Frequent name used in royalty
Ava German Ava Gardner
Abigail Hebrew Biblical
Olivia English or Latin Shakespearean
Hannah Hebrew Biblical
Sophia Greek city of Sofia
Samantha Aramaic via English Samantha from Bewitched (TV)

There is a mix here of Biblical (Abigail, Hannah, and possibly Samantha (from Samuel)), cultural (Ava, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Madison and Samantha) and others - it's difficult for some (Emily, Emma, Sophia, Isabella) to pin down exactly why they are popular. Hebrew and English are the most common origins.

England and Wales

England doesn't provide much past rank - no % or #s of births. However, we do know that in 2006 there were almost 670 000 live births in England and Wales, and that there were 6928 Jacks born in 2006. Assuming that half of all births are male = 335 000 boys born in 2006. 6928 is 2.06% of 335 000, so just over 2% of boys born in 2006 were named Jack. As the American data shows, % for male and female are similar, though female % are slightly less. The British male popularity % goes: 1. 2 .06%, 2. 1.78%, 3. 1.76%, 4. 1.73%, 5. 1.55%, 6. 1.5%, 7. 1.42%, 8. 1.29%, 9. 1.29%, 10. 1.28% - this suggests that 15.7% of boys born in England & Wales in 2006 had a name in the top 10. I would guess that's about 13.5% for girls - divided up this way:

% Rough no. # on last year
Olivia 1.8 6030 +3
Grace 1.75 5863 +5
Jessica 1.75 5862 -2
Ruby 1.5 5025 +11
Emily 1.45 4858 -4
Sophie 1.4 4690 -3
Chloe 1.4 4690 -2
Lucy 1.35 4523 -
Lily 1.35 4522 +7
Ellie 1.3 4355

Olivia and Jessica have swapped the top spot in the last year, so I would guess that there wouldn't be much between Olivia, Jessica and Grace. Ruby jumped in the last year from #15 to #4 so I would guess it is slightly less popular than Ruby. There may be slightly more than half a percent between Chloe (a former #1 name) and Lucy which has stuck at the end of the top 10 since at least 2002.

The England and Wales list shows much more mobility than the US list - there are 3.5 more births in the US than for GB, but the largest change in the US is +4, compared eclipsed by England and Wales's +5, +11, +7 and -4. The changes in 5 years are similar - Ashley, Alexis and Sarah are on the US top 10 in 2002, as is Megan, Charlotte and Hannah - 3 names changed. They have also both had a name 'pop in' in the intervening time - Katie for England, and Elizabeth for USA.

Language of origin Additional information
Olivia English or Latin Shakespearean
Grace Latin Virtue
Jessica Shakespeare (Hebrew?) Shakespearean
Ruby Latin via English Colour, gemstone
Emily Latin 3 saints named Emily
Sophie Greek via French City of Sofia?
Chloe Greek Mythological
Lucy Latin via French and English Saint, Narnia, nickname
Lily English Flower, nickname
Ellie Depends Nickname

One thing that is completely different between the US and England and Wales popularities are the endings of the names. The US is dominated by 'a' - Emma, Isabella, Ava, Olivia, Hannah, Sophia and Samantha. In England and Wales, the sound is 'ee' - Ruby, Emily, Sophie, Chloe, Lucy, Lily and Ellie. 'ee' sounds are much more nicknameish - in the US, Mia is the only possible nickname in the top 20, in the UK there is Lucy, Lily, Ellie, Ella, Katie, Mia, Megan and Millie. Whilst some (Lucy, Lily, Ella, Mia and Megan) can stand quite well alone, there is a certain level of informality in England and Wales, which is not found in the US. The last time a name that I would say cannot stand on its own - has to be a nickname, was found in the US top 50 was way back in 1940 with Betty (I think Sandra, Lisa, Donna, Linda, Amy can stand alone). In the UK this was 2004 with Ellie.

