Initial names

When I was a preteen, I was verifiably obsessed with initial names, for both sexes. I thought they were the absolute coolest, and gave so many to my own characters—main, secondary, and minor. D.J. (Donald Joseph), M.J. (Michael Joseph), R.J. (Ronald Joseph), T.J. (Tina Jasmine), R.R. (Ralph Roger), B.B. (Bonny Barbie), J.J. (Jade Jacqueline), L.C. (Lisa Clarice), S.J. (Suzanna Jane), E.J. (Emma Jane), V.J. (Victoria Jane), N.J., Z.C. (Zinnia Constance), just so many!

I may have gotten the idea from the junky teen shows I watched and the youth pulp fiction I read in the early Nineties, or perhaps I thought it was cool on my own. Either way, they seemed the ultimate in cool to my preteen self.

I could be wrong, but going by initials instead of a full name seems largely a trend in the Anglophone world. Sure there are many people who professionally go by initials, but I doubt they’re called by initials in private life.

The most popular seem to be any first initial with J, and J with any second initial. For some guys in the former category, J stands for Junior instead of their actual middle name. They also seem more common on males than females.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not a huge fan of pre-planning nicknames; e.g., naming a girl Arabella so she can be called Ella. Many parents say children name themselves, even when they were set on another name or nickname. Planning a full name around a nickname or not bending from a particular nickname is unnecessarily rigid.

Maybe Natalie Josephine will think N.J. sounds really fun and cool, or maybe she’ll grow to prefer her middle name or the nickname Nat, Talie, or Natasha. Zachary Bruno might love the name Z.B., or he might prefer his full name Zachary or the nickname Zach. But they’re less likely to make those decisions if their parents have already decided they’re to be called N.J. and Z.B. We tend to live what we know, which includes not questioning the nicknames given to us before we could remember.

And what kind of nickname can you give someone who already goes by initials? Some already sound like names in their own right, like Z.Z., L.C., and K.D., and some names with J as the second initial can be shortened to, e.g., Dej (DEEJ), Tej (TEEJ), or Ej (EEJ). However, not all of them have nickname options.

I believe people should be able to choose their own nicknames, even if that means rejecting a nickname selected by parents. Some initial names do sound cool, like G.K., Z.B., and H.S. One of my characters, Urma Christine Laura Anderson, is also called UCLA because her parents thought it was the funniest thing when they realised her full name spells out the abbreviation of a college.

My greatest concern with initials is making sure they don’t spell anything negative (e.g., Katherine Karla Kumiega, Arthur Samson Sokolnikov), not choosing certain initials on purpose so I can call a kid S.J. or L.Z.

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