Clara est la fille de Sophie

June 15, 2009 at 1:03 am

| Gabriel |

As referenced at Montclair and Contexts-Graphic, there’s been some interesting work on French baby names. Of course the application of name data to diffusion was seriously kicked off by Lieberson’s book on American baby names. One of the most basic findings of these studies is that names are so fashion-prone that you can practically use them to carbon date birth cohort, especially for women. For instance I was born in 1977 and all the girls I grew up with had Hebrew names (Elizabeth, Rachel, Sarah). My daughter was born in 2007 and, at least in our social class, all the girls have Victorian names (Frances, Rose, Lillian). It seems like every girl born in the 1980s and 1990s has a Celtic name (Britney, Erin, Caitlin).

One piece of research I haven’t seen discussed in the soc-blogs is the recent Berger and LeMens PNAS article, which uses data from both countries. This article basically argues that names with extremely rapid rise are stigmatized as faddish and are thereafter dropped from the culture’s active repertoire. I loved this article, and as I’ve argued before, we need more studies of abandonment.

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