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The French used to love taking baby names from US TV shows

Fun fact: French babies saying "ooh la la" is the cutest thing in the world.
Fun fact: French babies saying "ooh la la" is the cutest thing in the world.
UIG via Getty Images
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

On Friday, Max Fisher showed you the top boys' names across the world today. It's always interesting to add a little historical context with this kind of thing, and luckily, Le Monde's Alexandre Lechenet put together a fascinating pair of GIFs showing how naming has evolved for boys and girls in France. Interestingly, a lot of English-sounding names snuck in, like Kévin (popular in the late '80s and early '90s), which appear to have been adopted primarily by less advantaged French parents and, consequently, are associated with lower academic achievement now that Kévins are of age.

One thing I didn't expect to see was American TV character names influencing French naming patterns. "The role of American soaps on French TV appears to explain some of" the English names, the Times Higher Education reported in 1995, in particular Dylan and Brandon from Beverly Hills 90210. Elisabeth Vincentelli in the New York Times reports that an uptick in the name "Jennifer" in the mid-1980s is commonly attributed by name researchers to the character Jennifer Hart of Hart to Hart. That trend appears to have have dissipated over time, though.

Anyway, enough preamble. Here's how French naming has changed, from the end of World War II to the present:



Source: Le Monde.



Source: Le Monde.

There are also pause-able versions available (girls here, boys here), and the original Le Monde article allows you to scroll horizontally through the years. Hat-tip to Reddit user lebussa3.

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