perception of gender in names

FRITZ JUENGLING juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US
Mon Jun 10 18:11:00 UTC 2002

>>> adrian.pable at ENS.UNIBE.CH 05/27/02 03:28AM >>>
I always find it difficult as a German speaker to tell whether
certain English names are female or male, e.g. Laurie and Lyle

Lyle is male and Laurie looks female to me.  However, I have dealt with people from other English-speaking countries named Laurie or Lawrie (UK and South Africa, respectively) who are males.  I believe in both cases, it's short for Lawrence.  But it still sounds very odd to me.
On the other hand, my English-speaking high school students have the same problem that you have--they cannot tell if a name is male or female in many cases. Uwe, Uli, Heike, and Kai are a few that are very problematic.  For some reason, Jochen, Joachim, Jo"rg, Ju"rgen, and Jens pose little or even no problem, most students recognising them as male names.  Jan is usually a female name here, so is a problem.

Fritz Juengling
female to me. How do speakers of a language establish whether a name
is only used for girls or boys or both? e.g. Faith and April are only
female, but in the 16th centuries names such as Faith, Experience,
Unity, Hope were not gender-bound. Why is it that only a girl may be
called Unity nowadays (because we can see the link with Latin unitas,

Adrian Pablé, University of Berne

>A question has come over the transom from a UK correspondent. Advice,
>-- Mark A. Mandel
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 00:56:20 +0100
>Via the letters page of the Guardian newspaper, and then by email, I have
>contacted some people doing research into the perception of gender in names,
>and I was wondering if Dr. Whom (or anyone else) knew of any work already
>done in that area.

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