Categories Categories of given names Once you have discovered the origin of your name, compare it with the rest of your group, then combine all the origins and try to group them according to source. There is no general agreed classification scheme for UK forenames, but four main categories should emerge: Biblical Classical Vernacular Modern/other Source: 1 ?? Biblical names were introduced after the Norman Conquest, and many are from Hebrew or Greek Examples: Hebrew (Adam, Matthew, Samuel), Greek (Andrew, Peter, Stephen) Examples: Hebrew (Elizabeth, Rachel) Classical names are from Latin or Greek Examples: Alexander, Anthony, Dominic Examples: Catherine, Helen, Zoe Vernacular After the Norman Conquest, the former Anglo-Saxon personal names were widely abandoned, to be replaced by the new fashion for continental Germanic names. Those Old English names that did survive were associated with saints or kings, e.g. Edward, Alfred. The mid-nineteenth century saw a conscious revival in such names (now unfashionable), such that your great-grandparents may have borne the names of Audrey, Ethel, Mildred or Alfred, Edwin or Oswald. Modern-day naming fashions Naming fashions today are much less constrained (especially for girls). There is a noticeable borrowing from other cultures (e.g. Nicole, Gemma, Tanya) and the use of diminutives, e.g. Ben or Sam, or pet forms as a formal name, e.g. Jack. There is markedly less borrowing from Asian name-forms, but perhaps that is a future fashion. In a survey of the top 100 forenames of both boys and girls names of England and Wales in 1994, the following were the leading categories: male female Greek 11 11 Hebrew 16 8 Latin 10 8 Modern English 0 8 Surnames 16 0 Diminutives 17 13 Derivatives 0 11 Source: C.Hough (2000) J.Linguistics 36, 1-11 Notes Hebrew: there are far more male names mentioned in the Bible than female. Modern English: these are vocabulary words such as, Holly, Jade, Lily. Surnames as forenames, examples: Ashley, Dale, Scott, Stuart or female – Courtney, Hayley, Paige. Diminutives, examples: Ben, Abbie, Bethan, Max, Lisa, Sam, Tom, Toni. Derivatives (i.e. derived from the masculine form): Charlotte, Georgina. Nicola. A point to bear in mind is how much given names differ from the stock of common nouns that form our vocabulary. The Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Celtic languages figure strongly in any analysis of English given names whilst common nouns are predominantly derived from Old English, Old Norse and French. Surnames on the othjer hand represent the vocabulary of the early Middle Ages. Nouns and names are different but so are different categories of names from a linguistic perspective The Office for National Statististics (ONS) produces an annual listing for the year’s most popular names for babies. Visit their web site, enter “Baby Name” in the Search box, and when the page appears click the intem that interests you in the Related Links column. How does the current list differ from your class-list in popularity? Collect the given names of your parent and grandparents. Combine them into two popularity charts, and compare. The ONS also produced a report called How common is your name? (22 May 2000) which includes a snapshot of the top 50 forenames across the country for all age ranges. Compare this with a combined listing from your class, their parents and grandparents. Group-work Among other ways that you can analyse the pooled names in your list are: What is the size of the pool of given names? Which are the leading names? Who shares more names? Lads or lasses? How many are named after a parent or grandparent? How does this compare with how your grandparents were named? How many have just one personal name, and how many multiple names? How many of these second (or third names) were named after others? How many bear diminutive names, e.g. Jack is a diminutive of John, Carrie for Caroline? Is there a difference in the number of diminutives for girls as compared with boys? You can also compare your local list against a National list. The ONS and the Registrar General Scotland have online/printed lists that you can use for comparison. How similar are the rankings of your local list to the national one?