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Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname!

One of the modern debates or points of contention in baby naming these days is whether nicknames should be given as the full name. If you plan to call a little girl Lizzie, do you need to name her Elizabeth, or can you just write Lizzie on the birth certificate? If you want to call your boy Hank, do you need to name him Henry? Obviously, we are here in America where the government does not regulate baby names, so parents are free to do what they want. That does not stop people from judging one another for taking one path for another! What are the two sides to the argument, and where do I stand?

Keep it Simple! - The main argument for using what are traditionally "nicknames" as full names is that it keeps things straight forward. Little Lizzie does not have to tell the teacher at the start of every year "Oh, I go by Lizzie" when they do roll call. Hank's friends won't be confused when he walks across the graduation stage. His diploma will read Hank.  There is no chance (or at least drastically reduced chance) of unwanted nicknames. ("We are naming her Patricia, nickname Tricia, I HATE the name Patty.") The shorter name will simplify paperwork and unify his identity into one piece of clear purpose.

Allow for Growth! - The main argument for using a full length or traditional name on the birth certificate, even when you intend to shorten it immediately for day to day use, really takes two varieties. For some, it is straight up tradition. Little Lizzie might spend as much time explaining she IS NOT Elizabeth, as Elizabeth nicknamed Lizzie spends giving people the nickname. For others, it is about allowing for Growth and multipurpose usage. A name gets a lot of wear and tear in a lifetime, and the traditional longer form gives a child more options as they grow. Lizzie as a child can become the sharper "Beth" in high school, be known as Elizabeth in the professional setting, and become grandma Betty in old age. The longer name is meant to give the opportunity for formality and flexibility of identity.

Where do I stand? I see the strength of both arguments. I am a Nameaholic. In order to be a nameaholic, you have to love ALL SORTS of names (a point I am sure to return to). Otherwise, you would run out of things to think and talk about rather quickly! And, when it comes to names, I am pretty non-judgmental (another point likely to make frequent reappearance.) That said, of course I have a personal opinion! For the vast majority of names, I would choose the longer form for my own child. I don't particularly think that a child is likely to change their nickname several times throughout life, but I like the flow of longer full names, and the opportunity for formality. But, that  is my own choice! It does not mean I think that there is anything at all wrong with choosing to give a child a shortened version of a name! Sometimes the longer name just DOES NOT work, even if you love the shorter name.

With that in mind, I am starting a series. How to get Your Nickname! Its targeted at people who love a nickname, but do want to use a more formal given name. It might hit up a bit on spelling options for the shorter version, for those of you who like to use the shorter version as the given name. Each post in this series will focus on one nickname, and discuss what longer names you could give your child to justify the nickname. I will start in a couple of days and just mix them in with other things I want to post. Hope you guys like the idea!! 

1 comment:

  1. I so hated being called Patty or Pat, even after telling people I go by Trish & being ignored! I went thru decades of, "Please, call me Trish," "As in Patricia?" "Yes, " "OK, Pat/Patty".

    After having a letter published a newspaper column dedicated to ordinary complaints of regular readers that I don't like being over-ruled & called Patty anyway, the paper published a response from someone named Kathy (who doesn't have the multiple-nicknames built into *her* name) along the lines of "My child was murdered, how dare you complain what people call you?" I went and had my name legally changed.

    Today, posting under the name Trish, on a topic unrelated to names or nicknames, two trolls just started calling me "Patty" & when I said you can't call me that, since Trish is my legal name, they went on posting how one pronunciation of Trish is pattee. Hilarious - no.

    What is this obsession with calling girls & women who don't like Pat/Patty Pat or Patty? Is America a zone where social development is arrested in late grade school, where calling people a name they hate is the highest form of cultural development? Have Americans never heard of Tricia Nixon or Trisha Yearwood?

    Do women named Elizabeth go thru this? "Call me Liz" "Ok, Betty?" I've never heard such complaints.

    Not only do I endorse giving the child a name you actually want that child to be called, rather than hoping that Americans will cooperate with the nickname you think you will be able to get them to call the child, I recommend against naming a girl Patricia.