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American names = bad?

(304 Posts)
thecaroline Mon 22-Sep-14 22:55:40

Hello, everyone,

I'm not a mom or pregnant, just very interested in names. I've been reading here for a while and am a regular on another name website, and I've noticed that lots of posters here seem to feel a certain disdain for "American" sounding names. I'm curious about this, partly because I'm American, and partly because I don't understand the categorization.

So, what are these American names you speak of? And I'm wondering if all "American-sounding names" are inherently tacky to the British/Irish ear, or... what do you think? Where do "Australian sounding names" fit into this equation?

I have a feeling that this category of names is what a good number of Americans would label "tacky" or "trendy"... or at least I hope so.

Thanks, y'all (I might as well play up my Americanness, right?)


Rivercam Mon 22-Sep-14 23:00:51

Some names don't 'translate' well into English (even though we share a common language!), such as Randy. Probably a perfectly acceptable name in America, but has different connotations in English.

Carrie5608 Mon 22-Sep-14 23:03:48

I don't think all American names are bad but when I lived in Seattle I knew a chap called Cash. I just can't see that working out to well in an English playground. Other American names like Chad or Brad are fine.

Pico2 Mon 22-Sep-14 23:14:49

I think that the use of surnames as first names was previously more common in America than the UK, but is now increasing here.

The names I find particularly odd that seem to have started in the US are girls names ending in "son" as they seem fairly obviously to be boys names e.g. Madison as the name implies someone's son.

Other names don't translate well due to UK specific connotations. I'm not sure that anyone who has visited the UK town Harlow has ever named their chd Harlow.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 22-Sep-14 23:17:10

Randy would be an example of a very American name. It means something entirely different in the UK.

Boys names on girls eg Blake and Leighton is seen as a very American naming trend.

poshlymanor Mon 22-Sep-14 23:21:30

I assumed Madison was from the film Splash.

HowsTheSerenity Mon 22-Sep-14 23:22:53

Blake, Cash, Maddison (yes with 2d's), Harrison all very popular in Ozstraya.

Pico2 Mon 22-Sep-14 23:31:01

Madison apparently means son of Matthew or son of Maud.

Leighton presumably started as a place name - ton meaning town.

There seem to be a lot of names used now which aren't traditionally first names. Though perhaps this was common historically but less so in the 20th century.

I get the impression that there are significant racial divides in the use of names in the US. There are probably similar divides in the UK, but relating to different ethnic groups.

Sophronia Mon 22-Sep-14 23:36:18

By American names I would assume surnamey-names like Hunter, Parker, Landon, Colton, Bentley, Cooper, Hudson, Easton for boys, and Addison, Peyton, Kennedy etc. for girls. They're not necessarily bad, but they just don't work as well in the UK as they have different connotations. For example the boys names I mentioned above have a kind of 'cowboy' feel to them which is very American, and this wouldn't really fit with the culture of Britain. On British kids those kinds of names would seem a bit tacky, like the parents got them from watching American TV shows or something.

stargirl1701 Mon 22-Sep-14 23:37:37

No, American names in the US = good. American names used by American parents = good.

American names in the UK = odd to ape the culture of another country.

HerRoyalNotness Mon 22-Sep-14 23:51:02

I think it works the other way too. We have UK heritage, living in the US. When my boss was asking about potential names for our DDtb, she wrinkled her nose. This was at Lucy. And then when i said my MIL is Margaret she went ugh, that's an awful name. It's what you get used to and was is seen to be normal in your specific culture.

Fwiw, I like the name Parker too, but wouldn't use it as we won't be staying in the US and doesn't fit with our culture or our DSs names.

Sophronia Mon 22-Sep-14 23:54:21

I agree it works the other way too, I can't imagine names like Alfie or Poppy are going to catch on in the US any time soon!

Ericaequites Mon 22-Sep-14 23:58:45

Madison is a trendy name in the States, rather lower class. Most of the American names Sophronia mentions are New York trying too hard sorts of names. I think classic names suitable throughout the Anglosphere are best.
There are extremely large divides in suitable names in American based on region, race, and class. Some name are obviously AfricanAmerican, for example.

squeak2392 Tue 23-Sep-14 15:11:24

American names are usually ones that aren't traditionally used as names, such as surnames or words. While they have existed in the UK for centuries, I think I'm right in saying that they weren't at all common. Also names like Brody, Carl, Blake, Peyton, Brielle, Aubrey. I don't know what's different about them tbh, except that they've been a lot more common in America, and have been for a long time. Unisex names too - we only have a small selection of names which we would commonly use on both genders.
More unusual Biblical ones, too, I think. It took me several years to accept that Elijah and Jacob weren't 'American'.
African American names sound clearly African AMERICAN because people with African heritage here mostly use either perfectly normal, traditional English/Bliblical names or actual African names - there aren't many Laquiesha's or anything as far as I'm aware.

I'm not a fan of 'American' names, tbh. Some of them I think sound nice, but then the moment you imagine them on a British kid they just sound ridiculous.

