“I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”
From a 1936 newspaper article about movie actress Veda Ann Borg:
Miss Borg was given a new tag almost the minute she stepped into the studio. It was “Ann Noble.” […] Miss Borg contended that her own name is more descriptive of her personality than Ann Noble. The former model’s argument was convincing. She will be billed as Veda Ann Borg.
(Keavy, Hubbard. “Screen Life In Hollywood.” Wilkes-Barre Record 23 Apr. 1936: 19.)
How in the world did we get from “Jeremy” to “Jezza”?
There is a rule for how this works. Names which have the letter R in them–Jeremy, Catherine, Sharon, Barry, Murray–are trouble for speakers of non-rhotic variations of English to abbreviate. Rhoticity is a linguistic term for describing when the letter is pronounced; in non-rhotic dialects of English, the sound will be discarded unless followed immediately by a vowel. The dialects of England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and, well, New England are all non-rhotic, which is why the word “car” sounds like “cah.”
This isn’t a problem in any of those names if they’re pronounced fully; there’s always a vowel after the R. But to truncate them would be difficult. Typically hypocoristic nicknames are formed by cutting everything but the first syllable and then either leaving that as-is or adding a vowel. That’s how “Daniel” becomes “Danno”: clip to the first syllable (“Dan”) and add a vowel. (The -o ending is most common for male names; -ie is more common for female names.)
The team, led by North Carolina State University’s Terry Gates, named the shark Galagadon nordquistae, a nod to its teeth, which have a stepped triangle shape like the spaceships in the 1980s video game Galaga, and to Karen Nordquist, the Field Museum volunteer who discovered the fossils.
Lorin now often finds himself babysitting while Cali campaigns against atomic power. Symbolically, not long ago she shed the name she’d “hated for 30 years” for one that sounded right. Margo became Cali. “I look at myself differently now,” she says firmly, “except people all across the country think Lorin has remarried.”
The Wayback Machine was named to reference Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine from the popular cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. In the show, the machine was pronounced as “way back,” which is where the index got its name.
However, Howard did go out of his way to confirm one long-held belief about Willow: that two of the villains were named after famous film critics. The evil General Kael was named after the notoriously ruthless Pauline Kael and the two-headed monster Eborsisk was named after the iconic At the Movies duo of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
And, finally, a pair of snippets from a Colorado Public Radio article about Denver street names. First:
William McGaa [one of Denver’s founding officials] had a debaucherous reputation of his own, drinking and adulterating his way out of favor with the city’s elite. McGaa even named Wazee and Wewatta streets after two of his many wives, both Native American woman from local tribes.
(The settlement of Denver was named in late 1858. McGaa’s son, William Denver McGaa, was born in the settlement in March of 1859 and named after it. His mother was neither Wazee nor Wewatta, but a half-Native American woman named Jennie.)
Second, regarding Denver’s “double alphabetical” streets, which were renamed in 1904:
The pattern is a proper noun name, ideally British, followed by the name of a tree or plant. Albion and Ash, Bellaire and Birch, Clermont and Cherry.
The switch wasn’t without resistance from those wealthy neighborhoods. When Eudora Avenue became Fir Street, residents decried the name as “too plebeian.”
Mifanwy was a character name in multiple films, including Mifanwy: A Tragedy (1913) and A Welsh Singer (1916).
Mignon Anderson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Mignon was also a character name in multiple films, including The Drive for a Life (short, 1909) and Mignon (short, 1912).
Milada Mladova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born Oklahoma in 1921. Her birth name was Annabel Milada Mraz. Milada was also a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film Hostages (1943).
Minna Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1877. Minna Gombell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Minna was also a character name in multiple films, including Perils of the Secret Service (1917) and The Oath (1921).
Moyna MacGill was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Ireland in 1895. Her birth name was Charlotte Lillian McIldowie. Moyna was also a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film Come on Over (1922).
Moyra was a character played by actress Alice Hollister in the short film The Shaughraun (1912).
Myrna Myrna Loy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in Montana in 1905. Myrna Dell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1924. Her birth name was Marilyn Adele Dunlap. Myrna was also a character name in multiple films, including The Face or the Voice (short, 1912) and Broadway to Cheyenne (1932).
