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The name forms by which we present ourselves publicly are shown to be sociolinguistic variables. A 1996 study of the preferred name forms of state legislators in the US found that informal presentation names were common in much of the south and west of the country, and generally absent in the northeast. A 2007 replication of that study both confirmed the earlier findings and showed that the public use of informal name forms had increased. The practice of using informal presentation names originated in the south and northwest and spread to all parts of the country except the northeast. The increasing use of informal names is seen as part of a general societal shift toward greater informality.
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