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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In the Land of the One-Syllable Names...

In the land of the one-syllable names, the two-syllable name is king. The land I came from, Queens, is a two-syllable land. Steven. David. Michael. Bar-bra (or Bah-bruh). Rachel. Heck, I have a one-syllable name, and my mother lengthened it to Markie. There are even a few three-syllable names like Jonathan. And let’s not talk about the old girlfriend who called me Markipoo.

Now I live in the Midwest, where a two-syllable name just seems like a lot of work. So everything is shortened. Pat. Deb. Mike. Jeff. Sue. Al. Some of these names seem to stop so suddenly that I almost feel like I’m tripping over them. Barb.

Unfortunately, now that I’m in a global “blogging” community, I’m coming in contact with people with ostensibly two- or more syllable names, and I’m not sure what to call them. Al or Alfred? Susan or Sue? Deb or Debbie? Glenn or Glenda?

Some of you two-syllable people get mighty offended if your names are contracted without your permission. I’m looking at you, David. And you as well, Mike. Or should I say “Michael”. Quit snickering, Steven! Er, Stephen.

So, if it won’t blow your cover, pipe in and tell me how you prefer to be addressed.

33 comments:

Ezzie said...

Not only that, there's titles, especially between generations. Online you're PsychoToddler; if I'd meet you I'd probably call you Doctor.

PsychoToddler said...

Yes, but in the Midwest you'd have to shorten it to "Doc".

Pragmatician said...

Careful with that shortening for Debbie, Deb could very well be a Deborah

PsychoToddler said...

Whoa, a three-syllable name! Deborah would indeed be Queen of us all!

Irina Tsukerman said...

Hmm, mine is a three-syllable name, and I don't see how it can be shortened to one-syllable, and still be my name! Anyway, I like the full name better! : )

Stacey said...

Mine is 2-syllable, but my close friends all call me "Stace." My daughters have long names, 4-syllable and 3-syllable. I like formal names.

Doctor Bean said...

Doc-tor (not abbreviated) Bean.

Three syllables. No problems.

I'll answer to Bean, Beano and Doc Bean, but they all make me irritable. You don't want that. Dr. (abreviated) Bean is acceptable, but suboptimal.

PsychoToddler said...

Irina: I would shorten you (your name) to Irene or Rina right off the bat. Here they'd probably call you Rine or something. But it is irrelevant since you live in a long-name region.

Stace: My kids all have hebrew/yiddish names, and I think those are always at least 2 syllables (Gad comes to mind, but most are not that short).

Doctor Bean: Gotcha. Non-abbreviated. So....Beanie Baby is out?

Doctor Bean said...

Yes. Beanie Baby is out. As is Lima Bean, Dr Legume, Bean Burrito, and The Beanster.

Gunny "Only strangers call me Hoss" Walker said...

Has this been a problem? Have you noticed more waitresses calling you "hon" as well? (Or is that a southern thing?) What about being shortened to non-syllables, PT? Or even nicknames that don't apply, like calling a big guy Hoss.
While I'm not crazy about my real name, it's required in the workplace. No one wants to hire a redneck with a nickname. It only annoys me when employers use Christopher. That says that you just know me by my W-2 or app. It is something I never introduce myself as.

zahava said...

Great post -- names sure CAN be sensitive. My parents chose mine and my brother's English names based on their aversion to nick-names. Hence, rather than their preferred Cynthia, I got Cheryl, and my brother got Larry instead of Lawrence. You can imagine their never-ending delight when in high school our friends took to calling us Cher and Lar! And while my father understands my abandonment of both my given names (my "real name" was a Yiddish humdinger, and Cheryl plays like Sharyeeeeeeeeel here in Israel) for the Hebrew translation of my Yiddish name, I am grateful that my Mother z"l isn't around to harangue me for it. I shudder to think what she would have had to say to know that people sometimes call me Za!

David (is he THE David to which you refer on the post?!) answers to just about anything that isn't out-right rude. I think he enjoys being referred to as Trep, and I have certainly heard a large number of people refer to him as Dave (his immediate family included, even myself occasionally) -- however, I must confess that "Dave" sounds goyish to my ears and when I do get lazy and end after the first syllable, I hear that unmistakable voice of Goliath from the old "Davey and Goliath" kids show produced in the late 60s and early 70s which was sponsored by the Methodist church. When shortening Trep's given name with both intent and affection, I almost always call him Dudu instead.

