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London's Names
January 26, 2011 10:50 AM   Subscribe

London's Names.

A map of London showing the distribution of surnames. Personally, I find myself in Patel country.
posted by dougrayrankin (43 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Agent Smith has been getting bizzay.
posted by Gator at 10:52 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So has Agent Patel.
posted by immlass at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2011


Agent Smith has been getting bizzay.
Me too.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2011


Well, those Begums have been busy, haven't they? I get the Smiths and the Singhs, but Begum? What, was he three times London's Busiest Milkman back in the fifties or something?
posted by Jilder at 11:02 AM on January 26, 2011


From some Googling I see that Begum isn't actually a surname - it's a Bengali suffix used by women, like a female version of "Esquire".
posted by w0mbat at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2011


There's a little blank spot right where Buckingham Palace is. Windsor?

Hmmm...DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince of Wales....god I need to take my meds...or stop taking them...
posted by Xoebe at 11:09 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the Belgravia Wilson bubble.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2011


Amazing map/representation. Thanks for posting it.
posted by blucevalo at 11:11 AM on January 26, 2011


Do you think there is some significance to the colour choices?
posted by Jode at 11:11 AM on January 26, 2011


wow, I am amazed at the number of Indian names on that map
posted by dhruva at 11:13 AM on January 26, 2011


Other than the Indian and Pakistani (Orange and Green respectively) I can't see any immediately obvious foreign hand behind the colour scheme conspiracy.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:13 AM on January 26, 2011


Also, the linked map leads you to another link that allows you to map your own surname. Mine is apparently most common in Australia, West Virginia, Birmingham, Nottingham, the Timaru and Selwyn Districts in New Zealand, and Memphis, TN.
posted by blucevalo at 11:15 AM on January 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


There's a little blank spot right where Buckingham Palace is. Windsor?

It's a big area with very little resident population -- particularly if you also count the Royal Parks.

The blog post says the data is from the Electoral Roll; and the Windsors don't vote.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:16 AM on January 26, 2011


All this really tells us is that Smith is the English version of Patel and Patel is the Indian version of Smith, and Williams might be the Welsh version of Smith etc etc

Now, a global map with the most common family name by country? That would be kinda interesting.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:22 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


A global map with most common surname/family name by nation/province would be orgasmic.
posted by blucevalo at 11:24 AM on January 26, 2011


My last name is this incredible little bastion of dark blue in Northern Ireland and, for some reason, New Brunswick, Canada.
posted by Gator at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the linked map leads you to another link that allows you to map your own surname. Mine is apparently most common in Australia, West Virginia, Birmingham, Nottingham, the Timaru and Selwyn Districts in New Zealand, and Memphis, TN.

The districts thing is a little misleading. There are four people with my surname in the Marlborough region of New Zealand and they recently moved. However, the area has such a small population that the frequency on the map makes it seem like there's a Dutch cult based there.
posted by doublehappy at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2011


No orgasms here, but some foreplay perhaps.

Though the sporcle quiz might get you heated up some more.
posted by jng at 11:42 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shah is an Indian name? I'd have thought Iranian.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:45 AM on January 26, 2011


All this really tells us is that Smith is the English version of Patel and Patel is the Indian version of Smith, and Williams might be the Welsh version of Smith etc etc

A more obvious choice for Welsh would be Jones.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:50 AM on January 26, 2011


It's a fascinating visualisation, but troubling.

Should it be the case that surnames are not distributed evenly among groups of different ethnic origin in London, such a visualisation could - and I strongly suspect, does - exaggerate perceptions of the prevalence of certain groups in the population in a way that plays straight into the hands of racists.

I'm sure that wasn't the intent, but I'm equally sure that this site is been gleefully linked to by bigots all over the UK.
posted by motty at 11:51 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I poured over reams of webpages coded by the genealogically insane, not to mention the Annals and the Book of Kells and they all arrived at the same conclusion as the map did in one query. It's been said before, the web is one big time-waster until someone figures out a way to do it all with no effort.

It's destined to perish.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2011


KHAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!
posted by rocket88 at 12:04 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. This is really a bad example of using statistics.

As I understand it, the surnames represent the most common surnames in that area.

This is not the same as the majority of surnames. In a diverse area, one large family with 10 or 20 people would dominate that area and would thus "represent" a population of say 1000 people. Likewise, I am guessing that the names represented are from ethnicities where there is less surname diversity. Thats it. This map, which looks like a population map, is just showing us surname diversity for different surnames and does not map to population.

