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Names in the real world and otherwise - Input Junkie
February 14th, 2014
03:59 pm

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Names in the real world and otherwise
Here's a site that will show you a graph of the popularity of your name. I can't get the image to show up, but Nancy was popular from about 1950 to 1965, with a very steep rise and steep drop. And, of course, you can put in your own name and see how it's been doing.

There's a map of when my name peaked in each state, an animated map for maximum popularity per state, and a field for theories about why a name was popular when it was. I have no idea for my name. It seems to me like an equally good name for all eras, but what do I know?

The name search feature is fun, and I expect it's driving traffic to Vintage Reprints.... but I can't quite figure out what they sell, or how to get to the name search from the home page, or whether there's a public list of people's theories about name popularity.

I have no idea if there are names that just sort of putter along at a stable level instead of peaking.

Are authors careful about giving their characters probable names? If an author isn't, does it bother you?

Going farther afield, I have no idea how (at least for me) GRRMartin got away with a fantasy which has no obvious connection to our timeline with characters who have a mixture of contemporary names, common names with weird spellings, and totally alien names. He put work into culture-building, but that doesn't explain why all the names aren't alien.

The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, a book that I mostly liked, made me crazy on that issue-- it's pretty much our world with dragons added. The countries are similar to real world countries, but the names of the countries have no resemblance. The characters have real world names.

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From:philmophlegm
Date:February 14th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC)
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Worst example of using an ordinary real-world name in a work of epic fantasy? Try Stephen Donaldson's 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever', where the ancient High Lords of the Land were Berek Halfhand, Damelon Giantfriend...and KEVIN Landwaster...
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From:harvey_rrit
Date:February 14th, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd7FixvoKBw

This came to mind all of a sudden.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 14th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
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The Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, a book that I mostly liked, made me crazy on that issue-- it's pretty much our world with dragons added. The countries are similar to real world countries, but the names of the countries have no resemblance. The characters have real world names.

I kind of liked the names, there. It's subtle enough that I didn't notice for quite a while, but it's not just "our world with dragons added." It's "our world without Christianity, and with dragons." Under the circumstances, Jewish given names felt perfectly reasonable to me.
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From:nancylebov
Date:February 15th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
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I think I vaguely picked up on the Jewish angle, if not the lack-of-Christianity angle.

Given my druthers, I'd have a story where Victorian restrictions on women didn't happen-- my impression is that they owe a fair amount to Christian ideas of purity. On the other hand, some varieties of Orthodox Judaism restrict women a lot, but I'm not sure how much they were influenced by Christianity.

It might be asking too much from the author to insist that history should be thoroughly redone when Anglophilia is such a strong attractor.
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From:witchwestphalia
Date:February 17th, 2014 05:48 am (UTC)
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Orthodox Judaism's restrictions on women arise from Jewish traditional restrictions very strictly interpreted. Doesn't derive from Christianity. Pauline Christianity's rules derive from Judaism actually.
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From:dcseain
Date:February 16th, 2014 06:38 am (UTC)
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i found this interesting. It's mine and my father's middle name, after a paternal uncle of his. That side of the family is in Ohio.
http://www.vintagereprints.net/names/baby.cgi?name=Verle
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