Thursday, September 24, 2009

Only the first 16 letters....

So I've mentioned that every Thursday I volunteer making calls for the Deeds for Governor campaign to drum up support for him. Now the election is only about five and a half weeks away and still it seems that very few people even know about the election much less who the candidates are. But that, as I hear someone say today, is a subject for another lecture or, in my case, blog post.
Some of you who read these posts know how fascinated I am by language matters and how, being named "Daphne" I am especially taken by people's names. Earlier this year a baby shower was thrown for one of my colleagues from the old job. Having access to the membership data base, I went through it looking for "fun" names and then put together a contest in which people had to figure out which name in a list of about ten or twelve was not real. Some of them were real doozies like "Rebecca Boober" (a real name), "Lawrence Putz" and "Jack Loser" (also real) and "George Dingus" (you can't make something like that up!).
So today in my list of names to call there was a person whose last name is "Essaranuwatankul." It was suggested to me by staffers at the campaign office that I address the prospective voter by first name if the phone was answered. Luckily for me it wasn't so I didn't have to "risk" botching the name. But it took me back to my high school days. Why?
New York State high school students take standardized tests given only in New York called Regents exams. I thought there was a law against cruel and unusual punishment. But I digress...
Anyway, you always had to put your name on the exam forms by filling in a prefab space with boxes. The instructions for "writing" your name read as follows: "Only fill in the first 16 letters of your last name."
I had a girlfriend in high school whose name was "Urania Papatheodoros" (I think that was her name. It's been a while...). But still, even some of the more exotic names of the Greek students I attended school with were only 10 or 11 letters long. I don't believe I knew anyone with a single name - first or last - that was more than about 10 letters. I was friends with a guy named "Marco" whose real name was "Marcangelo," but that's only 10 letters and I can't think of ayone I knew whose name was longer.
When I took the Regents exams and had to fill in my name, I always wondered whether there was really anyone out there who had to actually comply with the instruction "Only fill in the first 16 letters of your last name."
Now I know.
What do you think Philadphia resident, Mr. Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, would think of the instruction and my wonderment?

Score: Domestic Divahood, 11; Unfulfilled on the job, 0

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