Sibling Names and Parental Speech Errors

A study published late last year looked at how frequently parents mixed up their children’s names. The results were rather predictable:

Respondents whose names shared initial or final sounds with a sibling’s reported that their parents accidentally called them by the sibling’s name more often than those without such name overlap. Having a sibling of the same gender, similar appearance, or similar age was also associated with more frequent name substitutions.

But what I found interesting was the study’s focus on how like-names affected parents, not kids.

The abstract starts: “When parents select similar sounding names for their children, do they set themselves up for more speech errors in the future?”

The answer is yes, parents do set themselves up for speech errors when they give their kids similar-sounding names. I think this is something we all know intuitively, I’ve just never seen it spelled out like this before.

For those of you with siblings: how often did your parents mix up your names?

Source: Parents Accidentally Substitute Similar Sounding Sibling Names More Often than Dissimilar Names


4 thoughts on “Sibling Names and Parental Speech Errors

  1. Our names are Mariana (Maz), Anna, Edward (Eddie) and Philip (Bear). Mum mixed all of our names up on an almost constant basis – including calling me Eddie or Bear. She also called me by the dog’s name, Judith (Judy), quite often, as well as by her own name, Anne. Once she called me “Mum”.

    Unfortunately, I seem to have inherited her uselessness; I get our girls’ names wrong quite often, even thought they’re completely different. I shudder to think what would happen if they were called Mabel and Maeve, or Evie and Ivy.

    My sister has three boys, whose names all start with Br, and who all look very alike. She never gets them confused. She says it’s because she’s a teacher, and used to handling lots of similar childrens’ names.

  2. My father sometimes gets my name (Megan) mixed up with my sister’s name (Leah). We are rather similar in appearance, but never lived under the same roof (age difference). If we had, it surely would have happened more often!

  3. My children’s names are very different, and I rarely get them mixed up. My friend, however, has a Hailey and a Layla, and I think she says Hayla or Lailey more often than not!

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