Marketing on a First-Name Basis

Written by Amy Franz

Have you ever had a friend or relative gift you a personalized keychain, magnet, or little license plate from their recent travels? Of course you have! (Unless your name is Seraphina, Jaxsyn or DeShawn, then that’s a whole other story.)

Name souvenirs are cute and kitschy, but hardly ever necessary or practical. They maintain their popularity, however, not because of their usefulness, but because they’re personalized.
When companies take this personalized approach with their marketing campaigns, it yields impressive results.

Consider Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which first launched in Australia in 2011 and was later introduced to the US in 2014. Coke produced bottles with the countries’ most popular names slapped onto the label. The thought behind this was simple: you’ll buy your friend a Coke with their name on it.

Names worked. The company’s sales increased by over 2% as a result of names alone. “Share a Coke” was eventually introduced in more than 80 different countries. Now consumers can even purchase customized bottles.

Ethnic Technologies’ name data provides many companies personal, but non-invasive audience insights. This data can also help you speak to your audience, as a means to include them in your special product, service, or campaign.

Take a note from Coke. Buy some sodas for your next marketing brainstorm meeting and think of fun and innovative ways to address a crowd in one of the most personal ways imaginable like we do – by using their names.

When Names Are the Same, but Different

Written by Amy Franz

As a name grows increasingly more popular, new parents create spelling variations to provide a sense of individuality.

While you may assume an unusual spelling of a common name is a unique take on a typical American name, it may also be a name from a different culture!

The name Aiden entered the Social Security Administration’s Top 10 list in 2010 and has maintained its popularity ever since. Due to its widespread usage, this name has many spelling alternatives, including Aydin. While Aiden and Aydin can be different versions of the same name, they also have different derivations! Aiden has Irish origins, meaning ‘fiery one’ while Aydinis Turkish, meaning ‘enlightened.’

Leah, stemming from Hebrew, is another common American name that has a variety of spellings. One option is Liah, which happens to have origins in Chinese, too! This Chinese name is a combination of the name LI paired with the diminutive marker, AH.

KALI is a spelling option for the popular name KAYLEE. However, KALI is also a name used throughout India, often used for males, in honor of the Hindu goddess, Kali.

The name MIA, often a nickname for both Maria and Amelia, has been a Top 10 girls’ name on SSA’s list since 2009, making it a good candidate for innovative spellings. The spelling Miya, for instance, actually has Japanese roots! In Japanese, Miya means ‘palace, shrine’.

Many names – such as these four – demonstrate the prevalence of onomastic cultural overlap.
Uncovering common American names that are varied in their spelling highlights the cultural diversity within a name. When it comes to multicultural data, it’s vital to consider every derivation of a name so you can best interact with your audience!

Ethnic Names Turned Mainstream

Written by Amy Franz

There’s a new gold mine for data scientists: The Social Security Administration’s 2017 baby name data.

It’s been one month since the latest data playground opened up. The Social Security Administration released the 2017 baby name data on Mother’s Day and I’ve been playing around in it ever since.

After I discovered that Liam was the most popular baby name for boys born in 2017, I went on a search for names that are currently undergoing a similar evolution: ethnic names becoming American.

Liam exemplifies an ethnic name turned mainstream – the most mainstream, in fact. Liam was once heavily marked as being Irish. Nearly 41% of adult Americans with this name have Irish heritage.* The name gained increased popularity in 1995 and broke into the Top 100 baby names by 2006. Due to its recent widespread use, there could soon be a potential drop in Irish heritage attached to Liam.

Jumping an impressive 800 ranks in under a decade, the girls’ name Arya means ‘noble’ in Persian. Currently, the name sits at the No. 135 spot. Arya’s increased usage is likely the result of pop culture influence; the name Arya belongs to the fearless younger daughter in the illustrious series, Game of Thrones. The beloved character is a good reason Americans of diverse cultural backgrounds would name their daughter Arya.

Kai also illustrates the name change from ethnic to American. The name appears on both the boys’ and the girls’ lists, sitting at Nos. 127 and 804, respectively. Kai has a number of diverse derivations, including Chinese, Japanese, Estonian and Swahili. In 2017, it was highly Chinese in the United States. Roughly 35% of adult Americans named Kai had Chinese heritage. That percentage is likely to decrease over time as this name continues to be favored for newborns.

