Name, Nicknames, and Nonsense

I read a great post today by a young woman with a name that’s hard for most of us to pronounce.  She explains how irritating it can be to repeat her name over and over so that the other person can pronounce it, and why she sometimes shortens a perfectly good name into a nickname that doesn’t suit her.  You can read her very entertaining post here.

http://onthepavement.com/2011/08/01/the-art-of-the-american-nickname/

It got me to thinking about my own name, which can confuse some folks.  So, for those of you who are curious, Doree is pronounced Door- A, with the emphasis on the A.  It means: “edged in gold.”

I’m always very curious about the origins of names, and why some names become popular, and others don’t.  Generally, if I’m writing a new story, and a name for my character doesn’t immediately pop into my head, I’ll Google “Top 100 names of year.”  Of course, I fill in “year” with an actual date, like 1970, depending on the age of my character.  That way, the name of my character can tell something about them.  You probably wouldn’t assume that an “Elsie” was a young person any more than you’d imagine that “Taylor” was an older person.  Names come and go out of fashion, and these days, you can name your kid anything you can imagine.  Even Pilot Inspektor.

I’ve never been a fan of shortened forms of names.  I generally call my friends by their full name, like “Andrew” instead of “Andy,” unless they have a strong preference otherwise.  However, I do enjoy actual nicknames that derive from a joke, an experience, or just plain fun.  I have another friend we call “Mac.”  The nickname developed around second grade and stuck.

My nickname?  Turtle.  And no, it has nothing to do with my being slow.  In 6th grade, we read a book called The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  It’s a really great book, BTW.  In it, the main character is Turtle Wexler, a teenager who likes to kick people in their shins.  In 6th grade, I had a bit of a thing for… ahem… kicking boys.  So, the nickname stuck.

I’d love to hear people talk about their nicknames in the comments.

What’s In a Name?

Names are very important to me.  Growing up, people constantly misspelled my name or mispronounced it and it drove me crazy.  As an adult, I’ve relaxed about it quite a bit, but its still important.

Often, when I’m writing a story, I can’t progress in the story until I have exactly the right name.  I’ll cruise baby websites, news websites, anything until I find the name that speaks to me for that character.  It’s not even always a name I actually like.  Sometimes I think the name is awful, but it fits the character for one reason or another.  It could be because I could see that character’s parents settling him with a name like “Frank” or “Harriet.”  It could also be that the name just takes hold and won’t let go.  Whatever the reason, names tell a lot about who people are.

Usually I dislike “icebreaker” exercises.  Hardly anyone listens as they’re nervous about what they’ll say when their turn comes.  Once icebreaker I loved was when everyone told how they got their names.  Some people had family names or names from books or names that their mom or dad just liked on that particular day.  My dad named me.  He had just always liked the name, and chose it.  If I’d been a boy, I would have been a Junior.

How did you get your name?