Maybe a rose would smell as sweet by any other name, but what about the rest of us? When parents choose a name for a child they are giving her an important word which will be associated with her for life.(Exceptions follow below.) My parents settled on Elizabeth Anne for my name after agreeing with my father’s insistence that I be called “Betsy.” Elizabeth had been in my mother’s family since the 1500’s; Anne seems to be a flourish added without family reference. I am not sure where my dad first heard “Betsy,” but it was what I was to be–and am–called. My mother–another Elizabeth–was called Betty. Only Great-Aunt Elizabeth called herself that throughout her life.
I’ve always like both the long and short version of my name. The long one sounds like an author, while the nickname has just enough spunk to fit. But two of my friends changed their first names as adults. One given an “American” name Carol by her Russian immigrant parents, changed it to a Hebrew Sura once she was grown. Another, named Roger, apparently liked the more dashing sound of his middle name, so he morphed into Lorenzo.
No matter how original parents think they are being when they name their baby, certain trends arise anyway. Each year the Social Security Administration lists the ten most popular girls’ and boys’ names. Emma ranked tops for girls, Liam for boys. A few years ago Liam would have sounded unusual here. Now it is number one. When I taught I would see this phenomenon on my class lists. In the 1970’s I had lots of students whose names started with “J.”
I wrote a while back about nicknames. Now I would like to know how people feel about the names they were given at birth. Have you changed it? Do you prefer your nickname? Please share if you have the chance.