Feb. 18th, 2010

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My book on Latin has a section on Latin names. Which sounds very serious and sensible in Latin, but much more weird and wacky when you think about how it would work in English.


Latin Names in English

So, there's a man called John Smith. Or, actually, Smith.
His family and friends call him "John", but to the rest of the world he is simply Smith. And that's how he'll introduce himself: "Hi, I'm Smith. Call me Smith."

Of course, being a family name, it's precisely the same name as his dad, his brother, and several of his cousins. Which is mostly fine. But gets confusing once the family's been around for a while and suddenly there are 500 men called Smith in town.

So, to make things clearer, each branch of the Smith family will take a clan name, named after a characteristic of their branch's leader.
Our Smith is now called Smith Bignose, and his cousin is Smith Badtemper.

Smith, by the way, has daughters. Three of them.
Their names are Big Smitha Bignose, Little Smitha Bignose, and Smitha Bignose the Third.


...and that's when I burst into hysterical laughter and had to put the book down.

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