What's in a name?

Do you have a nickname? In Japan, I often hear ちゃん or くん attached to a name to make it sound cute or casual. English doesn’t have anything like that, but we do have a lot of nicknames. Usually, these nicknames are shortened versions of the full name.

Yesterday in class, one of my students asked me about my name – Nicholas Charles Vasta. When I wrote my full name on the board, they seemed very surprised! Everyone at NEO calls me “Nick,” but “Nick” is short for “Nicholas.”  It was originally a Greek name that means “victory of the people.” It became popular because of Saint Nicholas, a well-known figure from a Christian legend. Saint Nicholas inspired the legend of Santa Claus, which is why Santa is sometimes called “Saint Nick.”

The name “Nicholas” has a long history in Greece, Russia, England, and many other countries. Of course, the spelling can change from language to language.

Some other common English nicknames: “Dave” is short for “David,” “Bob” is short for “Robert,” “Ellie” is short for “Eleanor,” and “Jess” or “Jessy” is short for “Jessica.” Those are all people in my family, by the way!

My middle name, Charles, comes from my father. It’s a common practice in the U.S. to give the first son the same name as his father. But my parents didn’t want to call me “Charles, Jr.,” so they made it my middle name instead. It’s similar to the way Japanese parents sometimes use their own kanji in their children’s names.

Do you know Hal’s full name? How about RJ’s? 

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