|Photography by Genie Leigh Photography|
In the quest of choosing a name that is seemingly “unique”, more and more people are putting their own fresh twist on a familiar name by changing its' spelling. It's a trend that is making it harder and harder to get a true feeling of a name's popularity. A name may seem to be number 50, but when you take into account the 20 different ways people have chosen to spell it it could be much higher than that. Yet on the playground, all 20 of those spellings will sound the same. Kelli at Name Freak did a great post on this a few months ago, called a Playground Analysis, which also appeared on Nameberry.
While many names have received this treatment, there is no group of names where this is more evident than girls names ending with the “Leigh” sound. I'm sure you've all come across this yourself - or even have a child with a “Leigh” name.
So what it is about “Leigh” names that makes them more tempting for people to play with? First, the spellings Lee, Leigh and Li are all actually widespread as names in their own right for both genders. Therefore people could be choosing the “Leigh” spelling that honours a loved one, or the one that they feel is more “masculine” or “feminine”. As an example, Leigh is often a popular choice for girls as many people perceive it to be more feminine. Or some may want a name with a certain amount of syllables, and “Leigh” tends to be a sound that works well with many girl names. Just think of Annaleigh, Emmalee or Amberley.
Looking at the 2012 SSA girls name data for America is quite revealing:
It seems that the spelling used in the highest number of names is the Lee spelling, followed by Ly. However the spelling you'll most often see on a young girl is Ley, followed by Ly.
And for those of you interested, only two names appeared with every possible ending – Charlie and Kayley. Kayley is a particularly interesting case, as there are multiple ways to get the “K” sound, the “AY” sound and the “Leigh” sound. There's easily over 30 different spellings for this name on the charts!
It's quite an interesting trend. Many people are against variant spellings, and while I have seen some absolute shockers, I have also seen some delightful and lovely ones which make it easier to see the appeal in “creating” a version that suits you. What do you think? Which are your favourites, and what unusual variations have you spotted in your neighbourhood?