three days left

Day 364 of 366 Blog Challenge

Hello all

I woke in the early hours of the morning feeling concerned about my sister who is seriously ill in Hospital (read yesterday’s post) when I heard an interview called “What’s in a Name?” It reminded me of a post I wrote in June: Do Names Matter? (

If I was looking for something to take my mind off my worries, it was this interesting interview with two people: Amanda Gordon, a clinical psychologist and ‘Stilgherrian’ an online technical commentator. Both had stories to tell about their names.

27999_10151009708882465_1263110595_nAmanda was named “Mandy” within days of being born and this continued all through her life. However, when she was making her mark as a psychologist, she asked her family to call her “Amanda” and experienced an incredible amount of resistance from them. Eventually they complied.

Many years ago, we had this experience with a friend’s child who we have known since she was a baby. Throughout her childhood, we called Nicole by the derivative of  ‘Nikki’ along with all her family. However, when she was in her twenties she asked us to call her “Nicole.” It was one of the hardest things to do but we did it!

Also, I had a friend at my church whose name was ‘June’ but after we had known her for some years, she decided she would take up the name of ‘Teresa’ that she was given at her Baptism (but was never called). I struggled to call her Teresa as she wasn’t young. One day she challenged me about it saying that this was her request and I was not making any effort to call her Teresa. Eventually, I forced myself to use her new name and never looked back.

So, when I heard this interview I related to a lot of the callers who were phoning with their ‘change of name’ stories. But, I did struggle when ‘Stilgherrian’ was interviewed. He had adopted this mononym over thirty years ago. Here is his amazing story taken from his website:

“Stilgherrian really is my full legal name. One given name, no surname — a configuration called a mononym. It’s on my passport, my Medicare card and all the nasty letters I get from my bank manager. (It’s pronounced: Stil-gare-ian). Most people call me “Stil” for short.

It’s not the name my parents gave me. It’s one I adopted when I was in my early 20s. I was, it must now be revealed, part of a nest of fantasy role-playing gamers and science fiction and fantasy literature enthusiasts at the University of Adelaide where some of the people were, like me, interested in linguistics. One of them coined the word “Stilgherrian” as a name for me …  It stuck, and for various reasons I decided to adopt it legally. It doesn’t mean anything, it was just intended to “sound right”.



Stilgherrian said that it is the curiosity of human nature that makes people very interested in where his name came from and that there is a response of generosity and warmth toward his name when he explains its origin. However, he does have trouble when completing fields in online forms. He had a tremendous amount of trouble with Google Plus who would not accept his name and were quite rude about it!

There were other women who phoned who couldn’t wait to get married so they could ‘dispose’ of an awful maiden name. I have to confess that I was one of these people folks! I was always explaining that Strachan’ (my maiden name) did not have a ‘K’ in it even though it was pronounced “Strack-an.” Marrying someone with a simple name like “Ross” was such a relief for me.

But there was one woman who phoned with a fascinating story. Her name had been: “Christine Johnston” and she felt it didn’t describe her personality adequately. Besides, her mother had married several times and she kept changing the daughter’s name depending on the new husband’s name.

Christine changed her whole name eventually to … wait for it: ZOE FEATHER ZILLUS! Now THAT’S a name never to be forgotten, isn’t it? All Zoe’s family are now happy to call her by this name. She was called “Feather” as a nickname anyway so it was natural to use it as a middle name. The name ‘Zoe’ showed strength she thought.

Other people had interesting stories like the husband who adopted his wife’s surname, instead of the other way around. Then there was a couple whose male children were given the father’s surname and the females were given the mothers. And research has shown that 55% of women are keeping their maiden names because they are marrying at an older age and are more reluctant to part with their own name after having it for so many years.

cartoonBut … 90% of parents are still using the husband’s surname for their children! Now, they are trying to work out why the  patriarchal line of naming persists today. I ask you, wouldn’t it be too confusing otherwise?

Apparently, ancestry gatherers have stated that the present “naming craziness” makes it very difficult when researching family trees and they say the reason the father’s name was used was expediency for family tree gathering.

Also, women who hyphenated both surnames for their children have been shocked to discover when their own children married, they dropped the convoluted name and simply took their husband’s name for simplicity. Oh, what do we think we are doing with this whole name change thing?

Who do we think we are kidding when we insist that it is not favouring any gender when the children turn the clock back anyway and revert to the ‘old-fashioned’ way of doing things? How far have we really got in all this I ask you? It is a very interesting topic.

And so today as I leave you on Day 364, I am counting down to the end of my Blog Challenge. What a great topic to write about during my final days …  I love it! I will see you back here for the last two posts before that amazing date: January 1st 2013 comes to pass.

Until then …