About A (Not-So-Bad) Name: Ryker

January 9, 2013 § 9 Comments

Star Trek: TNG's Commander Riker is one of few modern references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Star Trek: TNG‘s Commander Riker is one of few pop culture references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Following my last post regarding name negativity, I’ve decided to take things a step further by going out of my way to highlight the positives in the names singled out in the aforementioned Deadspin article as evidence that American baby names are “getting even worse.”

The Not-So-Bad series of posts will no doubt feature names you’ve probably balked at before, but let’s keep one thing in mind, here. These aren’t hypothetical names, names from books, or lists of interesting choices – these are names that people out there actually wear. Real people. With feelings.

The first one I’ll cover is a name that’s actually been gaining massively in popularity, and isn’t just a unique selection by one adventurous parent. Ryker is, as far as I’m concerned, a true name of the future with a long Low Country heritage. It’s already nearly inside the US Top 300, after beginning it’s climb from 1000 in just 2003. The name Ryan is commonplace and has been for decades. Tucker, Parker, etc. had their biggest moments in the late-90s and early 2000s, and from those trends modern usage of Ryker was born.

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My Favourite Names of 2012

January 1, 2013 § 10 Comments


I may have failed myself with blogging this year (so many real life changes!) but it’s one of my resolutions for 2013 to be better. Much better. I owe it to myself, because I truly enjoy maintaining this blog. Of little credit to me, my blog’s popularity grew this year with many thanks to the lovely ladies at Nameberry for hosting my political names guest post in the spring, with great appreciation to Abby at Appellation Mountain for highlighting my post on Malala this fall, which proved to be my biggest post of the year, and with ongoing affection for Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda, whose site continues to be my most consistent referral source, links wise, and she is far and away my top commenter. And of course, I’m grateful to each and every one of you who reads, comments, and shares the posts you love. You guys inspire me, full on, and your support is not taken for granted.

To close out 2011, I compiled my favourite names from overall trends of the year, and though I haven’t blogged as much as I should have, I’ve paid attention in 2012. A few of these names earned posts of their own this year, but many didn’t, so bear with me. And you know the drill – please don’t leave without sharing your own favourites from the past twelve months.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and let’s all look forward to a big year of names in 2013. What traditional names will be bestowed upon the royal baby? Will baby Kimye get a K name? Will Biblical boy names make a comeback or fall even further out of favour? So many questions, so bring it on!

This year’s list of names looks nothing like last year’s (well it might, if you’ve read enough of this blog to catch on to the name biases I try not to have):

Koa. I love to travel, but this year I only made it to one place – Hawaii. So it seems fitting that the first name on my 2012 year end list is a Hawaiian name-on-fire. Simple enough to feel familiar, yet exotic enough to stand out, nature name Koa, which sounds like Biblically “unfashionable” Noah, kept trending for boys in 2012. Australian marathon swimmer Ky Hurst welcomed a son named Koa in November.

Aoife. This Irish name, pronounced EE-fah, was bestowed upon the daughter of Irish-born pop singer Una Healy of The Saturdays, and her English rugby star boyfriend Ben Foden in March. It means “beautiful,” and was suggested to the couple by Healy’s father. (Adorable Aoife’s middle name is the Latin name, Belle, which means her parents gave her a name that means “beautiful beauty.”)

I find Irish Gaelic names to be too challenging to use, personally, despite some Irish heritage in my family tree, but this one stood out this year in a crowded pack of selections more easily read by my North American sensibilities. And Healy wasn’t the only celeb to honour her Irish heritage with her baby name – How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan welcomed her second daughter in May, and named her Keeva Jane (an Americanized spelling of Caoimhe). Alternately pronounced Kev-ah, it means “gentle, beautiful beloved,” the feminine form of Kevin.

(more after the jump)

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About A Name: Casper

November 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

(c) Jeffrey Mayer/JTM; The name of Jason Lee's three-year-old daughter was finally announced earlier this month.

It’s the least surprising, most surprising name trend of the year.

Much was made while I was in Japan of the announcement – finally – of actor Jason Lee’s daughter’s name, three years after she was born. (Further rumours state that her middle name is probably Alice, as per You Can’t Call It ‘It’.) Lee’s eight-year-old son with actress Beth Riesgraf is Pilot Inspektor, a much-maligned celeb baby name given as an homage to the 2000 song “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot” by indie rock band Grandaddy.

Seems fitting that his daughter’s name, kept out of the spotlight for three years probably because of the attention paid to his son’s name, is just as dubious. Casper is not only traditionally a male name, it’s primary association is with Casper the Friendly Ghost, a – male – 20th Century cartoon figure. The Friendly Ghost has made the name nearly untouchable for modern baby boys, let alone girls.

Yet what’s almost ironic is that public reaction to Casper Alice Lee is far different than reaction to Pilot (which isn’t so awful – my cousin’s son is named Wolfgang Pilot; he’s adorable, and I’m on board), perhaps because the nickname Cassie is so easy to take from the name. It might have something to do with the general trend towards girls’ names that sound a lot like it. There’s Harper, for one, while Vesper (like the Bond Girl, Vesper Lynd) is another that’s gaining steam, and on the YCCII post, Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda commented that she had been waiting for a little girl named Jasper, but this one popped up first. (I have to agree with Anna – we live in a world where female Jaspers are not that far off!) It’s even similar to Aspen, which in some cases avoids it’s pole dancer tendencies to sound free-spirited or upper class.

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