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10/10/2011

What to name your Mexican child

According to the Mexico City Civil Registry office, here are the most common names for children. For girls, "Maria Fernanda" is the most common, with 1,022 cases. Next come Ximena (862), Valeria (805), Valentina (763) and Camila (745). Popular but less common are Regina, Sofia, Maria Jose, Nathalia and Renata.

For boys, Santiago (2,130) is the most common followed by Diego (1,078), Emiliano (1,060), Leonardo (819) and Miguel Angel (621).

So if you want to have some fun, go to a playground and yell for Maria Fernanda and Santiago. Some heads are sure to whip around.

Like most Latin countries, Mexico strongly discourages parents from giving, er, unusual names to their kids. If the LA Laker once known as Ron Artest had tried to change to his current name, Metta World Peace, here in Mexico City, he probably would've got a good "what for" from City Hall.

Cuba also has some people with unusual names. I recall an adolescent I met who told me her name was "Fairy" -- with a very Latin pronunciation. I thought I was hearing wrong. Then a Cuban-born journalist here in Mexico City who is a colleague has the name "Peniley." I had a hunch where it came from so I asked her. Sure enough, her parents were Beatles fans and named her after Penny Lane.

But the place where I recall the most unusual names was Panama. One canal worker named a son "Oh Boy" because he heard the phrase so much from Americans. Another gave a child the name "usnavy" because he saw it on a number of ships.

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sean hanny

any name is better than the girls' names Maria Jose (please), Socorro (really?)....Dolores (have a grim day)....Soledad (wretched)....any movement away from the bible is fine with me...I once heard a mom in a supermarket calling out for her girl...she was saying "Latrina"

Jody

They tell the Usnavy story in Cuba, too. I wonder if it's a Caribbean urban legend or something? Cuba wins the prize for odd names IMHO.

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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