Monday, March 3, 2014

The mystery of Emma

In this week's prooffreader.com post, I note that the U.S. Social Security baby names database has an unusual amount of boys named Emma (21) born around 1900 (BTW, here's my IPython notebook with everything you need to reproduce this graph, all my posted graphs, and plenty of graphs you might want to see on your own)

I can't figure it out (other names show peaks around 1930 and 1980, and often the error rate is high when the name's popularity is low as it was for Emma around 1970, but seldom do you see a popular name with a high error rate before 1920), so I'm posting the data here. My first thought was bad OCR turning "rn" into "m" or a rash of particularly poor spellings of "Ezra", but these don't seem supported by the data. Unless there's another, similar name that doesn't begin with E or end with a? I can't think of one.


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