Jewish World Review August 18, 2004 / 1 Elul, 5764

Keith Olbermann

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Consumer Reports


Is your name sexy? An MIT study claims there's a science to good names


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Expectant parents agonize over it — what to name junior.


Well, here's a hint: Naming him after great grandpa Tucker may lead to playground ridicule and occasional beatings, but give it a few years: The chicks will dig it.


Men with short vowel names, such as "Tucker," "Bill" or "Keith," are perceived as sexier by the ladies. Don't take my word on it. In fact, don't take my experience on it. Listen to the source — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Amy Perfors, who is a researcher and linguist at MIT, posted picture of 24 friends of both genders on the Web site "HotorNot.com."


She included first names and had people rate their appeal. She played mix and match with the names and pictures, so she could be confident people were responding to the names, not the photos. For men, hard names rated well, front vowels, vowels you make with the front of your mouth, Matt, for instance.


The back of the vowel names like "George" and "Paul"? Not as sexy.


For women, it's the reverse. Names with longer vowels, vowels you make in the back of your mouth, this research concludes, like Sofia or Laura, were considered dreamiest. Nicole or Hanna, forget it.


Lynn Snowden Picket, a journalist and author whose work has appeared in "Esquire," "Rolling Stone" and "Vogue," thinks there is no truth to this science. "Names are the most subjective thing we have in this society," she said on Thursday's 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann.'


"Whenever you try to name a baby, you can guarantee that you are going to have arguments and fights with family and friends, who are going to say, 'Oh, don't name the baby Sam. I knew a terrible person named Sam' or, 'Oh, I love Sam. Sam was the name of my first love.' Our whole experience with names is based on the celebrity culture and with our own grade school experience or some teacher that we had. It's completely subjective within the person. It has nothing to do with vowel sounds."


"I think the celebrity influence is not to be underestimated," she adds. "I have friends who just named their baby 'Leonardo.' I know that there are 10-year-olds walking around now who are named 'Cody' because their moms thought that Kathie Lee Gifford was just the thing."

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The writer hosts MSNBC's “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” The news program, dedicated to all of the day’s top stories, telecasts weeknights, 8-9 p.m. ET. Comment by clicking here.



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