Whether you’re a name hobbyist or name data analyst, ethnic names breaching the mainstream is a really useful insight into a multiculturally evolving society. As these names transition from highly ethnic to quintessentially American, this could change the way you see popular names or how you look at your multicultural data!

*Diversity percentages based on a study of Ethnic Technologies data applied to US consumer marketing database.

Celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Written by Tracy Fey

This May, E-Tech is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by highlighting the representation of South Asian people in America. As one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States and Canada in the last decade, South Asian Americans have a stronger voice than ever. Here are three ways in which this group has become more influential in North America:

• South Asian citizens have become a powerful piece of the American electorate,
increasing in some segments by over 400%.

• In addition to growth in major metropolitan areas, South Asian-American populations have grown in “smaller” metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, NC, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, TX, and Jacksonville, Florida.

• As of 2015, 32% of Asian Indian adults have obtained a higher education degree, a rate which is almost double the education level compared to the United States as a whole.

As expected with such a large and growing population in the United States, South Asian Americans hold complex experiences and identities as individuals. This is why E-Tech’s Access India product helps to recognize this population at a more granular level, and representing ten different Asian Indian cultures: Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali. Access India enables more actionable communication and accurate representation of your consumers, and we recognize the importance of this initiative not just during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month but all year long.

Connecting Names with xkcd’s Name Dominoes

Written by Amy Franz

When I stumbled upon xkcd’s Name Dominoes, I got really excited about the ways we can connect famous people by their names. (I wish I had thought of this idea!) XKCD website

I wondered what would happen if I put connected names through Ethnic Technologies’ E-Tech software, which identifies ethnicity based primarily on names. What more could I learn about these famous names?
Here are my favorite takeaways from the xkcd name domino dataset.

Stage Names vs. Real Names

If a person chooses to don a stage name during their celebrity, it has the potential to misrepresent their actual ethnicity. Such is the case with the examples below, which is fascinating since their celebrity names are an homage to their real names!

Man Ray, a renowned Surrealist artist, sports a surname that is shared among English, African American, and Indian ethnicities. In reality, his name is Emmanuel Radnitzky, which is a markedly Russian Jewish surname.

The same can be said for Jack Ruby, the man who famously shot JFK assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Ruby is a predominantly French last name, but his real name, Jacob Rubenstein, is also Jewish.
Shared Names

Grace Lee and Grace Lee Boggs are connected to each other on xkcd’s Name Dominoes. These names are nearly identical, but the celebrities have different backgrounds. Grace Lee is Korean and Grace Lee Boggs was Chinese. If the dominoes were arranged differently, Grace Lee could be connected to Robert E. Lee, for example, who is English.

Professional boxer Oscar de la Hoya and fashion designer Oscar de la Renta share not only their first names but also structure of their surname, which denotes family lineage. Though both Spanish dominant, they come from different Hispanic cultures. De la Hoya is Mexican and de la Renta was Dominican.

First Name as Last Name and Vice Versa

When you cross ethnicities, first names are sometimes last names and vice versa.
Illustrious cellist Yo Yo Ma and Blues singer Ma Rainey are connected first name to last. Ma is a French-born Chinese man, as indicated by his family name and Rainey was African American. While Ma can also be Chinese first name, in Ma Rainey’s case, it is a nickname. It is a shortened form of “mother”, since she is dubbed the “Mother of the Blues”.

When we connect like names, it’s easy to think they are the same, and that the people using them must have similar backgrounds. These few examples are a little window into name diversity and multiculturalism.

Beyond “Boy” and “Girl” Names

Written by Amy Franz

We assume that most names are gendered, but these multicultural names will turn that assumption upside down. In today’s world of one-to-one marketing, you don’t want to leave these people out:

We’ve all heard the name JEAN. Celebrity bearers include renowned tennis player, Billie Jean King, and Old Hollywood stars, Jean Harlow, Jean Seberg, and Norma Jean Baker (famously Marilyn Monroe).

What do these women have in common? They each have either an Anglo or Germanic surname.

Coincidence? Not at all. The name JEAN is widely female in the United States, where Anglo and Germanic last names are among the majority.

However, if you meet someone from one of many French speaking countries, such as France, Haiti, or the Ivory Coast, JEAN is a male name. Famous JEANs include filmmaker Jean Luc Godard, actor Jean Claude Van Damm, and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

DAWON is used by African American men and Korean women.

