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The Biggest Changes on the New SSA Baby Name List

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The Social Security Administration just released the list of top baby names for 2015. While Noah and Emma are still number one, the top 10 changed a little, with Daniel and Madison falling off to places 12 and 11, respectively, and Benjamin and Harper moving into the top 10.

More interesting changes are revealed with a look at the full list of the top 1000 names. A number of names made the list for the first time ever. For boys, Achilles, Boone, Canaan, Huxley, and Wilder are new, and under the influence of burgeoning favorites Cash, Kash, and Ashton, Kashton has now come on to the scene. New names for girls are Dalary, Heavenly, and Kensington as well as three names that have until now only been on the boys list: Ellis, Lennox, and Royal. Briar has made the list for the first time for both boys and girls. 

A few names are not completely new to the list, but have been reintroduced after long hiatuses. Bishop, Louie, and Otis haven’t made it into the top 1000 since the 1990s. And Adaline, which hasn’t made the list since 1924, entered at an impressive rank of 364. Ophelia appeared for the first time since 1958, and Zelda for the first time since 1967.

To make room for the new names, some names have to go. Traditional names like Howard, Randall, Antonia, Sonia, and Cindy no longer make the cut. And some creative spellings of more common names have also fallen off the list: Jaycob, Abbigail, Lesly, Pyper, and Konner are out. Despite the salad and smoothie craze, Kale has been declining since 2008 and this year finally left the list. Also, parents no longer have time for Patience or Temperance. For obvious reasons, Isis is out as well.

In politics, Cruz is down 34 places, but Nixon—which first appeared in the top 1000 in 2011—moved up 75 spots this year.

The biggest increases in popularity were for Kaison, which went up 251 places as a boy's name, and Ariyah, which went up 329 places as a girl's name. Other names that had big increases were Omari, Titan, Atlas, Legend, and Ford for boys, and Thea, Milani, Jessa, Zahra, and Gwen for girls. Carter has been rising for boys since 1981 and for girls since 2013, and Karter has been rising for boys since 2005 and for girls since last year.

In pop music name trends, last year we finally lost the name Britney, and this year Miley faced the same fate. And while Justin is down from 96 to 110, finally falling out of top 100, Zayn is up 189 places from 833 to 644.

In fictional character news, the spell cast by Frozen seem to be lifting: Elsa is down 201 places from last year’s peak. And though Game of Thrones remains as popular as ever, Khaleesi is down 60 places. 

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How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?
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Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

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Designer Reimagines the Spanish Alphabet With Only 19 Letters
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According to designer José de la O, the Spanish alphabet is too crowded. Letters like B and V and S and Z are hard to tell apart when spoken out loud, which makes for a language that's "confusing, complicated, and unpractical," per his design agency's website. His solution is Nueva Qwerty. As Co.Design reports, the "speculative alphabet" combines redundant letters into single characters, leaving 19 letters total.

In place of the letters missing from the original 27-letter Spanish alphabet are five new symbols. The S slot, for example, is occupied by one letter that does the job of C, Z, and S. Q, K, and C have been merged into a single character, as have I and Y. The design of each glyph borrows elements from each of the letters it represents, making the new alphabet easy for Spanish-speakers to learn, its designer says.

Speculative Spanish alphabet.
José de la O

By streamlining the Spanish alphabet, de la O claims he's made it easier to read, write, and type. But the convenience factor may not be enough to win over some Spanish scholars: When the Royal Spanish Academy cut just two letters (CH and LL) from the Spanish alphabet in 2010, their decision was met with outrage.

José de la O has already envisioned how his alphabet might function in the real world, Photoshopping it onto storefronts and newspapers. He also showcased the letters in two new fonts. You can install New Times New Roman and Futurysma onto your computer after downloading it here.

[h/t Co.Design]

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