A few years ago I wrote about my obsession with names. Since it was quite awhile ago I will summarize the post. I like names. I like everything about them. I like the way the sound on their own and in combination with other names. I like the way they look written down and learning what they mean and their origins. I don't know why I like them, but I do.
Somehow through my life I had accumulated quite a few books about names. The variety runs the gamut from the expected, Name Your Baby which has alphabetically listed names to help the reader select the name for their own baby. Most of them names you've probably heard before at least once but occasionally there is the surprise name like Varina which is (according to the book) the Slavic version of Barbara and means "stranger" or "foreigner". Why a person would want to name their beautiful new baby "stranger" is a mystery to me.
But I also have more unusual books like, Remarkable Names of Real People wherein we learn the truly appalling names that some people had saddled their innocent progeny with. Names such as "Original Bug" and "July August September" and "Cigar Stubbs". This book also has on it's pages the name that I consider to be the absolute worst name in the history of names, "Welcome Baby Darling". Imagine being stuck with that name for your entire life!
There was also the very amusing book, What NOT to Name the Baby, which is entirely made up and strictly for entertainment value. This book proposes the theory that people become their names and it is followed by a list of attributes associated with certain names such as, "David is a Three Year old who bites" and "Nothing much could be wrong with anyone named Sam". We also learn that: "Alma is an ex-WAC who owns her own bowling ball." "Cliff goes to the barber shop twice a week and talks loud. He likes to tell you how much everything he owns cost."
So you would think, after learning about so many names, the good ones, the bad ones and the ugly ones, that I pretty much know about names right? Well I thought so too. And you know what they say about pride going before a fall. I learned something just the other day that absolutely shook me to my toes. It was so obvious, so - right there in front of my face , how did I not see it before??? Are you ready for this? Liam is short for William. Dang! Am I the only one on the planet who did not know this?
While I am delighted to now know this, it really rattled my cage. Liam is short for William...wow! When I think of the name William I think...Bill, Billy or Will. All perfectly fine names. It never once dawned on me that Liam - a name I like by the way - could be an abbreviation of William.
Of course I was also shocked when I learned that Polly is short for Mary AND Dorothy. What? How does that work. Mary and Dorothy do not even have a passing familiarity. How can Polly be the nickname for either one, let alone both? But then, Peggy is the shorted version of Margaret. What? That makes no sense. None at all. Who decides these things?
At least Liam is actually within the name William. It's at the end but it's there. Just like Ace is at the end of Wallace. But I've never known a person named Wallace that was called Ace. If my name was Wallace, I would rather be known as Ace than Wally, frankly.
There is no equitability to names. Some names have roughly a zillion official nicknames. Like Elizabeth. If you name your daughter Elizabeth, you can shorten her name to something like fifty choices from Liz to Isabelle, from Betsy to Elspeth, from Babette to Elissa. Nice to have options.
But if you were named Brock or Jane, there isn't much you can do with those. Well I suppose you could make "Jane" longer - Janey is cute. But what do you do for poor Brock? Brockie? No that doesn't sound right. Rock? Rocky? I have no idea
Some names you can shorten, but it's not flattering. Like the pretty name April. Shorten it to Ape? No that's horrible. Howard to How? That's a big Nope. That's not a name it's a question.
There are names with accepted nicknames that are just well, uncomfortable. Richard has quite a few perfectly fine short versions like Rich/Richie or Rick/Ricky so why oh why oh why please tell me, would anyone shorten Richard to Dick? It rhymes with Rick but what's with the D? No. Please don't do that to your child.
There are legitimate names that nobody, NOBODY, uses anymore. Like Spear and Speed. Those are real names, Old English to be sure, but still on the list. They already sound like nicknames. No need to create others. I guess it makes the process - name to nickname - easier. Corona is a girls name on the list. It originated in Spain and it means crown or crowned one. But nowadays if you heard the name you would immediately think of either a beer or a disease. Please don't name your children that.
The whole idea of nicknames is a very old one. It actually goes back to the Middle Ages when a person had their official, formal name and then their "ekename" or other name which was less formal and more what friends and family called them. Almost everyone I know has an ekename, or rather, nickname. Although I've known parents who are positive that nobody will ever shorten their childs name. They insist upon it.
"We named him Andrew, not Drew and not Andy. Call him Andrew" Yeah, well, most Andrews get called Andy or Drew in the school yard and honestly, if that's the worst thing that Andrew is called, Mom and Dad, consider yourselves lucky. Victoria becomes Vickie or Tori, Edward is Eddie or Ed and Christina is quickly either Chris, Christie or Tina. That's just how it works. Or at least how it has worked historically.
Nowadays there are some very unusual names out there and I have no idea how it works anymore. What does Moxie Crimefighters buddies call her? Or Fifi Trixibelle. Or Pilot Inspektor?It is a different world out there now and sometimes I feel a little lost. But, I am teachable and I love to learn new things. So if anyone knows the answers, please do let me know.
I have lots of other name related thoughts, questions and ideas but I suppose that can wait for another time.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.