None of the British names are Biblical - Grace is a virtue, but none have a strongly Christian basis like the US names. Whilst 71.6% of British people count themselves as Christian, it has been surveyed that only half that believe there is a god (any god), and this is also on the decline. 76.7% of Americans have cited themselves as Christians and only 14% as atheist/agnostic - this is reflected with Abigail and Hannah. In the UK the first Biblical name (apart from Grace) is Hannah at #15.

The information I am using (from Today's Parent) has the advantage of grouping similar spellings together. One of the big disadvantages of the US and England and Wales's policy of going by spelling instead of sound is that some popular names are disguised. This is most obvious in the US with the popularity of Aidan - its #1 sounded name, despite Aiden, it's most popular form, only being #30. For ease of use, I haven't acknowledged sounded names yet, but for the US the top 10 is: Emily, Madison, Isabella, Emma, Sophia, Hailey, Kaitlyn, Abigail, Ava, Olivia. (or Emily, Mia, Madison if you think Mia and Maya are pronounced the same).

Anyway, Canada. They only release positions, and I can't find anything like the Times article which I used to compile the girls rough #s. Today's Parent say they have compiled their list from: 'provincial resources where available 2004/2005', I'm slightly wary but I do want to see if there are some comparisons between a more recent British colony (achieved dominion status 1867, independence 1931) and a North American country.

Language of Origin Additional info
Emma German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Emily/Emilie Latin 3 saints named Emily
Sarah/Sara Hebrew Biblical
Madison/Madisyn English Surname of American President
Hannah/Hanna Hebrew Biblical
Olivia English or Latin Shakespearean
Hailey/Hayley English Surname
Maya/Mia Hebrew or Italian Nickname, noun name
Kaitlyn/Katelyn Gaelic Somewhat smooshy
Abigail/Abigayle Hebrew Biblical

Interesting to see an American president's surname on the list. The popularity of the name as a name rather than honouring (though to be honest, Madison didn't peak until after 'Splash!' film). Approx. 4.4% of Canadian immigrants in 2001 were from the US. So if they all named their child Madison... Approx. 230 000 immigrants were accepted into Canada in 2004, that's around 10 000 Americans, going by half women that would be 5000 women. If that was the same for the next few years and these 20 000 women all had children at the same, I don't think it's conceivable. Madison is certainly travelling due to sound rather than any ideas of honouring.

This Canadian list is very similar to the US combined spellings list - some of the positions are different, Isabella, Sophia and Ava are not on the Canadian list but the new entries through combined spellings - Hailey, Maya and Kaitlyn are. Isabella and Sophia are in particular Spanish, Italian choices - a product of Mexican and similar immigration to the US, that does not happen to Canada?

There is one more Biblical choice (Sarah) in the Canadian list, 72% of Canadians class themselves as Roman Catholic or Protestant. Canada certainly doesn't share it's Commonwealth cousin Britain's affinity for nicknames - past Mia, there is only one other nickname (Megan) in the top 20, and the first 'too informal to stand alone' nickname is Abby at #72 (ignoring Ella).

Australia doesn't border America, so in theory, it should have less concurrence with the American choices than Canada. It is a former colony of Britain (achieved federation in 1901, legislative independence adoption in 1942), so there may be some similarity there.

Some guesswork has to go into compiling the complete Australian popularity chart. The site I use gives births for all the territories except Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. This is the compiled list for the rest of Australia:
# of births

Ella 1590
Chloe 1519
Emily 1502
Olivia 1416
Charlotte 1384
Jessica 1226
Isabella 1220
Sophie 1191
Mia 1165
Sienna 837

260 000 babies were born in Australia in 2005 - this was an increase of 5000. Assuming this increased by another 5000 in 2006 that would make 265000 babies and 132 500 girls.
ACT has a population of 333667, Australia's population is approx. 21 000 000. ACT contains 1.59% (1.6%) of Australia's population, so we assume that they had 1.6% of its female births - 2120. Let's say 15% of this 2120 is in the top 10 - so 1.9+1.8+1.7+1.7+1.5+1.5+1.4+1.3+1.2+1 = 15%.
% Rough # of births
Charlotte 1.9 40
Ella 1.8 38
Emily 1.7 36
Sophie 1.7 36
Jessica 1.5 32
Isabella 1.5 32
Chloe 1.4 30
Grace 1.3 28
Hannah 1.2 25
Olivia 1 21

