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Don't Tell Hillary Swank
January 30, 2013 11:52 PM   Subscribe

Hilary/Hillary: The Most Poisoned Baby Name in US History in which Hilary Parker, Ph.D. candidate in Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, uses her statistical mojo to determine just how unique was the drop-off of babies named Hilary/Hillary the year after Bill Clinton was elected President.
posted by oneswellfoop (83 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know what it is that creeps me out about her. It might be that she looks like a certain family member, or it could be that she's completely dishonest and it's the lying I'm picking up on. She did refer to Hosni Mubarak as a "friend of her family", after all, knowing full well of how he tortured dissidents.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:59 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


But then, she wasn't secretary of state back in '92.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:05 AM on January 31, 2013


She is a fine woman.
posted by Hosni Mubarak at 12:09 AM on January 31, 2013 [43 favorites]


Most interesting thing is in the comments:
I can tell you about “Infant”. In 1990 the U.S. passed legislation that required SSNs on the tax return for anyone claiming dependents. This cracked down on a type of tax fraud where people would claim numerous non-existent dependents (I have, uh, 23 children… hey, no taxes this year!) to reduce their taxes. In conjunction with that, they had a program for hospitals to give new parents a form to request a SSN for their newborn. But the catch is, you had to have a name for the child. While most people gave their children names at birth, some didn’t (various cultural practices delay naming). But anyway, these people were now encouraged to name their kids and apply for an SSN immediately at birth. That is almost certainly the reason for the sudden non-popularity of “infant” as a name.
posted by empath at 12:14 AM on January 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


Maybe it wasn't Clinton. Maybe it was Hilary Swank's 1992 debut in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer film.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:15 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have a first lady bakeoff? Seriously, WTF!
posted by Harald74 at 12:16 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was pretty cool. I'd like to read about more "fad" names.

Am I missing why we should not tell Hilary Swank?
posted by ODiV at 12:43 AM on January 31, 2013


The Most Poisoned Baby Name in US History

Honestly, I would have thought that would have been more true for the name Monica! I wonder what the dropoff was in babies named Monica after 1998...
posted by cairdeas at 12:49 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're telling me the drop-off of German babies named Adolf wasn't statistically significant?
posted by a non e mouse at 1:08 AM on January 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Thanks interwebs
posted by a non e mouse at 1:19 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hilary is no more a woman's name than Shirley, Carol or Jocelyn. How embarrassing for the parents.
posted by pipeski at 1:21 AM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks interwebs

That's a Quora link. Could someone pastebin it?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:23 AM on January 31, 2013


Sorry - the graph is here and the page is here (never knew about pastebin before now, thanks)
posted by a non e mouse at 1:32 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The author is careful not to comment on the details of why “Hillary” may have been poisoned right around 1992, but I’ll go ahead and make the bold causal conclusion that it’s because that was the year that Bill Clinton was elected, and thus the year Hillary Clinton entered the public sphere and was generally reviled for not wanting to bake cookies or something like that.

Well I was quite a bit older when all that happened and maybe it had something to do with her clumsy and misguided attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system from her role as first lady and the condescending, demeaning view she had of women unlike herself.

I suspect that before the 2016 campaign gets into full swing her polling is going to look similarly poisioned.
posted by three blind mice at 1:36 AM on January 31, 2013


I have a difficult time believing that drop in "Hillary" is more steep than, for example, the drop in "Britney".

The excellent Baby Name Visualizer gives some indication that this is indeed correct to doubt, especially given the recent resurgence in the name Hillary.

As a side note, the Visualizer is an outstanding place to explore trends in naming, one important observation is that names starting with a given letter tend to fall in and out of fashion - girl names starting with "O" are on the rebound after decades of decline!
posted by grajohnt at 1:42 AM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interesting, but I was too distracted by joy at the Iesha video to notice anything else. (It's amazing on so many levels! They're so young! The skate park! Nintendo!)
posted by chalkbored at 2:03 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was pretty cool. I'd like to read about more "fad" names.
A Matter of Taste: How Names, Fashions, and Culture Change
posted by knile at 2:08 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Am I missing why we should not tell Hilary Swank?

