Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Growing Fascination with Baby Names

Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Growing Fascination with Baby Names

Article excerpt

The number of articles in newspapers, magazines and online media that feature the phrase "baby names" has skyrocketed in recent years. The New York Times ran 100 articles on the subject between 2003 and 2012. We seem to be fascinated, if not obsessed, by the latest naming trends - and the palette of baby names from which new parents are choosing is growing ever larger.

Researchers look at these naming trends for their cultural implications. Do current preferences reflect parents' personal persuasions or their social yearnings? What's going on in their minds when they choose a baby's name? Based on the trove of data available from the Social Security Administration, here are some of the recent findings:

THE SOUNDS WE HEAR THE MOST have an impact when people are choosing a baby's name, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. They found that babies' names were more common when the "phonemes" (a linguistic term that refers to a small unit of speech) were popular the previous year, especially the sound at the start of the name. For example, if Katie becomes popular, it increases the likelihood of similar sounding names, like Caidyn or Karen. After Hurricane Katrina, the number of American babies given names that started with ? …

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