The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet
|8 November 2007|
While I was gathering one-hit wonders recently for a post, I found a whole bunch of typos like Christop and Alexandr among the top U.S. baby names of 1989.
I figured all the typos must be coming from a single source, so I checked the top baby names of some of the larger states. Didn’t see anything in California, didn’t see anything in Texas…but then I checked New York, and there they were:
|Typo||# in U.S.||# in NY||% in NY|
A few of the above may not be typos. But the fact that so many are concentrated in a single place suggests that most are.
Given the time period and consistent truncation, my guess is that one of the counties in New York started using a computer system in 1989 that only allowed the input of up to 8 characters per name.
Now the big question: Did this glitch skew the national baby name rankings?
Yes, but only for Alexandra:
|Name(s)||# in U.S.||Rank in U.S.|
|Alexandra + Alexandr||7,976||41st (new)|
All 301 of the baby girls named Alexandr were born in New York, so it’s likely that all of them are typos. If we add these 301 to the total for Alexandra, the new number nudges Alexandra up two spots to #41. (And bumps the names Brittney and Hannah down one spot each.)
UPDATE, Sept. 2010: I scanned the full list for 1989 (i.e., looked over thousands of baby names outside the top 1,000) and found even more typos:
- Boys: Christia, Demetriu, Johnatho, Kristofe, Kristoph, Mackenzi, Sebastia
- Girls: Anastasi, Angeliqu, Annamari, Annemari, Antoinet, Cassandr, Constanc, Dominiqu, Francesc, Geneviev, Jacqueli, Kassandr, Nicolett