Given name

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Diagram of naming conventions, using John Fitzgerald Kennedy as an example. First names can also be called given names, and last names (surnames) can also be called family names. This shows a structure typical for English-speaking cultures (and some others). Other cultures use other structures for full names FML names-2.png
Diagram of naming conventions, using John Fitzgerald Kennedy as an example. First names can also be called given names, and last names (surnames) can also be called family names. This shows a structure typical for English-speaking cultures (and some others). Other cultures use other structures for full names
The sarcophagus of Queen Desideria at Riddarholm Church in Sweden. The name was given to Desiree Clary not at birth but when she was elected Crown Princess of Sweden in 1810 Desideria of Sweden & Norway grave 2007.jpg
The sarcophagus of Queen Desideria at Riddarholm Church in Sweden. The name was given to Désirée Clary not at birth but when she was elected Crown Princess of Sweden in 1810

A given name (also known as a first name, forename) is a part of a person's personal name. [1] It identifies a person, and differentiates that person from the other members of a group (typically a family or clan) who have a common surname. The term given name refers to a name bestowed at or close to the time of birth, usually by the parents of the newborn. The term Christian name is the first name that which is given at baptism historically in Christian custom.

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In informal situations, given names are often used in a familiar and friendly manner. [1] In more formal situations, a person's surname is more commonly used—unless a distinction needs to be made between people with the same surname. The idioms 'on a first-name basis' and 'being on first-name terms' refer to the familiarity inherent in addressing someone by their given name. [1]

By contrast, a surname (also known as a family name, last name, or gentile name), which is normally inherited, is typically shared with other members of one's immediate family. [2] Regnal names and religious or monastic names are special given names bestowed upon someone receiving a crown or entering a religious order. Such a person then typically becomes known chiefly by that name.

Name order

The order given name – family name, commonly known as the Western order, is used throughout most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by European culture, including North and South America; North, East, Central and West India; Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The order family name – given name, commonly known as the Eastern order, is primarily used in East Asia (for example in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysian Chinese, Singapore, and Vietnam, among others), as well as in Southern and North-Eastern parts of India, and in Hungary. This order is common also in Austria and Bavaria, and in France, Belgium, Greece and Italy, possibly because of the influence of bureaucracy, which commonly puts the family name before the given name. In China and Korea, part of the given name may be shared among all members of a given generation within a family and extended family or families, in order to differentiate those generations from other generations.

The order given name – father's family name – mother's family name is commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries to acknowledge the families of both parents. Today the order can also be changed legally in Spain and Uruguay using given name – mother's family name – father's family name.

The order given name – mother's family name – father's family name is commonly used in Portuguese-speaking countries to acknowledge the families of both parents.

Multiple given names

In many Western cultures, people often have more than one given name. One of those which is not the first in succession might be used exclusively as the name which that person goes by, such as in the cases of John Edgar Hoover and Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland.

A child's given name or names are usually chosen by the parents soon after birth. If a name is not assigned at birth, one may be given at a naming ceremony, with family and friends in attendance. In most jurisdictions, a child's name at birth is a matter of public record, inscribed on a birth certificate, or its equivalent. In western cultures, people normally retain the same given name throughout their lives. However, in some cases these names may be changed by following legal processes or by repute. People may also change their names when immigrating from one country to another with different naming conventions. [3]

In certain jurisdictions, a government-appointed registrar of births may refuse to register a name that may cause a child harm, which is considered offensive or which is deemed impractical. In France, the agency can refer the case to a local judge. Some jurisdictions, such as Sweden, restrict the spelling of names. [lower-roman 1]

Origins and meanings

Parents may choose a name because of its meaning. This may be a personal or familial meaning, such as giving a child the name of an admired person, or it may be an example of nominative determinism, in which the parents give the child a name that they believe will be lucky or favourable for the child. Given names most often derive from the following categories:

In many cultures, given names are reused, especially to commemorate ancestors or those who are particularly admired, resulting in a limited repertoire of names that sometimes vary by orthography.

The most familiar example of this, to Western readers, is the use of Biblical and saints' names in most of the Christian countries (with Ethiopia, in which names were often ideals or abstractions—Haile Selassie, "power of the Trinity"; Haile Miriam, "power of Mary"—as the most conspicuous exception). However, the name Jesus is considered taboo or sacrilegious in some parts of the Christian world, though this taboo does not extend to the cognate Joshua or related forms which are common in many languages even among Christians. In some Spanish speaking countries, the name Jesus is considered a normal given name.

