Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Y is it so? Naming Australia's women, 1950-1955

Okay so I'm under massive multiple deadline guns and I got up at 5.30 am to try to cope, and here I am at 7 am, blogging. Call it a very early coffee break.

Back there at the crack of dawn I was writing a review of a book in which two major characters are, to my mind, very anachronistically named, and it's reminded me of a conversation I had with my sisters on Christmas Day about my theory that all Australian women born between 1950 and 1955 have a Y in their names. The two exceptions to this are Helen and Susan, though even then you probably have a Y in your middle name, which is most likely either Kay or Joy.

The more I think about this theory and the more I think about women I know in that five-year time frame, the more likely it seems that there was some powerful unwritten law. If I look around among family and friends for examples, I can see -- without (as it were) even moving my feet -- a Wendy, a Sally, a Robyn, a Lyn, a Mary, a Dymphna, a Jayne and a Lynne (and, of course, moi), plus several others with middle names dominated by variations on the Kay-Joy theme.

There's a thesis in it, if not an ARC grant.

18 comments:

BlissHill said...

Me? Robyn.... born 1950.
My friend? Glynnis?... born 1950

Spooky!

I am sure there will be more. It will give me a new project for 2008.

kate said...

I agree. But probably a less striking phenomena in the Catholic schools of the era.

My aunts in that age group don't follow the 'y' rule, and neither do my partner's. Except of course for the Marys, every Catholic family has at least one Mary.

My Dad's sister, my Mum's middle name, my mother outlaw, my great aunt, etc etc, all Mary.

Anonymous said...

and yet I'm reminded of a Naked Vicar sketch where Noeline Brown, at her broadest, invites us to come in and meet "Noreen, Doreen, Arlene, Marlene, Eileen, Aileen, Raelene [snip] and my name's Kay".
or something like that.

Boris

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ayup. I'd put the top of the 'leen/line' vogue somewhere around 1940. Noeline Brown is in her 60s, I think. Obviously it's the Irish influence in Australia, with Kathleens and Aileens and Eileens as far as the eye could see and doubtless starting the variation trend.

And Kate, you're right, the Catholics would also throw the whole Y curve right out if the era were not awash with Marys. As it is, it probably works out quite nicely, statistically speaking.

*Eyes ARC grant application form speculatively.*

Stephanie Trigg said...

no no, don't do it! The ARC, I mean. Let me save you from yourself and your great ideas.

BTW, middle names of self and sisters, in descending chronological order: Gaye, Joy and Mary. Trifecta!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Heh! Yes, I thought of you -- you don't quite fit the age profile, but the curve was definitely still, erm, curving.

Kathleen said...

The Kathleen skipped a generation in our pseudo-Irish bunch: my nanna was Kathleen, Mum was Juliet Rosemary (bingo, PC, although she's the beginning of your curve), I'm Kathleen again.

Kathleen Elizabeth, by the way, which could give you a future spin-off for your ARC, PC - of my highschool class of 30 girls, about six of us had middle names of Elizabeth: 1970's babies.

Oh, and of the 30 boys, six were called Benjamin - but that's more a 1970's Christian babies thing...

lucy tartan said...

No Ys among the women in my mother's and father's families (the latter, admittedly, Catholics.)

Gemma Theresa, Rosaleen Margaret, Anne, Helen, Georgina.

They do all have Es though....

Cast Iron Balcony said...

Debbie and Julie were two of the commonest baby boomer names, which don't really fit the pattern either. (Yes, there's the Debby spelling, but it's never caught on in Oz.)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ms Tartan, yes, well, there's always one imaginative and/or traditional family around to buck a trend and muck up a theory.

Helen -- Boomer, yes, but my theory is much more time-specific. (Mind you, Boomers when first defined were born in the five years after the war, but the definition has expanded to include a whole generation now, presumably so there are more of us to blame for everything.) Now that I think of it, I did go to school with both a Debbie and a Julie ... but one was Deborah Kaye and the other was Julie May!

H.Glass said...

my 1950 cousins are Terry, Gaye and Bronwyn.
Schoolfriend: Marilyn.

why oh why?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, H., I've got various cousins (all in the correct age bracket) called Cheryl, Desley, Tracey and Lynelle.

I'm really onto something here, I reckon.

H.Glass said...

as well, scanning the official popular names via www.ssa.gov, the Top 20 of 1948-1951 has:
Judy, Nancy, Shirley, Cynthia.

But wait there's more: when the baby boomers bred, they went for Amy, Tammy, Kimberley, Kelly, Molly, Polly, Poppy, and Daisy

peas and love, Brownie

Ann O'Dyne said...

and PS Kerryn, I BabyBoomer, had a classmate named Kerryl ... if she had a brother Darryl we could laugh like drains.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I've seen a few Kerryns about and one or two of them are even older than me, but I can cross my heart and say I have never met or heard of a Kerryl until this very moment. Which is astonishing, really, since it looks like so obvious a variation in retrospect.

Ann O'Dyne said...

I guugled it and it might be Welsh.
There was a Kerryl Melbourne Pottery with the name in 1956 and I learned a lot when I fell over that link. God I love blogs.

Anonymous said...

I agree

Jonathan Shaw said...

I can add data to support the Catholic exception theory: my youngest sibling, born in 1951,is Elizabeth June.