The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #136762   Message #3124907
Posted By: PoppaGator
30-Mar-11 - 12:34 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: On having two first names
Subject: RE: Folklore: On having two first names
Interesting question; I've wondered about it myself.

I've always thought/felt that when you use your full name, including middle name, it's formal, and therefore normal to use the full, formal form of your first and middle names. The custom that has always struck me as peculiar to "hillbilly" culture is the use of diminutive/informal versions of the two names, like "Jim Bob" rather than James Robert, Billy Bob for William Robert, etc.

Perhaps use of the two names is more common in communities where relatively few surnames exist. If a dozen households have the same last name, even where there is "no relation" (not within recent generations, anyway), use of the "extra" first name maybe hellp to differentiate between individuals. If there are too many Smiths, in other words, there are very likely to be multiple William/Bill Smiths, James/Jim Smiths, etc. But maybe only one Billy Bob Smith, one Billy Joe Smith, etc.

(insert joke about inbreeding here.)