‘What’s in a name? The weird and unusual names I’ve come across’

Dec 24, 2021
A person's name can always be an interesting point of discussion, especially in today's society where anything goes in terms of spelling and pronunciation. Source: Getty Images

Well blow me down, I never knew Liam is a shortened form of William? Bill, Will etc. yes, but Liam … I had no idea!

There’s been much written and debated of late regarding the new wave/new era name craze. As each of my grandies were on their way, naturally, I discovered a renewed interest in names and their meanings and that’s when I became that ‘deer-in-headlights-looking’ Nanny.

I present for your perusal approval — Moon Unit, Kingmessiah, Jevin (yes, with a ‘J’) and XXxayvier, but my all-time ‘favourite’ is … Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116. It’s pronounced ‘Albin’ apparently.

So, what do I know? Liam could, I guess, be short for William but I smell a story here and social media platform TikTok had the answer, of course. (TikTok: a platform where anyone can upload anything. I don’t know how to use it. I don’t want to learn. I am happy to read some stuff if it appears on my Facebook newsfeed.) Herein lies the story.

A paediatric nurse in America had a very pronounced drawl. Part of her job was to call patients’ names as directed. The poor woman was in all sorts of bother with pronunciations, but on this day — this day — the name ‘Liam’ came up on her computer. LIAM — Lee-umm — she was thrilled, she had this, not even she could be misunderstood.

First call, no response, second call, still no response, by the third call she decided to spell it out. An extremely disgruntled, hurt and angry woman stood and announced, “Do you mean Yum?”

Confused, the nurse queried this answer. Yum’s mum explained as though she was speaking to someone who didn’t comprehend ‘American’.

“It’s pronounced Yum — as in William. You know short for WIL-LIAM. You do know how to pronounce William,” says she, smirking at the other waiting patients. “Wil-yum. Pronounced Yum, spelt Liam. Wil-Liam.”

(The nurse did a mind blown gesture and added “boom”. She labelled the video #namefail.)

Now, we all know and love the Irish, their names and their patience when we mispronounce same. Siobhan (no, it’s not see-o-barn), Niahm, Roisin, Eamon, Aoife, Niall, Eabha and the like. Once you know the proper pronunciation most are not tongue-twisters, just different. But how on earth this lady (and her family, I presume) even reached this conclusion is, as the nurse said, mind-blowing. Or, does everyone else know and they’re too embarrassed to explain it to her?

It got me thinking about Australians being notorious for the name change/shorten. Kazz, Dazz, Jazz, Mazz, Gazz and/or the addition of the ‘y’ or ‘ie’. Fitzy, Willy,
Mikey, Suzie, Jonesy. But as for an abracadabra, changeo presto to morph a William to a Yum, nah, not even in ‘Straya.

The young man, I believe, is still known as Yum.

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