Meaningless names

Emma Comerford emmaco at
Tue Jun 29 01:52:22 EDT 2004

Quoting minnow at

> Whereas all the women from Leathe have unfamiliar ones: Marceny (which is
> brilliant, *I* think), Istoly, Katny, Moury and so on.  Does it strike you
> as it does me that this is similar to the way that every ten years or so
> the top-10 girls' names from the births column in the Times have generally
> changed completely from those of the previous decade, often including
> newly-minted ones, whereas the boys' ones seem to go on for almost ever
> being David, John or Jonathan or Ian, Peter, William, Charles, Michael,
> Richard and such, a selection from about twenty or so that are utterly
> familiar?
I just read about a study done by someone at the University College (London) that talked about this! The 
link is here: 
But for those without web access, it basically talks about how American baby names were studied across 
the 20th century, and it was found that girls name changed a lot more. One suggestion was that because 
family names have traditionally been patrilineal, male first names were correspondingly more linked to 
past family names. But the trends for the mutation rate (yes they used this phrase) changed between 
decades, and the 1990s were very innovative for both genders, with the most new boy names being 
recorded. Which would seem to correspond to less traditionalism? Other interesting tidbits included a switch 
from New Testament names such as John and Paul to Old Testament names such as Jacob and Noah.

(groping for obDWJ) And this still fits in with the original point that DWJ has more interesting female 
names! Although I think many of her books have fantastic names for both genders. But I am supposed to 
be working, so shall leave the post there.

Emma :)
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