Hasn't she suffered enough? She's only ever been one apostrophe short of being her own worst critic.
posted by biffa at 2:10 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Overexposure of a name = "poisoning". Eleanor, Bess (and Elizabeth), Mamie, Lady Bird (and Claudia), Pat, Betty, Rosalyn(n), Nancy, Barbara, Laura and Michelle also lost popularity (or continued to be unpopular) as baby names when the First Lady shared that name.

Jacqueline and Jackie, however, peaked in popularity in the 60s.
posted by iviken at 2:17 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, people sure lost interest in naming their boys Jennifer in the mid-80s.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:23 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out hodgepodge's Nametrix iPhone app posted over in Projects. It's a really neat way of presenting really neat data about the popularity of names and how they are correlated with various demographics.

According to the app, Hilarys tend to be psychologists, screenwriters, and film producers, and Hillarys tend to be homemakers, writers, and actors.
posted by painquale at 2:51 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


The man in white in this photo, stage name "Big Daddy", was called Shirley.

He remains the most famous wrestler the UK ever had and a household name for anyone who watched TV before about 1985, from an era before wrestling disappeared off British TV and WWE appeared. You can see him fighting his nemesis, the nearly-as-famous Giant Haystacks, aka the bad guy (although in reality Haystacks was, apparently, mild mannered and quite religious).
posted by MuffinMan at 2:52 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I was quite a bit older when all that happened and maybe it had something to do with her clumsy and misguided attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system from her role as first lady and the condescending, demeaning view she had of women unlike herself.

Yeah, Fox News really wasn't all that necessary as a propaganda channel for rightwing views; back then the mainstream media managed quite well on their own.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:18 AM on January 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


You have a first lady bakeoff? Seriously, WTF!

Naw, man. At the time, Hilary Clinton was the first potential first lady to have been a "career woman," working full time during her husband's years in politics. This caused a bit of a frisson, as the proper role of the first lady was conceived of by most people as a very traditional one --- to act as a hostess, to lend her husband a touch of grace on social occasions, to be stylish, do a bit of charity work. You know, Jackie Kennedy.

Hilary obviously wasn't that, and was asked about it in an interview, and replied something along the lines of "well, I could have sat around baking cookies all day, but I had other things I wanted to do with my life." It came off as if she was insulting all her predecessors, and Clinton's opponents made a lot of hay about it --- Barbara Bush was out on the double releasing her own homemade oatmeal cookie recipe to Women's Day or Family Circle or whatever it was, etc.
posted by Diablevert at 3:33 AM on January 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


Barbara Bush was out on the double releasing her own homemade oatmeal cookie recipe to Women's Day or Family Circle or whatever it was, etc.

You left off the punch line! They both gave recipes to Family Circle (Mrs. Clinton's were basically standard Toll House Cookies) and Mrs C. then made a point of baking a batch and passing them out to reporters. All of which was either totally lame or subtly witty, depending on your point of view.
posted by BWA at 4:06 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Naw, man. At the time, Hilary Clinton was the first potential first lady to have been a "career woman," working full time during her husband's years in politics. This caused a bit of a frisson, as the proper role of the first lady was conceived of by most people as a very traditional one --- to act as a hostess, to lend her husband a touch of grace on social occasions, to be stylish, do a bit of charity work. You know, Jackie Kennedy.

Counterargument: Eleanor Roosevelt.
posted by jaduncan at 4:11 AM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't remember her attempt as being clumsy. I remember it not being received very well by Republicans, who were very careful to only say positive things about her publicly, while tearing her down through leaks and rumors. After that, however, the gloves kind of seemed to come off.

I also don't remember her being condescending, although her remark about not being a stand-by-your-man kind of woman was also taken and run with.

It's interesting to me how quite a few people in this country clearly hate her guts. It's hard for me not to see it as sexism when the facts are so thin.

Down here in Louisiana, a guy in my town donated the maximum $2,000 to her opponent's Senate campaign, along with 2 more from his wife, 2 from each of his kids, the dog, etc.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:12 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Down here in Louisiana, a guy in my town donated the maximum $2,000 to her opponent's Senate campaign, along with 2 more from his wife, 2 from each of his kids, the dog, etc.