PS -- Read him my comment and will now be subjected to the Davey & Goliath theme music for the rest of the night. Ladies DO NOT let your boys grow up to be musicians! LOL.

Neil said...

How true. I grew up in Queens and my name is Neil, but everyone pronounced it Ne-il.

Anne said...

I prefer "Your Majesty" but most folks I meet just stare at me blankly.

I'm Anne. Nobody growing up ever called me "Annie" and lived to talk about it, though for a time my mother annoyingly pretended she spoke Spanish and called me "Anita."

She also never knew my Hebrew name, though she swore I'd been named after her favorite grandmother and they'd been thisclose. But apparently not close enough to learn the woman's name, since Anne was, in fact, not her real name.

I was alternately called Adina or Hannah in synagogue growing up, as if trying them on for size, but neither fit. This was a real sore point, knowing my Bat Mitzvah certificate had some other person's name on it.

When I got married, the calligrapher said my ketubah wouldn't be valid without the right name. I told Mom her grandkids would be b-st-rds and she immediately dispatched a cousin to the cemetary to record the Hebrew letters.

After waiting 35 years to learn the truth, it turns out her favorite grandmother's name was Aydele, meaning "refined" in Yiddish. She had changed it to Annie when the family fled from Poland to England in the 1880s.

But don't call me Annie. Or any of the others.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Doc...tor... Ski... er...
(a doozy at four syllables!)

I don't really mind whether people call me by my full firstname or by the standard shortened form. It's just that i think of myself as primarily my full name, since no one even tried to use the nickname until around late in high school!

Which explains why i think of myself more as Steg, the nickname my cousin made up for me already in middle school. But i generally use Steg on the internet, or around friends who i have a lot of internet-based communication with; or my cousin and a few other old friends from school. It was very sad when in college, i thought that my nickname Steg was unique enough that i wouldn't be confused with anyone else, and then i meet in the LARP group a guy named Stea (pronounced "stay")...

PsychoToddler said...

Gunny (is that your nickname or just your blog name?): I don't know that it's a problem, other than presenting a faux pas for me when I have to address people. And it's not really new people, but people I've known for a while. Then it gets awkward when I realize that I don't know if they prefer Chris to Christopher. BTW sometimes I think parents insist on calling their kids by their full names in order to justify to themselves why they decided to give their kids such a long name. "Eat your peas, Christopher." And I don't think I've ever had the urge to call someone "hoss" before.

BTW, did you know that Hoss was Jewish? So was Lorne Green and Michael Landin. And they say Jews don't control Hollywood!

Zahava: yeah, I remember discussing this over at Treppenwitz a few months ago. I'm putting the coast vs midwest spin on it. So it's not a ripoff.

BTW, if I were David, I would pick Dave over "Dudu" any day. Dudu has some not so nice connotations in America. To me it's the equivalent of Crapface.

Neil: What are you talking about? Neil isn't a two syllable name?

Anne: Aydele? They could have called you Adelle. That's a nice old-lady name. Around here, if they don't know your hebrew name, they just call you 'Steve'.

Steg: Are you one of those who gets pissed if they mix up the --v-- and the --ph--? LARP, eh? I'm sure Steg was not the most unusual name there.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I do get pissed, but not much. Not nearly as much as my brother used to (still does?) when people call him by my name. But i tell people that if they can't remember how to spell my name, just write the universal nickname form instead, which only has one spelling.

Actually, Steg and Stea were among the most unusual names there. At least of players. Character names, on the other hand, are a different story ;-) .

Jack's Shack said...

Things move so fast here in LA that I'd shorten Doc to Do but then I might as well just call you Homer.

Ezzie said...

In OJ once, a friend and I counted up all the nicknames I'd had. Somehow, it was over 70.

But now that I think about it, you're right: In Cleveland and WITS, most people shortened my names or nicknames to one syllable: Ez, Fish, Thight... My mother even shortened it to E (pronounced Eh), but I think that's because I shortened her to Ma. When someone wanted to emphasize my name, they usually came up with a long, convoluted version of a nickname.