The sounds that comprise the name DAWON are commonly used among African American first names, although they can be spelled a number of different ways. Therefore, if you see DAWON paired with a surname such as THOMAS or WASHINGTON, it’s very likely for this individual to be an African American man.
On the flipside, if this given name is paired with the last name CHOI, for example, the person is a Korean woman.

DAWON has two unrelated etymologies. In this case, the female DAWON was transliterated from Korean into Roman characters, coincidentally matching an African American male name!

MISHA is a common name and – surprise! – it’s used by both males and females.

In the United States, you see this name being used by many females, particularly if they are Asian Indian. Therefore, a MISHA who bears the Indian surname MEHTA, for example, would be female.

MISHA represents males when paired with a Russian surname, like ANTONOV. In fact, MISHA is a nickname for MIKHAIL, the Russian equivalent of MICHAEL.
The derivation of the two MISHAs are entirely different; the Indian MISHA comes from Sanskrit while the other is derived from Russian.

In the United States, ALI is a name you may run into often, for males and females.

ALI is prevalent for women is because it’s frequently used as a nickname for the popular names ALEXANDRA (and its variants), ALISON, ALICIA, ALINA, and so on. Between these full names alone, you can imagine the amount of women walking around with the nickname ALI!

In Arabic, however, ALI means “elevated; noble; sublime” and is a popular Arabic male given name! With a surname like ELSAID, ALI is more likely to be male.

Nearly Half a Million Americans
These four names account for almost half a million Americans. There are over 300,000 adult Americans named JEAN and over 50,000 adults named ALI in the United States.

Between nicknames, transliterations, and spelling coincidences, many names aren’t simply male or female in a country as diverse as the United States. JEAN, DAWON, MISHA, and ALI are emblematic of the names used by millions of American consumers.

In marketing, gender is an extremely important variable to consider. By acknowledging how the gender of names changes between ethnicity, language, and culture, you can better engage with and understand your audience.

Ethnic Technologies Talks Names at American Name Society Conference

Written by Amy Franz

This year, on behalf of Ethnic Technologies, Director of Research & Product Development, Lisa Spira, and Product Design Analyst, Amy Franz, attended the conference in order to promote the E-Tech product as well as network with other professional and academic linguists.

The American Name Society is held in conjunction with the Linguistics Society of America each year in a different US city. This year, it took place in early January in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As self-proclaimed name nerds, Lisa and Amy were happy to present their respective topics in onomastics among fellow onomasticians.

It was Amy’s first time speaking at the conference. She promoted Ethnic Technologies’ predictive gender product, G-Tech. Gender might seem straightforward, but Amy elaborated on how multicultural names can complicate the system.

She addressed multiple different (made-up) examples of names and how their gender differs for individuals of different ethnicities. Amy ended her talk by explaining how G-Tech is a culturally sensitive way to better understand and engage with your marketing audience in a way that completely avoids dependency on personally identifiable information.

Lisa spoke about multicultural names as data, drawing on Ethnic Technologies’ expertise as the leading multicultural marketing data provider. Precisely capturing names yields actionable, inclusive data, and the ability to better connect with multicultural consumers. Together with David Spira, President of Admelora, Lisa explored how his efforts to build a form that captured the names of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-age audience led him to explore the importance of name data to a large organization.

Lisa and Amy listened to presentations about Swedish names in Kansas, names of the Albanian highlands, and indigenous Mexican name usage in California. This sharing of onomastic insights continues to enhance the E-Tech product suite.

Next year, onomasticians and linguists alike will congregate again at the American Name Society Conference which will be held in New York, New York!

Native American Naming Traditions

Written by Kathy Moore

“American Indians have played a central role in shaping the history of the nation, and they are deeply woven into the social fabric of much of American life.... During the last three decades of the 20th century, scholars of ethnohistory, of the "new Indian history," and of Native American studies forcefully demonstrated that to understand American history and the American experience, one must include American Indians.”

-Robbie Ethridge, Creek Country

Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Squanto, Geronimo, Sacajawea and Pocahontas… these are the names of a few famous Native Americans who played a very important part in the history of the United States.

Since the first settlers in the US were Native American it is not uncommon to also see Native American names of geographical locations such as Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Utah and Wyoming. In fact, twenty-six US states were named by Native Americans.

Native American naming traditions vary depending on each particular tribe. Typically, they are derived from nature, represented by an animal symbolizing desirable characteristics or a certain trait. A Native American name gives us an insight into the personality of the one who possesses it.

