Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's in a name?

I grew up using my English name. It was, while not exactly unique, pretty rare. 0.006% of females in the United States (7650 women) share my name, at least the way my parents chose to spell it. 63750 additional women have the same name with the more common spelling variant, but that is only another 0.05%, and still pretty rare. I really liked being able to identify myself by just my first name and having people instantly know who I was, since they probably didn't know anyone else by the same name.

Then I married into a family that, while giving their children both English and Hebrew names, calls their children exclusively by their Hebrew names. My husband wanted to call me by my Hebrew name. Now, I have nothing against the name Miriam. I really do like it. But it's just too common!

Do you know how many women in the US have Miriam as their legal name? About 84150, or 0.066% of US females. Which would lead you to believe that it is still pretty rare... except that when you only look at the Jewish community, it's more like 25%. (I'm making that number up completely, but it is much much bigger than 1, 2 or even 5%). Most families have a Miriam. Suddenly, Miriam isn't enough to identify me. Luckily, my last name isn't so common... there are only about 20 of us, nationwide.

Still, I miss feeling rare and special... but not enough to go back to using my English name more.

(Statistics supplied by Name Statistics.)