Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Names ...

A few notes on a research process. Perhaps process is not the correct word, as it was neither organized nor preconceived. Let's call it a road to discovery. :-)

A character in my short story is a ten year-old girl from Jamaica. I made up a name, but wasn't completely satisfied with it. An authentic name would be better.

The search started with the Jamaican government website. I was hoping to find information similar to the U.S. SSA site on common baby names. The Registrar General's department seemed a likely place to look, but no luck. Further surfing revealed no other options.

Now, who would be a good resource for information and research? Perhaps a library, specifically, the National Library of Jamaica. The library has a contact form for free research requests. They responded promptly that they would look into my question about an online resource of common names. A few days later, they concluded nothing similar to the SSA site existed, but perhaps the Registrar General would have an answer if I e-mailed them.

I didn't want to take up the time of someone else, or try and navigate a government bureaucracy, especially for such a small inquiry. The next step would be newspapers. My thought was to read some articles and see what names of people came up. This led to sports and a mention of high schools.

Aha! School websites. Perhaps there would be mention of sports players, a younger generation with a more current crop of common names. What I found next, well I should have thought of it before. I used to do tech support for college alumni offices. I discovered a site listing Jamaican high schools, with links to alumni lists.

Finally! I went through the classes of 2000 and up, writing down female names.

Conclusions: Adding 'ette' to a name is popular (e.g. Novellette, Shaunette, Paulette) as well as adding 'Ann' (Perryann, Tracey-Ann, Stacy-Ann, Jodi-Ann). These seemed to differ from their older classmates.

I decided on a name. What is it? Sorry, you'll have to read the story when it's published to find out. Of course, you could get a preview by entering the contest by April 29th!