Thursday, November 26, 2009

Google Insights: baby names

Okay, a quick and easy one this time. The Social Security Administration releases a list of the most popular names for new babies every year in the States. It's also a fascinating source of trends, how names fall into, and out of, fashion over the years.

So there are two graphs here: one showing the five top boys' names on 2008 and the other, well aren't you clever if you guessed it.

The boys who in a few years will find the constant need in school to use their surnames are: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel. With the exception of Ethan, a very staid and Biblical list. Who googles what?

Well, isn't that useless? Obviously one rather significant celebrity death has completely thrown things awry here - though interesting to note that "Michael" was galloping ahead of the pack well before Mr. Jackson's death anyway, and Daniel outpaced the other three. Hm.

Looking internationally, the Danish love Jacob, Michael is widespread among English-speaking countries, Ethan seems to be an entirely American thing, Joshua tops lists in Africa, and Daniel seems to be popular throughout the Americas (both North and South).

The girls, a rather more eclectic, fashion-conscious and secular list: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava.

More intersting results: consistent different levels of interest, with spikes all over the place. I guess Madison tops the list due to non-girl's-name things, like the city in Wisconsin for example. I don't know if I've ever met a girl named Madison, actually. Emma has huge spikes, which may or may not have anything to do with Harry Potter movies (were there similar spikes for Daniel?)

It's the Swedes who love Emma most, the Danish who go for Isabella (which I always took to be a Spanish name), Americans go for Emily most, and the Belgians are all over Ava (I prefer the spelling 'Eva' myself). Madison, of course, is a big green Lower 48, as whatever uses the name has, they're all American phenomena.

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