I´m a huge fan of studying how language affects our life. So big of a fan that I even put “words” in the title of my blog. Nominative determination is the best example that shows just how important words are. It´s a long name for something as simple as it is funny, namely the idea that a person´s name reflects key attributes of his job, profession or life.
What is nominative determination and why should you care?
The term entered the dictionaries and the language in 1994, when the magazine New Scientist noted a few coincidences. The author Daniel Snowman wrote a book about polar explorations and there was an article written on the subject of urology by authors D Weedon and J Splatt.
Then there was James Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila in the Philippines and William Headline, Washington bureau chief at CNN.
Sir Richard Makepeace Former British Consul-General in Jerusalem.(source)
Larry Speakes, Whitehouse spokesman to US Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Marion Moon.
Margaret Spellings: United States Secretary of Education.
Guess who was the inventor of modern penis extensions operations? That´s right, Doctor Long. (I heard about him in one of my favourite podcasts )
Newer examples come to light every day. How about Mr. Cocaine who got arrested for drug possesion?
And of course, there´s Bolt.
Nothing beats experiencing nominative determination up close and personal
There are many examples that I can take from my very own experience:
I had a kindergarden teacher whose family name was “Moustache” and she proudly wore a big black thick one. Nominative determination. There was also a couple of married teachers both named “Man”. The man was, obviously, manly; almost as manly as his wife. Nominative determination. Also, there was a music teacher whose name was “Quickly” and she was always in a rush. We used to hardly contain our laughter when she would repeatedly say “Come on, quickly, we don´t have time.” She would say the word “quickly” in almost every sentence, without trying to be funny.
There are always exceptions to the rule. I had a colleague in primary school whose family name was “sausage” and she looked nothing like one. Although, to be fair, I haven´t seen her lately.