Gobblefunk, Gold Cards, and Blind Boy Groot

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June 15, 2016 by libroshombre


Roald Dahl, creator of Willie Wonka and James and the Giant Peach, liked naming things so much that the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary will soon be published. He coined over 500 words, collectively termed “gobblefunk” (‘if you gobblefunk with words, you play around with them and invent new words or meanings’). They’re among the 8,000 amusing words he utilized “as a method of keeping children engaged in books,” according to a recent Public Radio International article by Joshua Kelly. Other examples of Dahl’s coinages include “phizzwizard” (“a good dream that leaves you feeling happy when you wake up”), and “trogglehumper” (“one of the very worst nightmares you can have).

Rock groups adore intriguing and unusual band names. ? and the Mysterians, whose one hit was “96 Tears,” began performing as “the Mysterians and XYZ?” Their “eccentric front man, Rudy Martinez, legally changed his named to the question mark symbol” and thereafter he fronted their band name, according to “Rock Name Band Origins,” a fun book I encountered at our public library,

The Beach Boys tried performing as Kenny and the Cadets, Carl and the Passions, and even the Pendletones, named after the Pendleton shirts then favored by surfers. And Creedence Clearwater Revival came from the first name of a guy named Credence Nuball, part of an Olympia Beer ad, and the band’s return to “the basic simplicity of rock and roll.”

In “On Names,” Michel Montaigne wrote, “it is a good thing to have a good name (meaning renown or reputation); but it is also a real advantage to have a fine one which is easy to pronounce and to remember.” However, a surprising number of countries have strict naming laws that limit parents’ choices. Sweden’s 1982 Naming Law, originally intended to prohibit non-nobles from adopting titled monikers, now has been extended to read, “First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it.” Metallica, Superman, Elvis, and Ikea have all been rejected, along with Brfxxccxx

mnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (pronounced Albin), a name submitted by parents opposed to the Naming Law. So was their next suggestion, A (also pronounced Albin).

Lego was fine, though, as it is in Germany, another strict naming country. Names must be conjugatible in Iceland and contain only letters from the Icelandic alphabet. So Bambi is OK, but Harriet (can’t conjugate) and Duncan (no “C” in Icelandic), aren’t. And I don’t know what’s in the parental water in New Zealand, whose non-offensive naming laws have rejected the baby names Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Sex Fruit, Satan and Adolph Hitler, but approved Violence, Midnight Chardonnay, and Number 16 Bus Shelter.

While we’re at it, “42 of the Best Least Popular Baby Names from 100 Years Ago,” a MentalFloss.com article by Akira Okrent, said that adherents of the current craze for unusual baby names should check the Social Security Administration’s records for some doozies. The top 1,000 names from 1916 included General (ranked 775th least popular), Major (499), Loyal (696), and Vernal (914) for boys, and Pinkie (749), Dimple (895), Versie (914), and Wava (992) for girls.

Another library reference book, “Musical AKAs: Assumed Names and Sobriquets of Composers, Songwriters, Librettists, Hymnists, and Writers on Music,” lists names popular musicians have utilized. For instance, Robert Allen Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan (and Dillon and Dillion), also performed as Roosevelt Gook, Jack Frost, Lucky Wilbury, and Blind Boy Groot. But Zimmerman can’t compete with Daniel DeFoe, “Robinson Crusoe” author and the penname champ.

According to RegistryOfPseudonyms.com, his real name was “Foe,” but to distinguish Daniel from his father James, “D. Foe” became “DeFoe.” He was incredibly prolific, writing books, pamphlets, poems, and diatribes under 198 pen names, many of which would make great rock band names, like Count Kidney Face, Anti-Bubbler, Sir Foppling Tittle Tattle, and Urgentissimus.

I like being called a “Gold Card patron.” Support the Fairbanks Library Foundation with a $50 donation, and you’ll receive a lovely golden card, attesting to your love of books and libraries. But as Helen Hunt Jackson noted, “Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; what’s in a name?”

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