62 Comments

  1. The problem is that most Germans cannot pronounce a “th”, so “Kieth” would probably end up sounding pretty much like “quiche”.

    As both an individual matter, and a demographic dialect feature, there are also English speakers who have trouble with that sound. Which must be why Kieth Knight sometimes has people calling his character Keef.

  2. @ Mitch4 – “I am a Danish!
    Inserting the indefinite article (“a”) into that line is the only way to make the joke work; this underscores the exact reason that a few people made fun of Kennedy’s pronouncement “Ich bin ein Berliner!” — Anyone who actually hails from Berlin (or Denmark) would say “Ich bin Berliner!“, or “I am Danish!” (respectively). Adding the article turns the adjective into a noun, and invites misinterpretation.

  3. I recall an anecdote (probably in a Bennett Cerf collection) of a guy whose parents gave him only initials for a first and middle name (I recall obscure 1950s big-league baseball catcher J.W. Porter had the same sort of silly parents), and when asked on forms to fill out his full name, learned to write it as: R(only) B(only) Jones. Which was fine until he was drafted and the army recorded him as Ronly Bonly Jones.

  4. As both an individual matter, and a demographic dialect feature, there are also English speakers who have trouble with that sound. Which must be why Kieth Knight sometimes has people calling his character Keef.

    Adele is one with that dialect. It provides quite a disjoint between her songs and her normal speech.

  5. Shrug, my dad told us the Ronly Bonly Jones story, set in the WWII era US Army. Also related story of someone whose middle name was recorded as Nmi.

  6. Johnny Cash was named J.R. by his parents. The Air Force wouldn’t accept initials, so he wrote “John R.”. He changed it to Johnny when he started to record.

  7. I don’t know anyone whose parents named them with initials, but I have a friend who legally changed her name to P.J.

    Those were her initials but from the time she was little, everyone called her P.J. and she preferred it.

  8. In M*A*S*H, B. J. Hunnicut would not reveal to Hawkeye what the initials stood for, and insisted that they stood for nothing.

    “What parents would do that?”
    “My parents, Bea and Jay.”

    It was never clear if the story was true or not.

  9. @ Brian – I remember that episode. At one point Hawkeye snuck into Potter’s office to snoop into the official records, but he discovered that (in contrast to the real Air Force’s treatment of Mr. Cash), the TV Army was perfectly willing to draft Hunnicut as “B.J.”

  10. narmitaj – that is why I add the A – because I think it amusing – as if there are so many Meryls on any group that I need to be certain that people know it is me and not another Meryl. (But is is my middle or last initial? Actually both.)

  11. Bill – how else would all the Meryls/Merrill end up in one class? Not funny for the teacher, but what about the office staff?

    When I graduated from high school I did so as “Merle” – no, not a misspelling, but the assistant principal always called me that. I had actually written my name out phonetically on the card and still he got it wrong.

  12. Now my sister and her husband have the same first name – Randi and Randy. When talking about them they are not around to be sure who we are talking about, the family calls them girl Randi and boy Randy. One day when my (now 30 year old) niece was young, my mother was curious about how she would differentiate their names. “What are mommy an daddy’s names?” “Mommy Randi and Daddy Randy” was the reply.

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