"Well Bob, I guess I just want to send the message I really am that much of a prick."
posted by jaduncan at 4:33 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


"and yes, of course I tell my wife who I'll be donating her allowance to. Why do you laugh at that?"
posted by jaduncan at 4:40 AM on January 31, 2013


Why Don’t Parents Name Their Daughters Mary Anymore? "In 2011 there were more than twice as many Nevaehs (“Heaven” spelled backwards) born as there were Marys."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:48 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Counterargument: Eleanor Roosevelt.

Fair point, but the nearly 50 years in between the Clintons entering the White House and the Roosevelts leaving it were filled with Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Ladybrid Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and the aforementioned Barbara Bush and Jackie Kennedy. Of that particular murderer's row, I'd say Jackie is by aeons the most iconic. You wouldn't say old Eleanor was out of living memory by then, but if you could have voted for Rooseveldt you'd have been 66 in 1992.

Plus, Eleanor wasn't exactly a "career woman". She was a bluestocking. Subtle difference. Wellesley graduate works for either, as does being opinionated in general and throwing your life into political activism, but bluestockings are upper class, and so it's okay for them to hand the kids off to the nanny while they head down to the picket line with the suffregettes (or migrant workers, depending on your era). A "career woman" implies striving middle class who refuses to make the home her priority. Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins vs. Betty Friedan. Hills was the latter.

It's interesting to me, though --- I think the hate's still out there for her in some pockets, but I'd disagree that it's as hardcore as it once was. I think her years as Secretary and Senator have overridden a lot of the bad blood from her tenure as First Lady; she's been effective in both roles, and choosing to work withing the Obama administration, and the team-player way she's gone about it, was remarkably classy after the knowck-down drag-out primary they had. People joke about it now, the idea of her half-running the country during Bill's term, but her being appointed to lead health care reform stuck in a lot of people's craws because it seemed she had got the gig simply by being Bill's wife. I think there's a level where that was sexist --- if she had simply been a close male advisor to Bill, some kind of Little Rock consigliere, it would have seemed fine, or at least not objectionable in the same way. But it's also true that she'd never been elected to public office at that point either, and people also objected when JFK made his brother AG.
posted by Diablevert at 4:55 AM on January 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


You're telling me the drop-off of German babies named Adolf wasn't statistically significant?

This is US only data. And there was actually a slight jump in what appears to be 1938.
posted by gjc at 4:59 AM on January 31, 2013


Why Don’t Parents Name Their Daughters Mary Anymore? "In 2011 there were more than twice as many Nevaehs (“Heaven” spelled backwards) born as there were Marys."

That's really interesting. When I met my wife, and her mixed family of super traditional WASPs and the Portuguese, her family had six female members, which included four Marys and a Maria, but those are groups for whom 1) Christianity and 2) tradition are generally more important than for the population at large.

I like Mary as a name, but we're not considering it for when we have kids. My wife has no intention of giving up her chance to stop being the only not Mary.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:29 AM on January 31, 2013


My favorite Hilary... though I'm also a fan of Hillary Clinton.

Here's an interactive grapher for England and Wales, charting from 1996 to 2010. "Hillary" is up, "Hilary" is down. "Meta" is up from 0 in 2008 (and previously) to 5707th. I wonder what happened between 2008 and 2009 to spur this? According to the (U.S.) baby name wizard site "Meta" was at its most popular during the late 1800s, then fell completely off the chart at some point before the 1930s.
posted by taz at 5:38 AM on January 31, 2013


Naw, man. At the time, Hilary Clinton was the first potential first lady to have been a "career woman," working full time during her husband's years in politics. This caused a bit of a frisson, as the proper role of the first lady was conceived of by most people as a very traditional one --- to act as a hostess, to lend her husband a touch of grace on social occasions, to be stylish, do a bit of charity work. You know, Jackie Kennedy.

