Thursday, January 14, 2010

NameVoyager Analysis: Antoine and His Phonetic Siblings

I always wondered why parents would give their kid a foreign version of an American name, unless the parents happen to be natives of that country. Then again, there's no reason you can't think of "Anthony" and "Antoine" as separate names. "Antoine" does sound fancier than "Anthony," yet I'm not sure whether people would feel that way in regard to "Pedro" over "Peter."

"Antoine" enjoyed a peak ranking of 278 in the 1980s, the same decade where "Anthony" ranked 20th and "Tony" ranked 80th.

What becomes curiouser is the proliferation of phonetically spelled versions of the name starting in the 1970s. Two versions include "Antwan":

And, less popularly, "Antwon":

I'm not sure what started the phonetic-Antoine craze. Either parents were looking for a twist on the name (like "Jaxon"), or they thought people might end up pronouncing "Antoine" as "an-TOYNE," or perhaps they themselves didn't know how to spell the name correctly. Of course, is there really an "incorrect" way to spell a name?

Many well known Antwans happen to be football or basketball players (we also can't forget Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El), but Outkast's Big Boi's given name is Antwan André Patton. Fortunately, the "André" seems to have the hyphen in the right place unlike the sticks-in-my-craw spelling of "Dre'" (an apostrophe, not an accent mark), which is another issue entirely.

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