Names in the News: Cubs Edition

Chicago Cubs logoA couple of weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in dramatic fashion (with a score of 8-7 in the 10th inning of the 7th game).

So will we see a rise in the number of babies with Cubs-inspired names (like Wrigley) this year? Probably! Here are some recent examples:

  • Wrigley – Katie Stam Irk (a former Miss America) and her husband Brian welcomed a baby boy several days before the final game of the series. After the Cubs emerged victorious, they named the baby Wrigley Oliver.
  • Wrigley – “Bachelorette” couple Chris Siegfried (a former Chicago Cubs relief pitcher) and his wife Desiree welcomed a baby boy in October and named him Asher Wrigley.
  • Faith Victory – Chicago parents Jason and Kristy Amato welcomed a baby girl in October and named her Faith Victory.
  • Clark and Addison – Cubs fans Scott and Amber McFarland welcomed boy-girl twins in late June and named them Clark (son) and Addison (daughter), “after the iconic intersection outside Wrigley Field.”

The names Clark and Addison were also given to a pair of male-female red panda cubs born at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo last year.

And here’s the most impressive set of Cubs-babies I’ve seen so far: A generation ago, Cubs fanatics Julie and Ralph Dynek named their five children Addison (son), Clark (son), Sheffield (son), Grace Waveland (daughter), and Ivy Marie Wrigley Diamond (daughter). The first four were named after the four streets that surround Wrigley Field, and the fifth was named after the field’s famous ivy-covered brick outfield wall.

And don’t forget this 2007 baby named Wrigley Fields. (Visitors who commented on that post mentioned three more Wrigleys, an Addison, and a Clark.)

Have you encountered any other Cubs-inspired baby names lately, either in the news or in real life?

Sources: ‘Wrigley’ is becoming a popular baby name among celebrities, Couple who met on ‘The Bachelorette’ gives baby Cubs-inspired name, Family Fandom: Cubs Fever Prompts Baseball Baby Names, Chicago Cubs Fans Charmed by Twins, Addison and Clark, Cubs fans hit streets for baby names, Announcing Names for Our Red Panda Cubs


Do Americans Have an Obsession with Nicknames?

A couple of weeks ago, Judith left the following comment on a Five-Name Friday post.

I would love it if you dedicated a blog article to the American obsession with nicknames. Being European this really baffles me. Over here we give our children the name we like best, whether this is a long name (i.e. Michael) or a short one (i.e. Mike). A nickname might pop up in due course but is not something that you force (or even think about) beforehand. If you want your child to be called Ella, why would you name her Eleonora only to shorten it to Ella? Like I said it baffles me and I would love to know the background of this phenomenon.

Such an interesting question!

There’s certainly a difference between Americans and Europeans when it comes up nickname usage. You can see it comparing the top names in the U.S. with the top names in England — boy names especially. The English top 20 includes many more informal names (Jack, Harry, Charlie, Alfie, Freddie, Archie) than the U.S. top 20.

Seems to me that both regions are concerned with nicknames, but handle them in very different ways. Europeans are reasonably comfortable putting nicknames on birth certificates, while Americans are not as comfortable turning nicknames into legal names.

So what’s behind these diverging trends? I’m not sure that there’s a single answer, but here are a few theories. (Please excuse me ahead of time for making sweeping generalizations about Americans and Europeans.)

Formality differences
Europeans tend to be more relaxed than Americans, both in terms of daily life/habits and in terms of viewpoints. Maybe this informality leads them to prefer the informal names. (Or at least doesn’t make them feel obligated to use formal names.)

Work attitude differences
Americans tend to be more career-focused than Europeans. Perhaps this outlook makes them feel that it’s smart to have a formal name to fall back on for future professional use — that having a nickname-only name could be limiting.

