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The politics of nicknames

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  • rowena cherry
    Somewhere, apparently not here, I pledged to blog on Sundays, so here I am, but I must confess that I almost forgot! I m in the middle of an editing exercise
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 11, 2006
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      Somewhere, apparently not here, I pledged to blog on Sundays, so here
      I am, but I must confess that I almost forgot!

      I'm in the middle of an editing exercise that I'm finding
      fascinating. Recently... (actually May 31st -- I'm the sort of
      person who simply has to check facts) my Dorchester editor, Alicia
      Condon, emailed that she liked my suggestion that maybe the heroine
      of Insufficient Mating Material ought to have a nickname.

      The heroine has a royally long, formal, hyphenated name. I began to
      feel that constantly repeating the full name was a bit tedious, but I
      didn't have time before my deadline to put sufficient thought into
      shortening it. I'm doing so now.

      Have you ever given much thought to nicknames? Just because a hunk
      comes into the heroine's life, and he decides to call her "Ro" (for
      example) doesn't mean that she thinks of herself as "Ro" all of a
      sudden, when she has spent thirty years as Rowena, or Ro-Ro, or
      Janey, or I.

      The rest of her friends and family won't suddenly start thinking of
      her as "Ro" or addressing her as "Ro". Will the hunk introduce
      Rowena to his friends as "Ro" or "Rowena"? How will Rowena feel
      about mere acquaintances using the "private" name?

      Is this an alien idea? Different nationalities have different
      sensibilities about how they are addressed, and by whom. Factor in
      that the nicknamee is a member of a royal family, and life becomes
      really interesting.

      Up the ante. Suppose the nickname isn't a variant of her given
      name... "Sugarpuss"? Suppose there's a slightly rude innuendo?

      So, maybe only the hero uses the nickname. Does he ease into using
      it? At first, does he substitute "Ro" in conversation, where before
      he might have addressed the heroine as "Miss Rowena"? At what point
      does he wonder whether "Ro" can cook, and what "Ro" is like in bed.
      You might suppose that he wondered such things from a distance before
      he even learned the heroine's name!

      Anyway, for what it's worth, this is what I'm wrestling with this
      week.

      I very much enjoyed the notes from readers on last week's blog on
      research. Thank you to all who took time to drop me a line. For
      those who find this blogging intrusive and uninteresting, you could
      try switching to Special Notices mode. :-)

      Best wishes,

      Rowena
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