Re: CHAT: Middle Initials
|From:||Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, February 13, 2001, 20:34|
At 12:11 pm -0500 13/2/01, Jean Lansford wrote:
>On Tue, 13 Feb 2001, Dan Jones wrote:
>>I've noticed something. Loads of American names have an initial in the
>>middle, like Raymond E Feist, Kathlyn S Starbuck and even our own David E
>>Bell. Whereas over here we don't do this. Generally we just ignore our
>>middle names, and consequently a random letter in the middle of the name
>>looks weird to me. To me Daniel B Jones looks slightly pretentious. So, a
>>question for you over on the other side of the pond, why do you do it?
>Legal reasons. So many of our forms require it, to better
>differentiate this Joseph Walker from that Joseph Walker, that we get
>in the habit of signing our names that way.
But how does one distinguish this Joseph B. Walker from that Joseph B.
Walker? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only Raymond A. Brown on this planet.
This Americanism is sometimes facetiously ridiculed over here. The ancient
Romans, as some know, normally had three names - the _praenomen_ ('name
given on the naming day, 8 days after birth IIRC), the _nomen_ itself which
was the name of the 'clan' (gens) that one was born into, and the
_cognomen_ (nickname distinguishing an individual family - not always
inheited). I remember someone once reading off the names of some well
known Roman a la Americaine, e.g.:
Gaius J. Caesar
Gaius V. Catullus
Marcus T. Cicero
Quintus H. Flaccus
Titus L. Carus
Gaius P. Secundus
Gaius S. Crispinus
Publius T. Afer
Publius V. Maro
Some are easy to spot - but some get rather disguised :)
A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
[J.G. Hamann 1760]