Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's in a name?

I would have thought that my surname (Timon) would have generated the odd question or two - “Unusual name!  Where does it originate?” or “Only one ‘m’?” or “Are you related to Pumbah?” - but no.  That’s the way my brain works but then it has been pointed out that my brain is not quite the same as everybody else’s.  I’m not sure whether that is a good or bad thing.  It’s immaterial really.  The outcome depends more on perception than reality.
Anyway, the pronunciation of my name generates untold problems.  People assume there’s another ‘m’ in there and that I have just forgotten to use it for the best part of a lifetime so Timon becomes Timmon.  Even worse, some believe that it feels incomplete without an ‘s’ (go figure) and it becomes Timmons.
It also has become Tymon, Tynan and, the mind boggles, Turon.

Well it’s Timon.

And before I get classed as a Mrs Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) let me clue you in on how old it is.  It dates back to biblical times.  Yes, it’s in the Bible - Acts 6:5.  I don’t think you’ll find any of the other variations ……  So that takes care of age and precedence I think.

Then there’s pronunciation.  Shakespeare wrote a play called “Timon of Athens”.  People in England and others who are familiar with Shakespeare don’t have a problem with the name.  But then I live in Ireland and not everybody has either read that play or has even heard of it so for them Timon=Timmon.
I have put a footer on e-mails to new people that reads:
“If you can spell Simon, you say Timon”.
Most people get it.  Others, on phones for example, don’t receive my witty aid.
Phone conversation ….
Lady: “Thanks you sir, could you give me your name and address please?”
Me: “Sure, it’s Paul Timon, that’s spelled T_I_M_O_N”
Lady: “Thank you Mr Timmon, and what’s your address?”
I used to let this stupidity slide.  A wise man once told me “Ignorance is curable, stupidity isn’t”.  My take on the situation was that I had informed the lady thereby removing the ignorance component so stupidity must be what’s left.  Now I take time to point out the error they have made.  It wastes time but it irritates them even more and I hope (not in vain?) that they might learn to take more care.

My name is what identifies me.  It has come from history.  It is not something to be dismissed and misspelled.  We have made a few attempts to trace it back but haven’t gotten very far probably because a lot of the records were burned during minor upheavals in Irish history and nowadays we all expect that everything can be found online.  Rumour has it we date back to the 1600s when ‘we’ were wine importers from France and also did a sideline in smuggling priests into and out of Ireland in large wine barrels.  Our origins could be Greek or Russian depending on who you listen to.  Most of my family are short (arses) - I’m 5’ 5” - and ironically one of the meanings of Timon is ‘small’.  There’s a shock!
So you’ve been educated.  Perhaps the title of my blog “Timon time again” now makes sense.......

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