Myrta Bonillas was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1890. Myrta was also a character played by actress Ollie Kirby in the short film The Trap (1917).
Myrtle Gonzalez was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1891. Myrtle Stedman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Illinois in 1885. Myrtle was also a character name in multiple films, including Salvation Nell (1931) and Rackateers in Exile (1937).
Quick disclaimer: Some of these names were already on the rise. Others were likely influenced by multiple pop culture events/people (not just the one listed). So I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence for yourself.
Pop culture influence: the Confederate flag debate.
Update, 5/12/16: The state-by-state data was just released. Of the 83 baby girls named Rebel, 12 were born in Texas, 9 in California, 8 in Arkansas and 6 in Oklahoma. Of the 45 boys, 7 were born in Texas and 5 in Tennessee.
Two momentous things happen every year on December 2. First, Britney Spears celebrates her birthday. (Happy b-day, Brit-Brit!) Second, NBN kicks off another round of the Pop Culture Baby Name Game.
Which baby names will see significant movement on the baby name charts in 2015 thanks to popular culture (television, music, movies, sports, current events, products/advertising, video games, etc.)? Comment below with your guesses. Don’t forget to mention the pop culture influence.
Here are a few to start us off:
Adaline – the movie The Age of Adaline was released in April
Arlo – the movie The Good Dinosaur was released in November
Atticus – the book Go Set a Watchman was released in July
Bernie – Bernie Sanders launched his presidential campaign in May
In 2004, Sara Leisten of Gothenburg, Sweden, sought to name her baby Superman (Staalman) because he was born with one arm outstretched. A judge blocked her effort, claiming the child would be ridiculed in later life. Swedish MPs pointed out that the law is inconsistent, as the names Tarzan and Batman are allowed.
I like my name — I mean, it’s my name, so the choice is to either like it or go through some massive identity overhaul to get rid of it. But it has definitely been a source of…issues. As a kid, every adult I ran into would — no joke — break into the theme song from a 1960’s TV show called (you guessed it) “Tammy.” That sort of thing never freaks out little kids.
When I got married, it only got worse. My husband’s last name was Thunder, thus giving me the option of becoming “Tammy Thunder.” Tammy Thunder from Reno. I could’ve just opened my own strip joint and been rolling in it by now if it weren’t for, you know, my dignity.
From an 11 Freunde tweet about German soccer player and World Cup-winner Mario Götze:
Dieser Moment, in dem du dachtest: Wenn er den macht, nenne ich meinen Sohn Mario.
(Translation: “This moment, in which you thought: If he makes it, I call my son Mario.”)
From the movie Despicable Me 2:
Gru: Goodnight Margo…whoa, hold your horses. Who are you texting?
Margo: My friend Avery.
Gru: Avery. Avery? Is that a girl’s name or a boy’s name?
Margo: Does it matter?
Gru: No, no, it doesn’t matter…unless it’s a boy!
American names are no longer popular, as they were overused in the 1990s. In fact, some American names are considered to indicate the child comes from a lower class family. There goes some of my top choice baby names!
“If you get the name, then I get to choose the new couch for the family room.”
A few minutes went by and the deal was officially sealed. A few weeks went by and Howard selected the couch for the family room. A few years went by and the marriage ended. I can’t say the naming negotiation caused our split, but it sure didn’t help.
On the other hand the negotiation was worth it from my side. I never did like that couch in the family room, but our son just turned 26 and he’s definitely a Daniel.
From “Names & Faces” by Michael Blowen, in an October 1991 issue of the Boston Globe:
France has ordered its civil registrars — dedicated functionaries whose duties include officially recording the names of newborns — to stop refusing to accept names for infants that float outside the Judeo-Christian mainstream. Anything goes now; parents can name their kids whatever they want. A registrar says he recently accepted the name “Peripherique.” Another reports that a jobless couple named their child “Assedic” — the acronym for Association for Employment in Industry and Commerce, which hands out unemployment benefits.
(Périphérique means “beltway.” Assédic reminds me of Welfare.)