Morning name: Colquhoun

Today’s morning name was not one that came to me apparently from outer space, but had a clear basis in my recent experience — namely, watching the British detective drama Midsomer Murders episode “Blood Wedding” (S11 E1), in which a character with this name plays a significant role. As it turns out, the name (in one of its North American variants) has appeared on this blog before (on 4/21/15, “Verbatim letter”).

To come: the name, my previous posting, and the upper-class twit Randall Colquhoun in “Blood Wedding”.

The name Colquhoun. From Wikipedia:

Colquhoun /kəˈhuːn/ is a surname of Scottish origin. It is a habitational name from the barony of Colquhoun in Dumbartonshire. The name is thought to be derived from the Gaelic elements còil (“nook”), cùil (“corner”), or coill(e) (“wood”) + cumhann (“narrow”).

Calhoun, Calhoon, Colhoon, Colhoun, Hoon, Cahoun, and Cahoon are variants of the surname Colquhoun. They are generally found only in the United States of America and Canada.

The Verbatim posting. About a letter of mine published in Verbatim some time ago, on several language games, the first of which took off from an Olive Cahoon who married a man named Cahoon and so became Olive Cahoon Cahoon. That set some of us off to playing with the family name Cahoon and its far-flung members: Monsoon Cahoon, Rangoon Cahoon, Pontoon Cahoon, and so on. For us, just silliness. But for Randall Colquhoun, his family name is a very serious matter indeed; it’s a symbol of hs upper-class status. (The American name Cahoon has no such class associations, and in any case placing people in their social class is not such a matter of explicit significance in America as it is in Britain.

Randall Colquhoun in “Blood Wedding”. From the Midsomer Murders site on this episode:

A bridesmaid is found dead hours after the wedding, and clues lead to a dark secret she had discovered, which could ruin the reputation of the man she loved.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby and Detective Sergeant Ben Jones (from the CID in the town of Causton, the county seat of largely rural Midsomer County) arrive to deal with the case. Jones is portrayed as a man of working-class Welsh origins (Jason Hughes, who plays Jones, is a Welsh native and was a promising rugby player before he took up acting), Barnaby as middle-class with more education (John Nettles, who plays Barnaby, is a Cornish native of modest origins who went on to a university education and considerable experience acting on stage). In the tv episode, class warfare ensues:

Jones faced strong resistance from the Fitzroys (the groom and his two brothers) and their friend [the best man] Randall Colquhoun. Jones kept his cool, however. When questioning Mr. Colquhoun, he mispronounced the name. Offended, Randall corrected him, but not without showing his disdain for the DS. “It’s pronounced Cohoon,” he sneered.

This didn’t stop Jones from abusing the name whenever he felt like it.

Fitzroy and Colquhoun are both upper-class, posh, names, and the four young men have the clothes, grooming, accents, habits, and supercilious attitudes to go along with their names. Upper-class twits, they are.

When pushed back by the Fitzroys, Jones fought back both verbally and physically. First, he faced off against Colquhoun, who called him an ‘oik’. (See my earlier posting today, “oiks, yobs, and prats”) But Jones had the upper hand and the authority and arrested the man for suspicion of murder. [The physical confrntation involved yet another character.]

Background note on the show, from Wikipedia:

Midsomer Murders is a British television detective drama that has aired on ITV since 1997. The show is based on Caroline Graham’s Chief Inspector Barnaby book series, as originally adapted by Anthony Horowitz. The current lead character is DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), who works for Causton CID. Dudgeon’s character is the younger cousin of former lead character DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles).

2 Responses to “Morning name: Colquhoun”

  1. Chris Waigl Says:

    I follow David Colquhoun on Twitter and his blog occasionally ( ) and therefore looked up the pronunciation. He’s got a lot of interesting things to say about science and the UK research environment.

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    I love Midsomer Murders, and happened to watch this episode moderately recently, and yes, I was struck by the fact that Jones stuck to his guns on pronouncing “Colquhoun” more or less as the spelling suggests. I had forgotten that Colquhoun called him an oik, although it seemed likely even before I got that far in your post.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: