Sunday, May 11, 2014

The 2013 New Unisex Names - Chikamso, Harbour & Khymani

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up at dusk

It's an exciting time of the year for name enthusiasts - the time when the SSA releases the name data for the previous year. Sure, I'm an Australian, not an American, but the SSA lists still hold an immense attraction for me. So many more names, so much new data to get me pondering.....

Which then leads the name blogger to a massive conundrum - what to do with the new wealth of information at hand. And how to look at it in a way that hasn't already been done by my fellow bloggers? Abby at Appellation Mountain has given a great "highlights" overview, NameFreak has covered names new to the top 100, Name Candy the fastest rising names new to the top 1000, and Nancy's Baby Names the biggest debuts for both boys and girls in 2013. Names For Real has even managed to compile a top 10 list when you combine spellings - which is no easy task! All are interesting reads, and I'm sure we'll see many more over the next few weeks.

One of the posts I did last year that I really enjoyed was The New Unisex Names - a list of those names special enough to simultaneously debut for both girls and boys in 2012. There were just five, and it was interesting to learn about names from cultures I am largely unfamiliar with, plus word names, celebrity names, and spelling variations I hadn't considered. So I wanted to do the same for the 2013 names. And the three contenders for 2013 manage to deliver on all of those aspects.

CHIKAMSO - Given to 5 girls and 8 boys in 2013
Showing how much I still have to learn about the world of names, when I first saw Chikamso I thought it might be of Asian origin. I learnt however that Chikamso is a Nigerian name from the Igbo (or Ibo) people. For people looking for a strong Igbo name that honours God this could be a good choice, as it means 'God I follow' or 'I am following God'. Possible nicknames include Chi - which is also an Igbo name reportedly meaning 'God' or 'spiritual guardian' - or the more commonly suggested Kamso. Or dare I suggest Kamzo?Kamso itself has never charted, but seems like it would be a cool and spunky nickname for either gender.

HARBOUR - Given to 7 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At first I was surprised that this hadn't charted before. After all, I was sure I'd seen it in birth announcements. Then I realised what I had missed. Seeing Harbour on the U.S charts is a little strange because this is the British spelling (also used in Australia) of Harbor. Is it possible that these were all bestowed by parents from countries where Harbour is the accepted spelling? Possibly. Or maybe it's just a personal preference. For example, here in Australia we use the spelling Honour. But if I were using it as a name, I'd hands down choose the spelling Honor. For some reason I just think it looks more attractive. Like Harbor and now Harbour, both Honor and Honour have charted in the U.S, although Valour is yet to chart alongside Valor. Maybe next year.

Spelling intricacies aside, Harbour is of course a word name. Conceptually though, it can also be seen as something of a virtue name. It's a haven, a place to find protection from stormy weather. It's also a viable option if you want a name associated with water, or perhaps sailing. Or maybe there is a particular harbour location that holds a special meaning for you. While online it seems that many feel it is better suited for a boy, it's strong yet soft sound makes it an appealing option for either gender.

KHYMANI - Given to 5 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At one point last year I started making a list of the many names with a similar sound to this - and there are quite a few. Kymani is the most popular spelling, given to 58 girls and 253 boys in 2013. Others already charting are Kimani, Kamani, Kemani, Khamani, Keymani, Keimani, Camani, Kaimani, and Kmani; so it seems that this is simply a new variant. 

So, where did this name come from, assuming that Kymani as the most popular spelling is the "original" form? Well, the interesting thing about the SSA records it that punctuation such as hyphens are usually omitted from the records, so it's very possible that many Kymanis are actually Ky-Manis. As in Ky-Mani Marley, son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley and successful reggae musician in his own right. Ky-Mani (and hence Kymani and Khymani) is said to be an East African name meaning 'adventurous traveler'. At which point I must admit I personally didn't see the attraction of the name until learning what a cool meaning it has. I love it - it strikes me as a modern day aspirational name, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

Kymani first charted for girls in 1995 and for boys in 1997, while Ky-Mani Marley released his first album 'Like Father Like Son' in 1996. I can't say I love this new Khymani variant, which feels as if parents may have been influenced by the 'Game of Thrones' nouveau title-come-name Khaleesi for the "KH" spelling. As they say though variety is the spice of life, and the additional "H" does seem to lend some additional exoticism to the name.

There we have it - three new worthy names to receive the honour of entering the charts for both genders in the same year. So how did the 2012 unisex entrants perform in 2013? 
  • Ireoluwa climbed 733 places for girls in 2013 and 1972 places for boys 
  • Kentlee fell 1583 places for boys, but climbed 2615 places for girls
  • Mathai didn't chart at all for girls, and fell 3914 places for boys 
  • Music is a one hit wonder to date, as it didn't chart for boys or girls in 2013; and
  • Zikora also fell off the both charts (which I'm surprised by as I thought this one would be going places - it has such a great sound!)

Hopefully this years unisex entrants fare better in 2014 - do you think they have staying power?

No comments:

Post a Comment