Increased choice of female phonetic attributes in first names

Abstract

The phonetic gender score is a new quantitative scale that was applied to the spoken sounds of first names. Popular names of females have predominantly positive scores, and popular names of males have predominantly negative scores. Mean phonetic gender scores were higher in 1990 than in 1960 for the 25 most frequent names given to females and males born in Pennsylvania. Choices of names were more diverse for females than males in both years and in 1990 than 1960 for both genders. The increased choice in 1990 of attributes associated with females may indicate greater acceptance of female characteristics in 1990 than in 1960. In 1990 the most numerous racial minority, African Americans, constituted 15% of the births but only 5% of the females and 7% of the males given the 25 most frequent names.

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Correspondence to Herbert Barry Jr..

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The data on frequencies of first names were supplied by the State Center for Health Statistics and Research, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The Department specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.

Helpful services were received from the Pennsylvania State Center for Health Statistics and Research, in particular by Jerry Orris, and from the University of Pittsburgh Computer Center, in particular data transfer and programming by Eileen S. Kopchik and statistical consultation by Clement A. Stone.

A portion of this study was reported at the 33rd Names Institute, Baruch College, New York, on May 7, 1994.

Community College of Allegheny County

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Barry, H., Harper, A.S. Increased choice of female phonetic attributes in first names. Sex Roles 32, 809–819 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01560190

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Keywords

  • Social Psychology
  • Positive Score
  • Racial Minority
  • Negative Score
  • Great Acceptance