Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Myth of the English Name

It seems to be a pretty common sentiment on forums--"I like _____, but I feel strange using it because we're not German/Spanish/Italian/Japanese." While I'm not advocating choosing names that would be impossible to pronounce in English, it should be noted that few names used in English are actually of English origin. Many of our most enduring classics are of Biblical origin, while others were imported by brave parents. Here're the 2010 top 10 from various English-speaking countries, with origins.
(for the U.S. & U.K. lists, I used the combined-spelling rankings.)
Asterisks indicate names that are top 10 in multiple countries.

Australia
  • Boys
    • Jack*--Hebrew (Biblical) [John], via Greek & medieval English
    • Cooper--medieval English
    • Oliver*--Germanic, via French
    • Noah*--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Thomas*--Aramaic (Biblical), via Greek
    • Lucas*--Greek (Biblical), via Latin
    • Lachlan--Scottish
    • William*--Germanic
    • Jackson*--modern English
    • Charlie*--Germanic, via French
  • Girls
    • Lily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Ruby*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Charlotte*--Germanic, via French
    • Chloe*--Greek
    • Sophie*--Greek
    • Olivia*--early modern English
    • Isabella*--Hebrew (Biblical) [Elizabeth], via Provenҫal
    • Mia--Hebrew (Biblical) [Mary], via Latin
    • Emily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Ava*--Hebrew (Biblical) [Eve], via Latin

Canada
  • Boys
    • Liam--Germanic, via Irish
    • Ethan*--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Jacob*--Hebrew (Biblical), via Latin & Greek
    • Logan--Scottish
    • Owen--Greek, via Welsh
    • Noah*--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Alexander*--Greek
    • Nathan--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Benjamin--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Lucas*--Greek (Biblical), via Latin
  • Girls
    • Olivia*--early modern English
    • Emma*--Germanic
    • Sophia*--Greek
    • Ava*--Hebrew (Biblical) [Eve], via Latin
    • Chloe*--Greek
    • Abigail*--Hebrew (Anglicized)
    • Emily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Lily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Madison*--modern English
    • Charlotte*--Germanic, via French

U.K. (England & Wales only)
  • Boys
    • Oliver*--Germanic, via French
    • Jack*--Hebrew (Biblical) [John], via Greek & medieval English
    • Harry--Germanic, via medieval English
    • Charlie*--Germanic, via French
    • Alfie--Old English
    • Thomas*--Aramaic (Biblical), via Greek
    • William*--Germanic
    • Joshua--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Mohammed--Arabic
    • George--Greek
  • Girls
    • Lily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Olivia*--early modern English
    • Amelia--Germanic
    • Isabelle--Hebrew (Biblical) [Elizabeth], via Provenҫal
    • Emily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Sophie*--Greek
    • Jessica--Hebrew (Biblical) [Iscah], via early modern English
    • Ruby*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Maisie--Greek [Margaret], via Scottish
    • Chloe*--Greek


United States:
  • Boys
    • Aiden--Irish
    • Jayden--American
    • Jacob*--Hebrew (Biblical), via Latin & Greek
    • Kaden--American
    • Ethan*--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Jackson*--modern English
    • Michael--Hebrew (Biblical)
    • Alexander*--Greek
    • William*--Germanic
    • Noah*--Hebrew (Biblical)
  • Girls
    • Sophia*--Greek
    • Isabella*--Hebrew (Biblical) [Elizabeth], via Provenҫal
    • Olivia*--early modern English
    • Chloe*--Greek
    • Emma*--Germanic
    • Emily*--Latin (Anglicized)
    • Abigail*--Hebrew (Anglicized)
    • Madison*--modern English
    • Ava*--Hebrew (Biblical) [Eve], via Latin
    • Addison--modern English

So, out of the 80 names above, there are 43 unique names (27 boys, 16 girls):
1 is Arabic.
1 is Aramaic (Biblical).
1 is Irish.
2 are Scottish.
3 are Latin.
7 are Greek: 1 is Biblical; 1 is a Scottish variation; 1 is a Welsh variation.
8 are Germanic: 1 is an Irish variation; 3 are English variations; 3 are French variations.
8 are English: 5 are Modern; 3 are Old, Medieval, or Early Modern.
13 are Biblical Hebrew: 1 is an English variation; 1 is a Provenҫal variation; 2 are Latin variations.