Another post in the Differences between Americans & Australians series. Just for a laugh or to help with your LA transition | It Started in LA |
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Do you have a nickname?

Do you have a nickname? After three years of living in LA it suddenly hit me: do any of my American friends have nicknames? So I took to Facebook, and a bit of investigative journalism to get to the bottom of it and see if this is another one of those differences between Americans and Australians.

The differences between Americans and Australians: Nicknames

I caught up with an old friend from my old school days the other day; it was so great to catch up.  I think it’s been (ahem) 20 years since we’ve seen each other. How time flies by.

She still sees a lot of the people I went to school with, and the boys we’d hang out with.  So naturally we took a trip down memory lane.

She was updating me all the boys she stills sees from my prime days: did you know him?; what about such-and-such; do you still see those guys?

I realised that from the names we were talking about (ears burning boys?!) not one of them was referred to by their first name:

Pig, Belly, Sul, Dom, Kerr-ee (not Kerry but the last name Kerr with an ‘e’ on the end), Hendo, Big Thommo, Little Thommo, Koj, Horace, Gubby, Rennie, Sleaze, Brush, Gorze …

The list goes on and on.  In some cases I had no idea of boys actual real names as they went by their nicknames.

Do Americans have nicknames?

That’s when I realised that none of my LA friends have a nickname.

My daughter has a friend, Aaron, and I asked her if he gets “Az” or “Azza”.  She looked at me like I was speaking Farsi.  “No mum why would they?”

“Because that’s what we’d call him in Australia.”

I guess not.

His mum’s name is Sharona so we would call her Shaz.  Such a waste of a great name!

Having said that, a friend of mine visiting from Australia was named Roxy by my American friends as she looked more like a Roxy than her real name.  But alas that’s the only one I’ve heard of here in LA.

Nicknames 101

Sometimes nicknames are unimaginative. So Kerr-ee just gets an e on the end of his name, as does Rennie; Sul is short of O’Sullivan and Hendo short for Henderson.

Other nicknames are more imaginative like Pig (whose name is Hamish–Ham? Pig?), Koj and Gubby as they have nothing to do with their actual name.  My friend had a fellow school Dad she used to coffee with and his name was Gregg; we called him GG.

No one is spared: my daughter calls me Maoie but I’ve had different names over the years–Lily and Mamoa among them.  Our dog’s name is Cassie but she answers to Caddie, Caddidy, Cat, Kitty, Dog and Cassie (yes, she really is that clever).  My husband is Doodos and her brother Chockie or Chocolade.

And if we’re talking Nicknames 101 be aware that there’s little room for reprieve: if you have a long name–Henderson–it’s shortened; and if you have a short name–Kerr–it’s lengthened.  As Australians we love to use the sounds “ee”, “o” or “z” to create these names.  For example, Kerr-ee; Thommo; or Baz.

(For nicknames 102: Baz is short for Barry but then we can also turn Baz into Bazza).

My daughter has a friend, Aaron, and I asked her if he gets “Az” or “Azza”.  She looked at me like I was speaking Farsi.  “No mum why would they?”

“Because that’s what we’d call him in Australia.”

I guess not.

What would your Australian name be?

My nickname was Wanda. It’s a long complicated story (as nicknames can be) but it derived from a character from a popular Aussie sitcom.  I still answer to Wanda.  I also get Gwennie (applying the rule to add an “e” at the end).  I never get Gweno, that’s just wrong.

Now it’s your turn … what was your nickname and how did it come about?  Or if you don’t have a nickname, what might your Australian nickname be?  Share it on my Facebook feed or here in the comments.  Would love to have you share!

xx It Started in LA xx

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  • Reply Adam Halen September 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Great read as always Gwen. I had a chuckle at those…..yes so very true. Even my short name was shortened to Ads or the girls called my Adzy. I got Adamo, Adamski, Addo. My brothers’ name…Jonathan = Jono or John as he got older. My best mates Gaz, Gazza & other mates surname Robertson got Ruby or Robo. The funniest one I’ve heard in a while was a mate called Dil ….because he was always getting himself into a pickle. And many many more.

    I’ve not heard 1 nickname here from my son’s school friends or the people I’ve met.

    • Reply ItStartedInLA September 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      Thanks Ads! That actually reminded me of another one: of the boys was Adrian and we called him Aids. Can’t imagine that one going down well here! I love Dill too!

  • Reply Natasha September 23, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Glad you’re blogging again, Gwen. I missed hearing about your life in the USA. I am an O’Sullivan, so you would think my brother’s name would be shortened to Sully. No, he got Mossy because his initials are MOS. His wife even calls him Mossy.

    • Reply ItStartedInLA September 24, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Thanks so much Natasha! I love Mossy. That actually reminds me of my girlfriend whose Dad calls her Sam and I always wondered where it came from then I realised her name was Sarah Anne Moulton–SAM! It’s funny how long it took me to catch on that nicknames were missing in my life!

  • Reply Kat September 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    I’ve noticed that here in San Francisco as well. At home in Sydney there’s nicknames for everyone depending on their job or their last name or depending on some convoluted story. But here everyone just has their full name or a shortened version. I’ve noticed there are a lot more “Jnr”s here though – that’s got to be an American thing. So my nickname at home is Kakki. I don’t even know how are why. Sometimes shortened to Kak.

    • Reply ItStartedInLA September 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Yes! Jnrs are a big thing here aren’t they? So weird. Reminds me of that Newhart episode: Hi, I’m Bob, this is my cousin Bob and this is my other cousin Bob. How did Kat become Kakki?!

  • Reply Caro Kay September 25, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Great piece Gwennie…. My nick name from school was Pricey. But in Western Australia we give nick names to our towns … So Subiaco becomes Subi – Cottelsoe becomes Cott, Mosman Park becomes Mossie Park, Fremantle becomes Freo – Lizzy is Elizabeth so I guess that’s her nickname but because of her accent when she says Math over here (we say Maths in Oz) they think she is saying Meth. Keep up the writing! C x

    • Reply ItStartedInLA September 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      Yes we do that too but not to as big extent. Even I knew Fremantle was Freo! Meth class sounds so much more fun than Maths. Lol.

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