We can do the same with the data for the Northern Territory.
It has a population of 205, 000 - approx. 1% of Australia's population - 1% of female births = 1325. Using the same 15%:
% Rough # of births
Emily 1.9 25
Ella 1.8 24
Georgia 1.7 23
Grace 1.7 23
Chloe 1.5 20
Isabella 1.5 20
Jessica 1.4 19
Lily 1.3 17
Mia 1.2 16
Sarah 1 13

The first popularity list only incorporates the top 10, with this new data for ACT and Northern Territory, plus incorporating the popularity of the names when they didn't feature within the top 10, the rough top 10 for Australia is:

# of births Language of Origin Additional Info
Ella 1652 Depends Nickname
Chloe 1569 Greek Mythological
Emily 1563 German Name of 3 saints
Charlotte 1546 German First Fleet ship
Olivia 1437 English or Latin Shakespearean
Jessica 1277 Shakespeare (Hebrew?) Shakespearean
Isabella 1272 Hebrew via Latin Frequent name used in royalty
Mia 1258 Hebrew or Italian Nickname, noun name
Sophie 1227 Greek via French City of Sofia?
Sienna 1087 Italian City, colour

Some usual sights here - Olivia, Emily, Isabella. The Australians seem, like the British, to favour Sophie over Sophia. Charlotte is also very popular - it was one of the First Fleet ships, but I'm not sure whether that is a good enough reason for its popularity, as Alexander - another First Fleet ship, doesn't seem to be unusually popular. Sienna has caught on in Australia as well - it's only #70 in Britain, #177 in US and #98 in Canada. Australia's Ruby perhaps? Though it has a different American popularity ark to Ruby.

New Zealand:
I'm going onto NZ next, as it seems to fit better with Australia than Ireland does.
NZ don't provide numbers, just names:

Language of Origin Additional Info
Charlotte German First Fleet ship
Ella Depends Nickname
Sophie Greek via French City of Sofia?
Emma German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Olivia English or Latin Shakespearean
Emily German Name of 3 saints
Grace Latin Virtue
Jessica Shakespeare (Hebrew?) Shakespearean
Hannah Hebrew Biblical
Lily English Flower, nickname

The NZ chart is very similar to Australia and England and Wales(it shares 6 of the same names). Sophie is once again preferred over Sophia. Fewer Biblical names. I don't know how much influence the Charlotte/First Fleet would have. This list adds nothing new.

We move now back to Europe and to Ireland, former British colony (until 1921), official languages of Irish and English, which should have an effect. The Irish statistics give both position and # of births.

# of births Language of origin Additional info
Emma 703 German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Sarah 642 Hebrew Biblical
Katie 575 Greek Nickname
Amy 510 French Literature (Little Women)
Aoife 492 Gaelic Mythological
Ciara 384 Gaelic Singer? Traditional Irish
Sophie 451 Greek via French City of Sofia?
Chloe 440 Greek Mythological
Leah 427 Hebrew Biblical
Ella 405 Depends Nickname

Even without the Irish choices, this is still a little different - we have Leah here, and Katie. Sophie is favourite once again over Sophia. We have a fairly even mix between 'ah' and 'ee' (6:4). Aoife and Ciara are particularly interesting as the Irish choices, with the mix of 'Western choices'. Ireland has one of the highest rates of weekly church attendance in the western world - this is reflected by Sarah, Ciara, Leah and Chloe.

Northern Ireland:
Northern and the Republic of Ireland were joined until 1921, and NI stayed a part of the UK. N Ireland do not produce statistics with number of babies born each year.