It seems worth noting that the New York Times had a go at Judith Steinberg Dean in 2004 for things like having her own life and thinking inaugural balls are dumb, though it's not even clear if her thoughts on inaugural balls played any role in the fact they ditched the ball after a few terms. (It seems worth noting that if Dean was, in fact, the first governor of Vermont to ditch the inaugural ball, this was a useful precedent. Pete Shumlin's having an open house in lieu of a ball, acting as a fundraiser for Hurricane Irene relief, which Vermont still needs money for.) IIRC, it became clear early on that should Obama be elected, Michelle Obama would take leave from her job (and she left partway through the campaign?), which made her acceptable. This is to say I'm not sure the situation has improved a whole lot.

That's really interesting. When I met my wife, and her mixed family of super traditional WASPs and the Portuguese, her family had six female members, which included four Marys and a Maria, but those are groups for whom 1) Christianity and 2) tradition are generally more important than for the population at large.

I wonder if the count of Marys included all the Mary Somethings, which were terribly popular for Catholics to name girls of my father's generation. I suspect that at some point, the expectation you'd name at least one girl Mary or Mary Something got lost and that practice was artificially inflating the number of Marys.
posted by hoyland at 5:38 AM on January 31, 2013


Huh. I had always thought that the name Mary was sort of taboo (kind of like Jesus in non-hispanic communities) and rare until the turn of the last century. Hence George M. Cohan's line in Forty-five Minutes from Broadway, "it was Mary, Mary, long before the fashions came".

Wrong again. Clearly something else was on his mind. Any ideas what?
posted by BWA at 5:47 AM on January 31, 2013


I wonder if the count of Marys included all the Mary Somethings, which were terribly popular for Catholics to name girls of my father's generation.

It would have included Mary Somethings, but not Marysomethings.

I suspect that at some point, the expectation you'd name at least one girl Mary or Mary Something got lost and that practice was artificially inflating the number of Marys.

Hardly seems like "artificially." They were named Mary, after all. Though it does make me wonder whether a significant portion of Marys went by middle names or nicknames, or whether they did so at a higher rate than other names, but you'd need more than the SSA database to find that.
posted by Etrigan at 5:48 AM on January 31, 2013


Am I missing why we should not tell Hilary Swank?

It was either that or make the post title "Hilar(it)y Ensues", which is too awful a pun for even ME.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:57 AM on January 31, 2013


Certainly in the all singing all dancing all Mary family I married into people go by names other than Mary, to avoid confusion. I wonder if the use of a small number of official names and lots of nicknames is being undermined by giving people more individual names. For example, I'm named after my grandfather which I think is a fairly standard thing in my family*. That gives you a fair number of people who go by the same name which effectively requires nicknames. This goes doubly if you're doing a lot of Jr, III, IVs.

*We've got a family tree that just alternates Aquila and Quinton for generations.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:00 AM on January 31, 2013


I had always thought that the name Mary was sort of taboo (kind of like Jesus in non-hispanic communities) and rare until the turn of the last century.

Interesting international tangent about this! In Irish, Mary is Maire, and - as is probably not surprising - there are more than a few people who have been named "Maire" out of veneration for that Mary. However - "Maire" is not St. Mary's name in Irish - instead, it is Muire. And you will not find many women, if any, named "Muire" in Ireland. It's a sort of interesting dodge that happened so women could be named after Mary but, y'know, not really.

....Although, upon reflection, I've just realized that my Irish friend's sister is named Muireann (which would translate to "Maryann") - and realized that they used the "taboo" spelling. Huh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:05 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulgaroktonos: "Certainly in the all singing all dancing all Mary family I married into people go by names other than Mary, to avoid confusion."

My grandmother's mother and aunts were Maria Conception, Maria Immacolata, etc. (actually I'll ask her what all they were in a little while here). I understand they all went by shortened versions of their middle names. Spanish (Asturian), late 19th c.
posted by notsnot at 6:15 AM on January 31, 2013


There's also Maureen, which is another Irish variant of Mary.
posted by empath at 6:16 AM on January 31, 2013


hoyland: I wonder if the count of Marys included all the Mary Somethings, which were terribly popular for Catholics to name girls of my father's generation. I suspect that at some point, the expectation you'd name at least one girl Mary or Mary Something got lost and that practice was artificially inflating the number of Marys.

