Social Question

anartist's avatar

Does it seem mildly WASPily pretentious when a person styles him- or herself [first letter of first name] [middle name used as first name] [last name]?

Asked by anartist (14781points) July 27th, 2012

Most of the people I have met who do this are one of the following:
1. educated WASPs, and
2. in academe, military officers, or successful businessmen

[except for one black friend who just was not comfortable with his given name “Adolf”]

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22 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I have never seen an educated wasp before.

zenvelo's avatar

No, it’s not. I am not WASP, but it’s fallen into an occasional habit in my family. My brother is named James Paul. When he was born we called him Paul and he’s gone by it his whole life.

Two of my nephews were named after others in the family, but to avoid confusion were called by their middle names. Bu their older brother wasn’t, and the rest of that generation hasn’t been either.

But you might not think them pretentious because they don’t use their first initial, they just use their middle name.

funkdaddy's avatar

I hearby style myself F. Daddy, please use in all future correspondence.

marinelife's avatar

I think that is a connotation that you are putting on the practice.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No, not really. I have a friend who absolutely hates his first name – it was an old family name from 100 years ago and it is just not a contemporary name. It is something like this: (I am not giving his real name)

Horace Richard Cartwright

Well, he is as decent and nice a person as can be; not a WASP bone in his body. But he hates the name Horace.

So he goes as H. Richard Cartwright (on his business card), he goes by Richard or Rick to his friends.

Nullo's avatar

Nah. Sound pretty cool, though. Doesn’t work with all letters.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Move to the south, ten per cent of men born in the area I live in, don’t go by their first name. That includes the “Bo” ( middle name Beauregard ) and ” and “D. Bruce” and “G. W.” . . . Not all are WASP’ist.

Trillian's avatar

Do you mean like J. Edgar Hoover? L. Ron Hubbard?

Maybe their parents gave them a first name they don’t like. I named my oldest daughter Jillian Alexandra, and she hated her name when she was a teen. She went by “alexa”, which I hated.
I think names like “Chip” and Buzz” are more in line with what you’re suggesting.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

There are several people I’ve met that do this on their business card. The only trend that comes to mind is that they are all men. I don’t recall ever seeing a female do this, but maybe it is just a more common practice with males.

Of the people I do know that do this, they have grown up going by middle name. Why they choose to include their first initial on the business card is a mystery. All I can tell you is that they don’t come across as pretentious.

josie's avatar

I personally know two people who do that.

In both cases, they are not WASPS, they are Jewish. In one case the first initial is a Hebrew family name that is not all that easy to pronounce properly, but rather than drop it all together, and risk insulting the elders, he kept the initial.

The other simply likes the middle name better and has been called that since he was a kid. As an adult, he brought back the first initial, again out of respect for the family reason for giving him the name in the first place.

bookish1's avatar

It does come off as pretty waspy to me.

But I’ll be honest, the first thing your question made me think of was Rufus T. Firefly :-p

wundayatta's avatar

Not really. Why should I care how anyone chooses to call themselves? If it sounds pretentious, which it might, depending on the person, then I deal with that as needed. But I really don’t care.

gondwanalon's avatar

This sort of thing can hurt the person doing it. When they present themselves to a medical facility it creates confusion where exact identity is mandatory and could slow down their treatment. Immediate care could be critical.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@gondwanalon Wow…really? I would think that having the initial of the first name might aid in identifying the person more quickly in a record search.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Here is one case: If a G.I. bleeding patient shows up at the E.D. vomiting large amounts of blood it is hard for doctors and nurses to keep their cool. They have to act quickly to request uncross-matched O negative blood from the laboratory. But even uncross-matched blood requests must have proper documentation. The spelling of the patient’s name must be spelled exactly on all forms and the medical records before the blood can be issued. Every minute is important in this case in order to give good treatment to the patient and an incomplete and or inaccurate patient name is not acceptable and it would cause delay of care.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t associate it with WASP’s. Possibly more WASP’s are likely to be names after their father, and so they are then called by their middle name to not get confused? Dropping the first name to an initial would create less confusion when people see the name I guess? Otherwise people immediately assume to call someone by their first name. I don’t really know, just hypothesizing how the practice might have evolved. Traditionaly Ashkenazi Jews (most Jews in America are Ashkenazi) don’t name a child after a parent, so that would not be a problem. However, my grandfather went by his middle name, which I am not sure if he was gven it at birth, or took it on in America. Anyway, WASP does not jump into my mind when I see a name written that way. When I see a Jr or III I tend to assume not Jewish, but that is about it. My husband is named after his father, but does not use Jr.

My husband finds it odd that so many Americans go by their middle name, but that is aside from the first initial full middle name thing. He was not given a middle name, and finds that practice a little strange anyway. In his culture you are given two last names, your dads followed by your moms.

janbb's avatar

I’ve heard that J. Edgar Hoover had a WASP-waist.

Nullo's avatar

@janbb For half a second I thought you were referring to Taft, and I was all set to rotfl.

jca's avatar

I know an African American woman who uses her first initial and then middle name, and calls herself by her middle name. Only in writing does she use the initial and then name thing. She’s not a wasp, obviously.

downtide's avatar

I don’t associate it with class or race. I would just assume they were named after a parent or other family member and didn’t like their first name, or wanted to be different.

ccrow's avatar

@gondwanalon Or, you can go somewhere that has records for both you and another person with the same first and last names, but different middle initial and birthdate, and have them confuse you with that person. I guess they don’t actually read that part? Having had this happen to me more than once, I can’t think that how I write my name would make things any worse. And then, when they’re asking me my address, doctor’s name, etc and it’s different from what they have, they act like I’m the one who is clueless!!
I don’t think it’s pretentious, but several of my family members have gone by middle names; I don’t know about business cards in particular, and it didn’t apply to some of them, anyway.

anartist's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I know a woman who does it. She is a professor. She is married to another professor. He does it too. [No, this is not my entire “sample.”]

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