I admit it. I'm a baby-name nerd. When I was a kid, I'd buy those teeny 49-cent books sold in the grocery-store checkout lanes, and I'd read through them, studying the derivation and meaning of each name, the variations (Margaret, from the Greek for pearl: Maggie, Peggy, Margarita, Meg, Margo, Marguerite, etc.). And now the Internets, they bring us so much more. There's the interactive graph thingy at Baby Name Wizard, the Social Security Administration's baby-names database, and a hilarious snarkfest mocking the ridiculous names people concoct these days.
That last link is especially juicy. From section 13 (and it takes hours to get through all the content at this site!) comes this listing of oddball spellings and associated snark: Skylar Makinzy, Jayden Mokol, Karryllinne Sweet ("I must've stared at this for five minutes before I figured out it's just Caroline."), Schuylar Daymen, Dominick Kaaynen, Duglass Link, Kenadeigh Aiden ("I never, in a million years, would have thought someone would have screwed with 'Kennedy.' Yes, caconomenology is a field of limitless suprises."), Jarret Kaylub, Nicklaus Santana. Then there are freaky names, like Celestial Rage and Gunnar Blayz, Crimson Tobias and Sloe Harlotte. Head over to this site whenever you need to laugh repeatedly. If your eyes should begin to bleed, though, please turn off your monitor.
Today in the New York Times, there was an article on baby naming trends in NYC. While Brooklyn has become the 101st most popular name for baby girls throughout the country, whaddaya know? New Yorkers, dey ain't having none of dat. In New York, names like Fatoumata (West African girl's name) and Moshe (old-school Jewish) are coming on strong, while the cockamamie naming trends that sweep the rest of the nation scarcely pop up.
Closer to home, I find that my son Benjamin's name is pretty common in yuppie circles. But in the Chicago Public Schools? There might be another Ben among the 165 kindergartners. But the Madisons and Olivias and the Dylans and Austins tend to blend in with the kids named Miguel, Reda, Oumar, Ousaf, Maham, Darion, and Tinuola. Frankly, I'm glad Ben's not traveling in the circles where there's always another kid by the same name. I grew up with such a common name, there were four of us with the same name in my tenth-grade English class. Who needs that?
Am I the only baby-name nerd here? I bet I'm not...