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  1. Ducklet Cat's Avatar
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    #1

    Question First names tell social background?!

    Hello,
    I'm not sure if this makes sense or not.
    Are there names (first names) that are associated with certain class or level of living?

    Well, I mean Are there names in UK or USA that are more common in rural areas? I know there are real peasants nowadays, but was there names that used to be common in the country side, and other that are common in urban areas, or sea areas?

    I know that there are names that tell you about the ethnic or religious background of the person, for example someone called Francois could be from a French desccent, and someone called Ahmad is -most probably- a Muslim. I'm not talking about that.

    For example, is Henry a "classy" name in the UK because there were Kings and nobles who had this name? Was it once common in the English countryside as it was common among the nobles?
    Likewise, are there names that are common among cowboys, or peasants in the USA in the past.

    And is this still valid now?

    Thanks :)

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    #2

    Re: First names tell social background?!

    There are stereotypes, but you can't really judge any particular person by his given name.

    You might expect "Billy Jeff" to be a mechanic and "Winston" to be a banker, but you could be wrong as well.

    America is a land of aspiration and I have seen a study that showed that names that are popular ripple down through the social classes. When a name is popular among the upper classes, those in the lower classes start to adopt the name (because they think it sounds classy or sophisticated).

    Of course, like all things trendy, once it becomes too common, the upper classes move on to a new set of names.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: First names tell social background?!

    I am out of touch with the class associations of names in England these days, but I remember that, in the 1970s, Sharon, Trac(e)y, Darron, Jason and a few others were not names of people you would expect to sit next to when dining at the High Table in an Oxbridge/Durham/Dublin College.

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: First names tell social background?!

    There are fashions and stereotypes, that come and go. For example, there was a TV character in the '90s called Kevin - a morose and inarticulate teenager. Someone told me about his new wife: 'She has a son from a previous marriage. He's a bit of a Kevin'.

    And Robert Robinson (British broadcaster who died last year) used to say he didn't let people call him Bob 'because "Bob" sounds like the captain of the 2nd XI [=a cricket team that's not very good]'. (I suspect this implied that he was (or wanted to give the impression that he had been*) privately educated - private education is the home of expressions like '2nd XI''.

    (But it never bothered me ;-;)

    b

    PS * I see from that Wikipedia article that he wasn't - but my grammar school didn't have a 2nd XI; they were lucky if they could muster a 'first team'!
    Last edited by BobK; 12-Jun-2012 at 11:21.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: First names tell social background?!

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    There are fashions and stereotypes, that come and go. For example, there was a TV character in the '90s called Kevin - a morose and inarticulate teenager. Someone told me about his new wife: 'She has a son from a previous marriage. He's a bit of a Kevin'.

    And Robert Robinson (British broadcaster who died last year) used to say he didn't let people call him Bob 'because "Bob" sounds like the captain of the 2nd XI [=a cricket team that's not very good]'. (I suspect this implied that he was (or wanted to give the impression that he had been*) privately educated - private education is the home of expressions like '2nd XI''.

    (But it never bothered me ;-;)

    b

    PS * I see from that Wikipedia article that he wasn't - but my grammar school didn't have a 2nd XI; they were lucky if they could muster a 'first team'!
    In Ireland, Kevin, or "Caoimhín" in Gaelic, is and always has been a very respectable name. It's the name of a 7th century saint, St. Caoimhín of Glendalough in Wicklow. It's a pity that it became a joke because of that British TV show.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: First names tell social background?!

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    In Ireland, Kevin, or "Caoimhín" in Gaelic, is and always has been a very respectable name. It's the name of a 7th century saint, St. Caoimhín of Glendalough in Wicklow. It's a pity that it became a joke because of that British TV show.
    - and it wasn't even a very good show.

    b

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