My grandmother was Maria Teresa, and my great aunt was Maria Something, and their youngest sister was Maria Caterina. The youngest died in a freak accident at age 2, and they changed my great aunt's name to Maria Caterina, after her dead sister. She was something like 5 or 6 at the time. So yeah, naming practices have changed.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:26 AM on January 31, 2013


... how unique was the drop-off of babies named Hilary

Just woke up. Good morning!

I read that to mean not "drop-off IN THE FREQUENCY of the baby name Hilary," but rather "doorstep baby basket orphanage drop-offs of babies named Hilary," and for a second I was all "Jesus Christ, tea party crazies, the KID'S not defective ... you could change the name!"

Got it by the third comment, though.
posted by mph at 6:29 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hardly seems like "artificially." They were named Mary, after all. Though it does make me wonder whether a significant portion of Marys went by middle names or nicknames, or whether they did so at a higher rate than other names, but you'd need more than the SSA database to find that.

Artificially in the sense that presumably the parents of some of the Mary Somethings would have rather called their kid Anne and succumbed to pressure from their parents (or maybe the priest) to call their kid Mary Anne instead. Which is admittedly arguably not artificial, but that's what I meant.

I had been assuming the Mary Somethings were one first name, rather than a first and a middle name. However, I seem to be the only person in the thread with this assumption.
posted by hoyland at 6:32 AM on January 31, 2013


I had been assuming the Mary Somethings were one first name, rather than a first and a middle name. However, I seem to be the only person in the thread with this assumption.

No, not at all. My sister-in-law's first name is Mary Jo.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:36 AM on January 31, 2013


The youngest died in a freak accident at age 2, and they changed my great aunt's name to Maria Caterina, after her dead sister.

I think this was A Thing among some communities in the early 20th century (and maybe prior). I know of a similar case where, within a family containing several brothers, when the oldest brother died young, the next brother in line just started getting called by that name. It was never formally changed, but that's what everyone called him, aside from nicknames, for the rest of his life.

It makes genealogy somewhat more challenging than it otherwise would, if you don't have someone to straighten you out. ("Wait, that's Alonzo? I thought Alonzo died young?" "He did, but that's Dead Alonzo. Different person.")

I'm pretty curious to know what drove the decision to do that, because it seems like it'd be fairly rough on the living sibling, but in some cases it just happened, I guess.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:42 AM on January 31, 2013


I'm pretty curious to know what drove the decision to do that

Possession by the angry spirit of the departed was my assumption.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:44 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Regarding the whole Mary/Neveah thing, I posted that fact to FB and a friend of mine who is due any day said that her baby book suggested that "Treah" would be a good sibling name for Neveah. Treah, of course, being the word heart backwards.

Just name your kid Hillary. Jeez. :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Possession by the angry spirit of the departed was my assumption.

Seriously. Rock Steady, I'm a nice guy, so I'm going to assume, for now, that you don't come from a long line of dark sorcerers who carter to the whims of evil spirits, but know that I'm open to having my mind changed on this point.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:48 AM on January 31, 2013


Wow, I'm surprised and kinda bummed by the Hillary Clinton hate on here.
posted by young sister beacon at 6:53 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulgaroktonos: I'm going to assume, for now, that you don't come from a long line of dark sorcerers who carter to the whims of evil spirits

I'm not saying you're right, but I'm not saying you're not right.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:55 AM on January 31, 2013


Wow, I'm surprised and kinda bummed by the Hillary Clinton hate on here.

Wha? It's one thoughtful comment and one bit of predictable trollish crap. Hardly a hate-on, even by mefi standards.
posted by elizardbits at 6:58 AM on January 31, 2013


Always cracks me up because Hillary was to be my name if I'd been born a girl. I've always been really thankful that I was not. Oh -- and the alternate chick handle was Tamworth. Chew on that one.
posted by VicNebulous at 7:00 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had been assuming the Mary Somethings were one first name, rather than a first and a middle name. However, I seem to be the only person in the thread with this assumption.

No, not at all. My sister-in-law's first name is Mary Jo.