Similarly, the name Mary, now popular among Christians, particularly Roman Catholics, was considered too holy for secular use until about the 12th century. In countries that particularly venerated Mary, this remained the case much longer; in Poland, until the arrival in the 17th century of French queens named Marie. [24]

Most common given names in English (and many other European languages) can be grouped into broad categories based on their origin:

Frequently, a given name has versions in many different languages. For example, the biblical name Susanna also occurs in its original biblical Hebrew version, Shoshannah, its Spanish and Portuguese version Susana, its French version, Suzanne, its Polish version, Zuzanna, or its Hungarian version, Zsuzsanna .

East Asia

Despite the uniformity of Chinese surnames, Chinese given names can be fairly original because Chinese characters can be combined extensively. Unlike European languages with their Biblical and Greco-Roman heritage, the Chinese language does not have a particular set of words reserved for given names: any combination of Chinese characters can theoretically be used as a given name. Nonetheless, a number of popular characters commonly recur, including "Strong" (, Wěi), "Learned" (, Wén), "Peaceful" (, Ān), and "Beautiful" (, Měi). Despite China's increasing urbanization, a great many names such as "Pine" (, Sōng) and "Plum" (, Méi) also still reference nature.

Most Chinese given names are two characters long and despite the examples above the two characters together may mean nothing at all. Instead, they may be selected to include particular sounds, tones, or radicals; to balance the Chinese elements of a child's birth chart; or to honor a generation poem handed down through the family for centuries. Traditionally, it is considered an affront and not an honor to have a newborn named after an older relative, so that full names are rarely passed down through a family in the manner of American English Seniors,Juniors, III, etc. Similarly, it is considered disadvantageous for the child to bear a name already made famous by someone else, although Romanizations might be identical or a common name like Liu Xiang might be borne by tens of thousands.

Korean names and Vietnamese names are often simply conventions derived from Classical Chinese counterparts.[ citation needed ]

Many female Japanese names end in -ko (), meaning "child". This can make them seem decidedly unfeminine to Europeans accustomed to Indo-European tendencies to end masculine names in o.[ citation needed ]

In many Westernised Asian locations, many Asians also have an unofficial or even registered Western (typically English) given name, in addition to their Asian given name. This is also true for Asian students at colleges in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia as well as among international businesspeople.

Gender

Most names in English are traditionally masculine (Hugo, James, Harold) or feminine (Daphne, Charlotte, Jane), but there are unisex names as well, such as Jordan, Jamie, Jesse, Morgan, Leslie/Lesley, Joe/Jo, Jackie, Pat, Dana, etc.). Often, use for one gender is predominant. Also, a particular spelling is often more common for either men or women, even if the pronunciation is the same. Predicting gender using names in the US or Europe is about 99% accurate. [25]

Many culture groups, past and present, did not or do not gender names strongly, so that many or all of their names are unisex. On the other hand, in many languages including most Indo-European languages (but not English), gender is inherent in the grammar. Some countries have laws preventing unisex names, requiring parents to give their children sex-specific names. Names may have different gender connotations from country to country or language to language.

Popularity distribution of given names

Most popular US baby names from 1880 to 2012 USA historical popular baby names.svg
Most popular US baby names from 1880 to 2012

The popularity (frequency) distribution of given names typically follows a power law distribution.

Since about 1800 in England and Wales and in the U.S., the popularity distribution of given names has been shifting so that the most popular names are losing popularity. For example, in England and Wales, the most popular female and male names given to babies born in 1800 were Mary and John, with 24% of female babies and 22% of male babies receiving those names, respectively. [26] In contrast, the corresponding statistics for England and Wales in 1994 were Emily and James, with 3% and 4% of names, respectively. Not only have Mary and John gone out of favour in the English speaking world, the overall distribution of names has also changed significantly over the last 100 years for females, but not for males. This has led to an increasing amount of diversity for female names. [27]

Choice of names

Education, ethnicity, religion, class and political ideology affect parents' choice of names. In the United States, popular names tend to be chosen by parents with more education.[ citation needed ] Politically conservative parents choose common and traditional names, while politically liberal parents choose the names of literary characters or other relatively obscure cultural figures. [28] Devout members of religions often choose names from their religious scriptures. For example, Hindu parents may name a daughter Saanvi after the goddess, Jewish parents may name a boy Isaac after one of the earliest ancestral figures, and Muslim parents may name a boy Mohammed after the prophet Mohammed.

