Saturday, 1 April 2017

nomen est omen

It is All Fool's Day today, so you want to make sure you are not made a poisson  d'avril by your children. Last Year, I posted a hilarious Mock Closure notice on The Blob but then issued a retraction lest readers lose all sense of meaning and direction in their lives. Wikipedia, an organ not without a sense of humor, often unintentional, chose to put up an article on Nominative Determinism on their home page today. I was not wholly sure that it wasn't a 01/04 spoof. The idea is that people grow up, not only to look like their dogs, but also to fit the name they inherited from the fathers.  That not only . . . but also is a grammatical tool we get directly from Latin non solum . . . sed etiam. And indeed, as the post title nomen est omen  attests, the concept of Nom Det is as old as Julius Caesar. The phrase Nominative Determinism like nomen est omen implies that there is a driving causative connexion, the quasinym [I think I just coined that as a not-quite-synonym] aptronym merely acknowledges that someone's name fits rather comfortably with their occupation. Like my pal from graduate school Bill Dolphin who was studying the sounds with which humpbacked whales Megaptera novaeangliae communicate.  Nom Det was coined about 20 years ago in New Scientist the British popular science mag on foot of reading an article on urinary incontinence whose authors were Splatt and Weedon. I can't find any trace of that paper in or about 1994 in the authoritative source for the scientific literature but there is evidence that Splatt and Wedon were/are urologists so it has the tinkle of truth . . . ho ho, I was an English schoolboy once, so pee-pee jokes always hit the bowl target.

Carl Jung picked up on the idea by noting that his one-time mentor Sigmund Freud [if you want to see something deeply Nuremberg Rally try this Ode to Joy] finished up studying pleasure. He didn't emphasise on the idea that Freud was  a miserable authoritarian git who preferred the company of uncritical admirers. The lads had a tempestuous relationship which was not notably imbued with happiness, that is for sure.

I don't buy it. For every neat fit
there are 1,000 counter-examples. You want to beware of ascertainment bias here as everywhere in your dealings with the real world.

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