Friday, November 11, 2005

What’s in a Name?

One of my first impressions after moving here was everyone has the same last names. The frequency that I would meet a Beaudin, a Landry, or a Menard started to make me think there was a very small pool of family names. One example is that my wife went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. She told them her name and the person behind the counter said there are 18 people in the computer with that given name and family name. I was so convinced about the name frequency that I came up with the hypothesis that the top two dozen most common names make up at least half the population.

So the other night I tried to put it to the test. I poured over the South Shore phone book and found what were the top two dozen names. My thinking is that the South Shore phone book should be a reasonable representation of the Quebec population. It’s linguistic makeup is similar to the overall Quebec population and it is off island while still having the diverse ethnic influence of the big city. Just as Montreal does on the overall population of Quebec.

So I discovered that the top two dozen only make up 9.44% of the population. The top name garners 0.92% of the population or 1 out of every 109 people have that name. I am not sharing the names because I would like to give everyone a chance to guess at the names. If you can name the top three in order, I’ll buy you a drink at the next YULblog. I’ll do the same if you can name ten of the top two dozen. How’s that for incentive. I will post the answers next week. Those of you from here may not find it as a surprise.

As an aside, my wife’s family name was not common back in Chicago. I think there were only a dozen names listed. But here it is tied for the seventh most popular name. As for myself, there is not one listing with my family name in the South Shore phone book. There are only four listed on the island of Montreal. It is similar to what it was like when I was a kid in Chicago. There were only three of us listed back then. Now there are two dozen (minus one).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Damn that was quick. The post had only been up a couple hours.

I thought it would be a bit harder than that. You got the top three, but on my list Roy was more popular than Gagnon. Don't forget politicians, though some of the popular street names did not make the list.

Can anyone name seven of the remaining 21? Looking at the list again, it should not be as hard as I thought.