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Press-Republican. (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) 1966-current, July 29, 1990, Image 25

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SPECTRUM PRESS-REPUBLICAN SUNDAY, JULY 29, 1990 Brittany, Joshua top North Country names . By MIKE PETERSON Staff Writer PLATTSBURGH - Jessica and Michael may be popular with the folks down in New York City, but North Country parents prefer Brittany, Sarah and Joshua. Judging by birth announce- ments submitted to the Press- Republican from June of 1989 to June 1990, Michael, which has been the most popular name in New York City for nearly 30 years, is only No. 3 here, topped by both Joshua and Matthew. Meanwhile, poor Jennifer, queen of nomenclature* in the ci- , ty for two decades, was recently demoted to No. 2 there, behind Jessica, and is No. 13 in the North Country. Brittany and Sarah tied for most popular names among girls here, each more than doubling the number of Jennifers for the year, while Amanda was only No. 3 by the smallest possible margin. Amanda was No. 1 as the most popular girl's name under a single spelling, since Brittany also appeared as Britney. Britt- ney and Brittnie, and several Sarahs were born without H's. There is a significant dif- ference between New York City and the North Country throughout the lists of popular names. The North Country list contains ties at No. 10 for both boys' and girls' names, but, even with those improved chances, only 10 names xm either New York City Top 10 list .make the local charts. For this area, the girls* Top 10 list is actually a \Top 12,\ oecause of a ,three-way tie among Elizabetn, Emily and Nicole. Still, only four of the names on the most current Top 10 girls' list from the Big Apple appear on the North Country list: Nicole, Samantha and Ashley. Among boys, there is a five- way tie for No. 10 in the North Country, making it a \Top 14,\ but, even then, only half of the Big Apple's Top 10 names made the local list: Michael, Christopher, David, Andrew and Matthew. J-nomes and starlets Both lists show the influence of modern culture, particularly among girls' names. The boys' list 'snows fads7~l>anicularly TOP GIRLS' NAMES 1. Brittany (25), Britney, Brittney, Brittnie (1 each) Sarah\ (20), Sara (8) 3. Amanda (27) 4. Kayla {20). Kaela, Kayeka (! ea. 5. Ashley (14), Ashleigh, Ashlie, Ashlee (1 ea.) 6. Jessica (16) 7. Heather (15) Chelsea (10), Chelsey (2), Chelcie, Chelsy, Chelsie (1 each) Samantha (15) 10. Elizabeth (14) Emily (14) . Nicole (11), Nikkole(l) Nich6le(2) •f --i FAVORITE BOYS' NAMES 1. Joshua (43) 2. Matthew (25) Michael (24)' MickaeJ'(l) * 4. Kyle (21) 5. Christopher (20) Ryan (19) Rian (!) 7. Nicholas (18) Nicolas (1) 8. Justin (16) 9. James (15) 10. Andrew (13) Benjamin (13) David (13) Patrick (13) Thomas (13) Photo/P. Moicus Joshua and Justin, which are part of a J-name phenomenon that also includes Jason as well as Jennifer and Jessica. But the names are still, for the most part, rooted in tradition. Dr. Leonard Ashley, a pro- fessor of English at Brooklyn College of CUNY and author of 4t What*s In A Name?\ (Geneological Press, Baltimore. 1989). decries the marked tendency towards frivolous names that dominates the girls' list, calling them \bim- bostarlet\ names. \Like Morgan Fairchild/\ he says. \There's even someone called 'Morgan Brittany', which uses two of them. These are like 'r nines tone—names.' They are theatrical costumes that people put on to get noticed.'' Americans are conformists, he said, but still want their children to stand out. \They pick out some name that sounds more unusual than John or Mary or Anne, and they discover, later, that the kid has been given a name that everyone who wants an unusual name has chosen.\ Too often, he suggests, the large number of children with the same name leads to unkind nicknames aimed at distinguishing, for example, the Jennifer who is a bit overweight from the Jennifer who isn't. By contrast, he said, parents who pick a truly unusual name may fear that the child will be teased. but, unless there is some foolish or villainous fictional or historic character with the name, the name will not carry any negative connotations. Ethnic names change Names used to anchor a child, making a statement about who that child was, Ashley says. To- day, however, names have lost their meaning and especially their ethnic identity. \You even have Jewish children named * Christopher' (•* Christ-bearer\) he says. \Kevin used to be only Irish; now you have Kevin Kline and all other sorts of Kevins. Irish are taking even more Irish names, like Conor, but no Irish would use Tyrone (A county in Ireland and a common Irish sur- name), because it's considered a Black name.\ A name can also anchor a child through understanding how it was chosen. \To try to find out their identities, and to try to make them, kids ask themselves, 'Who am I supposed to be?' And they know, 'My family tells me I'm a Tyler, because my great-great-great- grandfather was President Tyler,' and it gives them family connections and roots,\ he says. Names cony g More important than any cul- tural oddities, however, are the influences a name may have on the person who bears it, Ashley warns, and here is where he par- ticularly worries about the whimsical names being given to little girls with no thought to how it will seem for a grown woman. \The idea of giving cutesy lit- X\e names is bad enough for poo- dles, but, if you are going to do it, do it to pets, not to children,\ he says. \If she grows up and wants to be district attorney, she's not going to make it with a name like 'Bambi/ When she grows up, and she wants to run for the presidency, nobody is go- ing to vote for her, nobody is go- ing to take her seriously.