An analysis of the top 100 Australian baby names published in the McCrindle baby names report has revealed that the way a name ends is more important than the letter it begins with, especially for baby girls.
An astonishing 45 per cent of baby girls born in the past year, who were given a top 100 listed name, were given a name ending in the letter (or sound) 'a'. In addition, half of the top 10 baby names ended in the sound.
While boys names have an overwhelming majority of consonant endings, they tended to have more variety in end sounds than girls names.
For example, the most common end sound for boys is 'n', though only 23 per cent of those given top 100 names ended in the sound - that's 14,304 names out of 61,802 top 100 baby names.
The findings reveal a distinct preference for a feminine sound, that's most probably deeply rooted in the English language's origins in Latin, where the 'a' ending was given almost exclusively to girls, and so has trickled down to their more modern derivatives.
Going back even further, experts - David Sidhu from the University of Calgary, and Professor Carole Hough from the University of Glasgow - believe that 'sound symbolism' could be directly related to shape - rounder sounds for females, and harder, sharper sounds for males.
The 'sound-shape' association expresses itself distinctly in the first names given to boys and girls, symbolising "...the relative sizes of male and female bodies".
The phenomenon also flies in the face of current musings that parents are increasingly turning to boys names for their baby girls. While they probably are in slightly greater numbers than before, they certainly aren't dominating at this stage, nor are they ever likely to.
So, out of 51,778 baby girls given a top 100 name, 23,169 ended in 'a'.
We must also mention 'ee'
For girls the only other consistently-used end sound was 'ee'. 24 names in the top 100 - or 24 percent of the top 100, ended in 'ee'.
Names on this list include Heidi, Billie, Chloe, Ivy and Chelsea.
So, just two end sounds dominated girl names in the past year, together amounting to 66 per cent of names in the top 100.
What about the boys?
Here's a roundup of the most popular end sounds for boys in the top 100 list.
'n' - 24 names in top 100
'ee' - 13 names in top 100
er/or/ar/ur - 13 names in top 100
's' - 6 names in top 100
'k' - 5 names in top 100
'el' - 5 names in top 100
Top 15 girls names ending in 'a'
Olivia - ranked 2
Amelia - ranked 3
Ava - ranked 4
Mia - ranked 5
Isla - ranked 6
Ella - ranked 12
Matilda - ranked 13
Isabella - ranked 15
Sophia - ranked 21
Georgia - ranked 23
Aria - ranked 24
Mila - ranked 26
Hannah - ranked 27
Sienna - ranked 28
Layla - ranked 30