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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assimilation and Gender in Naming


This article examines the naming practices of Hispanic parents who gave birth to children in Los Angeles County in 1995. The authors find that greater exposure to U.S. culture increases the chances of naming a child in English. However, they find that by giving children English names that are translatable into Spanish, U.S.-born Hispanic parents are able simultaneously to assimilate while maintaining a connection to their ethnic origins. In addition, the authors find that attitudes favoring assimilation are particularly great when naming daughters. Immigrant Hispanic couples tend to give sons Spanish names, but they often give daughters English names without Spanish referents. These gender differences persist even among U.S.-born Hispanics paired with non-Hispanics. Among intermarried couples, father’s ethnicity has a disproportionately large influence in naming, especially for sons’ names. These findings have implications for how the assimilation process is gendered

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