Real names

Cartoon #1 for today: a Rhymes with Orange on “real names”:

Two senses of real name here:

One, the specific lexical item for the referent in question, as opposed to a stand-in item used when you don’t know the real name or can’t recall it or don’t think it’s important in the context. John Lawler in a Language Log comment:

Whatnot is a member of a large and interesting class of words called “nonce terms” in the trade. Other nonce terms include doohickey, thingumajig [or thingamajig], thingie, gadget, Whoozis, and What’s’erface? [or Whatisface etc.].

And whatsit and thingamabob and still others.

Two, a full proper name, as opposed to a nickname or pet name. So: Robert rather than Bob.

(Two complications here: Some people use a nickname, rather than their legal name, as their public name. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, for instance. And some people have as their legal personal names what were historically nicknames. In my circle of acquaintances, people named Kate, Joe, and Tom.)

The man in the cartoon seems to have gotten them confused.

One Response to “Real names”

  1. beslayed Says:

    Funny, clever cartoon, but “proper name” can have the ‘specific lexical item’ sense too, and I actually think the cartoon might have been funnier with “proper name” than “real name”.

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