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December 10, 2014



As a service to Metablog readers I'd like to offer an addendum to my Nominal Anomalies comment of 2/7/18:

Shortly after I posted my comment, I completely out of the blue recalled TV sitcom actress Gale Storm (My Little Margie; Oh! Susanna), and Oscar winning actor Red Buttons. I was also reminded by a costume designing friend that in her experience drag queens often take those sorts of punning liberties for their stage names -- Eileen Dover, Mona Little, Honor Back, Katya Dikov, etc.

I also remembered that naming anomalies are often the stuff of themed crossword puzzles, such as those offered in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. I even remembered clues and answers from one such puzzle of the late 1970s. Sample clues follow, with answers in parentheses. The theme seems to be about surnames that are action verbs. The first three are from the actual puzzle I liked at the time, and the last two were made up by me: Showman moved up in the world (Billy Rose); Actress tends to her garden (Ethel Waters); Announcer stops driving (Bert Parks); Fictional sleuth used her pencil and sketch pad (Nancy Drew); Actor presses his trousers (Jeremy Irons).

And a librarian friend with extensive law experience reminded me of this howler: a law firm named Dewey Cheatham and Howe. One with teeth, for sure.


Nominal Anomalies

Another amusing subset of naming anomalies comprises that where first name and surname are related thematically, either in the historical sense, as synonyms, or otherwise by subject matter. Good examples would be Oscar winning actress Lee Grant, Oscar nominated actor Rip Torn, or social media iconette North West. (One wonders what in later years it would take to keep North West in the public eye, or ear, so to speak -- marrying a man named Dick Passage?)

Less perfect examples would be Oscar nominated actor Harry Carey (Could his parents have been students of Japanese history?) or Oscar winning actress Halle Berry (Could she have been born around Christmas?).

Occasionally, clever naming can highlight more than one famous name duo. The now defunct TV show Lois and Clark brings to mind not only the Superman-related duo Lois Lane and Clark Kent -- the subjects of the show -- but iconic American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Then there are terms (biochemical, as it happens) that sound like names when they are deconstructed and then reconfigured: serotonin could become Sara Tonen, norepinephrine could become Nora Pinephron, and bilirubin could become Billy Rubin. Or not.

Taken to its most inane level this name gaming might well end up as follows: If American film actress Wanda Hendrix married Howard Hughes then divorced him and married Henry Kissinger, she'd be Wanda Hughes Kissinger now. Yipes!!


Naming Gaming

Your post reminded me that we may be returning to a more sensible universe thanks to grandparents who encourage traditional family names for babies rather than more creative options -- this from a recent New York Times article. Apparently grandparents are offering substantial monetary sweeteners to their children to name any grandchildren the family given names that the grandparents want rather than media names the parents are bombarded with. So far these inducements are casual agreements not handled formally via contracts -- but can that be far behind? But sensible universes aside, some families compromise by combining parts of family names with newer monikers.  

The article was interesting but extreme examples of modern names were not provided. Sensing a public service I've entered into the fray so to speak and have provided my own name selections. So granddaughters presumably would become Ethel and Betty and Louise and Gertrude rather than Shadow and Kenundra and Leaflet and Patchouli.  Grandsons would be Elmer and Ralph and Murray and Kirk rather than Joolz and Planchard and Crispin and Scone. Combined monikers could be Gertundra or Bettflet for girls and Kirkchard or Sconeray for boys. Or not.

Of course in the brave new world to come the solution would seem to be numbers rather than names. No more Bickford, no more Chadwick. No more Sashette, no more Shoosh. Goodbye to Culbert, farewell to Amberly. Let's go with 981-446275'221 and 78541>999/3743. And it would make vanity license plates so much simpler . . . .

O.J. Brown

It's an NBA tradition - remember Lloyd Earl, George Jack, and Clifton Sweetwater?

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