Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Name Game

I've always felt that a person's name has some influence on who they are. When I was growing up I was "Rebecca" to everyone except family.  I was "B" or "Becka" to most people but "Becky" to my Grandma Overdorff.  When I moved to Virginia at the age of 12 I became "Becky" to everyone.  I won't lie and tell you it wasn't a difficult adjustment.  Who was this "Becky" person, how could I be her?  When I left for college I leaped at the opportunity to be "Rebecca" again and interestingly my good college friends all call me "Becka," the natural nickname that I developed as a youngster.  I can always tell how people know me based on what they call me and I tend to interact with people differently based on that.

Before Whit was born we were going to name him "Whitfield" and call him "Whit" but for the first two years I called him "Whitfield" most of the time.  We are now working toward "Whit" but to me he will always be "Whitfield," especially when he is in trouble!   I'm sure as he gets older he will pick up other names and he will adjust who he is to fit that name.

Another post in the Wonderful Words series, this idea came about after some serious name confusion.

As with any other time in history, there are popular names that seem to crop up multiple times in a generation or every generation.  Additionally, there are countless stories about someone's name being changed because a nickname was used or someone used a different name.

The first time I encountered a name change was when I saw a letter addressed to "Stephanie Overdorff."  I looked at my mother in confusion.  Yes, she has 3 sisters and 4 brothers, but none of them are named "Stephanie;"  so who was this Stephanie person? She cleared it up and let me know that it was actually my Aunt Dawn, who was called by her middle name because my Grandfather, who is deaf, couldn't say "Stephanie."  Ah, I get it!

My brother-in-law is often called "Rico" by his family members. It began as a nickname, there's a story, but I cannot recall all of the details, and now it drops in as a greeting, cheering at a ballgame, or general conversation.

KIRK (to his mother): How's Rico doing?

Occasionally, and perhaps the most intriguing, is when a name changes because the newest member of the family doesn't pronounce the name correctly or there needs to be some distinction between people.  Whit calls Rico "Eck-ick" which is his interpretation of "Eric" (Rico's actual name).  I doubt he will stay "Eck-ick" as we are trying to have Whit to pronounce names correctly. We've recently succeeded with his second cousin Sydney who was "Sis-Sis" until just this week.

On the topic of Sydney, it just so happens that she shares this name with her father.  Needless to say when Nana says "Sidney is coming over" and Big Sid rather than Little Sydney shows up Whit is confused.  As I sit here (supposed to be doing homework) and watch the family play ball in the yard below me, I can hear the effort being made to say "Sid" and "Sydney;" to make some sort of distinction.

Other names of note:

Nanny Kate (Whit's Nanny) vs. Katie Bug (Whit's friend Katie)
Hunter (Nanny Kate's son) vs. Baby Hunter (Katie Bug's brother)
Reece (Whit's male friend) vs. Baby Reese (Whit's female friend)
Miss Marsh-Marsh (Marcia, Katie and Hunters' Mommy)
Sah-Sah (Sarah, Baby Reese's sister)
Mungka (Grandma Hylton)
Pop-Pap?? (We are still figuring out what to call Grandpa Hylton)
Opee (Nana Lucille, which started out as Whit's first attempt at "Hey Babe" and came out "Op-bee!"
Kis-tis (Aunt Kristin)
Not-Mama (one of the funniest, Nanny Christine, who he was calling "Mama" and she kept saying "I'm not your Mama, I'm Nanny Christine!" "Not Mama" was somehow the name that stuck!)

I'm sure there are some other cute names that I'm missing, so no offense meant if I left you off the list. 

Currently, Whit can say "Eamon" and Eamon can say "Whit" so there are no issues with their names. I am, however, curious to see how the name game will be played out with any future children that enter the family as I have some interesting and difficult to pronounce names in my potential baby name line up.

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