Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summertime Blues

"In the late 19th century, parents sometimes named their kids after prestigious jobs, like King, Lawyer, Author and Admiral. Now, children are more likely to bear the names of obsolete proletarian professions, Cooper, Carter, Tyler and Mason.

Wattenberg uses her blog to raise vital questions, such as should you give your child an unusual name that is Googleable, or a conventional one that is harder to track? But what’s most striking is the sheer variability of the trends she describes.

Naming fashion doesn’t just move a little. It swings back and forth. People who haven’t spent a nanosecond thinking about the letter K get swept up in a social contagion and suddenly they’ve got a Keisha and a Kody. They may think they’re making an individual statement, but in fact their choices are shaped by the networks around them.

Furthermore, if you just looked at names, you would conclude that American culture once had a definable core — signified by all those Anglo names like Mary, Robert, John and William. But over the past few decades, that Anglo core is harder to find. In the world of niche naming, there is no clearly identifiable mainstream.

For the past few decades, the White House has been occupied by George, William, George, Ronald, James and Richard. Those pillars are crumbling. Pluralism is here."

Its August, those who can are on holiday. Based on this column, Brooks is phoning it in.

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