16 May 2014

QWERTY and names

There is a hypothesis (see here) that we prefer typing with our right hand, and as a result, as more and more people have become accustomed to using a computer keyboard, there is a greater preference for names that predominantly use the right side of the keyboard. This would predict that John would become more popular (all four letters are typed with the right hand) while Edgar would become less popular (all five letters are typed with the left hand).

Well, maybe. I'm not convinced.

This hypothesis predicts that David would become less popular, as all but one of its letters are typed with the left hand; and the names I gave both my children, Alexander and Elizabeth, would also be dis-preferred, as both are predominantly left-sided. But they were born before I started to use a computer on a regular basis, so the hypothesis is irrelevant for them.

What about Malay names? I have 29 students with Malay names in my year one class at UBD. If we just analyse the names before the bin or binti, we find that:

  • 15 have a right-sided name: Nurul Amirah, Norazlinah, Nur Liyana, Nur Bazilah, Noor Atikah, Nurol Izazi, Mohd Khairul, Muhd Amaluddin, Muhd Alqurnain, Nurul Nadiatul, Amalina, Muhammad Zulfadhli, Nur Aqilah, Nur Hanizah, Muhammad Ghazali
  • 3 have equal right and left-sided letters: Nur Haidatul, Nur Diyanah, Abdul Qawiy
  • 11 have more left-sided letters: Siti Izzatul Aliah, Mohammad Iskandar, Siti Nurfaizzah, Fatihah, Muhammad Amir Syaddad, Emmyra Nurfazrenna, Nur Khadizeah, Farah Mahirah, Wa'iz, Izaz Fahad

So there is a slight preference for names that are typed with letters on the right side of the keyboard.

However, I would be very surprised if this was connected in any way with keyboard usage. I suspect that few of their parents were accustomed to using a keyboard when these students were born. A more likely explanation for the slight preference for right-sided letters is the common occurrence of 'N' in these names.