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

hypocorisms frequently demonstrate (indirectly) a

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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

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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

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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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