Take the famous examples mentioned above:

• CRAZY HORSE (Tȟašúŋke Witk): Lakota: "His-Horse-Is-Crazy"

• SITTING BULL (nicknamed Húŋkešni): Lakota Sioux Plains: "Slow"

• SQUANTO (also known as Tisquantum): Patuxet Tribe: “divine rage”

• GERONIMO: Chiricahua Apache Tribe: "the one who yawns"

• SACAJAWEA: Shoshone: "Bird-woman"

• POCAHONTAS (Born Matoaka, known as Amonute) : Powhatan Tribe: "playful one"

Each name fulfills the purpose of revealing something about the character or temperament of the person or place. Names like these are still in use across America today. Some people receive more than one name, which reflects significant character changes during their lifetime. Legal names are given, but Native American names are earned.

Visit to learn more about E-Tech, the multicultural marketing software that knows all about names and uses that information to accurately predict ethnicity.

Identifying Central Asian Surnames

Written by Amy Franz

If you were to meet someone named DAVID YUSIFOV, would you be able to accurately identify the ethnic origin of his surname?

Linguistic intuition might kick in and have you suggest that the surname is Russian, and that would be a wise guess. The surnames IVANOV and KUZNETSOV are among the most common surnames in Russia and are great examples of their Russian nature. Surnames in Russian are no different from other origins in that they often reflect familial or occupational ties. The suffix –ov, or –ova for feminine inflection, loosely translates to “son of” or “daughter of” in English. Sometimes it will indicate that the person is a descendant of a man named Ivan or a blacksmith, which is the case for the names IVANOV and KUZNETSOV, respectively.

So if YUSIFOV has the same ending as the other two surnames, then it must be Russian, right? Well, not quite.

While in a many circumstances a suffix is very telling of the origin of the surname, it’s not the only place to look for hints. YUSIFOV is just one of many surnames that holds significance in its root. YUSIFOV translates into English the same way IVANOV does, meaning “the son of Yusif”. YUSIF and its many spelling variations are the Arabic equivalents to JOSEPH. That’s where the role of the root becomes important.

The majority of Russia’s population identifies as Orthodox Christians, while the nearby Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan) are predominantly Muslim. This is an interesting example of a surname reflecting culture and, more specifically, religion. Joseph is one of the most well-known and prominent figures of the Abrahamic religions, including Islam and Christianity. The combination of the Muslim root and the influence of the Slavic suffix can allow one to deduce that its origins are tied to a Central Asian country as opposed to Russia alone. In fact, the majority of YUSIFOVs can be found in Azerbaijan.

The Ancestry Answer I Wouldn’t Have Expected: American

Written by Damon Amador

If you’re an American traveling in another country, and someone asks you what nationality you are, you’d probably say you’re an American. If someone asks you that in the US, however, you’d probably fall back onto your ancestry, talking about the nationalities of the two sides of your family. That’s not true for everyone; according to the American Community Survey (ACS), there are communities of Americans that are much more likely to answer “American” both times.

Many people in the US say that they have American ancestry (not Native American, just, American). Several counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida report as high as 40-50% American when answering the ACS question, “What is [your] ancestry or ethnic origin?” Why is this? Did some people forget their ancestors? Or did they simply lose their heritage culture in favor of an American one?

There’s an interesting parallel story in Mexico. Mestizo was a term originally used to identify mixed race Mexicans during colonial times. This took a turn in the early 1900s, when the Mexican government promoted a “Mestizo identity” to unify the country and its people. The word became more of a cultural identity than a biological one, with the majority of present day Mexican citizens identifying themselves as such.

Will the US one day also have majority reporting American Ancestry? The numbers have been slowly rising each year, going from 20 million in 2011 to nearly 23 million in 2015. Still, unless there are big changes to the country, the chances are slim. One thing that makes the United States unique is that it has been a destination for immigrants throughout most of its history. Migrants have come in waves from different parts of the world, preventing the heritage of the country from becoming static. Even as of 2015, the US population is nearly 15% immigrants, compared to about 1% in Mexico. With such strong migrant populations in the country, a lot of importance ends up being put in our ancestry and heritage. I know I’m American, but my ancestry is Irish and Cuban. With only 7% of the country reporting as American, I think it’s safe to say that most people here think in a similar way.

