Like every Australian I've grown up with nicknames. This is due to the fact that most people from Oz refuse to pronounce anything longer than two syllables. I'm guilty as well, it's not until you're in another country shortening strangers names after your first encounter that you start to realise how weird it can be. It doesn't stop at a nicknames - there are even nicknames for nicknames.. I think it has something to do with the statue of limitation on the first nickname… once people have sufficiently forgotten the object, place or persons original alias and the nickname has become it's identifier then that name will be shortened as well. On top of this is our tendency to slur so words become sewn together in a sentence like a patchwork quilt. How are you doing today becomes
You're starting to get the picture. In short, nicknames are unavoidable. Unfortunately I have a name that lends itself to nicknames I would rather not go by. Lesley so often becomes - Les (a boys name) or some way of implying my sexual orientation - lessy, lesso, or as one friend so eloquently put it lesby… maybe if I actually was a lesbian it would make sense, but I'm not. I tried making up my own nickname - but for those of you who have ever tried that, you will understand how pointless this pursuit turned out to be.
The story ends happily though - when my little sister was born she couldn't pronounce my full name - so Lesley quickly became Lely, and just like that - my nickname was born - a 1 year old had solved a problem I'd been facing for 11 years - I was elated to say the least and tried to convince my parents to let me take my sister with me everywhere so people could hear the nickname and it would stick. they weren't convinced...
It did stick though and to this day my friends and family still call me Lely.. or Lel as the second round of nickname mania has shortened it to. I like it - ironically it sounds a lot like the hungarian pronunciation of my name - which is how my parents came across it in the first place - mum wanted a uni-sex name that would give me a fair chance in the work force and Dad wanted a name from the family - my noni's maiden name was picked and that was that.
Part 2 of nicknames next week...
In the meantime - do you have a nickname?