Monday, 13 December 2021

Names, Nicknames, et al.




What connects Van Morrison, Yul Brynner, Angel Strawbridge, Cher, and Anton du Beke?

Well, of course, they've all shortened their given names. Van was Ivan, Yul was Yuliy, Angel was Angela, Cher was Cherilyn, and Anton was Anthony. I'm sure they no doubt all had good reasons for the slight changes. They probably all thought they either sounded better, or it suited their characters more.

Most people have nicknames of some sort during their lives. My own three children have always been known by names that they weren't given, although I don't think they had nicknames at school; as nor did I.

Some of my friends at school were called Smiley, Monty, Sparks, and Po. Po has continued with the name throughout his life, and is still famously known as Po today.

When we selected names for our children, one of the criteria was that they couldn't be shortened or changed into something 'rude'. We also needed names that we could SHOUT (not unlike a dog's name).

Choosing names is important, but shouldn't be fretted over; nor should they be overly-crazy in some desperate search for originality. One can only feel sorry for 'The person previously known as Prince', or X Æ A-Xii, or even Toadie.

We have friends named after M1 Service Stations, and after the seasons, but it's probably far better to choose a name that one could use either as a road-sweeper or a brain surgeon. A certain amount of social equality/mobility would probably be wise. 

What it comes down to is having a name that one can go through life with, without having to cringe every time you repeat it, or, even worse, having people laugh.

So, To Wowie Bowie, who changed his name to Duncan Jones, I say "Well done".

34 comments:

  1. Choosing a middle name is also important, you don't want something which brings unfortunate initials, B.O.G. or W.E.T. for instance, so it's often best to choose a middle name that doesn't begin with a vowel. We didn't have nicknames, nor did three of my children, although one did get called Taff for several years. My brother doesn't go by his given name, I think he changed it legally and a step-brother is always called Charlie although that isn't his birth name.

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    1. I've always been known by my middle name. When I see someone using my first name, I wonder if it's me!

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  2. River, why have a middle name (or two as in my case) at all? My son doesn't and thus goes through life unencumbered.

    U

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    1. My children all have three given names.

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    2. Yes, but why? I ask as an aunt to several of my sister's children with the most ridiculous combos (make that pompous). Whereas my own Angel's name, thank the Lord since he turned out a minimalist at heart and in practice, is clear cut, short, no messing.

      U

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    3. One name is to shout to get ready for breakfast or school, one is possibly in honour of a well-loved family member, and another in homage to someone we admired. It also gave them a choice of what they'll like to be called. Luckily all three stuck with their first names.

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    4. My sister has only one middle name, but I have two, one for each grandmother, I guess my mum wanted them to be remembered somehow. My younger brother has four middle names, no one knows why, the brother after him, who wasn't my father's child (none of my brothers are) had his father's name as a middle name, then the youngest brother had my grandfather's name as a middle name, again probably so that he would be remembered somehow, since my mother was an only child. She had two middle names also. My youngest has two middle names, one for each of his grandfathers.

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  3. Catholics will usually have a middle name after being 'Confirmed' by a Bishop. So perhaps it's a Religious thing. And of course the Aristocracy love to embellish their full names.

    They're already taking bets for the names of Boris Johnson's new baby. Apparently his 7th child. Yes seven. It was something he tried to conceal. But the news of another birth was somewhat buried after all the recent Downing Street shenanigans.

    I never knew Van Morrison's real first name. It seems that he's become quite a rebel in his old age after writing an 'Anti-Vaxx' song. And his good friend Eric (Clapton) suffered terribly after his double jab. But the media seem to be brushing it all under the carpet.

    I guess they had musical nicknames as well...'Van the Man' and 'Slowhand Clapton.'

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    1. Van Morrison has always been an unpleasant person. His stage persona is designed to make you dislike him. At the end of every concert he just walks off without acknowledging the paying audience. I don't know why we go back for more. He's coming to Brighton again quite soon; I shan't be going this time.

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  4. My brothers and I all have family middle names. Mine is my grandmother's and I'm very pleased to have her name as well. It's a way to remember her.

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    1. It's a nice way to remember well-loved family members.

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  5. My first name, not Andrew, was my father's middle name. Many of our family have middle names that reference older family members and I like it. Two great nieces have the same middle name, Rose, but named after different Roses'.

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    1. One of my given names is the same as my father's, but the most commonly used family given name, I gave to my youngest son.

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  6. One can also acquire a nick name because of the surname. 'Chalkie' White etc. Both me and my dad were called 'Andy/Andi' because of our surname. Mine developed into 'Andy Pandy' at school.

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    1. Well, at least Andy Pandy was a nice character!

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  7. The few nick names I was given as a child might have been due to folks not remembering my real name. I had a hyphenated first name.

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    1. It's easier to say 'Joe' than 'Shlotzininyzky'.

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  8. My father's middle name was his mother's maiden name. (He was not double-barrelled though).
    My middle name is that of my mother's best friend who died young.
    Since childhood I have never been called by my full first name. People find it too long and always use the shortened form. I am of course used to it now but I do prefer my full first name.

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    1. My sister and I were named after characters in Swallow and Amazons, if we'd had another sister she might have been called 'Titty'; which wouldn't have been nice!

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  9. A kid in our neighbourhood was nicknamed Boo from babyhood and when last we were neighbours and he was around 10, it was a real struggle to remember his given name. I'd be surprised if he allowed this to continue once he hit adolescence!

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  10. And Yul Brynner twice in one week! It must be a sign that 'The King & I' will be the Xmas movie on telly this year.

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    1. Sounds like someone I know called Boo Boo. Lots of Yuls about; at least they are on OUR pages!

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  11. I don't know about anyone else, but I am 'Debby'. When people call me 'Deborah', I flinch a little. When I was a kid, Deborah meant I was in trouble. Coupled with my middle name, it meant I was in BIG trouble. Just plain Debby suits me fine.

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    1. Some people try to shorten my name, but I don't like it. I prefer the full job.

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  12. Some parents show little foresight when picking their children's names. You just know that some choices will be like eternal millstones. By the way, I believe that David Bowie's son was at first named Zowie Bowie and not Wowie Bowie as you suggest. Bizarrely, Duncan Jones and his wife named their daughter Zowie! She is now three years old.

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    1. You're right, I wrote all the above from memory. I should have checked.

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  13. Sitting in outpatients at the local hospital, the nurse came out and yelled "John Thomas". We burst out laughing - but few others did (Oops!).

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    1. Well, I suppose if you hadn't read the book....

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  14. Duncan Jones has always been Duncan Jones. David Bowie was David Jones and when Duncan was born they named him Duncan. Duncan Jones on his birth certificate. Zowie was a middle name which the family used when he was a child.

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    1. I believe he called himself 'Joe' whilst he was at Gordonstoun, then reverted to his birth name when he left. You can't blame him.

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  15. It interesting how names are given. Some nicknames are terms of endearment and only understood by family members. They usually vanish at a certain age.

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    1. I expect that'll be the case with my grandson Boo Boo. I can't imagine him as First Lord of the Admiralty being called Sir Boo Boo Magnon.

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