A Peak Inside Hindu Name Origins: Caste-based Surnames

Written by Amy Franz

In the United States, we don’t have castes, but these historical cultural divisions can still denote our identities. Asian Indians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States and Canada. They bring with them diverse surnames indicating differences in religion, language, and culture, and frequently stemming from an inherited social system from across the globe.

The caste system is a form of social stratification where, historically, Hindu Indians were grouped by their occupation within society. When these people adopted surnames, they turned to the caste system as a means to obtain a family name, thereby adopting names related to a distant ancestor’s occupation.
In the Indian caste system, there are four different varnas, or the major social classes, that caste-based surnames generally fall under.

The Brahmins form the top of this social hierarchy. This class consists of the intellectuals, teachers, and priests. A couple examples of Brahmin surnames are BHAT, ‘scholar’ in Sanskirt, and MUKHERJEE.
Next are Kshatriyas¸ the warriors at times of war and governors at times of peace. Names such as PUSAPATI and KOTHAPALLI are both Kshatriya surnames. SINGH, primarily a Punjabi Sikh surname meaning ‘lion’ in Sanskrit, was also adopted by the Hindu Kshatriya varna since the name alludes to the characteristics of a warrior.

Under the Kshatriyas are the Vaishyas, the farmers, traders, and merchants. Families with the names AGRAWAL, KHANDELWAL, and MAHAWARS all fall under this varna.

The last major social class of the caste system is the Shudras. The Shudras are the community’s laborers, performing numerous different service jobs. PATEL, YADAV, and KURMI are a few of surnames historically associated with the Shudra working class.

The Indian caste system is a complex part of Hindu culture and this only touches the surface of its intricacies. There are many subcategories that fall under the umbrella of the four major varnas, many more names, and even more spelling variations.

While there is rich cultural significance in these Hindu surnames, it is important to highlight the fact that once these families immigrate to the United States or Canada, they are not defined by these social classes. That said, their surnames come from a rich historical context which directly influences how Asian Indians interact with and respond to marketing.

Do all Indian Americans speak Hindi? Their names tell a different story.

Written by Lisa Spira

What do the following 10 surnames have in common?
• Dave
• Deshpande
• Dsouza
• Gill
• Gowda
• Kapoor
• Mathew
• Mukherjee
• Subramanian
• Varghese

They are both long and short. They use different letters, in different combinations. One looks English, another Portuguese. Two are popular American given names. These names are as diverse as the people who use them.

They are all Indian.

They practice Hinduism, Sikhism, and Christianity.

They eat different diets, wear different clothes, listen to different music, and follow different sports.

Some speak Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Urdu. Others speak Dravidian languages such as Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Like any culture, their names tell their stories.

This winter, Ethnic Technologies will release Access India, the multicultural marketing software that knows all about Indian names and uses that information to accurately predict Indian cultural affiliations and language preferences. Contact Ethnic Technologies to see how Access India can help you connect with your Daves, Gowdas, and Subramanians.

Naming Traditions From Around the World

Written by Kathy Moore

We expect names to follow predictable structures, but that’s not always the case. In the United States, we understand names according to the following paradigm:

The first name, also known as a given name or personal name, identifies an individual. It is normally given to a person at birth by his or her parents.

The surname, also known as a family name, last name, or gentile name, is inherited and shared with other members of the individual’s immediate family.

This categorization of names, however, while common in western societies, is not globally uniform. Depending on certain cultures and/or customs, naming conventions can and will vary.


The family name or surname, known as xing”, comes first. The order of family name followed by given name is commonly referred to as the Eastern order. In China, approximately 100 of the most common Chinese surnames make up 85% of the population.

The given name, called “ming”, is almost always one or two syllables. There is more diversity in Chinese given names than in Chinese surnames.

Traditionally, babies are named 100 days after birth. Since it is considered unlucky to name a baby before birth, parents use what is called a ‘milk name’ before a formal given name is chosen. This name is known only by the parents or close family members. One superstitious custom is to select a disgusting ‘milk name’ to ward off evil spirits altogether.

Spain and Latin America
According to Spanish customs, a person’s name can be quite long. When a child is born, they receive two surnames: the first from the first surname of the father and the second from the first surname of the mother. This naming tradition makes it possible for the mother to never lose her maiden surname and therefore her name is carried on to the next generation.

e.g. Teodoro Lopez Corazones + Maria Andujo Melandez = Pedro Lopez Andujo

After marriage, Spanish surnames do not change. Both the bride and groom keep their birth names. It is socially acceptable, however, to refer to the wife as ‘Senora de’ (meaning ‘wife of’) and the husband’s last name.

e.g. Maria Andujo Melandez de Lopez

Zulu of South Africa
Zulu names, like most indigenous names in Southern Africa, are often given regarding the situation of the family when a child is born. This is also referred to as the ‘home name.’ For example, names can denote expectations and encouragement for a baby, reflect how the family relates to others in the community, or describe the weather or setting in which the baby was born.