There are many tools parents can use to choose names, including books, websites and applications. An example is the Baby Name Game that uses the Elo rating system to rank parents preferred names and help them select one. [29]

Popular culture appears to have an influence on naming trends, at least in the United States and United Kingdom. Newly famous celebrities and public figures may influence the popularity of names. For example, in 2004, the names "Keira" and "Kiera" (anglicisation of Irish name Ciara) respectively became the 51st and 92nd most popular girls' names in the UK, following the rise in popularity of British actress Keira Knightley. [30] In 2001, the use of Colby as a boys' name for babies in the United States jumped from 233rd place to 99th, just after Colby Donaldson was the runner-up on Survivor: The Australian Outback .[ citation needed ] Also, the female name "Miley" which before was not in the top 1000 was 278th most popular in 2007, following the rise to fame of singer-actress Miley Cyrus (who was named Destiny at birth). [31]

Characters from fiction also seem to influence naming. After the name Kayla was used for a character on the American soap opera Days of Our Lives , the name's popularity increased greatly. The name Tammy, and the related Tamara became popular after the movie Tammy and the Bachelor came out in 1957. Some names were established or spread by being used in literature. Notable examples include Pamela, invented by Sir Philip Sidney for a pivotal character in his epic prose work, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia ; Jessica, created by William Shakespeare in his play The Merchant of Venice ; Vanessa, created by Jonathan Swift; Fiona, a character from James Macpherson's spurious cycle of Ossian poems; Wendy, an obscure name popularised by J. M. Barrie in his play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up ; and Madison, a character from the movie Splash . Lara and Larissa were rare in America before the appearance of Doctor Zhivago, and have become fairly common since.

Songs can influence the naming of children. Jude jumped from 814th most popular male name in 1968 to 668th in 1969, following the release of the Beatles' "Hey Jude". Similarly, Layla charted as 969th most popular in 1972 after the Eric Clapton song. It had not been in the top 1,000 before. [31]

Kayleigh became a particularly popular name in the United Kingdom following the release of a song by the British rock group Marillion. Government statistics in 2005 revealed that 96% of Kayleighs were born after 1985, the year in which Marillion released "Kayleigh". [ citation needed ]

Popular culture figures need not be admirable in order to influence naming trends. For example, Peyton came into the top 1000 as a female given name for babies in the United States for the first time in 1992 (at #583), immediately after it was featured as the name of an evil nanny in the film The Hand That Rocks the Cradle . [31] On the other hand, historical events can influence child-naming. For example, the given name Adolf has fallen out of use since the end of World War II in 1945.

In contrast with these anecdotal evidence, a comprehensive study of Norwegian first name datasets [32] shows that the main factors that govern first name dynamics are endogenous. Monitoring the popularity of 1000 names along 130 years, the authors have identified only five cases of exogenous effects, three of them are connected to the names given to the babies of the Norwegian royal family.

See also

Notes

  1. Protesting Swedish naming laws, in 1996, two parents attempted to name their child Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, stating that it was "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation". [4]

    Related Research Articles

    Surname conventions and laws vary around the world. This article gives an overview of surnames around the world.

    Chinese surnames are used by Han Chinese and Sinicized ethnic groups in China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and among overseas Chinese communities around the world. Chinese surnames are given first for names written in Chinese, which is the opposite of Western naming convention where surnames come last. Around 2,000 Han Chinese surnames are currently in use, but the great proportion of Han Chinese people use only a relatively small number of these surnames. A report in 2019 gives the most common Chinese surnames as Wang and Li, each shared by over 100 million people in China, with Zhang, Liu, Chen, Yang, Huang, Zhao, Wu and Zhou making up the rest of the ten most common Chinese names.

    A surname, family name, or last name is the portion of a personal name that indicates a person's family. Depending on the culture, all members of a family unit may have identical surnames or there may be variations based on the cultural rules.

    Chinese personal names are names used by those from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora overseas. Due to China's historical dominance of East Asian culture, many names used in Korea and Vietnam are adaptations of Chinese names, or have historical roots in Chinese, with appropriate adaptation to accommodate linguistic differences.

    Japanese names in modern times usually consist of a family name (surname), followed by a given name. More than one given name is not generally used. Japanese names are usually written in kanji, which are characters usually Chinese in origin but Japanese in pronunciation. The kanji for a name may have a variety of possible Japanese pronunciations, hence parents might use hiragana or katakana when giving a birth name to their newborn child. Names written in hiragana or katakana are phonetic renderings, and so lack the visual meaning of names expressed in the logographic kanji.

    A personal name or full name is the set of names by which an individual is known and that can be recited as a word-group, with the understanding that, taken together, they all relate to that one individual. In many cultures, the term is synonymous with the birth name or legal name of the individual. The academic study of personal names is called anthroponymy.