Now, I answer to just about everything - each group of friends keeps their own nickname for me. So call me as you wish... (and thank God nobody's made the 'just not late for...' joke yet!)

:)

Gunny Walker said...

Who says Jews don't control Hollywood? The durn liberal media! That's who! And guess what religion controls that liberal media? Well, it ain't the Baptists!
Remember, I'm in the south. I hear stuff like that all the time. I think the shaved head attracts the racists.
I introduce myself as Gunny unless I HAVE to use my real name. So its a real nickname. There are some people who are shocked to learn it isn't my real name. The thing is I'm Chris never Christopher. Not even my parents would call me that. So for a stranger to call me that, it annoys me. It means that they read it off a list, be they employer or telemarketer. And therefore, they don't really know me. I feel like they are trying to be chummy without the right to be.
You do know Hoss is slang for horse, right? It's a size comment. As in saying that you are as big as a hoss. And it's no surprise to find that a lot of people in HW are Jewish. Y'all must have invented networking. After all, how else would you find The Best?

PsychoToddler said...

I hate it when telemarketers call me "Mrs. Skee-er."

Zev Steinhardt said...

Well, I have a one-syllable name, so you can't really shorten it (although my wife has done so: Very often Zev becomes "Ev." But then again, I've shortened "Lisa" to "Eeeeees."

However, you may refer to me a "Lord High Ruler of the Bloggosphere" :)

Miriam said...

Well, I'm either two syllables or three, but we don't interact much, so not a problem: Miriam (Mir-yam is the more accurate way to pronounce it) And it doesn't shorten.

My English name is always three sylables, (Melodie) and try to call me by the first one only if you like being completely ignored. I will however, answer to Dee.

My firstborn son, on the other hand, insists that we use both names (ie first and middle) and that's 5 syllables. Quite the mouthful. His Aunts and Uncles shorten it to one syllable, and he complains loudly that that's not his name.

Stacey said...

yYou mean your last name is really not pronounced Skee-er???

Kiwi the Geek said...

I'm not picky, just don't spell it wrong. My Real Name doesn't have any short versions, so people have to be creative. And BTW, I'm not from New Zealand. People always think that.

Gunny, I know what you mean. My husband's name has several possible nicknames, and everybody calls him the wrong one, not bothering to ask which he prefers. It drives me *crazy*; it strikes me as very inconsiderate, since names are so personal. He doesn't correct anybody because supposedly, they might think it rude. Bah!

PsychoToddler said...

Zev: Technically, I think Ze-ev is supposed to be a two-syllable name.

Miriam: "we don't interact much" Do we interact at all? We've mangled all of our kids' names. The boys all go by nicknames. The older girls don't, but I do have some reserved for when I want to annoy them.

Stacey: It's pronounced Skee-yay.

("That's 'the O-neh-ders.'")

Kiwi: why do people think you're from New Zealand, because you're named after some exotic fruit?

Wickwire said...

I'm a jerk about names. Wickwire (not Wick). Susan (NOT Sue). I go as far as correcting people when they call David "Dave"

I need help.

PsychoToddler said...

I know what you mean, Wickwire. I HATE it when people try to contract my Indian name Xw’dob’obz’buddahlth as "Xw' "

Kiwi the Geek said...

PT, is your name really pronounced Skee-yay? I think you're pulling all our legs.

The kiwi is a non-flying bird native to NZ. Somehow NZers came to be identified with the bird, and are often referred to as kiwis. The fruit also grows in NZ. I'm sometimes also called Kiwi Bird, which is more endearing than Kiwi the Geek.

PsychoToddler said...

OK OK it's pronounced Sky-er. As in "Hey, it's Mark Skyskraper!" Gosh, I never heard that about a bazillion times when I was in first grade. Or "Hey use the force Mark Skyerwalker!"

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

"Help me, Moshee-won Kenobi, you're my only hope!"

Shira Salamone said...

Those last two comments were a stitch. :) LOL! :)

Cheer up, Mark--you should hear what they've done with *my* real names.

Anne said...

Sky-er. Glad you told me that. I always pronounced it pee-tee.

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