Tuesday, November 27, 2007

That's my Name, You Better Wear it Out!

"Jaggy" isn't my real name, but my real name sounds sorta like "Jaggy." Well, if you take off the J, change a few letters, add a couple more, and leave the "ee" sound at the end. Okay, so my real name might rhyme with "Jaggy."

Unless you shorten it. That's what this post is all about. If my name were really "Jaggy," I'd expect people to call me that. My mother has a name that can be shortened, as do all of her siblings. She purposely named my sister and me names that oughtn't be shortened. Nevertheless, a coworker called me by my shortened first name today. It would be like calling someone named "Sarah," "Sare." It works, sorta. I didn't get mad, and I'm still not mad. I didn't know and still don't know how to respond. Is work a place where that's even appropriate?

My parents shorten my name all the time, and that's great! I actually like it when they do. Two or three of my friends do it, too. I don't mind that. My sister can call me whatever she pleases, but we have our own names for each other anyway. Very few other people shorten my name, even among extended family.

I am not offended when people shorten my name. But it jars me somehow. I don't know why.

What do you think? Do people ever shorten your name? Do you prefer to be called by another name? Do you think there is a time and place for full names vs. nicknames?


Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I like being called "Sam" by people I have a basic acquaintancy with.

I don't like being called "Sammy" by people who I don't know well or aren't close family. It grates. If anyone simply takes it upon themselves to call me that, it really gets under my skin.

I allowed myself to be called "Justin", a name I acquired in the Society for Creative Anachronism, for a while because I liked the name and sometimes all your fellow SCAdians know you by is your Society name. Some people I know from my days still call me that, and I find that amusing and kind of nifty–I know anyone calling me that knew me "back in the day".

Interesting question. Thanks for posing it. Since I'm a semi-pro writer I think about labels and how words look all the time really.

Michael Faris said...

If we follow some theories on names (which I largely do), then to name something else or someone else other than what they want to be called is a way to negate their existence as something in and of themselves — that is, something that is not a part of you.

I prefer Michael. Older friends call me Mike from when I went by that, and I don't mind it when I'm called Mike sometimes. But if you tell someone not to call you a shortened name and they disregard this, they're taking away your ability to name yourself. They are, in effect, becoming an Adam, naming things around them with little regard to what they want to be named.

Naming is a process of controlling and understanding. We name things in order to understand them. When they fight back from how we've named them, we can either resist this (that is, not let them name themselves — control them), or accept that others have the right to name themselves.