Don’t Call Me Shirley

Friday, November 09, 2007

Alleen Nilsen, professor of English at Arizona State University and co-president of the American Name Society, talks about gender and names.


Alleen Nilsen
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Comments [6]

David from Brooklyn

I was almost named Shirley, but my parents played it safe. My maternal grandfather was named Shirley--friends called him Shirl--and he was, by all accounts, a "man's man." I think I would have had a "Boy Named Sue" kind of childhood if I had been named Shirley, but now that I'm older (37) I sometimes wish I hadn't missed out on a unique name. After all, how many "David"s are there in my generation? (Answer: many.)

Nov. 09 2007 11:28 AM
JT from New Rochelle NY

Evan Rachel Wood.

The reason for the girls named Evan in the early 21st century.

Nov. 09 2007 10:59 AM

If I recall correctly..
wasn't King Arthur's Sister named Morgan?

Morgen Le Fea.

Nov. 09 2007 10:56 AM
Joe Boucher from NY, NY

I wrote a crossword a couple years ago called "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" featuring "crossover" names like Joyce Cary, Shirley Povich, and Evelyn Waugh. It's still online at .

Nov. 09 2007 10:54 AM
Emily from Manhattan

I wonder what Ms. Nilsen has to say about names from other languages/cultures adopted by Americans to name children of the opposite gender, e.g. Kristen, Andrea, etc. That seems interesting to me.

Nov. 09 2007 10:54 AM
Mike from Rockefeller Center

Besides the Census website, people should consult the Social Security Administration who have a great name database:

Nov. 09 2007 10:52 AM

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