Some families disregard them, others thrive on them - let's say ours is somewhere in between? A number of our family members had, and still have a nickname. What do they correspond to? What do they mean? Where do they come from? I've tried to remember those I could, but I'm sure you can help! In fact, some nicknames are permanent while others were temporary or only known by a few relatives. So I've certainly left some out. And I didn't count diminutives (eg Chris for Christopher or Jan for Janet).
The first person whose nickname I was told about is our real grandma Ethel who got herself called Pep because, (says AB, who wrote me this some time ago) "my mother was very lively, rather liked to shock – with a nickname of Pep, short for Pepper because of her temperament and the colour of her hair, a bright auburn, much like Noel’s and Tini’s. Always laughing and very unconventional. One of the 1920’s bright young things."
Check this: she might have called herself Penelope!
Of course the next person with a nickname was our own Grandad, called “Monsieur Père” for us, and, I believe, only for us. I realized the other day this might have prevented us from calling him “sir”!! Mark says somewhere on the blog that this is what he had to call him; so this “monsieur qui est mon père”, which Helene shortened (as the story goes) acquired thus a familiar status that perhaps other grandchildren in the family didn’t know of. For me then, “Monsieur Père” certainly wasn't felt as formidable as he must have been for other cousins. And I think he rather liked to be called that - at any rate, he signed Monsieur Père on letters and cards sent to us to France (here).
I'm not sure what to think of the name "Auntie Gamon" which certain people in the family gave our Grandma... We Millous never called her that, and I'm not quite sure it was really a nickname: it sounds like a real name, but I think it isn't. Those of you who know can tell me.
Only one of the four girls had/has a nickname, which is, er, kind of -fun, and what's fun is that there's a cute kitten out there with the same name:
I'll let dear AB tell us (if she wants!) about experiences she might have had with her nickname, but I think I remember that it originated from a time when she was a little girl, and used to play with bath toys. So yes, some nicknames can be a bit of a burden when you carry them with you on the path to adult life, as someone on my side knows very well!
Us Millou cousins were all given nicknames, perhaps on account of my dad, who seemed attracted to them, but on the other hand at least three of them are English-sounding! The most inventive one belongs in fact to a pair of names: Tiny-weenie! This combo designated Hélène and Cath, and I believe it stuck because Charles liked it.
Difficult not to fall for them, right? What some of you may not know is that while Tiny (or Tini) became bigger but kept the name, Cath also kept "Weenie", only it was Frenchified as "Ouini"! And it has had a faithful career as designator of the said person for more than 45 years!! (and for those who wondered, my dad goes by the name of "Potin", which means "gossip" in French - go figure). So you might say that among the sisters AB isn't the only holder of a pet name! (but who knows, perhaps all of them have one )
Anyway, I'm next in line! Obviously Vivi comes from Yves and it started the somewhat maddening series of repeated syllables which affect even the best nicknames - makes one want to say: I don't stammer you know. The obscure part of vivi comes from the adjunction of "boy", which I believe Grandma was so fond of, bless her soul. Does someone know why I had to be identified as a boy?!§%# Could it have some loose connection to "attaboy"? I know that Tinygirl was out, thanks to its association with weenie, but perhaps luckily my "boyhood" saved me from something as ghastly as "vivisection"!
(on the lookout for any other ill-inspired association?)
Then there's "Paco": now here's a nice nickname!
With such a start in life, one certainly had great hopes! And a number 3 in all families, etc. But, alas, this fantastic renaming was doomed. It transmogrified itself into something totally impredictable: A "cacou", which I think is the French form of the Cuckoo:
Look what it did to him:
For the benefit of my readers, I have done some research on this strange animal, which my poor brother chose for his mascot:
I apologize to the aforementioned readers about the strange language, but they must understand that one day or another their long ago language lessons would catch up with them.
Above is an artist's impression of what a cacou might look like in real life, sigh. Next to him on the right is a "cagole" believe it or not the feminine version of a "Cacou"!! Finally here's a link which some might check about the period when cacous were invented.
Back to the grindstone with Noël, who doesn't have a nickname, lucky him.
LBNL, "babou". Well. Shame on us, because I think that we brothers and sister, a lot more than our uninspired parents, gave this name to him:
Okay so now it's up to you lot! To say the truth, I don't know many more names. Oh, there's Tweez, yes, and does it have something to do with someone's eyebrows?
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