02/07/2023 “Names”   Leave a comment

People love coming up with odd names or nicknames for just about everything. Even if a real name already exists, someone will attempt to create a nickname for it. I remember one from my childhood that was used to replace the term “bad breath” and it was “doggie breath”. We were stupid kids but never passed up an opportunity to create what would be considered a wise-ass replacement name. “Tubby’ was the skinny kid, “Slim” was the fat kid, and “brainiac” was the dumb ass. Why we felt the need to change the names of things that don’t need to be changed, who knows. Here are a few examples from history to further make my point without answering the big question, “Why do we do it?”.

  • The U.S. nickname “Uncle Sam” was derived from Uncle Sam Wilson, a meat inspector in Troy New York. During the war of 1812, Wilson’s “U.S.” stamped on meat barrels prepared for the U.S. Army was interpreted by some workmen to stand for their boss, “Uncle Sam” and the legend grew. (In newspaper cartoons during the Civil War, the figure of Uncle Sam took on the appearance of President Lincoln.)
  • During his career, Vladimir Ilyich Ulanov employed at least 150 pseudonyms. The best-known was Lenin. (1870-1924).
  • The most common name in the world is neither Ching nor John. It’s Muhammad.
  • The original name for the United Nations was “Associated Powers”. Prime Minister Winston Churchill affected the change to “United Nations” by quoting Lord Byron to President Roosevelt.

Millions of pounds recorded the, and anew.

Their children’s lips shall echo them, and say –

Here, where the sword united nations drew,

Our countrymen were worrying on that day!

And this is much, and all which will not pass away.”

  • Natives of Papua, New Guinea, who deposit their money in the bank at Port Moresby don’t get numbered accounts. Instead, they are identified by the names of fish and birds and other natural objects. One bank customer is called “sawfish” and another “hornbill”. Each depositor keeps his symbol secret.

  • The male Mayan Indian would change his name twice as he was growing up. His original name was linked with the date he was born. He would get a new name, describing a personal feature, when he was initiated into manhood. On marrying, he would take on his formal name.
  • A book of maps is called an atlas because the innovative 16th-century Flemish geographer Gerard S. Mercator’s books of maps detailing various portions of Europe sported on its cover a picture of the Greek titan Atlas holding the world on his shoulders – and thus this book became known as an atlas.
  • When Adolf Hitler was in charge in Germany, policemen and farmers were not allowed to call their horses by the name “Adolf”.
  • In 1935, “Iran” became the new name for what had been Persia, which was the new name for what had earlier been Iran.
  • There are an estimated 2.4 million people in the US named Smith, and over 1.8 million named Johnson, and over 1.6 million named Williams or Williamson, and over 1.4 million named Brown, and over 1.3 million named Jones. Keeping up with the Joneses would appear to be easier than keeping up with the Smiths.

As a kid, my given name was John. You can’t get much more boring than just John but that didn’t keep my friends from calling me just that, “Just John”. I had another nickname, “Crazy Legs” but the explanation for that one will remain a deep and dark secret that I’ll take to my grave. LOL

“A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS SWEET”

Shakespeare

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