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Friday, May 15, 2009

More on "n" as a male name marker

Perhaps we are seeing the emergence of a linguistic marker -- but I know little of linguistics.

Consider the top of the male last letter frequency distribution in 2006:
Last letter % of Males
n 35.3%
r 8.9%
l 7.7%
s 7.2%
e 6.7%

Now look at the same distribution for female last letter frequency in 2006:
Last letter % of Females
a 40.0%
e 17.8%
n 13.5%
y 13.3%
h 6.5%

(The last column counts each name on the 1000 list equally.) Note that the "n" frequency for boys is about the same order of magnitude as the "a" frequency for girls.

So perhaps we are culturally evolving to that letter becoming a marker of the child's sex.

There's also more here on Andrew Gelman's blog.


  1. Sociologically observant. Things that make me go: "Hmmmm". Thanks.

  2. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Here are my kids names:

    Nathan Alexander
    Isabel Mercedes
    Marisol Amelia

    You can see that Nathan certainly aligns with your trend for his first name. My girls don't do as well with only 1/4 of their names ending in A. The girls both have names of Spanish origin, so maybe that is a factor.

    As a mom of younger kids, what I notice for the girls is that we're in a trend of older names - more from my grandma's or great grandma's time. Olivia, Julia, Ava and Sophia all come to mind. The names that were popular in the 60's and 70's like Jennifer, Laura, Christina and Kimberly aren't used today much at all. I think it is all cyclical. Jennifer will probably sound fresh to Marisol when she has babies, but 5 out of 125 girls in my graduating class had that name!

    For the boys, Jack is by far the most popular name in my area. Nathan has 6 in his grade alone, which is about 10% of the males in his class! There aren't any other Nathans. Maybe we're bucking the trend out here in Aurora!