The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #136762   Message #3124911
Posted By: GUEST,leeneia
30-Mar-11 - 12:40 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: On having two first names
Subject: RE: Folklore: On having two first names
Hi, Jim. First let me say, that your sister-in-law sounds like a real pain. I believe it's time to figure out one of those devastating, passive-agressive comebacks which Midwesterners are so good at. You know, the kind of thing that will have her lying awake at 3 am saying, "I should have said ------------."

As for double names, I have heard them lots of places. Names combined with Mary are legion.

Mary Beth (Minnesota)
Mary Jo (Chicago)
Mary Ellen (New York)

As for Emma Nell and Shirley Sue, it's possible that they had forebears named Emma and Shirley. Some families use the same names over and over, some don't.

I had an aunt named Margaret whose daughter was named Margaret Ann. (It was a mistake. She was supposed to be Mary Ann, but the old doctor heard wrong and registered her wrong. In time, Margaret Ann had a Mary Ann of her own.)

When Margaret Ann had a son named William John, some of her neighbors referred to him as Billy John.   She put the kibosh on that immediately. She is rumored to have said "I hate that!" This was in Indiana in the 1940's.

At one time, my husband's family had four people named John. Sister John, John, John R and John Michael. He is always called the full John Michael.

As for double nicknames, such as Billy Bob and Jim Bob, I kind of think they have a little basis in fact, but that mostly it's a media thing. I have lived in Missouri 35 years, and I've never encountered anyone with a name like that.

I do think that the average man will shorten his boss's name, or a bully's name, to a double nickname (behind his back.) It's an expression of contempt.

Have you ever read Joan Hess's novels about Maggody, Arkansas. It's pretty clear that Jim Bob, the mayor, is called that to express contempt. Even Brother Verber, who can't lay off the sacramental wine, gets better treatment than Jim Bob, namewise.

One final thought. I read in a language book that the American Middlewest is the world hotbed for new first names. Some of them are just two words, is all.