Monday, May 04, 2015

A Charlotte Observer: Thoughts on the New Royal Name

Photo courtesy of ABC News.
The royal family announced the name of its latest offspring today — Charlotte Elizabeth Diana — sending baby-name nerds into a tizzy.

The fact that we're getting a new royal name so close to this weekend's annual release of the Social Security Administration's 2014 data...well, it's like Christmas and your birthday coming the same week (to be fair, that's no big deal if you're Jesus).

The interesting thing about Charlotte is it's currently more popular in the United States than in Britain. The name was perched on the threshold of the top 10 in 2013 (which until Sunday is the most recent year with data available), ranking 11th. It's 20th in England and 21st in Scotland, according to Nameberry.

I don't doubt it will crack the top 10 when the 2014 list is released. But what then? Will the royal influence push it higher? Are we looking at a Sophia or Isabella?

I would guess no. Charlotte doesn't feel like a name that's going to make it into the top five. Remember my post about how girls' names are getting longer? Parents today prefer three- or four-syllable names, and they favor the Spanish, Greek and Italian variants (think: "-a") — rather than English and French versions of names. Charlotte, a French two-syllabler, fails on both counts.

It's hard to imagine now, but Sophie (French) used to be more common in the U.S. than Sophia (Greek). That's obviously changed. Not only is Sophia currently No. 1, but many Americans perceive Sophie as merely a nickname.

Likewise, Charlotte doesn't quite jibe with broader trends. So while it may continue to rise in the rankings, I see a ceiling to its popularity.