Class differences
This theory, which is somewhat like the work attitude theory, comes from an Encyclopedia Britannica* blogger and concerns the U.S. and the UK specifically:

Perhaps the difference has to do with class. Americans may shy away from bestowing diminutives upon their children because they suspect that such “cutesy” names will prevent their children from climbing the ranks and becoming CEOs. In the more-rigid class system of the U.K., on the other hand, some parents might believe that that sort of advancement is so unlikely that it’s not worth letting it affect their choice of a name. So Charlie it is.

Gender-switch differences (pertains to boy names only)
In America, many formerly male/unisex names with “-ee” endings (e.g., Ashley, Avery, Bailey, Ellery, Riley) have turned into girl names. This might make Americans more hesitant to permanently attach diminutives with similar endings to baby boys.

Which (if any) of these theories do you think makes the most sense? What others can you think of?

Source: How to Tell a British Baby from an American: Differences in Naming Trends, Judith’s comment

*Did you know about the New York woman named Encyclopedia Britannica?

Flood Babies in Bihar named after the Ganges

boat, Ganga river, IndiaIn late August, the northern Indian state of Bihar experienced massive flooding. The water reached unprecedented levels in several locations and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

A handful of the babies born amid the floods were given baby names inspired by the Ganges river:

  • Gangesh, a baby boy born in a relief camp. His mother said, “I named him Gangesh as we have been displaced by the river. The name will always remind me that my first child was born in a relief camp.”
  • Gangaputra Bhism, a baby boy born aboard a rescue boat. The word putra means “son,” so his full first name means “son of the Ganges.” In Hindu mythology, the character Gangaputra is also known by the name Bhishma.
  • Namami Gange, another baby boy born aboard a rescue boat. The word namami refers to bowing or prostration. Namami Gange is also the name of government program launched in 2014 to decrease pollution in the Ganges.

One of the babies born during last year’s flood got the particularly unique acronym-name NDRF, which honors India’s National Disaster Response Force. His last name was Singh, so he immediately reminded me of Skylab Singh.

Sources: ‘Namami Gange’ To ‘NDRF Singh’, Floods Rule Bihar Baby Names, In Flooded Bihar, Baby Born On Boat Is Named ‘Namami Gange’, India Ganges floods ‘break previous records’

P.S. One of the sources of the Ganges is Nanda Devi

3 More Airplane Babies: Lufthansa, S.K.Y., Jet Star

planeIt’s been a while since I posted about babies born on airplanes (and named after that fact!). So here are two three at once:

  • Barbara Lufthansa – In July of 1965, a baby girl born on a Lufthansa flight from Germany to New York was named Barbara Lufthansa, middle name in honor of the airline.
  • Shona Kirsty Yves (S.K.Y.) – In 1991, a baby girl born on a British Airways flight from Ghana to London was named Shona Kirsty Yves, the initials of her three given names spelling out the word “sky.”
  • Saw Jet Star – In April of 2016, a baby boy born on a Jetstar Asia flight from Singapore to Myanmar was named Saw Jet Star, “Jet Star” in honor of the airline.

And here are some of the earlier airplane babies:

Do you know of any that I missed?

Sources:

Names in the News: Katrina, Briar, Hallel

Three recent baby name stories featuring names that pay tribute to others:

  • Katrina: In May of 2015, a baby girl born to a survivor of the Sydney siege was named Emily Katrina, middle name in honor of Katrina Dawson, one of the victims.
  • Briar: In May of 2016, a baby girl born to a couple who had fled from the Fort McMurray wildfire two weeks earlier was named Briar Adele, Briar in honor of CBC broadcaster Briar Stewart, who had reported on the wildfire from the front lines.
  • Carmi Hallel: In July of 2016, a baby girl born to a family in Israel was named Carmi Hallel, middle name in honor of Hallel Ariel, the 13-year-old girl who had been murdered several days earlier. (Hallel means “praise” in Hebrew.)

