Thursday, May 18, 2006

MTV -- Your Source for Names

The Freakonomics blog points to the fact that the name Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) became enormously popular in the past few years. Why is this name so popular suddenly:

“Of the last couple of generations, Nevaeh is certainly the most remarkable phenomenon in baby names,” said Cleveland Kent Evans, president of the American Name Society and a professor of psychology at Bellevue University in Nebraska. ... The surge of Nevaeh can be traced to a single event: the appearance of a Christian rock star, Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D., on MTV in 2000 with his baby daughter, Nevaeh. “Heaven spelled backwards,” he said.

A few years back, my friend Dave Evans noticed a similar relationship between artists who are popular on MTV and the names given to newborns. Specifically, he found that names like Britney, Mariah, Aaliyah, and Selena all spiked in popularity at first album or singer death. I wonder how much of the increase is due to parents consciously naming their kids after pop starlets? If this effect is substantial, am I the only one who thinks that is weird?

Also, I like unique names. Until my name became semi-trendy, I liked the fact that it was unique (seems like that satisfies the purpose of a name -- a unique identifier). Sure it sucked that there were never pencils or mini-license plates, or whatever with my name on them in the stores, but overall I like being unique. Maybe this whole writing words backward is the way to find cool new names. For many years, I called my sister Nag'em (which is her name, Megan, backwards) because it seemed to fit her.

That would definitely be weird, but my theory is that it isn't that people name their kids after these stars, but rather the media coverage gets these names more firmly implanted in people's minds. Is there any way we could empirically separate those two impacts?
heaven spelled've got to be kidding me...
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]