As a journalist, I’m constantly encountering names. But there is more to names than getting them spelled right, although people whose name has been butchered, either in print or pronunciation by one of my media brethren in radio or TV, might suggest otherwise.
While out of the baby-naming business, the significance of naming a child can’t be overstated. While watching the National Geographic Channel’s “The Numbers Game,” the importance of a name, or at least its first letter, was driven home.
The show’s host, Jake Porway, a data scientist, noted there is a link between one’s name and mortality. People whose first name begins with the letter “A” live longer than those of us shackled with a “D” name.
A little web research uncovered a study conducted by researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit. It found that people whose first name begins with “A” live 10 years longer than those whose initial is “D.” (Cough, cough.)
Why? Experts claim it stems from school grades, where “A” spells success and “D” failure. People whose name starts with “D” are more likely to have low self-esteem, which is linked to illnesses including cancer.
Who knew the benefit Nancy, my wife, and I were giving our daughters – Amanda, Amber and Anna. I guess we owe an apology to our two sons, Jacob and Caleb, who almost was an Amos.
Jacob, as it turns out, isn’t such a bad name, considering it doesn’t start with an “A.” According to a story by The Associated Press, Jacob remains the most popular name for baby boys. It’s held the No. 1 spot for 14 consecutive years.
Why does Jacob endure?
“It’s easy to pronounce and it’s easy to spell. It’s a solid manly name, “ said Jennifer Moss, author of “The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book” and founder of Babynames.com, in an AP story.
According to the Social Security Administration’s annual list of popular baby names, 18,899 babies were named Jacob last year.
In case you’re wondering, the most popular girl’s name for the second straight year was Sophia. An “A” name – Ava – ranked No. 5 among girls’ names.
Having an “A” name isn’t always beneficial. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Rams’ rookie free agent linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong’s given name is Aravious. So why the nickname?
“I just go by Ray Ray because a lot of people mispronounce my name,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard” and founder of Babynamewizard.com, told the AP that some parents are looking for a name that is distinctive and will make their child stand out.
But some names that are growing in popularity are way beyond distinctive. Two of the fastest-rising baby names for boys are King and Messiah. In terms of popularity, King jumped 133 spots to No. 256 while Messiah shot up 246 slots to No. 387.
Names like King and Messiah fall into the category of “expectation” names. Many who specialize in baby names encourage parents to avoid names on that list, which includes Justice and Chastity.
“We feel that it kind of puts an undue pressure on the child when you use those kinds of grandiose and purity names,” Moss told the AP.
While care should be given when choosing a baby’s first name, there’s nothing wrong with being creative, especially if you have a unique last name.
In the ‘90s, the St. Louis Cardinals had a pitcher whose last name was Batchelor, pronounced just like the word given an unmarried man – bachelor. His parents gave him the first name of Rich.
With a name like Rich Batchelor, he likely never had trouble finding dates. After all, what single girl doesn’t want to meet a rich bachelor? (Wink, wink)