Thursday, November 12, 2009

U.S./U.K. on longer names vs. nicknames as full names

Someone over at Nameberry brought up a point on how it is currently fashionable in Britain to use nickname-type names as full names while Americans are going the other way and tending to longer names. Interestingly enough, about 40 years ago (which happens to be one-half of a Strauss and Howe saeculum*) it was the opposite - Americans were the ones going for nicknamey names and the British going for more formality.

*Maybe it's then a generational thing and that the U.S. and U.K. are running on opposite points of the cycle on this name issue?

1 comment:

  1. I think it's important to consider the socioeconomic factors, too. The upper middle class are still firmly locked into full names only (as I mentioned in a previous comment, I attend private school and so am well placed to watch these class trends). Actually, a couple of years ago I mentioned to a group of (upper middle class) friends that I liked the name Poppy. This was met with extreme disapproval, as Poppy is "not a full name" (it is normally used as a nickname for Penelope).

    However, others in Britain are piling on the Evie, Charlie, Ollie bandwagon, and as the sheer number of people who are not in the upper middle class bracket is the overwhelming majority, those names race up the charts.

    To summarise, your average Brit would name their children Evie, Charlie and Ollie, but your upper middle class Brit would name them Evelyn (or Evangeline), Charles and Oliver ... and proceed to exclusively call them Evie, Charlie and Ollie for the rest of their lives.