Name Prediction from 1964

This comes from a newspaper article published in the mid-1960s:

The American melting pot has made something of a stew of old world cultures. Isaac and Rebecca Goldberg are the parents not of Moses and Rachael, but of Donald and Marie. Hjalmar and Sigrid Johanson are the parents of Richard and Dorothy. It seems rather a shame that Axel and Jens, Helma and Ingeborg, not to mention Stanislaus and Giacomo and Pedro and Vladimir have just about disappeared. The custom seems to be for the first generation to anglicize the given name as soon as possible. The next generation or two branches out and we get Pat Johnson, even Angus Puccini. Then, after a few generations, there is a tentative reach backward for the Shawns or even the Seans. Katy’s real name may again be Caitlin, Pat’s Padriac.

The last two sentences are rather prescient. We see many parents nowadays taking that “tentative reach backward” to find a name that pays tribute to their cultural heritage. The key, of course, is finding a name that conforms to modern tastes. Names like Hjalmar and Zbigniew may be legit family names, but they’re probably a no-go. Family names like Giuliana and Liam, on the other hand, fit right in.

Source: “Quite a Problem, Naming the Baby.” Eugene Register-Guard 9 Feb. 1964: 10A.


2 thoughts on “Name Prediction from 1964

  1. Ha! Zbigniew is, indeed, on my family tree – my husband’s beloved uncle. I’d name a son after him in a heartbeat, but I wouldn’t name a kid Zbigniew. Even his nickname, which sounds something like Zbyshek, is impossible in English.

  2. I live in this family, Irish German, and I married into an Irish-Italian-German family. The trail that gets from Ireland to my daughter Maeve goes: Honora & Patrick, Edward & Bridget, Richard, Terry, Bridgett, and then Maeve.
    From Italy to my daughter Sophia and son Leone (Leo) it is more obvious how things anglicize: Maddelena & Dominico , Sarah, Mary, Mike, and then Sophia, Leone (names from sisters and brothers to those first immigrants).
    Tentative reach back is right: my parents named their children BRidgett, Ian, Colleen, and Bevin. The first three have a sort of Irish-American faux finish to them but Bevin is the real deal.

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