Friday, January 21, 2011

Hi Pammy! And Other Truncation Horror Stories

Don't EVER call me *Liz*, she spat.

I choked a little.

It was my second week on the job and I was loving it. My new colleagues were smart, fun, and funny. I couldn't believe my luck. When "Thanks, Liz" left my lips one afternoon and entered our immediate sound space, I had no idea I had committed a punishable offence.

This witty, stunning Elizabeth had transformed into a spittle-spraying dragon lady. I backed up a few inches, looked down at my shoes and promised never to do it again. I felt 12. Unbeknownst to me, Elizabeth detested being called Liz, perhaps for many reasons, but none more paramount than the fact that her husband's ex-girlfriend, also an Elizabeth, was called "Liz".

Later in life I will meet another Elizabeth who refers to her husband's ex as "Elizabeth I", or sometimes just "crazy Elizabeth" while my friend is, naturally, the current reigning monarch, Elizabeth II. But I digress.

You see, I am one of those people, those friendly folks that shorten other people's names. All the time. Just call me the Truncator. In linguistic terms, I am often guilty of what is known as "apocopation", a shortening of the sort that retains only the beginning of a word, also known as "back-clipping" (thanks Wikipedia). Now before you go and wag your finger at me, I think it goes without saying that the newest, youngest generation are back-clipper, truncators extraordinaire, what with texting and tweeting and well, talking and everything.

And really, it is just people's first names that are victims of my clip. Unfortunately, this little habit of mine ticks some people off to the mammoth degree. Who knew?

I was having a wee chat with a good friend or two, let's call them Krissy and Pammy (not to their faces of course), when the conversation steered towards what one prefers to be called, is called, and any discrepancies there within. Turns out, Pamela gets right steamed when someone calls her Pam. Just who do they think they are, she says. My new best friend? I HATE being called Pam! By the time Kristina has expressed her feelings about being called Kris, Krissy, or, egad, Kristy, I am looking intently at my shoes and feeling my ears turn bright red.

P and K are not only frustrated by such presumption, they are insulted. The nerve of these people. P and K are certain that some sort of sycophantic, ingratiating plot is at work. By some small miracle, neither of these ladies is aware that I am one of these people. And as my backbone would have it, I am far too chicken to confess my sins, so instead I attempt to come to the defense of my fellow clippers.

Perhaps he feels comfortable with you. Maybe her pet rabbit is named Pam. Could be that she just really likes you alot.

Truth is, I don't know why I do it. There are certainly people to and with whom I will never do it. Especially Pamela. A list of some of my oldest and newest friends might look and sound like this: Col, Marn, Steph, Lis, Uni, Kat, Seoni, Sheel, Dee, Jude, Nik, Lor, Em...

Ladies, please forgive me.

Future friends: I promise that if I clip you, I'm not being sycophantic, I simply feel comfortable with you and maybe even like you alot. I also promise I won't clip you if you already have a single syllable name. And I promise I won't name a pet rabbit after you.

I can't promise, however, that I won't touch your arm when we're talking. It's just the way I am. Oh, and please call me Fi.

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