Zulu children are named even before they are born but after birth, an imbeleko ceremony is performed. Zulus regard it as a must to perform the imbeleko ceremony for every child in the family for the following reasons: to introduce them to their ancestors who live in the spirit world of unkulunkulu, to protect the child from misfortunes, and to provide an opportunity for naming the child. Zulus carry more than one name and each of these can be given by members of the extended family.

People with the same surname once belonged to the same localized clan. The clan name, or isibongo, functions now, in modern society, as the surname.

There are many naming traditions from all around the world. The naming structures in different cultures can vary dramatically. No matter where you come from, however, naming traditions unite families and cultural groups.

Matronymic Surnames of Past and Present

Written by Amy Franz

Being that the month of May celebrates mothers, I thought it would be interesting to look at how mothers are represented in family names.

When thinking about surnames that reference lineage, they are almost always patronymic in nature, meaning they refer back to a male family member or ancestor. FERNANDEZ (Spanish, “son of Fernando”), JONSDOTTIR (Icelandic, “daughter of Jon”), and BIN YOUSEF (Arabic, “son of Yousef”) are all examples of patronyms.

But what about the mothers in these families? Have mothers had an influence on surnames throughout the times, and, if there are any cultures that pass down surnames through the mother’s lineage, which are they?

Historically, Chinese surnames were inherited through the mother’s lineage. As time progressed, this tradition changed, and by 1046 BCE family names had become patrilineal. However, a piece of history is preserved in the Chinese character for “surname” (姓), since the radical (女) means “female”. This is thought to refer to its matrilineal roots.

In the Indian state of Kerala, there are a few different ways to construct a full name. One noteworthy convention is the following format: the first initial of the mother’s given name + child’s given name + father’s given name as the surname (e.g. A. LAKSHMI CHANDU). If the mother’s first name is Amma, then the first initial of the full name pays homage to her.

Back in the day when wealth and land played a considerable role in identity, it was common practice for a child to receive a family name that referred to their mother if the mother was thought to be more influential or wealthier than the father. A great example of this usage is King Henry II of England. One of his bynames was FITZEMPRESS, or “son of an Empress”, referring to his mother, Matilda, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. Additionally with English surnames, there are a few that are in fact matronyms. Two examples are MADISON and TIFFANY. While MADISON means “son of Matthew”, its alternate meaning is “son of Maude”. TIFFANY stems from the Middle English female personal name, Tiffania.

In the case that a child was born to an unwed or widowed woman, it was expected, both in the past and present, that a child would take the mother’s last name. Nowadays, if a child uses their mother’s surname, it’s possible the reason is quite different. With a new wave of feminism, trends in naming equality are gaining momentum. Similar to the practice of a wife keeping her surname instead of adopting her partner’s, it’s not necessarily expected for a child to have their father’s last name; in some cases, albeit fairly uncommon still, some children receive their mother’s family name instead.

While patronymic surnames are the standard across many cultures, it’s interesting to reflect on how societies have incorporated the mother’s presence into the naming conventions, whether it’s a newer idea or a thing of the past.

How are Brands Winning Customers Over this Cinco de Mayo?

Written by Tracy Fey

With May comes the first big celebration of the season – Cinco de Mayo. How might marketers creatively engage with customers this Mexican Independence Day, beyond the standard beer commercial?

Some might look toward streaming services. Last year on Cinco de Mayo, Jose Cuervo held a 45-minute live streamed concert, which attracted more than 73,000 live viewers. We won’t be surprised if they host something similar in 2017, and it will be interesting to see if any other brands try to compete with live streamed events on the same day.

Others may focus on generating buzz through popular apps to create excitement about their brand. Taco Bell, who last year created a Snapchat lens that turned your head into a taco, is now turning to OpenTable for “the hardest reservation to get on Cinco de Mayo”. Just 32 seats will be available in the #tacobelltestkitchen, giving an exclusive touch to the regular experience of eating at a fast food chain.

