Thursday, July 03, 2008

the sound of names

Current work: nonfic /MH duo book 2, chapter 1
Listening to: Beethoven piano sonatas
Reading: Sharon Penman, The Sunne in Splendour

Had a newsletter from a certain romance organisation yesterday which had a super link to an article on the meaning of the sounds of names. Very, very interesting (it’s here, if you want to see it). The official science behind this is something called phonesthetic sound symbolism – more about that here.

So an example? Kate… the K is caring and intimate (but can be snobby); the long A is spread out and wide (*cough* yeah, OK, been slacking on the diet front); and the T is Temptation, the letter of the dreamer, the designer of grand schemes, the traveller who follows her star. (Sounds very much like a short, round, romance writer to me.)

What about Pam? The P is very specific, likes everything to be out in the open, no secrets here; short A is balanced and flat (hmm, sure that L should be in that last word?); M is the maker, the mother, the magician and master of skills. (Sounds like the historian who loves her research and gets a balanced story – and who drags her kids with her on field trips. Delegates at the conference this weekend will learn a little about my field trips…) Some people add a final ‘y’ sound to my name: which apparently means “Sure! I'm game!”, naive, trusting, energetic, and expansive. Yup. This is the woman who does six things at once, takes on way too much (note, O Slowing Down Police, that I have been better this year) and isn’t very good at saying no. And who believes everyone is a new friend until proven otherwise. (And most of the time people do live up to my expectations.)

All fascinating stuff. So what about you?

Have also been reading a fascinating book about the Norfolk dialect by Peter Trudgill. I don’t have an accent, but there are three or four phrases I use which I thought were colloquial everywhere. (Especially bearing in mind that I learned them from my mother, who was born in Hampshire and grew up in Essex.) Er, no. Turns out they’re broad Norfolk.

Just out of interest (and without looking it up!), would you know what I was on about if I said that something was ‘a bit on the huh’? (Last word is the same as the phonetic pronunciation of the letter H.) I really, really wish I’d had a chance to do that dialect course I was running on about on Tuesday. Ah. Case in point. To ‘run on’ means ‘to talk too much’, as least in this part of England – but does it mean the same elsewhere?


India said...

Fascinating stuff, Ms Hardy! Speaking as someone who was only there for the lit, I hated all the language components of my English course at University but I bet if I'd known you I would have seen it all a bit differently. (You might even have been able to sell Beowulf to me...)

Ray-Anne said...

Um. food for thought.
I have been working through a few options for pen names for myself and this could be the clue.

Drat. Fifi Trixibell does not work.
WAY too many syllables.

Could be another straw poll coming up this weekend besides your pens!

Kate Hardy said...

India - absolutely. I *loved* Anglo-Saxon. We will be discussing Wulf and Eadwacer over ice cream, come September :o)

Ray-Anne - LOL, but did you really want Bob Geldof as your dad? (Pens, pen names, music, wine, bar. It's a date...)

Melissa Marsh said...

I think " to run on" means the same thing here in the STates, but it's not as well-used. And I have no idea what the other phrase means.

Ellen said...

To "run on" means the same in the states and where I live it is used frequently but I have no idea what "a bit on the huh" means.

Anonymous said...

On dialects, being from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania (USA), I hear how funny I talk all the talk. We say Dahntahn (it's pronounced how it's spelled). We go to the Dennis (Dentist). We say gum band (most everywhere else in the US says rubber band)Oh! and we eat Kitch-up! (Ketchup)

My favorite ones are: pop (most places say soda), sammitch (sandwich) And those are just nouns.

We Redd up (clean) our room before we watch Rassling (pro wrestling) with Borb (Barb) in Little Warshington (Little Washington) before we warsh (wash) our cahs (cars.)


I think you get the point. So..I guess we do talk weird. :) What's interesting besides being Irish, Scottish, Italian, etc, I do a pretty good British accent. My Italian accent? fougitaboutit.

Kate Hardy said...

Melissa and Ellen - thanks for sharing. (And I've explained "on the huh" in today's post...)

Lou - that's fascinating. I'd say an elastic band (!) - never heard of 'redd up' before, so thanks for sharing. (And with your surname - I really had expected a lovely Italian accent!!)

Anonymous said...

As much as I wish I could say that I have one, mine makes me sound like I'm a stereotype or from the old Mario Brothers cartoon. "hey-a its-a me. Mario!" if you dont know what that is, ask your son.

Kate Hardy said...

LOL, Lou. Yeah, I know who Mario is. And Yoshi and Princess Peach. Have to admit that the Pokemon stuff goes over my head, but I do like the mini-games on some of the Mario DS games. (They reset their scores because I got the high score on one and it's apparently a bit uncool to have your mum at the top of the score table *g*)

Anonymous said... depends on who your mom is of course. lol.