What’s Your Name Again?

Whats Your NameSome American first names can be very confusing. Take Pat for example, is it short for Patricia or Patrick? How can you tell? Then there is Toni or Tony. Yes, for a native that’s simple. For me, it is a little more difficult.

After a friend explained that “i” works for the female version and “y” for the male as a nickname for Anthony I felt like I have Anthony under control.

But what about Miki, Mickey, or Micky? Where did the “y” come from in this case? What about Sam? And Blair, Morgan, Jaime, Marion, and dare I ask? Paris. Are these boy’s or girl’s names?

Then you have last names that are really first names. How confusing is that?  There’s Lynn David, Andrew Lawrence, April Rose, Kim Lindsay, Tom Arnold, Ricky Martin, Tina Louise, Marc Anthony, Marc Grace, Darryl Hannah, Dave Barry. I bet you could add a dozen more to this list.

When I was growing up in Italy, everybody had to have the name of a Saint.

There is a Saint’s name next to every calendar day and Italians like to celebrate their name day. Maria was probably the most common name. It was Maria this and Maria that. Maria isn’t so common anymore. However, Italian first names are easy to distinguish because male names end in “o” like, Mario while female names end with an “a” like Maria. If I stopped writing right now, you’d probably all go on thinking how simple it is to tell if it’s a man or a woman by their Italian name. But, wait. There are exceptions. Quite a few actually, like Andrea; in the United States this is a girl’s name and since it ends with an ‘a’ you would assume the same of the Italian counterpart. You’d assume wrong. Andrea is a boy’s name.

And we have other exceptions. For instance, both boy’s and girl’s names ending with an “e”, like, Cesare, Dante, Davide, Beatrice, and Clarice.

I named my first-born in the Italian tradition, using the names of his two grandfathers: David, Augusto. I had hoped he would use these names proudly, but pretty soon he became just Dave, and at his high school graduation, he bribed the announcer not to mention his middle name. So much for tradition. With the next boy I decided to find a name that couldn’t be abbreviated. Fat chance. Brian Swan quickly became BS, you all know the common meaning of that acronym.

As for myself, my given name was Maria Grazia. In a perfect world, it would translates to Mary Grace, but we live in the United States of America, so, when I grew tired of  people calling me Mary Thank You, I began to use Maria, just plain Maria for my first name. It’s hard to shorten or change that. So far.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Margherita (Rita) Gorham says:

    My mother wanted to name me Rita…just plain Rita, but was convinced that there was no saint Rita (only two big St. Rita’s on the Italian calendar, but who had one?). So my birth name became Margherita Domenica after my grandmothers. In school, the nuns went for Margaret except for one delightful french nun. Then I became Marguerite. But at home and to all my neighbors and friends I was Rita. Tsalk about confusing! Still today when I must sign something official, it’s Margherita D….

    • maria grazia swan says:

      Rita, I do understand you, small world. My maternal grandmother’s name was Domenica, they called her Minica. My sister was named Anna Domenica after the 2 grandmothers just as you were. We call her Annica, but I have other relatives like you names Margherita and called Rita. Where did you go to school that you had a french nun? By the way I also went to Catholic schools, nuns and all.

  2. Margaret says:

    My parents didn’t know my mom was pregnant with twins and had no names picked out. So when they needed names for the birth certificates, my mom had no idea what names she wanted. So she did the next best thing. The woman who shared her hospital room was an Irish woman named Margaret hence that’s where I got my name. They had a black nurse and her name was Dorothy hence that’s how my sister got her name. My parents never wanted us to shorten our names so we always used our given name except at home. I was known as Marg and my twin was Dot and my older sister whose name was Marlene was Marl. Til this day if people ask me if my name is Peggy, Margie, Marge or Meg I simply say ‘No’ my name is Margaret.
    As always Maria Grace I love reading your stories.

    • You have a very interesting story. I have 2 sisters left, and when I go home I’m Maria Grazia again. Feels good. I hate to use Maria Swan because some stranger is using my name and she is a big porno star on the Internet. Go figure! Thanks for liking my books and posts, when I write about the past I go through a box of tissues.