Language of origin Additional info
Katie Greek Nickname
Grace Latin Virtue
Emma German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Sophie Greek via French City of Sofia?
Ellie Depends Nickname
Lucy Latin via French and English Saint, Narnia, nickname
Sarah Hebrew Biblical
Hannah Hebrew Biblical
Jessica Shakespeare (Hebrew?) Shakespearean
Erin Gaelic via English Poetic name for Ireland

This is very reminiscent of the England and Wales top 10 (5 names shared), Ireland (4 names shared) and NZ (4 names). Erin is new, but there are less Irish names in this top 10. Few Biblical, virtues - same sort of feel as everywhere else.

The Scots provide a whole variety of popularity information -from the simple top 20, to a spreadsheet of all the names given in a year (so you can see that one little girl was lucky enough to be named Abiygayil and another Magic) with numbers of usage.

# of births Language of origin Additional info
Sophie 602 Greek via French City of Sofia?
Emma 452 German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Erin 443 Gaelic via English Poetic name for Ireland
Katie 441 Greek Nickname
Lucy 431 Latin via French and English Saint, Narnia, nickname
Chloe 425 Greek Mythological
Ellie 421 Depends Nickname
Amy 396 French Literature (Little Women)
Olivia 337 English or Latin Shakespearean
Emily 336 German Name of 3 saints

This is similar to N Ireland (6 the same) but lacks any markedly 'Scottish' names, and interestingly has Erin on the list. Scotland shares England and Wales' love of 'ee' names (Sophie, Katie, Lucy, Chloe, Ellie, Amy and Emily) and of nicknames. There is a lack of Biblical or even virtue names in the list - 27.5% of Scots consider themselves to have no religion, around 60% consider themselves Christians.

National Statistics provide additional information for the top names in Wales (but not England). Wales has a whole variety of names, so there should be some impact there, like with Ireland. Wales do not provide numbers of births.

Language of origin Additional info
Megan Greek, Welsh Nickname
Jessica Shakespeare (Hebrew?) Shakespearean
Olivia English or Latin Shakespearean
Ellie Depends Nickname
Emily German Name of 3 saints
Ruby Latin via English Colour, gemstone
Chloe Greek Mythological
Sophie Greek via French City of Sofia?
Grace Latin Virtue
Ffion Welsh Flowers, Ffion Hague?

Two Welsh choices on the list - Megan and Ffion (I don't think Ffion is encountered anywhere else). Ruby is back, as are the ee endings but with less intensity than Scotland.

Malta is the smallest of the places on our list, with only 3885 live births in 2006. 4% of all girls names was Maria and its variants - to get that kind of exposure in the US you have to go back to 1974 and the pinnacle of Jennifer's popularity. Malta was a part of the British empire until 1964, and its official languages are Maltese (similar to Arabic) and English.

# of births Language of origin Additional info
Maria/Mariah 73 perhaps Hebrew Biblical
Maya 53 Greek Mythological
Amy 43 French Literature (Little Women)
Martina 40 Latin Empress, tennis players
Emma 40 German 'Emma' by Jane Austen
Shania 36 Yiddish Shania Twain
Ylenia 35 Italian? Ylenia Carrisi
Michela/Michaela 35 Hebrew via Latin Michael is saints name
Sarah 35 Hebrew Biblical
Elisa/Eliza 33 Hebrew Biblical
Julia 32 Latin Roman
Jasmin 30 Indian/Persian Flower, disney?
Hailey 27 English Surname

The first thing noticed is that there are more than 10 names - with so few births, it has come that some names are used several times. There is a definite 'pop culture' influence here - especially with Shania, possibly Mariah, Ylenia, Jasmin and Hailey. Malta is Mediterranean and there is a definite Italian/Spanish influence with the amount of 'ah' names - only Amy, Jasmin and Hailey don't end with this sound. Additionally, Biblical comes out quite well.

Most Popular
This brings me to the subject of: which name is...probably...the most popular in the English speaking world. I did some calculations (similar to those I set out before) and this is what I found - not conclusive but possible. A rough top twenty, with rough figures of # of births in 2006:

# of births USA England/UK Canada Australia NZ Ireland
Emily 32962 Emily Olivia Emma Ella Charlotte Emma
Emma 27025 Emma Grace Emily Chloe Ella Sarah
Isabella 24974 Madison Jessica Sarah Emily Sophie Katie
Olivia 24686 Isabella Ruby Madison Charlotte Emma Amy
Madison 24604 Ava Emily Hannah Olivia Olivia Aoife
Hannah 23429 Abigail Sophie Olivia Jessica Emily Ciara
Ava 21714 Olivia Chloe Hailey Isabella Grace Sophie
Grace 21617 Hannah Lucy Maya/Mia Mia Jessica Chloe
Abigail 20668 Sophia Lily Kaitlyn Sophie Hannah Leah
Chloe 20286 Samantha Ellie Abigail Sienna Lily Ella
Mia 19853 Elizabeth Ella Grace
Isabella Emily
Sarah 17999 Ashley Charlotte Jessica
Lucy Rachel
Jessica 17782 Mia Katie Megan
Chloe Niamh
Ella 17435 Alexis Mia Julia
Ruby Grace
Sophia 17282 Sarah Hannah Sophia
Georgia Rebecca
Elizabeth 15527 Natalie Amelia Lauren
Paige Hannah
Samantha 14906 Grace Megan Isabella
Amelia Caoimhe
Lily 13706 Chloe Amy Samantha Maia Ava
Ashley 13482 Alyssa Isabella Chloe
Zoe Lauren
Sophie 12381 Brianna Millie Rachel
Madison Jessica

The biggest US movements I can see are Sophie (#125 in US to #20), Lily (#33 to 18) Ella (#21 to 14) and Grace (#17 to 8). I'm focussing on US as that is the place with the most births and thus the place where it was most difficult to shift each name's position - Emily stays #1 though it isn't #1 anywhere else, Charlotte doesn't make it into top 20 despite featuring highly in NZ and Australia (it ended up #24). Grace is one name that does change - through its strong popularity in England. Sophie is another - it's US 2730 births were boasted by almost 10000 through its popularity in England, Australia, NZ and Scotland.

As for 'ee' vs 'ah' - 11 'ah's to 5 'ee's: the US popularity plays a very strong hand here.

I hope this has been fairly informative, apologies for the squishy formatting earlier on. I doubt I'll do such a detailed boys examination - possibly just make up a list.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Some Unusual Mythological Names

Taking a break from the usual programme's very time-consuming. Anyway here is a bunch of completely unusable mythological names with fairly nice connections (then again see Cloacina).

Aegina - one of Saronic islands, from Aegina who was the mother of Aeacus by Zeus
Amalthea - she-goat who nursed infant Zeus
Aphaia - goddess worshipped in Aegina
Callirhoƫ - lots of characters here - an oceanid, a naiad, daughter of river-god Achelous and river-god Scamander,
Chione - snow-nymph
Cleodora - one of the Danaids, fifty daughters of Danaus who were forced to marry fifty sons of Aegyptus. On their wedding night, 49 of the daughters murdered (on Danaus' orders) their husbands.
Cloacina - Roman goddess presiding over the sewers in Rome
Creusa - several characters - naiad, second wife of Jason (also identified as Glauce), daughter of Priam of Troy, daughter of Erechtheus of Athens
Egeria -Roman goddess connected with Diana, and associated with water. Wife of second king of Rome.
Eileithyia - goddess of childbirth and midwifery
Idaea - nymph, wife of Scamander
Ilia - another name for Rhea Silvia
Issa -daughter of Macareus, beloved by Apollo
Juturna - Roman goddess of fountains, wells and springs
Leucothea - sea deity, the 'white goddess'
Marpessa - daughter of river god Evenus/o
Pasiphaƫ - daughter of Helios (the Sun) and mother of the Minotaur
Pherusa - nereid
Pomona - Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards
Semiramis - Assyrian queen, mythical founder of Nineveh

If you want more information on them then Google or Wikipedia are your friends.