\ On the other hand, Ashley Continued Page C-7 Choosing a name varies by culture By MIKE PETERSON Staff Wr.rer Photo provided Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols - Kayla and Patch on 'Days of Our Lives' — inspire many to name their babies Kayla. There are many Kaylas PLATTSBURGH - There are nearly as many ways to choose a name as there are names to choose, and there is even a field of study devoted to names: onomastics. Many American names derive from Middle Eastern peoples, primarily the Greeks and Jews. Many names considered Euro* pean are descended from these Eurasian cultures, often in the form of Biblical names that may have gone through several changes along the way. Others, both Eurasian and from Western roots, describe physical or spiritual attributes, such as size, wisdom or coloring. In \The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names,\ (Ox- ford University Press. 1947), E.G. Withycombe noted that Hebrew names tended originally to be two-part names with definite meaning, such as Elisha* meaning \to whom the Lord is Saviour.** But. while Jewish -specific meaning. •^PLATTSBURGH - There sure\seem to be a lul uf little Noith Country girls named after Mary Beth Evans. No. there weren't any Mary Beths announced in the Press- Republican over the past year, though two of the areas three Marys were named Mary Elizabeth But there were 22 Kaylas. and that is the character that actress Mary Beth Evans plays on the daytime drama \Days of Our Lives.\ Mothers once named their daughters for movie stars Hke Linda Darnell or Debbie Reynolds, or for the characters they played. Amber and Tammy. Today, the cultural trend remains, but the me- Kayla Brady certainly isn't the only soap opera character whose\ name\ shows up on the fop 10 lists for the North Country. Although only two boys names - Kyle (\Generations \) and Justin rDays of Our Lives*\ >— have soap opera counterparts, the girls* list reads like a roster of daytime characters: Brittany. Ashley and Nicbole are all on The Young and the Restless. * and Nichoie is also the name of a character on Another World\ Sarah is also a character on 'One life u> Live * Amanda is on * Another WorkL\ Chelsea appears on *Tne Guiding Light.\ and Emily has two characters with her name One on * AD My Children.* and one on As The Worid Turns/* Even Heather is a soap opera character, a baby on \Loving** _that doesn't mean they couldn't be common, and the Jews some- times used patronymics, or names that refer to the father, to distinguish individuals: Jonas bar Simon was Jonas, the son of Simon, as distinct from Jonas bar David. While Greek names emphasize intellectual attributes. Wvthycombe said, the Celtic- based names that came through various western nations tend more toward physical descrip- tions During the Reformation. English Puritans went through a period of naming children for spiritual gift*, such as Hope and for moral attributes like or Chastity, or for more complicated statements: nmrr^m ^flr^ SOfTy-fOT-Stn f**^ The Lord Is Near were abo recorded, Withvcombe wrote. Timing of birth Another source of names in European culture is cir- cumstances at birth. A child born at Christmas, for example, could be named Noel, while more than one baby born in the back of a squad car has been named for the officer who assisted the frantic parents. The Bible recalls that, when the childless Sarah was told she would become pregnant, she laughed aloud, because she was past meno- pause. But pregnant she became, and her sons name, Isaac, means \laughing.\ African cultures tend to place much more importance on those occasions, according to \A Handbook of African Names' by Ihechukwa Madubuike (Three Continents Press, 1976): While the continent has a variety of cultures and traditions, many Africans use the day or cir- cumstances of birth in the name of the child. Among the Akan of Ghana, for example, children are named for the seventh day fol- lowing their birth, a practice based on\ the iKJt-uncommon \tradition that it ts unluckv or Staff Photo/Mike Peterson Arbab Eogle Washington Nunn Khan is the pride and joy of his parents, Mary Nunn Khan ond Abdul Khan ...But only 1 Arbab » T MIKE unwise to name a child before its survival is somewhat certain. By knowing the naming tradition. one can infer that Ghana s first premier. Kwami Nkrumah. was born seven days before a Satur- day. Because they often reflect family events surrounding the -birth. Afneaa chddren s aaiaes may preserve more history than simply the day the child was born: A child named Arusi was bom during a wedding, but Kesi was bom when the father was having problems and Haoaiyao was bora during a time d quar- rels Br reciting the names of ancestors one also recites a cap- sule history of the family. PLATTSBURGH - When the ed Joshua T bejng call- Sarah and Sarah With Glasses, everyone will know which one you mean when you just say \Arbab * Arbab Eagle Washington Nunn Khan will not have to share his name with very many classmates, and that is how his parents wanted it. \He has a very good, very strong name, and I am very proud of it.\ says his father. Abdul Khan. \Every second person is a Dave or a Steve.\ Arbab s name is intended to give him a sense of his own special identity, his parents say. and each element of his name was chosen to remind him of who he is, no matter what ebe may happen to him along the way. \We are hifl parents/' Abdul says, \Whether we are rich or poor, or no matter where we may live, we wanted to give him a good name.\ His name is his story: His father's family was from eastern India. but left for West Pakistan in 1970 after the war when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Abdul left Pakistan as a young man and went to work in Dubai and later, in Saudi Arabia, where he met his first Americans. Working with Americans..he found, was different than working for other people: the friendship and acceptance they ex- INSIDE Upper Conoda Villoge Weddings/Engogements Editorial/Opinion

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