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Emma is favorite name in SD for girls but doesn’t top national list

By Northern Plains News Service

South Dakota is in the heart of Emma-land.

According to 50 years of Social Security data compiled by the online site Jezebel, the name Emma was the top girls’ baby name in South Dakota in 2012 — and in a broad swath of America from Louisiana to Montana, and from the Carolinas to an island of Emmas in the Northeast.

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Emma was also the top national and South Dakota choice in 2008.

Sophia was the top baby girl name in the United States in 2012, according to the online magazine Jezebel. Sophia-land runs from the Southwest to the West Coast, with splotches of Sophia in the eastern quadrant of the United States.

Though Sophia was the girls’ name champion for 2012 and 2011, the longest streak of consecutive top girls’ names goes to Jennifer. That name held the top spot across the United States from 1970 to 1984.

Emily also had a long streak at No. 1, from 1995 to 2006. Before that, Jessica took the honors from 1985 to 1990, then again from 1993 to 1995. Jessica’s reign was interrupted by Ashley in 1991 and 1992.

The baby-boomer name Lisa had a decent run nationally from 1962 to 1969.

“Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S. — Ashley in the South, Emily in the Northeast — sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly,” article author Reuben Fischer-Baum notes. “The big exception to these baby booms and busts is Jennifer, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half.”