I didn't know there were Australian names, tbh. Ethan makes me think of a surfer and Happy is a shockingly common name there (ridiculous to a British ear), but I can't think of anything else. From what I've seen the Australian naming style is much more similar to the British style than American.

looki Tue 23-Sep-14 22:59:37

I assume the difference between American and Australian names is due to Australia being in the Commonwealth and therefore will be more similar to the British style. That said however, Harrison is hugely popular in Australia and to my ears sounds quite American.

When I read the original post, I thought the OP meant American sounding names like double barrelled names or names ending in 'en' Jayden etc? I think these names don't travel any more than names such as Hermione travel in the other direction?

NinjaLeprechaun Tue 23-Sep-14 23:53:40

Out of curiosity, I just compared the lists of top 20 currently popular baby names in the US to the lists in the UK (England/Wales and Scotland, listed separately, no NI) and there's a crossover for 11 girls names and 8 boys names.
Some of the boy names that don't 'translate' are Liam, Alexander, Micheal, David, Matthew, which don't feel like 'American' names to me. On the other hand, Logan and Mason - which do - are popular in Scotland.

minkah Wed 24-Sep-14 00:04:32

Quite tired of Biff and Chip, tbh.

Vintagejazz Wed 24-Sep-14 14:00:53

I have a bit of a thing about people using names from cultures and countries they have no connection with. Probably because I've heard so many Irish names being murdered by awful mispronunciations or phonetic spelling. Also it tends to be a lot of Irish surnames that become used in America as first names eg Kelly, Reilly, Bradley, Flynn, Quinn and it just sounds silly to my ears.

thecaroline Wed 24-Sep-14 20:17:26

Aha. So it is what I expected. The names you guys are associating with America are names that are typically associated with the American working/lower classes, are names used by people trying to appear more British or upper class (ie Kensington or something) or are names that I consider hideously ugly.

There are a lot of people in the US with traditional names, btw. I have one. My sisters have traditional names. Tons of friends...

I don't see Alfie or Poppy catching on, I don't think, but mostly because I think they'd be seen as too informal, too nicknamey.

BotoxedFossil Wed 24-Sep-14 20:32:35

Interestingly (imo) even in Ireland, Irish names that have ricocheted back to us from America sound a bit tarnished. eg 'shannon'.

Names like Maeve, Clodagh and Diarmuid that are too authentically Irish to be used in the USA sound middle class to my (irish) ear, but names like Kennedy or Logan used as first names just sound annoying to me because the claim is that the family is Irish but obviously if they use a sur name for their daughter then they are very from removed from being Irish. But that's a small thing. It's just a cultural perspective. America is a melting pot and there's good and bad that comes from that. Trying to claim roots hundreds of years later is bound to throw up some interesting fusions of culture and context!

I read somewhere that people whose ancestors were comfortable take their inspiration from their past when naming their children and people who hope that their children will have more opportunities than they ever had choose names that sound modern. No idea if that is hokey but it could be true. I read it on an American website.

Pico2 Wed 24-Sep-14 21:07:13

I'm intrigued by the name Erin. Is that just fake Irish?

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 24-Sep-14 21:16:04

It's all rubbish, classism.

American names are seen as tacky, borrowing someone else's culture.

I love surname names though, and they are very popular in my home country (which is not the US!)

BotoxedFossil Wed 24-Sep-14 21:21:51

Erin's usage in Ireland is an example of a ricocheted name imo. I'm not keen on it at all.

It was a packet soup when I was growing up! Now it's used occasionally, as is Paige I believe!

It is all rubbish I guess, but people look in different directions for inspiration. I think in America, latin sounding names that sound glamorous to us (Domenico, Celia, Julia, Luca) they sound liike staff to Americans.

The list of names on the Mayflower sounds horribly ugly to me. White to a man though. But those sur names are used as first names in the US.

TheNewStatesman Thu 25-Sep-14 04:12:52

I think very "American" names sound a bit odd on British people. Nothing wrong with them if you are going to be living in the US, though.

I do think that the rising trend of giving Anglo surnames as a first name has a lot to do with sort of emphasizing whiteness, and that, as the previous poster suggests, the Hispanic thing may have something to do with the declining use of "-a" names among white Americans.

mathanxiety Thu 25-Sep-14 05:23:37

I agree it is names you find among lower/working classes or in the white bread and mayo suburbs that jar in the UK and Ireland. I have also seen such names described as 'modern South', or alternatively 'Toddlers and Tiaras'.

Here's an example: a couple picks the name Lakynn for their daughter. The name suggested itself when the blogger's husband saw a random sign saying Lakin. The spelling Lakynn was chosen because that is 'more girly' than Lakin ...

Names that didn't make the cut:

I think TheNewStatesman is correct that Anglo names announce whiteness. By the same token, many names I see here along the lines of Ophelia and Octavia would not be used by Americans who wanted to be thought of as caucasian.

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