Latin & Hispanic Names: "Doomed"

In a story for Time magazine, Jeffrey Kluger writes that Latin/Hispanic names — like Juan, Juanita, Guillermo and Manuel — are dropping in popularity.

Kluger (whose daughters are half-Mexican and named Elisa and Paloma) claims that while some Latin names — especially bilingual ones like Victoria, Cecilia, Hector, Sandra — remain popular, others "appear doomed."

He explains:

What happens, of course, when an immigrant group heads toward assimilation, is that each successive generation gets more educated (82% of first-generation Latin-American kids ages 15 to 17 attend school, compared with 97% of second-generation kids - hardly perfect but moving toward parity) and more proficient in the national language (by the third generation, 95% of Latino kids ages 15 to 17 speak English exclusively or very well). Another thing that happens is that parents start moving away from baby names like Guillermo and closer to names like William.

While there's a sense of belonging for people like Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba — born and raised in the U.S. with "Americanized" names, there's also the long-debated question: What's wrong with a name that reflects a baby's heritage? Throughout American history, there have been two schools of thought: You either choose assimilation or aspiration with an "American" name that makes the mainstream public more comfortable, or you "honor" your ethnicity or origins with a name that leaves little doubt about your background. Charlie Sheen was born Carlos Estevez; Ralph Lauren was previously Ralph Lipschitz — and Kluger equates the "Elisas and Jorges and Angelicas" of this era with the "Goldies, Shlomos, Moeshes and Mitzis" of an earlier time.

But if you pick an "assimilated" name to fit in, do you perpetuate the myth that those without assimilated names are "out"? If you worry that Juan or Manuel sounds foreign/uneducated, isn't raising a smart kid named Juan the best way to bust that idea? In any case, a recent study claims hat by 2025, close to 30% of all American kids will have some Latino ancestry. But instead of Pedro, Lucia and Maria, we'll have Michael, Elizabeth and Emily. Dodai, on the other hand…

Adios, Juan and Juanita: Latin Names Trend Down [Time]
Popular Baby Names [Social Security Association]