Tuesday 23 July 2019


I was struck, recently, by the plethora of pet names with diminutive endings - ie, e or y. It seems common among cats and dogs. Back in the day, children were often named with a formal first name which was registered, and they were then referred to by or addressed by a diminutive.
David would be Davie, Penelope would be Penny, James would be Jimmy, Timothy would be Timmy and Florence would be Florrie. In some cases these were just shorter names, but Jimmy sounds longer than James (it has an extra syllable) and Davie is the same length as David.

Later, the fashion was to bestow the diminutive itself as a name, so Betsy, Sally, Jamie, Johnny, Jill, Tommy, Vicky, Debbie and Susie might be registered under these names rather than as Elizabeth, Sarah, James, John, Jillian, Thomas, Victoria, Deborah and Susan. Then there were names that had no formal longer form; Wendy, for example. 

There are arguments on both sides of the fence for these naming practices, so I wondered whether I'd done it with many of my more recent book characters. I came up with a few, but in most cases the names just naturally have the ie/y ending...

Out of sixty-four characters, I found Chloe, Honey, Flori, Betony, Xanthe, Melody, Tansy, Rory, Derry, Duffy and Jory. Of these eleven names Chloe has an oe ending because it's Greek, Honey is shortened from Honeycomb, (and who could blame her), Flori is short for Floribunda, Betony is the full name - a plant name. Xanthe is Greek, Melody is the full name, Tansy is another plant name,  Rory is the full name,  Derry is short for Diarmaid, (and who could blame him), Duffy is the full name, and Jory is the Cornish form of George.

That's a long way from pet names though, where it seems y rules the bunch. 

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