What's in a name?

Listen to the extract from a radio programme about names and do the exercises to practise and improve your listening skills.

Instructions

Do the preparation exercise before you listen. Then do the other exercises to check your understanding.

Preparation

Do this exercise before you listen.

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Transcript

Presenter 1: Today we are going to talk about names, particularly fashions in names, you know, the kind of names famous people use for their children. You’ve been looking into this recently, haven’t you Finn?
Presenter 2: I have indeed and it’s a fascinating topic. The US leads here with new names and we in Britain follow sometimes, but we tend to go for the more traditional names. So, the big trend is using nouns as names.
Presenter 1: Nouns, what sort of nouns?
Presenter 2: Well they can be abstract qualities like Honor or Passion. There’s a long tradition of this kind of name, like Faith or Charity, which used to be common names. A new name is Haven, that’s growing in popularity. And similar names like Shelter, Harbor and Bay also convey feelings of safety and warmth.
Presenter 1: Mmm. I suppose Passion is used to mean extreme enthusiasm’ nowadays, and people use the word a lot, so maybe it’s a good choice for a modern name. Haven has a nice, safe feel to it.
Presenter 2: OK, then there are names which come from nature or animals, although with some of these it’s hard to know whether they come from nature or a surname – that’s another trend. Here we have Frost, Wolf, Fox, Bear, for boys, of course. And a new name: Ridge.
Presenter 1: Ridge, like a mountain ridge? The top of a mountain range?
Presenter 2: Yes, weird, huh? It’s seen as a tough, outdoorsy name for a boy. OK, then there are musical names. Harmony and Melody have been around for ages, but Lyric is a new one.
Presenter 1: Lyric, wow!
Presenter 2: Yes, it came in at number 325 in the US a couple of years ago. That doesn’t sound very popular, but there are so many different names being used at the moment that it means it isn’t so unusual. Other noun categories are months – May, June and April are common, but January is uncommon and November very unusual. And then you have colours. Beyoncé and Jay-Z called their daughter Blue Ivy – a very distinctive name, a colour plus the name of a plant. Blue is very popular for girls right now, and Red or Grey for boys.
Presenter 1: I’ve just thought of another category. Food names, like Olive or Clementine.
Presenter 2: Yes, that’s another one. Flower names are pretty common, but food names are unusual. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple, of course.
Presenter 1: Yes, poor child.
Presenter 2: Actually, Apple is becoming more and more popular, although people think that’s because of the technology connection, not the fruit. New names always seem strange at first, but you quickly get used to them, like all the names from places or jobs. Chelsea and Brooklyn seem like normal names now; they were strange when they were first used. Taylor, Mason, Cooper are all first names from jobs.
Presenter 1: And they are also surnames, I think that’s how they started.
Presenter 2: You’re probably right there.
Presenter 1: What about the Beckhams’ daughter, Harper?
Presenter 2: She was named after Harper Lee, the American novelist who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s another trend, naming children after famous writers, musicians – the British band One Direction have had an effect on names – or fictional characters, like Bella or Edward from the Twilight series, or Hermione from Harry Potter.
Presenter 1: Sorry, can I just interrupt there. I’ve just has a message passed on by the producer. A listener has just phoned in with a very strange story about a family in Holland with six children. Their names are all anagrams of the letters: A, E, L and X.
Presenter 2: Ah yes, I’ve heard about this. This family are famous in the world of bloggers on names. Let me see if I remember the names … Alex and Axel … and Lexa – they’re the easy ones – Xela ('Zela') and Xael ('Zay-el') and the last one is Xeal ('Zeal') – I’m guessing about the pronunciations, by the way.
Presenter 1: You mean there are names X-E-L-A  and X-A-E-L?
Presenter 2: Yes, but they are very unusual. I think the Dutch family are stopping at six children, but there are about eighteen more possible anagrams they could use.
Presenter 1: Nooo, you’re kidding!
Presenter 2: All seem horrible to me, but all are possible names. This is similar to another trend of giving children names all starting with the same letter, like the Kardashian family, all beginning with K, Kim, Kourtney and so on.
Presenter 1: The Kardashians have had enough publicity, let’s not talk about them. What about your name? Finn, that sounds like a good Irish name …

Discussion

Do you have a common or an unusual name? Do you like your name? 

