Younger generations of parents choose one-of-a-kind names for children
For possible future children, and keeping with the themes of A-names in the family, Ashley said she likes Aiden Jayce.
Morgantown teacher Cynthia Mullins’ line of work makes her a bit of an expert on the generational trends of children’s names. And she’s seen her fair share of names after reading roll call lists for 26 years.
“Long ago, (names) used to be more common,” she said.
Her own grandchildren have popular or uncommon names, as well. Mullin’s 4-year-old granddaughter’s name is Tyranny Page Timmons, and her 2-year-old grandson is named Aiden Luke Timmons.
The most complicated task was calling on a child who shared a traditional name with another student.
But in recent years, the roll call has been more of a challenge.
“Some of these names — it’s hard for me to understand how children even learn to spell them,” Mullins said.
And pronunciation is another tricky skill.
“If you don’t pronounce (the names) correctly, (students) will let you know,” she said.
Mullins said some children who do have the same name pronounce it differently from class to class. For example, some pronounce “Xavier” in two syllables, emphasizing the “x” sound, while others pronounce it in one syllable emphasizing a ‘z” sound.
Mullins said less children have biblical names like “Mary” nowadays. And her name, “Cynthia,” no longer graces her roll book.
Mullins said in recent years she’s noticed a trend of names that combine two, more traditional names.
One example is “Krystalyn,” which combines “Krystal” and “Lynn.”
However, Mullins said boys tend to have more traditional, family names like “Christopher” or “Christian,” especially if a “Jr.” is attached.
“Girls names tend to be more unusual or difficult,” Mullins said.
Mullins said the names suit the younger generation, because children today seem more independent than they did years ago — which is demonstrated when they confidently correct their teachers.
But some traditional names seem to be around for good.
Two names have stood the test of time: Mary and James. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, those two are the most commonly given names to American babies.
Mary Harper was given her mother’s name. That meant she spent most of her life being referred to as Mary with a qualifier — Mary Catherine.
She said she’s always been comfortable in her common name, even if that means sometimes she responds to a question directed at someone else.
“Sometimes, I will be in Walmart and someone will say, ‘Mary,’ and I will look around,” she said.
Like Harper, James West inherited his name, in his case from his paternal grandfather, James Henry West. He said that while he has never thought of his name as common, he’s always liked it.
“I personally like names that you can pronounce, that you can recognize,” he said.
In addition to being his grandfather’s name, West said James was the name of the brother of Jesus. Those are tall boots to fill, he said.
“I think a name says a lot, it is what you are recognized by,” West said. “I don’t know whether I necessarily lived up to it, but when you look at the sum total of my life, I haven’t done the name injustice.”