Thursday, January 27, 2011

Names on the Brain

On and off over the years, I've thought about various aspects of names. In my article, I muse about four aspects:

Soap Opera Names

I originally started to write about names I spotted that were in a Sunday insert soap opera digest a few weeks ago. I mused about characters' names. While Googling for the online source of the soap opera digest, some of the non-soap opera hits intrigued me enough that I clicked some of them. Some sites pertained to name origins, several of them pertaining to naming babies. One website had input fields for searching databases for popular names for boys and girls by year. (I've put URLs at the bottom of my article to avoid breaking up the reading continuity.)

I've not been a big soap opera watcher over the years. A long, long time ago and far far away, as far as I can recall, I regularly watched at least a couple of soaps with my mother. (I think I was in-between jobs at the time.) Some time after I quit watching them, I would read digests in the Sunday newspaper inserts. It amazes me that events that broadcast five days a week for half an hour each could be summed up in about six sentences. Well, someone else watches soaps so I don't have to. Sure, I could probably record soaps and zip through commercials, but I have other shows I'd rather lose my thoughts in.

I try to avoid getting involved in any of the soap opera digests anymore, but one soap seems to beckon me occasionally still. That would be Bold and Beautiful. I'm curious about how many of the main characters look now, as I hadn't watched the show in maybe 15 years. I can't seem to muster the energy to turn on the TV to look in on them. Maybe I'm apprehensive of getting sucked into watching again. As if I have spare time to shoehorn more activities.

Anyway, back to Bold and Beautiful. I'd always thought some of the characters' names were a bit unusual. The name Ridge has always struck me as odd. I myself don't know anyone named Ridge. I could say the same thing about almost all the other names I saw—Thomas, Brooke, Taylor (woman, pre-Swift), Whip (!), Amber, Liam, Hope, Tawny, Oliver. Thomas is one common name among guys (or the familiar form, Tom). The rest of the names seem to belong to mostly actors rather than everyday people. Besides several Toms/Thomases and one Oliver I know, I don't personally know anyone with those other names. Whip? Egad!

The digest's other soap operas and characters' names I collected are as follows:

All My Children
Madison (woman), Greenlee, Zach, Kendall, Marissa, Scott, JR (making me think of Dallas series), Annie, Amanda, Cara, Caleb, Asher

Days of Our Lives (aka DOOL)
Daniel, Chloe, Kayla, Caroline, Parker, Philip, Melanie, Philip, Nathan, Stephanie, Sami, EJ, Nicole, Vivian, Brady, Sidney

General Hospital
Sonny, Brenda, Luke, Tracy, Carly, Dante, Nik, Brook Lynn, Michael, Edward, Patrick, Robin, Lisa, Johnny

One Life to Live
Matthew, Inez, Nora, Bo, John, Natalie, Marty, Jessica, Brody, Clint, Viki, Joey, Aubrey, Joe, Kelly, Layla, Cristina, Blair

Young and Restless
Sharon, Skye, Adam, Daniel, Daisy, Kevin, Phyllis, Victor, Kyle, Diane

The digest I cribbed from is Scoopin' the Soaps, posted 12/15/2010, Toby Goldstein for Tribune Media Services. My Sunday insert excluded Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girls. For my article, I also passed on mentioning characters' names from those shows.

American Gender-neutral Names

The following non-gender-specific names have occasionally popped into mind: Dale (Evans, Earnhardt), Taylor (Swift, Lautner), Chris (Simms, Evert), Pat (Pat from skits in SNL, Boone, Nixon), Alex (Trebek, Doonesbury—fictional), Sidney (Lumet, Simpson). Most of the names seem to be popular now or had been in the past in movies or TV. Speaking of which, if you want to find links to celebrities with names you have in mind, Google "celebrities named [name]". Surprisingly, the websites themselves don't seem to have easy search tools.

Popular Names from School and Work

The following names are popular ones I've encountered over the years: Kathy, Linda, Mary, Deb or variations, Jennifer, Jessica, Karen, Jean, Sharon, Sue and variations, Carol, Dave or David, Steve, Bob, Bill, John, Mike, Dan, Scott, Paul. In some of my school classes or workplaces, I'd know several people with the same first names. Differentiating required actions like adding their surname initial, in written reference, quietly approaching them, ..., but not shouting out just the first name.

Hurricane Names

Used to be that they gave girl names to hurricanes. For some time, they've also tossed boys' names into the mix. For info about names, visit and click Section B questions. Because the website is a FAQ, you might want to open Section B in a new window so you can easily return the other four sections for more hurricane items of interest.

The names in the two following sites are clickable for name origins and meanings.

Visit The New Parents Guide for links to most most-popular names for boys and girls by certain years, decades, and eras.

If you've been curious as to your own name's popularity rank for the year you were born, or any other year, for that matter, this SSA page has filters you can play with.

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