Monday, April 6, 2009

What's in a nickname: Naming conventions

There's a word for it
And words don't mean a thing
There's a name for it
And names make all the difference in the world

I have the interesting knack of giving nicknames to everyone I know. Not only that, but I am the only person I know who has given a nickname to a stuffed animal (aren't they supposed to have just one name if at all)— but I'll save that for another post.

Most people don't like going by their given name. The short version of someone's name is considered a nickname to me. I tend to tell people if they want to address me professionally, then use my full name— otherwise use the short version of my name (because it is the casual form of my name). I sometimes find that some names cannot be shortened, or the short name just doesn't fit— and a unique nickname is in order.

I have been known to take the wrong part of a full name on purpose just to be unique. For example, a lot of people call Julia "Jewels" for short. I would switch it around and call her "Lia" instead. Other times I use the first letter of their name as a nickname. For example, if I knew a Margaret (I don't by the way)— I would call her "M".

If all else fails, I typically use the format "Mr./Ms. First name here" as a catch all. Let's use Margaret as an example again… I would call her Ms. Margaret (not to be confused with the princess of the same name). Sometimes if a person has the same letter for their first and last name I will use the number two after that initial. For example, let's say Margaret's last name was Miller… I would probably then call her M2 (pronounced emm two).

I have no rhyme or reason why I use one convention over another. I guess it all depends on how I know the person— and if they choose to accept the nickname I give to them. The nice thing about the blogging community is that many people have already chosen a nickname to use— so I don't have to come up with one. Many of you have chosen to call me CaJoh— which is fine since it just adds to my many nicknames… but I'll save that for yet another post.

1 Excerpt from the Talking Heads song: "Give Me Back My Name" from the album Little Creatures.


Wendyburd1 said...

I love nicknames as long as they seem nicely intended...and aren't lame, lol!

Unknown said...

Nicknames can be fun. I call my kids Boo and Chick (adee). I don't like it when anyone shortens my son's name though, if I wanted him to be called Pat I would have named him that. My daughters name I don't think can really be shortened. I guess she's stuck with Chick or Sissy as her brother calls her.

SweetPeaSurry said...

I've only had one nickname, my name just doesn't really provide for many. And if anyone called me 'K' as in KFed ... I'd probably kick them in the shins.

All through High School and College I was called "Lil Mar" for 2 reasons, I was the smallest of all my siblings, and I followed two years behind my older brother and was two years ahead of my younger but much larger brother.

Since then, sometimes people at work call me 'Little One'. I just hoot and hollar like a chipawa indian when they do that.

Anonymous said...

I nickname people all the time too. It generally has very little connection to anything but for some reason, it just sticks.

Unknown said...

AS long as they aren't mean spirited to my face, I'm ok with nicknames. My all time favorite...MEMA. Melts my heart every time.

Enjoy the SNOW today :)

Anonymous said...

My kids all have shortened versions of their names that they go by, but they also have non-name-related nick-names that we call them. Sunshine, Gorilla, Baby-girl (often with girl spoken in two syllables), and Big J. Big J was Big 2, Big 3 and Big 4, until he turned 5 at which point we thought the yearly change was getting a little silly.

I hate my name, Merinda, so I go by Mina. It's less painful to me.

My husband is named Larry. (Not Lawrence) But even a nick name gets abbreviated. It's often Lar.

Stacy Uncorked said...

I think being able to come up with nice or appropriate nicknames is a talent - especially if those nicknames stick. :)

Ms. Salti said...

I give nicknames to most people in my life as well, but they're usually not so appropriate. I tend to go with "Jackass" or "Bunghole" or "Corn nut" for the majority of them. Although, I do have a few reserved for public use!

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

We are huge nicknamers in our family...My hubs is Chilly, I'm Minnie, daughter is Monkey, Cat, Miss Kitty, Kit Kat Cadillac and Tween Caveboy is Puddin'...he hates that! lol!

We never refer to people by their given names...we always name them to suit ourselves!

Otter Thomas said...

I like to call most things by something other than their proper name. It is more fun. I don't think the shortened form of names are nicknames though. I hate the new trend in sports of mangling names together or using initials to make nicknames like TMac, CWebb, DWade, etc. etc. Nicknames should be something like Doc, Goose, Lefty, Chief, Bubba, Shakey, or something else with meaning. That is just my opinion though.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

So what do you can me? Ash?

Erin said...

That's a fun post. I had a couple of friends in high school call me L cubed. I couldn't figure out why they called me that until they said I was a Long Legged Llama. I was hurt, until they told me it was a compliment of the ultimate kind. Funny!

steenky bee said...

Okay, so I've noticed that I've been hot on your heels on a few blogs today commenting just after you. Could you feel my shadow lurking behind you?

Nicknames? I'm a sucker for nicknames. Both of our children have nicknames (Henry goes by Henners, Sancho or Reggie) For some reason he just likes us to call him Reggie. Awesome. Reese, our baby girl goes by Reesafee of Fiki. When we were naming our children, it was a big deal that their names have the ability to either be shortened or have a nickname tacked onto them. (Tricky part is, both our children are adopted and Reese's birthparents really wanted in on the naming process.)

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I use nicknames only if I know the person really well and feel totally comfortable with them. Not sure why, but I do.

KatBouska said...

I don't make nicknames, but I like hearing what people's nicknames are and how they came to be.

I like the method to your madness.

LissaL said...

My 8th grade English teacher had nicknames for every student in his class. I was "sasparilla" He actually made learning fun. Gotta go-Right now I am
NA2P (Not allowed 2 Post) I'm on spring break and I am breaking the family rules.

Bookworm said...

But you know, while the nickname for Julie is, as you spelled it "jewels" -- it's actually spelled "Jules" which is a shortening of the original name and since it only has one syllable as opposed to two syllables, it feels and sounds like a nickname. I'm just sayin'. Devil's advocate and all that.

So, my guess is that your name is Calvin...and Cal is the nickname and Calvin the professional name? Just a wild guess. Maybe I'll call you CJ, although CaJoh is pretty cool, too. :)

Nice to meet you, and thanks for delurking and commenting! :)

from Midlife Mama, otherwise known as MM. :)

Bookworm said...

Oh duh. Sorry if I'd read your sidebar I'd realize it's Christopher. Although I still don't see the Ca from Christopher but whatever. Cool nickname, nonetheless. :)

ToonEy said...

Interesting makes me wonder what my nickname is from you/by you? Anyway I just wanted to say that in most Southeast Asian cultures (especially mine...I'm Laotian part Chinese but was born in Thailand) nicknames are just as profound as our real names. For instance my real name is Chansiri but my nickname is Touney or Tooney (pronounced Tune-E) however you want to spell it. And our parents are addressed by the youngsters by the child's nicknames. For instance, my friends would call my mom and dad Tooney's Dad or Tooney's Mom, never Mr. and Mrs. Sirimongkhoune. Nicknames are given to all children because well our real names can be painfully long. I really don't know what my nickname means. I've already tried asking my parents and all I get from them is "I really don't know why I nicknamed you that!" Usually in my country the nickname is also a shortened version of the real name, for example Alyssa would be shortened into either Lyssa or Sa. But we can also be given serendipitous nicknames, eg. a freak storm occurs during the child's birth and the child's nickname is Storm. I think that was my case, except I don't know why I was named Tooney!!! *shrugs shoulders*

Sprite's Keeper said...

So, since my name is Jennifer and most people call me Jen, you would call me "Niffer?"
Interesting. My most notorious nickname is Rosie, after my last name since I was close friends in high school with another Jennifer and we needed to alleviate confusion.

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