The Social Security Administration (or at least this database, which is the source of nearly all U.S. discussion of baby name trends), doesn't like spaces in names. They would list Mary Jo as Maryjo or Mary, but not Mary Jo.
posted by Etrigan at 7:06 AM on January 31, 2013


My Rockefeller Republican uncle's first daughter was born in early 1991, and he named her Hillary thinking it was a safe, traditional name. When it came out looking like he'd named his daughter after a Democrat, he was so flummoxed that he named his next daughter Regan, as if this would somehow balance his family out.
posted by Copronymus at 7:09 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


My sister is a Hillary, born in 1981, and my mother has expressed some annoyance that Hillary became more popular, at least in her view, after Clinton was elected president. I always figured one positive to come from it is that most people stopped misspelling her name. Pre-Clinton, Hilary with an L seemed to be the default people tended to go with.
posted by something something at 7:10 AM on January 31, 2013


he was so flummoxed that he named his next daughter Regan, as if this would somehow balance his family out.

As in King Lear?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:11 AM on January 31, 2013


You're telling me the drop-off of German babies named Adolf wasn't statistically significant?


Not just German babies! My great-uncle had a pretty typical Austrian-Jewish name, which he carried with him when his parents immigrated to America in the 1920s. Fifteen years later, my kosher-keeping great-uncle Adolf Greenberg had his first name legally changed to Jack.

(true story, though last name is changed for a thin pretense of anonymity)
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:16 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mary in various incarnations is still a pretty popular name here in Catholic Cincinnati. My nearly 13-year-old daughter has friends/classmates named Mary, Maria, Mary Grace, Maryanne, MaryBeth (spelled like that), and Mary Ellen (whose nickname is Mellen [melon] because Mary Ellen). Keep in mind that there are only about 60 kids total in her entire grade.
posted by cooker girl at 7:20 AM on January 31, 2013


As in King Lear?

Well, yes, that's what he tried to tell everyone. I guess Goneril was a little too far out there. I think if he was really dedicated to naming his child after a Shakespeare villain, he should have gone for Sycorax.
posted by Copronymus at 7:24 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think if he was really dedicated to naming his child after a Shakespeare villain, he should have gone for Sycorax.

Right up until some overzealous Doctor Who fan challenged the poor kid to single combat.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]



Honestly, I would have thought that would have been more true for the name Monica! I wonder what the dropoff was in babies named Monica after 1998...


The number of Monicas was already decreasing, there doesn't seem to be a faster decline after the 90s.
posted by waterlily at 7:30 AM on January 31, 2013


It makes genealogy somewhat more challenging than it otherwise would, if you don't have someone to straighten you out. ("Wait, that's Alonzo? I thought Alonzo died young?" "He did, but that's Dead Alonzo. Different person.")

This happens every time large numbers of my dad's relatives gather in one place (aka Uncle George's Christmas party. I have no idea whose uncle Uncle George actually is.) because someone decides to draw a family tree to sort out who the hell everyone is and how we might be related to each other (answer: sometimes not at all, aside from a marriage a few generations back). Then we hit the two Michaels who were brothers. But inevitably the conversation goes "Right, so your great-grandfather Michael was the oldest." "He wasn't. The other Michael was the oldest." "Exactly, your great-grandfather." (assuming the other 'other Michael' is one of the 17 other people called Michael) "No, there was a dead one." I suppose we're lucky that no one who remembers the dead one is still alive because that would be awkward. (The youngest of those siblings died like two years ago. When you're the 13th kid, you outlive your eldest (or, er, second eldest) brother's children.)
posted by hoyland at 7:43 AM on January 31, 2013


the best hilary
posted by likeatoaster at 7:48 AM on January 31, 2013


From the article:

Is Hilary/Hillary really the most rapidly poisoned name in recorded American history? (emphasis mine)

I have no cite, but pssssshhhh

Love,

Katrina
posted by ersatzkat at 8:04 AM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm betting we're not going to see many Sandys next year.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:17 AM on January 31, 2013


Well perhaps she can look forward to the uptick after 2016.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2013


Treah, of course, being the word heart backwards.
Treah is 'Haert' backwards. :)
posted by unixrat at 8:40 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd have thought reverse-Heaven would be some kind of Satanist thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:50 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Treah is 'Haert' backwards. :)

Sorry, typo. I believe the name is Traeh. Tray-uh.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:50 AM on January 31, 2013


My next cat is going to be called Skidney, which is kidneys spelled badly.
posted by biffa at 9:02 AM on January 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


biffa: My next cat is going to be called Skidney, which is kidneys spelled badly.