    In several cultures, a middle name is a portion of a personal name that is written between the person's given name and their surname. A person may be given a middle name regardless of whether it's necessary to distinguish them from other people with the same given name and surname. In cultures where a given name is expected to precede the surname, additional names are likely to be placed after the given name and before the surname, and thus called middle names. In English-speaking American culture, that term is often applied to names occupying that position even if the bearer would insist that that name is being mistakenly called a "middle name", and is actually :

    Unisex name Given name used multiple genders

    A unisex name is a given name that can be used by a person regardless of their gender. Unisex names are common in the English speaking world, especially in the United States. By contrast, some countries have laws preventing unisex names, requiring parents to give their children sex-specific names. In other countries, unisex names are sometimes avoided for social reasons such as potential discrimination, ridicule, and psychological abuse.

    Chinese given names are the given names adopted by native speakers of the Chinese language, both in majority-Sinophone countries and among the Chinese diaspora.

    A Hawaiian name is a name in the Hawaiian language. Such names are popular not only in Hawaiian families, but also among other residents of Hawaii, and even in the United States mainland among both non-native and native Hawaiians.

    Indonesian names and naming customs reflect the multicultural and polyglot nature of the over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The world's fourth most populous nation, Indonesia is home to approximately 365 tribal-ethnic groups, each with their own culture, customs, and language. The state officially recognises more than 300 of these ethnic groups. The Javanese are the largest single group, comprising around 40 percent of Indonesia's population.

    In the Philippines, varying naming customs are observed, whether it is given name first, family name last, a mixture of native conventions with those of neighbouring territories, etc. The most common iteration amongst Filipinos is a blend of the older Spanish system and Anglo-American conventions, where there is a distinction between the "Christian name" from "surname". The construct of having several names in the middle name convention is common to all systems, but to have multiple "first" names and only one middle and last name is a result of the blending of American and Spanish naming customs. The Tagalog language is one of the few national languages in Asia to use the Western name order while formally uses the eastern name order. Thus, the Philippine naming custom is coincidentally identical to the Spanish and Portuguese name customs and to an extent Chinese naming customs.

    Hungarian names

    Hungarian names include surnames and given names. Occasionally there are more than one of the latter, but normally just one is used. In the Hungarian language, whether written or spoken, these names are invariably given in the "Eastern name order", or family name followed by given name. The Hungarian language is one of the few national languages in Europe to use the Eastern name order, among languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, the Alemannic German dialect and some Basque nationalists.

    Polish names have two main elements: the imię, the first name, or given name; and the nazwisko, the last name, family name (surname).

    Bulgarian name Wikimedia list article

    The Bulgarian name system has considerable similarities with most other European name systems, and with those of other Slavic peoples such as the Russian name system, though it has certain unique features.

    A Lithuanian personal name, as in most European cultures, consists of two main elements: the given name followed by the family name. The usage of personal names in Lithuania is generally governed by three major factors: civil law, canon law, and tradition. Lithuanian names always follow the rules of the Lithuanian language. Lithuanian male names have preserved the Indo-European masculine endings, although the rules are not as rigid as for Latvian names, which preserve gendered endings even for foreign names.

    In Finland, a person must have a surname and can have up to three given names. Surnames are inherited either patrilineally or matrilineally, while given names are usually chosen by a person's parents. Finnish names come from a variety of dissimilar traditions that were consolidated only in the early 20th century. The first national act on names came into force in 1921, and it made surnames mandatory. Between 1930 and 1985, the Western Finnish tradition whereby a married woman took her husband's surname was mandatory. Previously in Eastern Finland, this was not necessarily the case.

    A Turkish name consists of an ad or an isim and a soyadı or soyisim (surname). Turkish names exist in a "full name" format. While there is only one soyadı (surname) in the full name there may be more than one ad. Married women may carry both their maiden and husband's surnames. The soyadı is written as the last element of the full name, after all given names.

    A name in Romanian tradition consists of a given name (prenume) and a family name (surname). In official documents, surnames usually appear before given names.

    The United States has very few laws governing given names. This freedom has given rise to a wide variety of names and naming trends. Naming traditions play a role in the cohesion and communication within American cultures. Cultural diversity in the U.S. has led to great variations in names and naming traditions and names have been used to express creativity, personality, cultural identity, and values.

    References

    1. 1 2 3 Grigg, John (2 November 1991). "The Times". In the last century and well into the present one, grown-up British people, with rare exceptions, addressed each other by their surnames. What we now call first names (then Christian names) were very little used outside the family. Men who became friends would drop the Mr and use their bare surnames as a mark of intimacy: e.g. Holmes and Watson. First names were only generally used for, and among, children. Today we have gone to the other extreme. People tend to be on first-name terms from the moment of introduction, and surnames are often hardly mentioned. Moreover, first names are relentlessly abbreviated, particularly in the media: Susan becomes Sue, Terrence Terry and Robert Bob not only to friends and relations, but to millions who know these people only as faces and/or voices. quoted in Burchfield, R. W. (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.). p. 512. ISBN   978-0199690367.
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