Finally, it is worth noting that Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated in Mexico, but it is a holiday that represents Mexican American culture and unity within the United States. So we have to wonder, in terms of ad content, if any brands will be thinking politically this year.

We mentioned back in February how much buzz was centered around Budweiser’s Super Bowl spot focused on immigration, as well as 84 Lumber’s ad featuring immigrants specifically from Mexico. Representing what companies currently capitalize on as a “party” holiday with a heavier cultural statement might be a difficult balance, but we are curious to see if any companies go this route based on recent advertising trends.

Wait in Shorter Lines: Names, Letters, and Ethnicity

Written by Lisa Spira

I always wait in shorter lines. What’s my secret? My surname starts with the letter S.

We tend to organize by surname. When in line at a conference registration table or polling location, for example, there will be two lines: A-M and N-Z. The English alphabet has 26 letters, so we arbitrarily split into groups between letters 13 and 14. Not every letter, however, is created equal.

If you consider the entire US population distributed by last initial, you’ll see a different “middle.” Almost all of the most popular letters (B, C, H, M) are in the first 13 letters. Only one (S) is in the latter half. To move people through lines more quickly, split the lines after the 11th letter: A-K and L-Z.

The more you understand who is waiting in line, however, the more efficiently you can distribute the lines.

In Hispanic neighborhoods, where the popular Rodriguez and Ramirez change the letter balance, split A-L and M-Z.

If primarily Indians are in attendance, move your split back to the alphabet’s 13th letter: A-M and N-Z. The post popular Indian names – Patel, Singh, and Shah – are in the latter half of the alphabet.

For a Chinese audience, it’s challenging to create even lines. With popular names like Lee, Long, Li, Liu, and Lin, the population is heavily concentrated right in the middle of the alphabet. Whether you put L with the first half or the second half, it’s an uneven split.

At the moment, I have a pretty good deal; I can walk right up to any counter, check in, and move along. Next time you put together an event, consider who will be in attendance, and consider their names. They’ll thank you, especially the Johnsons, Browns, and Garcias.

Making “Sense” of the “Census”: Who is reporting as “Two or More Races”?

Written by Amalia Tsiongas

According to the U.S. Census, Americans fit neatly into the following categories: White, Black Asian / Pacific Islander, American Indian / Alaska Native, Hispanic, or Two or More Races.

The U.S. Census recently released an updated list of the most common surnames in the United States, accompanied by information about how Americans reported their ethnicities, within the framework above. It’s a veritable treasure trove of data for researchers – like those at Ethnic Technologies – who concern themselves with the role names play in ethnic identity.

However, deciphering the data is a lot less straightforward than it seems. What, if anything, can a name researcher understand from the category of “two or more races”?

Sometimes “two or more races” represents individuals from a mixed marriage, or whose family members originated from different parts of the world, speak different languages, and follow different cultural traditions – for example, someone who identifies as BOTH White AND Black.

Other times, however, “two or more races” actually represents specific ethnic groups, entire communities who feel they don’t fit neatly into any of the other options. Who are they?

• Mixed-Race Ethnicities - Distinct cultural identities created when separate populations mixed over the course of generations.

o Black African and Arab populations in the Eastern African country of Ethiopia

o European and Asian populations in Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan

• Minority Groups - Distinct cultural identities shaped by both the dominant culture of a country and the status of ethnic minority

o Assyrian Christians from Iraq

o Circassians from Turkey

• Colonized Peoples – Peoples who experienced pressure to identify with the former ruling class following a history of colonialism:

o Haitians, Caribbean islanders colonized by France

o Filipinos, Pacific islanders ruled at different times by Spain and the U.S.

There has never been more demographic data available to the public than there is now. However, it often requires the careful analysis of experts – like the team at Ethnic Technologies – to interpret this raw data into actionable insights for multicultural marketers and others looking to more deeply understand how Americans see themselves.

Names from Black History: A Lasting Legacy

Written by Tracy Fey

This February, we have reflected on the individuals who have left a lasting legacy on Black history in the United States. Let’s take a look at some iconic names of Black history, the meanings behind those names, and their enduring namesakes.

Sojourner Truth

The name Sojourner comes from the English word sojourn, meaning “a temporary stay”. The word sojourn itself derives roughly from the Latin subdiurnare "to spend the day".

She was born Isabella Baumfree in New York in 1797, and spoke only Dutch until she was 9 years old. When she was emancipated as an adult, she left the city to travel the countryside and preach her message of abolition; it was at this point that she decided to change her name to Sojourner Truth.