Sources: Sydney siege survivor names newborn daughter after victim Katrina Dawson, Born hours after the burial, a new baby named after Hallel Ariel, Baby Briar: Fort McMurray newborn named after CBC reporter

1,000 New Baby Names per Year in Germany

Every year about 1,000 new baby names are approved in Germany according to Gabriele Rodríguez, a member of the Namenberatungsstelle (Names Advisory Board) of the University of Leipzig in Saxony. She says immigration and parental creativity are the two driving forces behind this growing diversity.

The new names introduced by immigrant/refugee communities tend to be Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Persian. Rodríguez notes that over time some of these foreign names end up sounding rather ordinary. Jasmin, for example, is a Persian name so common in Germany that it’s now “perceived as a German name.”

The other new names are unusual selections submitted by native German parents. Some of these nontraditional names don’t make it through the vetting process — those that might cause a child embarrassment (like “Superman, Wikileaks, Woodruff”) are not approved — but many do end up on German birth certificates, including:

  • Anakin
  • Buckminster
  • Godsgift
  • Manjana (based on the Spanish word mañana, meaning “tomorrow”)
  • Neymar
  • Prinz-Gold (Prince Gold)
  • Schnuckelpupine (schnukel means “sweetheart” or “darling” in German)
  • Sequoia
  • Xantippe

Source: Neue Namen braucht das Land

Good Advice for Choosing an English Name

Apple, Chlorophyll, Icarus, Kinky, Melon, Omicron, Smacker, Swallow, Winsome, Yoyo…the English names chosen by (or assigned to) native Chinese speakers are often not so great.

And, in many cases, they’re later regretted. Here’s what a Hong Kong business student Fragile Chan had to say about his English name:

“I started using ‘Fragile’ when I was 14,” he says. “I first encountered the word in my English class and I chose it as my name because I liked how it’s pronounced.”

Chan says his name makes it easy for others to remember him and it’s an easy conversation-starter when he meets new people. But in his experience, having an uncommon name isn’t always pleasant.

“I am tired of explaining my name to others when I need to introduce myself. Some people even mock me for having a ‘fragile heart’,” he says. Now Chan has decided to change his name to Nathan. “I would like to be less weird in formal situations,” he says.

One U.S. entrepreneur has created a site called Best English Name, which helps Chinese students choose more appropriate English names. Site-suggested names include “Davis, Max, Eli, and Riley” for males and “Elody, Ava, Jolie, and Ellie” for females. These are a lot better than Kinky and Melon, and style-wise they’re fairly appropriate for current teenagers.

But I think the best advice out there comes from Philip Guo’s blog post How to choose an English name, because it can be applied to any age group.

His main recommendation? Go to the SSA’s website, find the top 100 names for your birth year, and choose one from the list for your gender. He says:

You must choose your name from one of these 100 names. Even if you randomly choose a name (for your gender, of course), then congratulations, I guarantee that you have chosen a better name than most of your friends who tried to be creative!

So a 15-year-old student (b. 2001) can choose from names like:

  • Isabel, Katie, Mia, Sophia, Zoe
  • Aidan, Chase, Isaiah, Jack, Noah

But a 40-year-old business-person (b. 1976) can choose from names that might be a better fit for his/her generation, such as:

  • Amy, Dana, Monica, Tina, Wendy
  • Chad, Dennis, Peter, Shane, Tony

Best of all, every top 100 list includes names appropriate for people of various ages. For example, these names were on both the 1976 and the 2001 lists:

  • Anna, Elizabeth, Michelle, Natalie, Sarah
  • Adam, David, John, Nathan, Victor

Guo’s other recommendations include ignoring name definitions entirely and sticking to the exact version of the name found in the top 100. He also suggests choosing a name that sounds somewhat like one’s birth name, e.g., the English name Shawn would work well for a Chinese man named Sheng.

Do you have any other good advice for people (Chinese people in particular) seeking English names?

Sources: Students with unusual names: ‘at least no one forgets us’, Laowai Entrepreneur Wants to Rid China of English “Stripper Names”, Popular Baby Names – SSA