Thursday, July 9, 2015

Names and Letters

What was that? You want more statistics? Well, okay! :D
(yes, I realize you probably don't, but I find it fascinating, and I'm sure someone else might)

The most common starting letter for boys' names in the U.S. is J, with 13.5% of boys getting names that start with J. The most common ending letter is probably no surprise--N, with 33% of boys getting names that end with N.
Starts      Endings
1. J: 13.5% N: 32.9%
2. A: 9.5% R: 8.7%
3. C: 7.8% E: 6.5%: 
4. M: 6.5% S: 6.3%
5. L: 6.0% L: 6.2%

As for girls, A easily beats out all other letters for as both a starting and ending letter, although not by as wide a margin as I expected for endings.
Starts Endings
1. A: 16.8% A: 33.8%
2. M: 8.6% E: 16.9%
3. E: 7.3% N: 12.1%
4. S: 6.7% Y: 10.8%
5. K: 6.4% H: 6.3%

H? That seems weird, doesn't it? Most of the -h names turn out to be -ah, with -th being a distant second.
What's interesting to me is how much more diverse boys' names are, particularly with ending letters (once you get past that ubiquitous -n, of course). The top 5 ending letters make up 80% of girls' names, but only 60% of boys. You'd think the fact that -e endings are (mainly) split up between -ie, -ne, & -le for girls and -se, -ce & -ke for boys would help, except that -ie blends with -y, -ne with -n, and -se/ce with -s
The least common letters are what you'd expect, really, with U being the least common start and Q the least common ending for both genders.
Exactly which letters are most common in standard English words differs slightly by source, but J & K are pretty uncommon as starting letters no matter the counting method or analyzed materials. Interesting that both are among the most common for American names.

A few interesting points:
  • By far, girls' names end in A more often than boys--about 25x more often! And the -h names don't help either--they're a bit more common for girls as well. 
  • Boys' have so much more diversity with name endings! A, E, Y, I, & H are more common as ending letters in girls' names, but everything else is more common for boys.
  • The girls may have the -as, but there are several letters that are incredibly more common as boys' enders--K (58x more common for boys), B (52x more common for boys), P (41x more common), O (36x more common, and the few -ot, -ow, -owe, & -oh girls' names don't add all that much), C (16x more common), F (16x more common), D (14x), & M (11x)...and that's just the ones that are 10x or more! Sheesh.
  • Oddly enough, the starting letter most disproportionately common on girls is V--it's about 3x more common for girls than for boys. S & A names are about 2x for common for girls as well. 
  • As for starting letters for boys, they got W (6x more common for boys) and U (4x more common for boys), J & D (3x more common), as well as X & T (2x more common). 
  • Surprisingly, there isn't too much difference between length of boys' & girls' names--both average at 6 letters. Girls are a bit more likely to have a longer name, but not significantly so: 6 letters ± 1.6 for girls, as opposed to 5.8 ± 1.6 for boys. 

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