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Comments

Profile picture for user Capixt

Submitted by Capixt on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 16:18

I have two names and bouths are very commons but the most common is María I think that big part of latins womans are called María in fact in my family all the women have this name. Maybe my surname is a bit uncommon many people get confused when they have to write my surname. But nomather how common or uncommon is my name, I like it.
Profile picture for user I_Love_English

Submitted by I_Love_English on Mon, 05/02/2022 - 11:20

Hi, my name's Viktoria that comes from Victory.

Submitted by 01286746 on Fri, 08/27/2021 - 19:55

My name is America, a not so common name, it means "heroic princess", it also refers to the American continent and apart from the reason why my parents put me like this is because of the soccer team: the eagles of America. :)
Profile picture for user Elpro202

Submitted by Elpro202 on Tue, 08/17/2021 - 03:14

My name, Alonso, isn't unusual at all, at least in the place and enviroment that I live in: Chile.

Submitted by Gymnastics100 on Wed, 05/19/2021 - 16:20

Hi! my name is Ivanna, it means "A Gift From God". I don't think my name is very unusual, but I really love my name, and I only know three girls that have my name.
Profile picture for user Kostantinus

Submitted by Kostantinus on Sat, 02/27/2021 - 07:30

My name is Kostiantyn. This name is common in Ukraine and Russia, but it seems to me it's not very popular now, I would even say it's kind of rare nowadays. Kostiantyn is an antic latin name which means constant. I am really kind of constant in something so I think, my name effects my life and have an importance for my future. To sum up, I would thank to my mother for giving me the name with good meaning.

Submitted by bloomybloom on Wed, 07/08/2020 - 01:33

My name is " ZAHRAE" , it's an Arabic name that means Flower . Actually I love my name so much because I love flowers haha , My mother called me Zahrae because she always had a dream of having a Flower shop, and Now she got both ;Me and the flower shop :)

Submitted by amartin on Tue, 06/16/2020 - 18:33

My name is Alberto. It is not a strange name, but it's not one of the most common names in my country, Spain.
Profile picture for user MissOrchestra700

Submitted by MissOrchestra700 on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 14:48

I like my name Rafia. It's a uncommon name in Bangladesh.

Submitted by butterflyJ on Thu, 05/21/2020 - 02:40

My name is' Najla' , its not a weird name in Arab people and its mean big and beautiful eyes, i love my name and like it for sure

Submitted by Scottish_jajaja on Sun, 10/13/2019 - 11:06

Personally, I do adore my name still It's one of a beautiful first name of Greek origin - Anastasia'

Submitted by Mihael on Tue, 09/24/2019 - 14:35

I have unsual and complicated names that my friends sometime making a jokes on this. It has a strange pronounciation, but it's ok then... I love my own name.

Submitted by pedroelpeter on Thu, 08/29/2019 - 16:06

My name is Alberto, without the H. I know Alberto has no h in the name, and that's what I said. Do or die.

Submitted by BillyHerrington on Mon, 04/15/2019 - 19:11

My name is Vova. It's very popular name among ukrainian and russian people. "Vova" is a short form of name, but "Volodymyr" is a full size . One of the meaning of this name is possesion of the world. I am very proud, that Vova is my name.
Profile picture for user bilko

Submitted by bilko on Thu, 07/26/2018 - 10:37

My name is Bilge. It means WİSE. It's not very common in my country. I like my name since it's meaningful and useful. In my opinion, names affect the character. :) :) :) (^_^)
Profile picture for user CherryBlossomEnglish

Submitted by CherryBlossomEnglish on Sat, 03/03/2018 - 15:34

Hi, my name is Sophia, and that means "smart" and "polite". It is not an unusual name, it's more common than rare in my country.
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