In generations past, was it advantageous for a black man to have a distinctively black name?
Yes, according to a study published recently in the journal Explorations in Economic History.
Researchers Lisa D. Cook, Trevon D. Logan, and John M. Parmanc analyzed over 3 million death certificates from Alabama, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina from 1802 to 1970. They looked specifically at the life expectancy of men with the following distinctively black names:
Perlie, Purlie, Pearlie
What did they find?
That black men with these names lived more than a full year longer (on average) than other black men. In fact, according to the abstract, “[a]s much as 10% of the historical between-race mortality gap would have been closed if every black man was given a black name.”
So what’s behind this beneficial effect?
It’s hard to say, but Lisa D. Cook believes that the black men with Biblical names specifically could have been “held to a higher standard in academic and other activities […] and had stronger family, church or community ties,” and that this could have played a part in their relative longevity.
A reader and her husband are expecting a baby boy in January. They’re down to two names: Atlas and Finch.
If we decide to go with Atlas, his name will be Atlas Grey. However, if we decide to go with Finch, we’re having a terrible time deciding on a middle name. My first thought is Finch Winter but I’m not sure if it’s too feminine. We would love any kind of feedback or ideas. I’m thinking it should be two syllables and obviously something out of the ordinary.
So, here are the questions:
Which name do you like better, Atlas or Finch?
Is Finch Winter too feminine?
What middle name(s) would you suggest for Finch?
Please give us your answers in the comments!
Here’s what I think:
1. I prefer Atlas to Finch for several reasons, one being that the name Finch immediately brought to mind Stifler’s Mom. (And another American Pie movie is due out next year. Who knows how long they’ll keep that franchise/joke alive.)
2. Finch Winter doesn’t strike me as being too “feminine” necessarily — just unisex, as nature names tend to be.
3. My first thought was Winston, which is similar to Winter, but decidedly masculine. Here are some other ideas:
Author Edward Gorey, born on 22 February 1925, would have been 86 today. To celebrate his birthday, let’s check out the names he used in his most famous book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963):
He used interesting (sometimes odd) names in his many other books/stories as well, such as Ortenzia, Gertrúdis, Jasper, Ambrogio, Herakleitos, Agnes and Basil in The Blue Aspic (1968), Embley and Yewbert in The Epiplectic Bicycle (1969), Lambert, Amanda, Augustus, Emily and Neville in The Dwindling Party (1982), and Theoda in The Tuning Fork (1983).
Do you happen to own anything by Gorey? If so, please comment with a few character names!