Since her death in 1883, her legacy has been represented in numerous American namesakes, including Sojourner Truth Library at New Paltz State University; The House of Sojourner Truth at King’s College, located inside the Empire State Building; and perhaps the most true to meaning, the NASA Mars Pathfinder mission’s robotic rover named Sojourner.

Booker T. Washington

The name Booker comes from an English occupational surname meaning “maker of books”.

He was born into slavery in 1856, but from his earliest years, he was known only as “Booker”; for many slaves, it was customary of the times to not have any middle name or surname. His mother later informed him that upon his birth, she had initially named him Booker Taliaferro (a prominent family name in eastern Virginia and Maryland), but the second name never caught on. When Booker and his family were emancipated in 1865, he needed a surname to enroll in school, so he took his stepfather’s first name, Washington. Around this same time, he decided to readopt his middle name Taliaferro, and became Booker T. Washington.

As a leader in higher education and social progress, Washington has several prominent namesakes, including Booker T. Washington State Park in Tennessee; the SS Booker T. Washington, a liberty ship used in WWII; the Booker T. Washington Institutes at Tuskegee University and West Virginia University ; and fourteen Booker T. Washington High Schools around the country.

Thurgood Marshall

The name Thurgood is a contraction of the historically Puritan name Thoroughgood, literally meaning “thoroughly good”. It may also be descended from Thurgod, after the Norse god of thunder. Thurgood Marshall was indeed born Thoroughgood Marshall in 1908, but because he did not like the long spelling, he decided to shorten his name in the second grade.

As the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Marshall has many namesakes relating to American law, education, and civil rights. In 1980, The University of Maryland School of Law named their library the Thurgood Marshall Law Library. The Twelfth Street YMCA Building located in Washington D.C. , which was the first African American chapter of the YMCA, was renamed The Thurgood Marshall Center in 2000. Finally, since 1993, Puerto Rico has given the annual Thurgood Marshall Award, which is given to the top student in civil rights at each of Puerto Rico’s four law schools.

Is it a Person or a Business?

Written by Damon Amador

Is it a Person or a Business?

If the name field says “Church” is the record a person or a religious institution?

No customer database is perfect; there will always be records that don’t belong, or were entered incorrectly. In order to identify a person’s ethnicity, we need to first identify that a record is, in fact, a person. A record with the name “Gonzales Auto Center” is not a Hispanic person and won’t respond to your offer in the same way as Juan Gonzales would.

E-Tech looks for words that are unique to businesses. Words and phrases like Automobile, Dental, Academy, and Incorporated are clear indicators that the record is not a person.

But what about when words by themselves won’t help? Church is a fairly common last name in the United States. We wouldn’t want to filter out people with this last name. John Church is a person. However, if the full name of this record is St John Evangelist Church, that’s not a person! We look for added phrasal clues such as “Evangelist Church” so as to not confuse the people named Church with religious institutions.

We use our extensive knowledge of names across many ethnicities to enhance this filtering, making sure people don’t get removed. Words like man, urban, shore, hawks, and gala can point towards business records. However, they are also actually names used by people of various ethnicities, some of them pronounced differently from the English words as you first read them. These intricate distinctions contribute to E-Tech’s market-leading accuracy in multicultural identification.

Super Bold: The Politically Responsive Ads of Super Bowl 51

Written by Tracy Fey

The commercials of Super Bowl 51 had one major theme: our cultural differences make us beautiful. To express this theme of diversity, some advertisers opted to tell a story. Others showcased the corporations’ beliefs directly – and perhaps more boldly.

Story-wise, Anheuser-Busch’s 60-second Budweiser spot had been making waves since last week. The commercial presents the story of the company’s young German founder immigrating to America in the 1850s, and has been praised by some yet criticized as too political by others. 84 Lumber’s 90-second spot about a Mexican mother and young daughter traveling to immigrate to the U.S. has received similar mixed feedback from the public.

By contrast to the buzzworthy stories told by Anheuser-Busch and 84 Lumber, Airbnb placed a fairly straightforward 30-second ad with the message and hashtag #weaccept. Over a series of facial images of ethnically diverse women and men read the words: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.” While Airbnb didn’t tell one human story, their confident declaration could end up being the event’s most provocative – while also incidentally setting the overall tone of the evening’s advertisements as a whole.