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Lia McClanahan. He looked at the dragon thoughtfully. "You need a name. I heard some interesting ones today; perhaps you'll like one." He mentally ran.

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Presentation on theme: "Lia McClanahan. He looked at the dragon thoughtfully. "You need a name. I heard some interesting ones today; perhaps you'll like one." He mentally ran."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lia McClanahan

2 He looked at the dragon thoughtfully. "You need a name. I heard some interesting ones today; perhaps you'll like one." He mentally ran through the list Brom had given him until he found two names that struck him as heroic, noble, and pleasing to the ear. "What do you think about Vanilor or his successor, Eridor? Both were great dragons." No, said the dragon. It sounded amused with his efforts. Eragon. "That's my name; you can't have it," he said, rubbing his chin. "Well, if you don't like those, there are others." He continued through the list, but the dragon rejected every one he proposed. It seemed to be laughing at something Eragon did not understand, but he ignored it and kept suggesting names. "There was Ingothold, he slew the..." A revelation stopped him. That's the problem! I've been choosing male names. You are a she! Yes. The dragon folded her wings smugly.

3 Now that he knew what to look for, he came up with half a dozen names. He toyed with Miremel, but that did not fit -- after all, it was the name of a brown dragon. Opheila and Lenora were also discarded. He was about to give up when he remembered the last name Brom had muttered. Eragon liked it, but would the dragon? He asked. "Are you Saphira?" She looked at him with intelligent eyes. Deep in his mind he felt her satisfaction. Yes, Something clicked in his head and her voice echoed, as if from a great distance. He grinned in response. Saphira started humming. Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2002.

4 Do these names “sound like” boy names and girl names? Valinor Eridor Ingothold Miremel Ophelia Saphira

5 Previous Work Slater and Feinman, 1985, found “sex-associated features in the structural characteristics of names” such as manifesting more or fewer sounds, syllables, and word-final sonorants. Cutler, 1990, noticed differences in length, in proportion of weak initial syllables, in vowel sounds, and in similarity to common nouns. Barry and Harper, 1995, suggested a “causative link with cultural and environmental conditions” Hough, 2000, posits an explanation that deals mostly with the origin of the names: the differences result from “a range of contributing factors, including gender-based structures in the source languages, differences between the proportions of the various source languages represented in the masculine and feminine name stock, and the higher frequency of suffixes in feminine names.”

6 What I Want to Know Do speakers use the phonology of a name to “tag” its gender? How to test this: ask speakers to tag completely unfamiliar names

7 Methodology An survey with 50 names: Classmates, This is a survey I'm conducting for my ling 490 paper. If you'd like to participate, just reply to this with your responses typed in. You're to answer the question, "Does this sound like a boy's name or a girl's name?" Most of the names will be unfamiliar to you. Please say them out loud before you decide. Type "M" for male or "F" for female. You may also type "C" for "could go either way." I'm analyzing the data Monday night, if you could reply by then. If you have friends that would like to take the survey, the more the merrier, statistically speaking. Thanks. Does this sound like a boy's name or a girl's name? Sando Romelinc Rosep Timonegi Jaquelo Nikert etc….

8 Methodology Where did the names come from? The Social Security Administration has a website containing name data from every U.S. Census from 1879 to

9 Where did the names come from? A computer program used that data to train, for each gender, a Markov Model – a probabilistic model that can generate a character that is probably based on given characters. In our case, we used the previous two characters. Example: In the male names model, the most common first letter is J. Given J, the next most common character is a. Given Ja, the most probable character is m. Frequency and sequence

10 Methodology Example lists: Can you tell which model is which? Jayle Kenah Megan Hophi Jessi Desle Janahi Alahin Halize Magann Marenn Kianna Sanahle Camiann Maleahl Justime Dessayl Frislen Laiyanya Lonieryn Kenaliya Julianit Raquella Merookee Ezell Alenn Abdua Trenn Anton Justo Domiah Howano Kienny Ranavi Darone Ralius Frayler Aliusto Cobersh Julinne Santerl Joseffi Treenzo Jacoselo Samilipe Justoneg Malupers Tuckerth

11 92 respondents An average of about 70 percent answered the gender that according to the Markov Model is statistically more likely

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14 It seems that speakers have in their minds a mental inventory of sound sequences and frequencies that helps them decide what gender a name is. This inventory allows them to do 40 percent better than random guessing.

15 Ling 420 paper: Effect of Orthography?


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