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- Female Versions of Male Names
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Why do others sound more approachable? These are questions that can crack open a language and a culture.
Unisex Baby Names: Names that morphed from blue to pink - Nameberry - Baby Name Blog
The A. Carli Velocci. Filed to: baby names Filed to: baby names baby names Scientific American linguistics phonemes. Share This Story.
Female Versions of Male Names
About the author Carli Velocci. Carli Velocci Weekend editor and night person at Gizmodo.
These are not little boys I'm talking about. They're names being given to newborn baby girls — and according to the experts, it's all part of a wider shift toward Aussie parents giving traditionally "masculine" names to their daughters. There's "definitely" a trend for parents to name their girls using traditionally boyish monikers right now, says Kimberley Linco, a social researcher at McCrindle, an Australian social research company that produces an annual baby name report based on data from Births, Deaths and Marriage.
Billie jumped from 82nd most popular girl name in to 57th in , while Frankie has gone from 68th to 49th place in the same timeframe, McCrindle research shows. Adelaide photographer Danielle Symes, who named her eight-month-old daughter Charlie, says people tend to respond positively to the name. However, "sometimes there is a bit of confusion as to whether she is a girl or a boy," she says.
The trend of giving masculine names to girls comes at a time of changing gender roles, a renewed push for equality and new discussions about gender fluidity. Girls with a gender-neutral name or masculine name may even have increased opportunities in traditionally male-dominated roles.
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One US study found female lawyers with more masculine names are more likely to become judges, for example. While girls' names sometimes bear sweet or diminutive meanings, male names often have inherently strong connotations: of the top 10 boy names of , for example, William means "resolute protector", Henry means "estate ruler" and Ethan means "firm" or "strong".
When Barry and Harper used their phonetic gender score to compare groups of names from and , they found that the average score for the most popular baby names had increased over time for both girls and boys. In other words, names for both sexes had gotten more female in their sound characteristics. I was curious about whether this trend had continued since and how it looked in a larger time frame.
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So I ran some numbers. I calculated the phonetic gender score for the top boy and top girl names in the United States for the years the first year of record-keeping , , , and As you can see from the chart, boys' and girls' names in every year score significantly differently from each other, meaning that the phonetic gender score is a reliable indicator of name gender.
What accounts for the change?
Looking at the tallies for each criterion of the phonetic gender score, a few trends emerge. For both boys and girls, there has been a move away from one-syllable names. This makes the average score for both rise. Another factor is a recent trend in biblical names for boys like Elijah, Isiah, Jeremiah, Josiah, and Joshua. These multisyllabic names with unstressed first syllables and schwa-like vowels on the end have a feminine profile according to the score criteria.
In , none did. This year there are six, including the number one name on the list, Noah. Names that were once popular—like Harold, Howard, Leonard, Clifford, and Albert—have gone out of style. This year Robert is the only name of that type to make the top and the only name to score a