What’s in a Name?

I haven’t had many deep philosophical thoughts lately nor has anything (other than the Ebay fiasco) happened of interest so I started thinking along mundane lines. Like names.Names hello my name is

My daughter, who was born in New York, was named Jordana. It never occurred to me that when I moved to Connecticut, the pronunciation would be so contorted that I would hate the name! We said “Jordana” with the second syllable (dan) rhyming with the first syllable in Canada. In Connecticut, it was pronounced, instead, like “Dan” Aykroyd. Soon we started calling her Jordy but at age 4, she announced (and wrote a note to be posted on the wall) that she was no longer to be called “Jordy.” It was back to Jordana. In college, she became Jo. Her husband sometimes affectionately calls her “Jojo.”Names baby cannibal

Nicknames are a funny thing. When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend Ricky. His mother called him Richard and his friends called him Rich. His baseball coach called him Dick. When I saw him at our 25th high school reunion, he was Rick. How can a person go through life like that? Doesn’t it promote split personality syndrome?Names John Smith

Speaking of nicknames, I was always sad that I never had one. That is, until I met a group of friends when I was in my 30’s who started calling me “Arlzie.” When I got my last license plate, by happenstance it was RLZ followed by 3 numbers. I felt like I had vanity plates!

My last name incurs a different type of problem. When I spell it out Y-O-L-L-E-S, people hear the first letter as “wye” and translate the “w” sound to a W. Hence, I receive letters to Arlene Wolles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by salespeople or officials that they can’t find my name in their records. “Look under ‘W’”, I say. They do, and they do.A-Clever-Name-Cartoon-#1

My first husband and I named our son Lewis Harold, after my husband’s deceased grandfather and uncle. His grandmother was so thrilled with the honor that his first name was that of her late husband, that she gave us a huge monetary gift. “Had we known that,” my husband said, “we would have named him ‘Lewis Lewis’.”Names Mary

Speaking of my ex-husband, he had a cousin whose name was Candy Mintz. If she ever became a stripper, we quipped, she wouldn’t have to change her name!

How about a first name that just doesn’t jive with the last? I remember a girl in camp named Simona Rosenblatt. There was a student in one of my classes named Wei Ling Goldberg.

But the funniest names I ever heard? I had a friend who taught in the Bronx many years ago who had African-American twins in class. They were named Twinta and Twanta.Names Dad

And the weirdest spelling goes to my friend, Cym. Can you figure that out? Her mom, a bohemian, creative artist came up with it. Think Kardashian.


  1. Nice. My favorite name story comes from a different Arlene, my Step mom, Arlene. As a teacher in a south Bronx elementary school for thirty years she astonishingly reported that once every 5 or so years a “Female” Rodriguez, “Female” Canseco, sadly–etc. (Pronounced femalay) would be a student in her class. Apparently, upon receiving her new-born baby girl, the under-educated Hispanic new & excited mother thought that the word, “female”, on the gender-identifying bracelet placed by hospital staff WAS the baby’s name. (“Male”s ________ were also reported, however, far lass frequently.)

    • Funny story, Lew, I’ve heard it before but it is, of course, a propos to this blog post. Thanks for commenting on it.

  2. Where I come from “Dan” rhymes perfectly with “can” as in “Canada.”

    • OK, I’ll have to think of a better example. I suppose vowels can be smooshed, flattened or lengthened depending on your place of origin. To me, Dan is so different from CANada.

  3. This post made me laugh, with my name! What really got me were the little comics! Where did you find them?

    • Comics I found using Google Images. I love your name … are you the 5th child in your family?


  1. Under Construction | (A)Musings by Arlene

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