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News Affects Naming
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In the years after William the Conqueror and his Norman followers defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William became one of the most popular names for infant boys.

The tendency to choose names related to current or recent events has existed ever since. Bill Schemmel of Decatur, Georgia, wrote a brief article for Harper's about names chosen in the 1960s and 1970s for children born in a large Atlanta hospital.

The presidency of John F. Kennedy, Schemmel reported, led not unexpectedly to many John Fitzgeralds and also to a Gerald Fitzgerald and a Joan F. Kennedy, and Jacqueline's name was somewhat echoed by Jacka Lyon and Jackalette. The Kennedy assassination had unfortunate onomastic results such as Lee Harvey, Ozzwald Fitzgerald, Rotunda Cortege, and Flame Eternal. The marriage of the former Mrs. Kennedy to Aristotle Onassis led to many Aristotles, Athenas, and Olympias, as well as to an Airy Onassa and Jackie Canasta.

A 1967 peace discussion between President Lyndon Baines Johnson of the U.S. and Aleksei Kosygin of the USSR brought a flurry of peace-hopeful names, including Linden Alex, Banes Alexander, and Alexi Banes, as well as Alexa for some girls.

The hurricane Camille, in 1968, caused a temporary run on that name, according to Schemmel. And Watergate aroused so much interest in everyone involved that such combinations as Rodino Talmadge (for two prominent participants in the hearings) were made up. Perhaps the strangest name was in recollection of presidential adviser John Ehrlichmann. A little Atlanta girl was named Earlic Ann Mann.

Hook, J. N. The Book of Names, A Celebration of Mainly American Names: People, Places, and Things. Franklin Watts, 1983.



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