Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Thu Oct 12 12:12:35 EDT 2000

What a fascinating thread.  I can hardly keep up!  Still, here goes...

Dorian, quoting Laurie:

> I sympathize.  Imagine the last name "Puszczewicz"  How would you
> pronounce that?

I'm inclined to think PUSH-keh-vitch.  But I know nothing about Polish, and
am probably dead wrong.

I don't know much about Polish, either, but surely it's szcz as in "pushchair"?
This pair of sounds crops up often enough in that part of the world that the
Russian alphabet even has a letter for it.  (Added to which, I didn't think C
was _ever_ pronounced K east of the Odra)

On the subject of Polish, here are some more names for Sally:

Wlodek (correctly written with a slash through the L, and pronounced VWOD-eck),
Andrzej, Witold, Wieslaw (another L with slash).

(FWIW, Wlodek is a friend of mine, with one of the hardest surnames I know,
Mier-Jedrzejowicz.  Andrzej and Witold are modern composers, Panufnik and
Lutoslawski respectively; Wieslaw I knew at uni.)


Kyra, replying to Kylie:

> Yay, talking backwards!  My brother, our friend Josh and I have been
> doing that since I was 12 or so. . . we actually speak in backwards words
> to each other, too - not backwards sentences, but saying things like,
> "Olleh, woh era uoy gniod yadot?"  Sdrawkcab is probably the language I'm
> most fluent in next to English, given that one just has to learn a
> different lexicon and not a whole new grammar ;-).  I sing lots of songs

It's not really a different lexicon, even - there is a one-to-one correspondence
between sdrawkcab sdrow and English words, something you _never_ get with a
foreign language.  And the nice feature that if you can write a word down, you
don't need to look it up...

> backwards, too... I really scare people with eht 'Sknik "Derit fo
> Gnitiaw" and eht Gnillor Enots "Ybur Yadseut," both of which I can do at
> sufficient high speed that people get alarmed.  So yes, that pleased me
> about Enna Hittims as well ;-).

Whaf tun!  I mean, What fun!

That seems to be one transformation we never used.  One friend, Aerdnw Tospmohn,
reversed all but the first and last letters of a word;  another used to swap key
pairs of letters (in imitation of his mildly dyslexic sister).  But my favourite
is still the language I learned at university, Arp.  This transforms words by
inserting the syllable "arp" before every vowel sound.  The original vowels of
the word tend to be unstressed, and lose a lot of their character, so some
practice is needed, but a number of people - mainly mathematicians, I think -
became quite proficient.  I achieved some small fame by reciting the college
grace, in Latin, in Arp, at lunch once.


Jennifer, quoting Lizzie:

>>  My advice to those of you naming children:
>> call them by their first names.  Never ever their
>> middle names.  You'll save them a LOT of minor
>> annoyances.
>> lizzie.

Good point.  It comes under the general heading of don't afflict your children
when you name them...

Some parents try too hard - another university friend had been given the names
Ruth Barbara Elizabeth - apparently her parents added Elizabeth on the basis
that, even if she didn't like Ruth or Barbara, there were enough different forms
of Elizabeth available that she must be able to find something to suit her!

Other parents don't seem to try at all - while I was at uni. there were two
christenings in the college chapel: one girl, given the names Octavia Grace
Zenocrite; and one boy, saddled with Zyggy Siegfried Louis.  The dean of chapel
suggested we try to arrange for them to meet in later life...

> My father is called Fytton (pron. Fitton,)- his name is John (after his dad,
> which is why he's not called by it) Fytton (after some friends of the family
> whose surname is Fitton) Basil (his mother liked it- this was of course
> before Fawlty Towers). He insisted that my brother and I have the most
> normal names possible.
> (One benefit of unusual names is people tend to get in touch with you- "You
> must be the Fytton I was at school with, there can't be two of them.")

Calling people after parents can be confusing.  My uncle - known to the family
as John - is actually Edgar John.  As he said, his father was Edgar, so at home
he was always John; but if there's a crowd of people, and you shout "John!"
nobody will take any notice, while if you shout "Edgar!" he will probably look



> who's ever heard of a Gill or Gillian as a heroine?

I'm sure I have, but I don't know where.  Mary Stewart?  Or am I merely thinking
of Geilis in Thornyhold?  (Now there's a splendid name...)

(and in a different post)

Most English English speakers recognise it as a diminutive of "Gillian" and
use the soft "g". A lot of Americans I've only met online assume it is a
hard "g" and, worse still, that I am male!

Hmm.  I would generally read "Gill" as a soft G, and assume Gillian (female).
"Gil", I would read as a hard G, and assume Gilbert (male).

To confuse us further, Georgette Heyer (who else?) had a character called Gilly
who was male - it was short for Gillespie.  I have no idea whether that is a
soft or a hard G, but the voice-in-my-head-when-I-read usually plumps for soft.


Dorian again:

> AFAIK, Jennifer, Guinevere and Gwynhfar are all the same name at root;
> Guinevere, I know, is the French version, and Gwynhfar is the Welsh.  I'm
> not sure which one Jennifer developed from.

I think it was Greg Bear who wrote a short story ("Scattershot"?) which had (as
a minor theme) several variants of that name.  He connected it with "Juniper",
though.  I don't know how valid that might be - certainly seems at variance with
the Celtic etymology people have been posting here.


Rebecca G:

> When writing stories I always come up with my best names by other names
> backward.  My favorite: Aliera (Ariela, backward).  It doesn't work so good

Doesn't that come out as Aleira?  Sounds very Portuguese to me!

> with short names (backward my two current closest friends are J and Z')

Sorry, I don't get that at all.


Whew!  What a post!


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