Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Letters and Patterns (2016)

Yeah, analyzing the SSA lists by letter is nothing new (I've done it more than a few times myself already), but I figured out how to process large lists of names in an array, so you're all in for another boring numbers post. :p

It probably comes as no surprise that the most common ending letters are A for girls and N for boys, with about 34% of girls and 32% of boys last year (and if you add in the -ah names for girls, that jumps to nearly 40%).

Starting letter
Ending letter
Girls
A, 16.6%
A, 33.6%
M, 8.2%
E, 16.7%
E, 7.7%
N, 11.4%
S, 6.7%
Y, 10.5%
L, 6.1%
H, 6.4%
Boys
J, 12.6%
N, 32%
A, 9.5%
R, 8.8%
C, 7.4%
S, 6.6%
M, 6.8%
L, 6.2%
L, 6.2%
E, 6.2%

Now, you'd probably think that the distributions are proportional--that is, if you look at both starting and ending letters, the most common patterns for girls would be A____a, followed by A____e, then M_____a, then A___n, and so on, but that isn't quite how it works out. In fact, the 10 most common patterns for each gender are:

Girls
Boys
A___a
J___n
M___a
A___n
S___a
C___n
E___a
B___n
C___e
K___n
L___a
D___n
A___n
C___r
A___e
L___n
A___y
E___n
M___e
J___h

These 10 constructions account for about 30% of all girls born in 2016, and 25% of boys. 
C___e at the girls #5 seems a bit random (C is the 7th most common starting letter for girls), but quite a few of our most common __e names start with C (Charlotte, Chloe, Claire, Caroline). Similarly, J___h ranking at boys' #10 (H is the 6th most common ending letter for boys) is due nearly exclusively to Biblical boys' names like JosephJosiahJeremiah, & Jonah
The absence of M___n names is odd--but after Mason at #4 on the charts, you have to go all the way down to #256 to find Martin, and then Maximilian at #432. 
Also, while E is the 5th most common ending letter for boys, most of those are one-syllable names, which leads to them being much more varied bunch. J___e was the 11th most common boys' name pattern, due largely to the variant spellings of Jace, as well as Spanish names like Jose & Jorge.

Now let's shift a bit to first/second letter combinations. The Top 10 patterns last year were:

Girls
Boys
Combined
Ma___
Ja___
Ma___
Al___
Ma___
Ja___
El___
Jo___
Ca___
Ka___
Ca___
Jo___
Em___
Br___
Al___
Ha___
Da___
El___
An___
Ka___
Ka___
Sa___
Co___
Br___
Ca___
An___
An___
Ad___
Ch___
Ch___
=27% of girls
=30% of boys
=54% of all babies

I'm surprised Ad___ only barely makes the Top 10, but aside from Addison and the dozens of spellings of Adeline, there really aren't that many other Ad-names (Adriana is the next most common, and it's not even in the Top 200). Sa___ also surprised me, but while they aren't "exciting", Sarah, Savannah, and Samantha are still fairly common. 
The profusion of these top patterns seems to be due to them being a mixture of modern & classic names. For Ja___ we have Jayden & Jace, but we also have James and Jacob. Mason and Maddox, as well as Matthew and Max. Carly and Cadence; Caroline and Catherine

And if you wish to see the entire, and probably confusing, charts of name patterns, you can find them here.

I did also try to combine the two above datasets, and sadly, the results were not nearly as interesting, IMO. Here are the top 10 patterns of first/second/last letters:

Girls
Boys
Al___a
Ja___n
Mi___a
Br___n
So___a
Ca___n
El___a
Jo___n
Ma___a
Ka___n
Em___a
Ma___n
Ar___a
Jo___h
Ma___n
No___h
Am___a
Mi___l
Ma___e
Lu___s

In total, those patterns account for about 13% each of girls and boys born last year. Some of the patterns are more diverse: Ja___n is easily the most common (about 3% of boys) with all the various spellings of Jackson, Jayden, Jason, Jaxton, etc; while Al___a (about 2% of girls) is thanks to Alexa, Alana, Alina, Alexandra and so on. 
However, many are the result of only one or two names--So___a is mostly Sophia; No___h almost entirely NoahMi___l is literally only Michael and its international variants. 

I am curious how data from a couple generations ago would stack up, though. We're using a much wider variety of names from wider variety of cultures than we used to. :)