March 2, 2012

Girl names that can't be nicknamed

Met another Millennial chick at '80s night tonight with a name that has no clear nickname, Austin. "Aussie" makes her sound Australian, which she is not, and "Austie" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Then there was McCall... "Cally"? That sounds like the dog breed.

As much as I love ragging on Millennials, I haven't talked about their helicopter parents in awhile, and they're just as complicit, fully so in this case. In case you missed the original post, here's the punchline graph for how common girls' names have been that end in a long "ee" vowel, in blue, along with the homicide rate in red (they correlate at +0.5)

This suffix (the "diminuitive") suggests cutesiness and informality, so it might tell us how much the parents wanted their daughters to grow up in a buddy-buddy social environment, rather than one where everyone is formal to the point of not connecting.

It's almost as though the parents of Millennials don't want their kids to be able to get up close and personal with each other, or else they'd give them nicknameable names. This would be an unconscious choice of course. But it certainly fits with their child-rearing style of locking them indoors, only letting them out on scheduled and supervised "play dates" (the stupidest parenting idea I ever heard of).

Unless you've been around them a lot, you'd be surprised how hard it is to find a suitable nickname for most of them. It's not the biggest obstacle to getting close to someone, but when it happens with nearly every single one, it does get a little depressing.

Even after years of exposure, it still boggles my mind that the sweet "Becky" has lost out to the dull "Becca" as the nickname of Rebecca.

I met a girl named Madison once, and that can be shortened to Maddy, which is cute enough. (She preferred "Madd," but that sounded too androgynous to my ears.) The cashier's name at the supermarket today was Lexi, which I assume is short for Alexis or something. That's not too bad either, although it has an unidentifiable porno sound to it, perhaps because it rhymes with "sexy"? Those are the only exceptions that spring to mind, although granted my mind's not in the right state for much to spring to it at all...


  1. Ha, this reminds of some silly Irish novels I used to read by Maeve Binchy.

    There's a scene in which the parents are discussing what to name their baby girl. They discuss not only the formal name, but the potential nicknames she would have.

    Should we name her Olivia? Then people could call her Livvy? But what if they called her Ollie instead. On and on it went.

  2. It could be a control-freak thing, which socially avoidant people tend to be. Eliminate the uncertainties and keep total control over what your kid is called by giving them a name that can't be altered.

  3. I remember watching a Penn and Teller where they studied why low-income parents(especially African-Americans) give their children unusual names. The conclusion was that the poor are more narcissitic and want their children to be noticed more.

    But I wonder if standing out serves a more useful purpose in "wild times" or dangerous environments, such as a low-income neighborhood.


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