Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Many-Named Woman

It's funny how adapted I am to being called just about anything. Depending on where in the world I am and who I'm with, I can go by any of the following.

Currently my most common name. It's what I'm called at work and home, and how I introduce myself to all new people. I made the switch when I was 21 and living in Spain, since in Spanish 'Beth' is an ugly, gutteral noise that sounds like someone is trying to spit something out of his or her mouth.

My childhood name and what my immediate family and more stubborn hold-overs from my past will always call me. If you are a really dedicated follower you may have noticed a comment from my last post in which one such family member referred to me as 'Bethie,' something I try to keep as un-public as possible. It's hard to out-run childhood.

I've managed to convert most people to something else, usually Elizabeth or Archer, and it's genuinely weird/confusing/annoying when someone who I haven't known for at least 20 years calls me Beth.

If I'm in South America or New York with Beth and Kim who I met in Argentina, I'm called Ellie, spelled like the boys' name Eli. This is the natural shortening of Elizabeth in Chile and Argentina (and probably all of Latin America). I did not pick it for myself; it's one of those cases where you introduce yourself as something and the person immediately starts calling you something else. It was started by my Chilean students and continued without my saying a word to any new people in Argentina - that is, I still introduced myself as Elizabeth, and they naturally called me Eli. Luckily I think it's very sweet, unlike other shorter versions of my name.

Two people call me this, with two different pronunciations. One is a woman I work with who pronounces it like the era in English history. Another is Amber in Korea who pronounces it more like Elizabeth-Ann, and sometimes just Beth-Ann.

If I'm in Philadelphia it's unlikely that I'll be referred to as anything other than Archer or Arch. I think this speaks volumes about east coast mentality, in a good way.

This is strictly reserved for Robyn, and people who are nearby when Robyn calls me that.

Oh, how long have I hated the name Liz, or worse, Lizzie? However, there is one person in the world who gets away with calling me Liz and that's my roommate M. For some reason it doesn't bother me coming from him.

If I hear someone exclaim "E!" I know I'm around Annie and/or Will, two friends I made as a result of driving Will's car - at the time a complete stranger I found on Craig's list - from Seattle to Philadelphia in 2006. I have no idea how they started it, but it stuck.

I have long worked with a freelance writer who, from the outset, adoped 'Babs' as a suitable professional nickname for me. This is similar to and just as inexplicable as the laser hair removal technicians I got surprisingly close to (it's amazing how you can bond when you're half-naked and someone is repeatedly shooting a laser at you) calling me 'Eliza,' 'Sissy,' and 'Mary' without knowing that's my mom's name, but never once calling me Elizabeth.

This was tried and abandoned by more than one person, and occasionally comes up in conversation as a joke.

A long-time nickname given to my by our neighbor and family friend Barb, a dual reference to my regal name and how bratty I was as a child.

This is what baby J calls me, though he calls just about everything 'Boo' at this young stage in his vocal development. I hope to one day convert him to Auntie Eli when he can form the L sound.

Did I leave any out?

I'm not really sure what the relevance of this post is, but I just got to thinking about my many names and decided to write them down. In other news, the weather has remained mostly miserable, though the sun came out on Saturday and again today; sadly, more rain is projected. At least it's not raining oil... condolences to all living organisms in the Gulf of Mexico. Sorry our oil dependence messed that up for you.


Robyn said...

nope. covered them all archie.

Desomniac said...

Hahaha - Love it!

brandi said...

well....you forgot "rodney" or "rod"!

ElizaBeth said...

Brandi- true! Though 'rod' to us is sort of like 'dude' - it doesn't just apply to me. You left off 'rodness,' though, my personal fave.

jrteacherlady said...

BETH, how cute! My favorite is Eli/Ellie:) Yes, I'm a stubborn hold out from the past that's know you all your life since I'm your cousin. Doesn't it get cnfusing since Erik's wife is Elizabeth too? Arch is a great family nickname too...

Ben said...

You missed out LizBeth, that's what I like to call ya.

AmberAnda said...

When I stayed on an island in Wales in 2001 there was a little girl there named Bethan, and her mom would call her name in a beautiful Welsh accent. I think when I got home I started calling you that, mostly in emails. And of course, EliArcher, after the Chile visit ( :

ElizaBeth said...

Ben - how could I forget Lizbeth, which would be annoying coming from any mouth but yours?? I think the British accent helps.

Momma Archer said...

Well, since I named you, I think maybe I get to call you Beth. I only gave you the formal name of Elizabeth for when you became president:) Considering the name my older relatives call me, I think Beth is just swell.

Yvonne said...

It's so hard for me to call you Elizabeth, but I will try for you my dear. I wish the world or at least my friends would pronounce my name correctly, it's always A-von or Ya-von or my sister who likes to call me Y-ven. I give up! :)

ElizaBeth said...

Yvonne - it's ok, you've known me more than 20 years so you are safe in the Beth camp! And I totally sympathize with the mispronunciation issue, I have always been grateful to have an easy name to pronounce. Just goes to show that everyone has something to struggle with in the name department.