I have always said that a person or a place is 'named after' someone or something else. Boston Mass is 'named after' Boston in Lincolnshire. Just in the last years or so, particularly in written material, I've suddenly started encountering 'named for' in stead, such as 'Boston Mass is named for Boston in Lincolnshire. This sounds to my ears both odd and counterintuitive. Is it a dialectical difference or an age one, or is it simply a mark of poor grammar?It's a dialectal difference. John Algeo's British or American English reports that in the Cambridge International Corpus BrE texts have 6.5 times as many afters as fors and AmE texts have 1.3 times as many fors as afters. This goes along with my experience that both named after and named for are fine in AmE, but that named for is not used much in BrE.
DBT's email continues:
I do not know whether people who say 'named for his father' would also say 'called for his father' meaning 'called after' rather than 'came to the door to collect him'.I can't speak for all AmE speakers, but I would not say either called after or called for to mean 'called the same thing as'. I'd use the verb name in this instance, or, if the name is a nickname, then might say called the same thing as or some such circumlocution. It's also worth noting here that collecting a person has a distinctly BrE ring to it. An American would more normally pick up someone (if said American taking said someone somewhere) or just come to get someone. Call in senses meaning 'come to, visit' is also less often used in AmE (where it sounds rather old-fashioned to me) than in BrE. Algeo's book notes call into, as in Call into your local Post Office branch, as BrE. Meanwhile, BrE doesn't use call as much with reference to telephones. Americans call their mothers (on the phone), the British ring their mothers. I'm sure neither do it as often as the mothers would like.
And as long as I've mentioned pick up... Oh, how hilarious it is when BrE speakers express their amazement at Americans' feat of strength when they have picked up the house before guests arrive. (That, my dear friends, is an instance of American sarcasm.) Americans in Britain, learn fast: it's called tidying here. That verb is not absent from AmE, but it somehow sounds too fussy. So, we pick up or clean, but we almost never tidy.