Thursday, June 23, 2011

SSA Analysis 2010

Every year, the SSA releases a list of the 1000 most popular baby names. A full list of all baby names given to at least 5 babies is available for download, and alternate spellings are not combined (i.e. Mikayla, Michaela, Makayla, and McKayla are all counted as separate names even though they all sound the same!).
Revised rankings with all variant spellings combined are available on several different forums, blogs, and websites, so I decided to do a different sort of analysis, since I'm more interested in pattern, similarities, and other bits of minutia.

If you're thinking that all boys' names are starting to sound alike, you're probably right.
33.6% of boys' names last year ended in the letter 'n'. 26.2% followed the "two-syllable, ends in 'n', stress on the first syllable" pattern. That's right--over one-fourth of boys' name are "_____en". Surprisingly (to me, anyway), only 3.8% ended in 'son' or 'sen'. And, 22%, nearly a quarter, ended in a vowel sound (a, i, o, u, y, ae, ee, ie, oe, ue, ah).

As for the girls', they follow different trends. 65.8% ended in a vowel sound, 42% in 'a' or 'ah', and 22% in 'ee', 'y', 'ie', 'i', or 'eigh'. Narrowing it down even further, 10.5% of those 'ee's were 'lee's. And, in another surprise (again, to me), only 5.9% ended in a 'lyn' sound.
Going past the top 1000, 39% of all girls had names ending in 'a' or 'ah'. 9% of all girls were given ___ley names, 7.1% were given ___la names, and 4.5% with ____lyn names. 5.5 % had ____anna or ___ana. In comparison, the poster child of trendy names, Jennifer, was only given to 4.09% of girls at its peak in 1974.

'K's, 'y's, and other 'cool' letters have been big hits in naming for quite a while now. Why are they so "cool"? Probably because they're so infrequent in English that they draw our eyes and stick in our heads. However, they're starting to get fairly common in names now, so those who cringe at the sight of Kaitlyn, Kamryn, and Kayden have hope that perhaps they'll lose their appeal. The numbers:
The 6 least common consonants (k, j, v, q, x, z) are the first letter in approximately 2.2% of English words. However, they begin 20% of American girls' names, and 22% of boys' names.
The least common vowel, 'y', is present in only 2% of English words. It appears in 17% of American boys' names, and a whopping 32% of girls names.

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