For several years, American studies of different disciplines have established the so-called Scrabble score method as a measure of the linguistic complexity of names. This method scores each name according to defined rules, similar to the popular board game Scrabble, in which each word receives a score defined by the sum of the numerical values of their characters. The numerical Scrabble scores allow comparing and analyzing names in flexible and quantitative ways. In this study, we apply the Scrabble score method to given names in Germany for the first time, to test the value of such scores to understanding the linguistic complexity of names in Germany. The corpus for these analyses contains 90.000 given names based on the SOEP data (1984–2016). We calculated the Scrabble score for all given names following the German Scrabble rules and analyzed different aspects. The results demonstrate that it is possible to also gain interesting insights about names in Germany using the Scrabble score method. For instance, we show that the frequencies of letters in given names differs (more vowels, more like vowels sounding consonants) from that in the other lexicon of the German language. Likewise, the method reveals gender-specific characteristics of male and female names. In addition, high Scrabble scores indicate non-German given names. These three aspects of our study on names from the SOEP data illustrate that the Scrabble score method is suitable and productive for different questions about the linguistic complexity of given names in Germany.
Keywords: Scrabble, given names, first names, onomastics, SOEP; Scrabble, Rufnamen, Vornamen, Onomastik, SOEP