Do not jinx your cat's kidneys.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2013


girl names starting with "O" are on the rebound after decades of decline!

The visualizer is tricky; that big bump is all Olivia. Possibly related: Raven, Simone.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:23 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd have thought reverse-Heaven would be some kind of Satanist thing.

Natasha definitely is.
posted by kurumi at 9:50 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Looking at that graph of falling Marys: the really precipitous drop happens right about the late '90s. Is this something we could plausibly blame the Farrelly brothers for?
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:14 AM on January 31, 2013


I'm betting we're not going to see many Sandys next year.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a small uptick about 9 months after the storm.

I knew the name Mary is becoming less common but was surprised to see so much discussion in this thread. My daughter (born 2005) is a Mary, mainly because there are a number of Mary's, Maries, and similar on both sides of her family, so everyone could claim to have inspired her name. I never thought much about the religious connection, but there are some Catholics on both sides as well.
posted by TedW at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2013


three blind mice: Well I was quite a bit older when all that happened and maybe it had something to do with her clumsy and misguided attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system from her role as first lady and the condescending, demeaning view she had of women unlike herself.

Oh, you!

Yeah, Fox News really wasn't all that necessary as a propaganda channel for rightwing views; back then the mainstream media managed quite well on their own.

Of, if only it was just "back then." CNN still uncritically uses whatever obnoxious, focus-group-tested phrasing Frank Luntz or his successors come up with without a drop of examination.
posted by JHarris at 12:55 PM on January 31, 2013


My Dutch grandfather's name was Adolph (and his father, and his father, and his grandfather) -- goes on back a long way and across multiple family lines. He named his first kid Adolph, and he named HIS first kid Adolph. That last kid is about 30 today. They all wisely go by 'Dolf'.
posted by zvs at 1:04 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some countries, including Japan, Germany, Sweden, and China, regulate the names you can use for your child.

In Iceland, according to the article, you have to pick from a list of 1,853 female names, and 1,712 male ones.
posted by eye of newt at 11:40 PM on January 31, 2013


Some countries, including Japan, Germany, Sweden, and China, regulate the names you can use for your child.

This isn't really shocking news. Nor do I necessarily think it's problematic in and of itself, though obviously it can be. Turkey had a ban on Kurdish names that ended as a result of the EU negotiations (though I have no idea how easy it would be to give a kid a Kurdish name now, even if the state would no longer come after you). So the Kurdish name issue has morphed into a fight over what letters are allowed in names, as there are Kurdish names using letters that don't exist in the Turkish alphabet. This, of course, is a problem in all kinds of countries, whether or not you're trying to oppress an ethnic group. (You'd run into problems naming your kid Søren in the US, for example. He'd be Soren on an awful lot of official papers, even if you got Søren on the birth certificate, which could be hard--mine's typed.)
posted by hoyland at 7:00 AM on February 1, 2013


Nor do I necessarily think it's problematic in and of itself, though obviously it can be.

We don't think it's inherently problematic for the state to tell you what you can name your child? I mean, I'm a liberal with a soft spot for a lot of state interventions, but this one seems to fail a pretty basic utility test.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:32 AM on February 4, 2013


"girl names starting with "O" are on the rebound after decades of decline!"

The visualizer is tricky; that big bump is all Olivia.


* brainstorm *

I may have a theory about why certain names may come back into vogue periodically. Because my niece is indeed one of the "Olivia"'s in that wave; except in her case, my brother expressly put in a bid for that because of our grandfather, whose middle name was Oliver.

And that made me think - maybe a lot of the names that get periodic revivals like that happen because it's a new generation of kids who are being named after grandparents or great-grandparents or great-aunts or the like. At least, that's where the roots of each revival are - then you have the wave of people who just hear the name and think "huh, that sounds good" and use it themselves. (In the case of "Olivia," even the people who think they're naming their kid after this Olivia are actually naming their girls after Dick Wolf's daughter - and who knows who she have been named after.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on February 4, 2013


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