With the recent release of a list of the leading baby names in Germany this year, “Ben” and “Emma” have come out on top.
“For the seventh year in a row, Ben has been the frontrunner for boys’ names and Emma is the new number one,” said Knud Bielefeld, who tracks baby names as his hobby in Ahrensburg.
Though Emma had been leading the list until 2014, last year Mia was the most popular name for girls.
Hot on Emma’s heels in 2017 came Sophie, Marie, Maria and Sophia.
And while Ben continued its reign as first place in the list of boys’ names this year, a position it has held since 2011, trailing directly behind was Jonas, Leon, Paul and Finn.
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Jürgen Udolph, founder and director of the Centre for Name Research in Leipzig, explains that the popularity of names are like waves.
“First names can rise in popularity for 10 to 20 years and then go back down again,” Udolph told The Local.
Emma for instance fell out of favour in the 1970s and 1980s but then skyrocketed in the 1990s and continues to be trendy today.
Ben, on the other hand, is much newer compared to Emma. Prior to the late 1980s, the name Ben was virtually unheard of in Germany
“Parents want to give their child a special name. But when they start to realize that so many other kids have the same name, things start to change,” says Udolph, who thinks it’s probable fewer babies will be named Emma in a decade or two.
“Ben will decrease in popularity at some point too,” he adds.
Bielefeld, who analyzed 27 percent of all births in Germany to compile his list, agrees.
Ben and Emma will no longer be the leaders in baby names in ten years’ time, says Bielefeld, adding that Oskar and Theo as well as Leni and Emilia will likely lead the way.
Knud Bielefeld in Ahrensburg. Photo: DPA.
This year, names which were clear ascenders included Theo, Matteo and Henry and Leni, Ella and Juna.
Short forms of names – including Ben, Max, and Theo – as well as girls’ names ending in the letter ‘a’ are also currently fashionable.
One reason to account for why almost all of the girls names in the 2017 list end in the letter ‘a’, according to Udolph, is that German parents give their children names based on how the names sound.
On the contrary, parents in other countries such as China give their kids names based on the meaning of the name, says the name expert.
Another aspect to how German parents name their children has to do with “class and education,” Udolph told The Local.
“Some parents are really influenced by celebrities and inform themselves based on TV programmes. Others get ideas for baby names through research on the internet.”