Tagged Questions

Topics related to given names, surnames, and linguistic aspects of naming in English.

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2
votes
3answers
19k views

Why do many forms ask for initials instead of full names?

I have seen a lot of forms that ask for the name (first name, middle name, last name) and then initials. Why does anyone want to ask for initials? Isn't initials the first letters of the name? For ...
2
votes
2answers
981 views

A collective noun when referring to a group of people with the same name?

How can I refer collectively to a group of people with the same name, for example: Having so many Johns around is confusing. or Having so many John's around is confusing. Which one is the ...
2
votes
4answers
823 views

What's the recommended way to refer to the September 11 attacks in formal writing?

September 11 attacks, September eleven attacks, September eleventh, Nine-eleven? None of the above? What's recommended for formal writing?
7
votes
8answers
10k views

Why are people from Sunderland called “mackems”?

In the north-east of England, if nowhere else, people from Sunderland are called "mackems". Does anyone know why this should be? Wikipedia suggests a number of possibilities. Are any of these correct? ...
5
votes
3answers
842 views

Objects with no name, like “the Sun”

This morning I was pondering the things in the English language which have not been given a name, such as 'the Sun' or 'the Moon'. These do not seem to fall into the same category as 'the ground' or ...
2
votes
3answers
892 views

What is the origin of the place name “Unthank”?

I was reading this question What is the reciprocal verb of "to thank"?, and naturally the (non existent, but surely quite useful) word unthank came to mind. I then recalled there are several places in ...
11
votes
3answers
14k views

Should there be a space between name initials?

In writing authors' initials in research papers (either in the author by-line or the bibliography), should there be a space between intials? R.P. Feynman R. P. Feynman What's the preferred way ...
3
votes
2answers
116 views

plural of 'Davidovici'

I know someone named Davidovici, pronounced /dəˈvɪɾəvɪtʃ/ (i.e., rhyming with witch. It's from Romanian). How is it pluralized (as, to refer to the family): Davidovicis or Davidovicies?
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Do these river names mean anything?

I was planning a little trip the other day when I noticed that a number of rivers in Britain have common names. The ones I spotted were Avon, Ouse and Esk. Is there a reason for this? Are these names ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Different pronunciation between Thomas and Theodore

Disclaimer: I'm no native speaker. Thomas gets pronounced with a starting "T" (the "h" is silent), while Theodore with a "Th". What rule is followed here?
9
votes
3answers
491 views

Why one place on stack exchange is called “area51”?

Why this place on stack exchange is called "area51"? Is it a special idiom in English for some places where things are being developed? Does 51 have some special meaning besides being just a number? ...
0
votes
1answer
122 views

J.A. Gagarin's flight vs J.A. Gagarin flight

1) Is it Ok to leave the initials or would you drop them? Writing his name in full seems odd since it isn't Gagarin who is the point of discussion. 2) Is it Gagarin's or Gagarin? Is there any ...
20
votes
4answers
19k views

Changes in English names of people

Why is Robert called Bob and John called Jack sometimes? What is the history of or reason for this practice in changing the English names of people?
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Family name pluralization

When pluralizing family (last) names that also happen to be common English words, does the pluralization follow the same rules as the common word? For example, "the Smith family" can be pluralized as ...
8
votes
1answer
529 views

What does “week” mean in place names?

I visited darkest Devon recently, and happened to pass through a couple of places named "Week". On studying the map I found several others, such as James Week, Mary Week, Chawleigh Week, and so on. ...
59
votes
3answers
7k views

Is there a single term for “nieces and nephews”?

I find it handy when talking about my sons and daughters I can just say my children. It's nice to say nieces instead of sibling's daughters. I wonder if there is a similar term for nieces and nephews ...
7
votes
3answers
248 views

What could the word “thumbtick” mean?

I am trying to give a piece of software a name but for non-native English speakers it's sometimes hard to avoid awkward associations with names because you don't live with the language. Sometimes word ...
5
votes
3answers
7k views

How do I pronounce Gaudí, the architect?

How do I pronounce 'Gaudi', in the name of Antoni Gaudí (the architect)?
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Pronunciation of names that end in “h”

In Britain (or perhaps just Scotland) the names "Sara" and "Sarah" are pronounced different. Sara: Sah-rah ("a" as in "bat") Sarah: Se-rah ("a" as in "air") In the US and Canada, Sarah ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

How to pronounce New Orleans

I presume this must be an exception to "pronounce it like the locals", since what I hear is something like 'Norlin'. Or is this just the movies? Is it a mistake to attempt to pronounce it like a ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

How to pronounce Louis Armstrong

I think the standard Irish/British pronunciation is as in Louis the king. But musicians seem to say "Lewis". I've heard people say Joe Louis as in the king as well. Is this wrong?
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there an accepted rule for naming all of our various distant relatives (Kinship Terms)?

I’m going to the christening of my Cousin’s first son soon. What is the proper name for his relation to me? 2nd Nephew? Nephew once removed? Nothing? Looking at the overall picture, whats the ...