Friday, April 2, 2010

[Two] Name Game

I recently and inadvertently coined a phrase. I was asked a simple question: “How do you know she’s Southern?" I weighed my potentially loaded answer. Finally, I shyly admitted, “Because she’s one of those two-name girls.” The room erupted in laughter. Apparently my hypothesis was an astute one

What or whom is a two-name girl? A two-name girl is a female whose spoken name consists of two distinct names. According to sources, the two-name or double name practice is a way for parents to honor family members in a non-traditional way. Ironically, this naming system has become so prevalent in the Southern region of the United States, it is no longer unique. According to Lee Pederson, specialist in Southern dialects, this occurred because of the “much longer tradition in the South of passing on language through speech, rather than . . . written English."

There are no hard-and-fast rules concerning the structure or rhythm of said monikers. Hyphenated, two names scrunched together into one (a frankenword) or two distinct nom de plumes with a space between are typical written variations. Some names are more lyrical than others (Georgia-Marlane vs. Curly Sue). Some are succinct (MaryJo), and others are lung-capacity challenging (Alexandria Josephine).

Whether she is an icon’s daughter, tycoon’s wife, entrepreneur, artist or fire chief , two things are true of all two-name girls:
1) She is Southern born or the progeny of Southerners
2) She will never allow you to refer to her by merely one of her two names
Furthermore, bearers of double derivative names – male or female – have a harder time and less fun playing . . . “The Name Game.”

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