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Whats New for June 09
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What’s new at Ethnic Technologies this summer? Well, this blog, for one thing. But also, G-TECH, which lets you append your database by gender. So as we approach DMDAYS NY, I’m going to start my blogging with thoughts on names and gender.

We tend to think of the gender of a name as stagnant. For example, my name, Lisa, is feminine. It always has been, and so one assumes it always will be.

While that was once the case, American baby name choices are departing from the traditional male/female dichotomy. One place this is evident is in the top baby names of 2008, which were recently published by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Here is the girls’ list:

  1. Emma
  2. Isabella
  3. Emily
  4. Madison
  5. Ava
  6. Olivia
  7. Sophia
  8. Abigail
  9. Elizabeth
  10. Chloe

My first observation: What is Madison doing on the girls’ list?! Ok, because I’ve followed name trends my entire life, I’m not actually surprised. However, the linguist in me is indignant. It ends in “son.” Could there be any more obvious marker in the English language that this is a boys’ name? Jackson, Jason, Samson… they look and sound masculine. (Disregard Alison for now.) Madison, from an English surname meaning “son of Maud,” was originally a male name. Yet in 2008 it was the fourth most popular name for a baby girl!

Recently I’ve been scouring lists of names with an eye for these phonetic irregularities. Although Madison may once have been exclusively male, and phonetically resembles male names more than it does its female counterparts, it is now overwhelmingly female. As we shift from the strict male/female dichotomy, gender identification becomes increasingly complex. This makes me wonder what kind of girls all these little Madisons will be, but that’s a different topic. I just stay abreast of the trends- surprising, interesting or whatever else. And thus I can assure you that with G-TECH, when Madison grows up, you will be able to accurately market to HER.

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