Current trends in Japanese naming practices―Focusing on changes in men’s and women’s names―
99 , 2016-03-31
It has been widely reported that Japanese naming practices are changing dramatically. Thesechanges are especially important in regards to names and gender. Because one of the most prominentdifferences is the decline of the use of name-exclusive suffixes, which usually express their owner’sgender, their decline suggests that there may be changes in how gender is expressed in names. Thisarticle observed how the characteristics of men’s and women’s names have changed through usingdata from an approximately 100 year period from Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance. As a result, it was discoveredthat at the beginning of the 20th century, men’s names were more diverse than women’s, butwomen’s names are now similarly or more diverse. In addition, previously popular -ko and -mi suffixesfor women are now essentially out of use, and men’s suffixes have all changed. Finally, there were nonames that ranked in the top-10 for any year for both men and women, and the pool of kanji commonbetween men’s and women’s names was small. From these results, it can be argued that instead ofsuffixes, the use of the kanji themselves can help differentiate the gender of any given name.