I love this definition of hypocorism from Wikipedia (no reference given):

hypocorisms frequently demonstrate (indirectly) a phonological¬†linguistic universal (or tendency) for high-pitched sounds to be used for smaller creatures and objects (here as more “cute” or less imposing names)

To the rest of us this means our tendency to take a word, or name, and make it shorter, cuter, and add Y-sounds. Often, these words are used for the benefit of stupid babies who can’t talk right and their stupid parents who think they’re special because something came out of them that wasn’t piss or shit (that time I was shrooming and my shit was talking to me from the toilet bowl does NOT count, apparently. It told me I lacked character.). For example, if your name is Jennifer, then Jenny is a hypocorism. Jonny is a hypocorism for Jonathan, and so is Jon-Jon.¬†There’s doggy for dog, Aussie for Australian, and Ferrari for failed 1984 United States Vice-Presidential Candidate Geraldine Ferraro.

But I in particular have a special problem with hypocorisms. My given name is Christopher, and I introduce myself as Christopher. These introductions usually go like this:

Hi. I’m Christopher Stetson Wilson. Nice to meet you.
Pleasure to meet you, Chris.

Really. This happens ALL THE DAMN TIME. And I HATE the name Chris. It’s so lame. It has no gravitas. Any idiot with a mouthhole and a butthole can be a Chris, but I’m at least six letters better than that. People use a hypocorism right to my face without my permission. Sometimes I wish my parents had given me a name with no hypocorism. Like Gunter, or Elliot, or Flavius. This is one of the reasons, when a few of my friends started calling me CSW, that I started introducing myself that way. It’s a bit pompous, I know, but sometimes that’s what it takes to combat hypocorical rudeness.

Comments 2

  1. Claudius wrote:

    I sympathize with your distress. Will Kit Wilson make you happy?

    Posted 09 Oct 2011 at 12:28 pm
  2. exy wrote:

    It might be fun to check the difference between a hypocorism and a diminutive.

    Posted 15 Jan 2012 at 10:13 am

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