London could be full of Italians but since their surnames are fairly diverse, they would not show up on this at all.

Just a terrible, misleading map. And the author then makes statements like this:

London is renowned for being a diverse city but this is barely reflected in the most prevalent surnames- only a few name origins can be discerned from the map.
posted by vacapinta at 12:07 PM on January 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


> Shah is an Indian name? I'd have thought Iranian.

Iranian culture (as well as the Persian language) was dominant in (most of) India for a long time.
posted by languagehat at 12:10 PM on January 26, 2011


I, too, am in Patel country.

I am disappointed that the zoom does not reveal more names as you go in.

wow, I am amazed at the number of Indian names on that map
posted by dhruva at 7:13 PM on January 26


You appear not to know much about London. :-)
posted by Decani at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2011


My last name is this incredible little bastion of dark blue in Northern Ireland and, for some reason, New Brunswick, Canada.

Mine too. Some Googling suggests that during the Irish Potato Famine, New Brunswick was a common destination of Irish immigrants trying to flee the country. Canada was part of the British Empire at that point so it was easier and cheaper to get there than the US. Most of those immigrants eventually ended up immigrating again into the US within a few decades, but a significant number also stayed in established Irish cities like Saint John NB. Neat.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2011


"Begum, of the Isle of Dogs Beghams?"

"Yup."
posted by generichuman at 12:20 PM on January 26, 2011


That is neat!
posted by Gator at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2011


That World Family Name link is downright creepy for me. Since my family name is unique (thanks, Ellis Island!), anyone that pops up it directly related to me. It's weird to zoom in on a state and think "there's my uncle over there, and my grandmother over here."
posted by Panjandrum at 12:29 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Subcontinental surnames are often indicators of caste, aren't they? Certain trades. But not geography. This is my understanding, which may be wrong. Hence fewer surnames (fewer trades, birthplaces, etc.)

Do it for Iceland.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:00 PM on January 26, 2011


Synthesizer Patel Synthesizer Patel Synthesizer Patel!
posted by gamera at 1:08 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Me too, Panjadrum. My parents used to live in Wyoming and the site lists Wyoming as the the top region in the US for my surname.
posted by gamera at 1:14 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Important Surname Datapoint: Butts are most common in Canada, most concentrated in Newfoundland and Labrador.

LOLNEWFS
posted by Chichibio at 1:18 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shah is an Indian name? I'd have thought Iranian.

Not since 1979.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:56 PM on January 26, 2011


Begum, really?
posted by londonmark at 2:17 PM on January 26, 2011


Note that you can use the bar in the top lefthand corner to find the 2nd, 3rd, 4th....15th most common surnames.

The world name map is awesome; it picks out the highest concentration of my surname (worldwide) in areas where I know I have cousins/2nd cousins. My mother's maiden name is so rare that the top concentration (again, worldwide) is caused by my uncle. Literally just him.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2011


As far as I can tell Smith = Ferrari = Ferrier = Schmitt ... I wondered why there were so many of them. I reasoned that in Europe in the dark ages that Blacksmiths had the technology to relieve ladies their "protective garments" whilst their husbands were away on crusades etc... ;) I've since been reeducated to the fact that there were Wordsmiths, Songsmiths, Blacksmiths, Whitesmiths etc... and all of them reducing their names to Smith :(

I wonder what Patel means...
posted by Dub at 4:19 PM on January 26, 2011


I wonder what Patel means...

Patel
posted by dhruva at 4:27 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm really enjoying the world map link, but sadly the dataset only includes Europe, North America, India, Japan and China, which can be a bit misleading when you type in say, Korean names!
posted by Joh at 4:40 PM on January 26, 2011


Regrettably, vacapinta's totally right. Pretty much every level of this visualization distorts the underlying reality in really misleading ways.

(I'll also add that the "1st -> 2nd -> nth" bar at the top-left is one of the most useless ways to slice this data imaginable. The end result is analogous to giving a timeline of the 13th most popular occupation in the United States year-by-year since 1776... think about it...)
posted by joshuahhh at 5:20 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


AFAIK, "Shah" means "King" in a variety of central Asian languages. The chess term "checkmate" comes from "shah mat", or "the King is dead" in Sanskrit (I think).
posted by acb at 6:49 AM on January 27, 2011


> The chess term "checkmate" comes from "shah mat", or "the King is dead" in Sanskrit (I think).

Nope, the shah part is Persian (from Old Persian khshāyathiya) and māt is Arabic (from the Semitic root m-w-t; you can see some cognates here).
posted by languagehat at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2011


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