On the female front: I expect the popularity of Jane Austen explains the rise of Emma. Sophia is a lot more problematic, though similar in period quality. Exactly why Ava is doing so well in Vermont is seriously intriguing.
On the male front: At least Jared and Justin have faded, but Jacob is still hanging in there in popularity in a few states. Jaydon?!? What is Florida’s major malfunction? The other big question is where the heck did Mason come from?
Could be worse, though, Mohammed is not on top in any state.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Emmaland or Sophialand, but if you’re reading this in the United States, there’s a better than 90% chance that you live in either one of these two curious nations.
The former is made up of the 31 states where ‘Emma’ was the most popular baby name for girls in 2012. In spite of that institutional majority, another girl’s name proved more popular nationwide. ‘Sophia’ also came out ahead in 16 states, including America’s three most populous ones.
Last year, a total of 20,791 Emmas were born in the United States. The size of that cohort was only surpassed by the 22,158 Sophias added to the US population in 2012. Together, both names came out on top in 47 of the 50 states. The exceptions were Florida, where baby girls were most likely to be named Isabella (#3 nationwide); Idaho, where new parents preferred Olivia for their girls (#4 overall); and Vermont, where new parents favoured Ava for their newborn daughters (#5 in the national ranking).
Few aspects of anthrophonomastics are as eagerly discussed as the names people give their children. Perhaps because few acts are as simultaneously intimate and public: the name you give your child reveals something of the hopes and ambitions you have for your progeny, not to mention the tastes and traditions you inherited from your forebears.
In the last half century, baby-naming has become a lot more agonising. Until the mid-20th century, the popularity of baby names was less prone to variation and fluctuation. Fitting in was a greater priority than standing out: if you weren’t named after a family member of a previous generation (often your godfather and/or godmother), you were still most likely stuck with a name from a canonical list of biblical and classical names.