Noth­ing’s new in name game


BIRTH AN­NOUNCE­MENTS here at the JC have lately taken an in­ter­est­ing turn: there’s been a re­turn to names that were pop­u­lar in the early 1900s. Golda and Arthur are just two of the notso-mod­ern names that have fea­tured in re­cent birth an­nounce­ments. Na­tional trends cor­rob­o­rate this trend. The Of­fice of Na­tional Sta­tis­tics (ONS) list of baby names given in the UK in 2018 re­veals mul­ti­ple old-fash­ioned names of He­brew ori­gin sit­ting com­fort­ably within this year’s top 100 list. Joshua and Jacob, bib­li­cal names, rank highly — and are pop­u­lar among JC read­ers too — but other bib­li­cal names aren’t far­ing quite as well: Adam, Abi­gail, Han­nah, Leah, Rachel, Rebecca and Sarah have all seen a dip in pop­u­lar­ity.

How­ever, some his­tor­i­cally pop­u­lar Jewish boy’s names re­main just as wellloved to­day as they were back when UK name records be­gan in 1904: par­tic­u­larly highly ranked are the names Sa­muel, Joseph, Daniel, David and Michael.

Some names, pop­u­lar in the early 1900s, fell out of fash­ion for decades and are only now see­ing a resur­gence in their pop­u­lar­ity. The Ashke­nazi name Golda might have come re­cently to our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness, ow­ing to the re­cent West End re­vival of Fid­dler on the Roof: Golde be­ing the cen­tral­fam­ily’s strong-willed but fiercely lov­ing ma­tri­arch.

And Ada, of He­brew ori­gin, is back in the top 100, hav­ing not ap­peared there since 1924. This in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity could be be­cause Ada is a cen­tral char­ac­ter in the pop­u­lar TV pro­gramme, Peaky Blin­ders. Ada fits an­other trend, too — girl’s names start­ing and end­ing with a vowel are hav­ing a mo­ment. The Latin, non-Jewish name Olivia has been the most pop­u­lar girls’ name in the UK for a few years run­ning, closely fol­lowed by the (also non-Jewish) names Amelia, Isla, Is­abella and Elsie and the He­brew ori­gin name Evie. Evie, Eve­lyn and Eva are all chart toppers this year, just as they were over a cen­tury ago.

Oliver, Olivia’s male equiv­a­lent is the most pop­u­lar boys name in the UK. And al­most as pop­u­lar are more old-fash­ioned names that were com­mon in the early 1900s and are back in fash­ion again in­clud­ing Harry, Rose, Lily, Al­bert, Charles, Ge­orge and, yes, Arthur. Per­haps it’s not a co­in­ci­dence that Arthur is an­other lead char­ac­ter in Peaky Blin­ders. And, of course, the Royal Family’s in­flu­ence on baby name trends is well known, so stand by for more boys called Archie.

Some spec­u­late that the rea­son so many names from the turn of the cen­tury are back on trend is be­cause of the re­cent trend for family tree web­sites —the JC’s on­line ar­chive is a trea­sure chest for Jewish ge­neal­o­gists, al­though in the early years of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury it was rare to an­nounce a baby’s name.

In the pri­mary school where I work, I know of stu­dents named Lily, Arthur and Zelda — all of them un­der the age of six. As it hap­pens, I have known a few other Lilys, one other Arthur, and even an­other Zelda — each of them now over the age of 80. The cir­cu­lar­ity of the Jewish (and nonJewish) name game makes me smile.

Adam, Leah, Sarah and Han­nah have dipped in pop­u­lar­ity Could Ada be pop­u­lar be­cause of Peaky Blin­ders?


Arthur or Archie?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.