Tuesday, August 30, 2011

pray silence for the saxe-coburg-parker-bowleses

Marriage: it's a wonderful institution. But I don't want to live in an institution! Also, marriage: it's not a word, it's a sentence! Entertaining though all that sort of nonsense may be, the reality is that marriage is a wonderful thing, though, of course, very much like one's wife, it is not to be entered into lightly or carelessly. But what to do about names?

Back in the day, of course, the unquestioned convention was that the wife would discard her "maiden" name (what with being, hem hem, a virgin when she got married and all) and adopt that of her husband. But in these egalitarian times that doesn't always happen, and rightly so as it's a bit of reflexive patriarchical repressiveness that should be problematic to anyone who takes the trouble to think about these things at least a bit. Come to that the whole notion of the bride's father "giving her away" to the groom is a bit strange, and if I'm perfectly honest I'd have been as happy to have discarded that bit from our ceremony, but you have to have a bit of balancing out of what you want against what other people want, so I was happy to concede that one.

Back to the names, though. If we agree that the application of the groom's name is not very satisfactory, then we have to come up with a new and workable scheme. It won't be easy, but I'm confident that if we pour ourselves a nice glass of wine and put our heads together we can get the whole thing Straightened Out Once And For All in no time.

Now some people go for the double-barrelling thing; let's say Mr. Jenkins marries the comely and buxom Ms. Winforth - he remains Mr. Jenkins, but she becomes Mrs. Winforth-Jenkins and any of their offspring become known as the little Winforth-Jenkinses. Which is fine as far as it goes, but of course creates a couple of problems, firstly that the kids don't have the same surname as their Dad, which may cause some issues at school, and more fundamentally that this solution doesn't satisfactorily scale any further than one generation. I mean, let's say that in a separate incident Mr. Aquascutum marries Ms. Smythe, and the kids become the little Aquascutum-Smythes, and that some years later little Hector Aquascutum-Smythe marries little Perpetua Winforth-Jenkins. Well, what then? Do the kids become the Winforth-Jenkins-Aquascutum-Smythes?

Something better is required. So how about this - we adopt the same convention as for interspecies animal hybrids, so that the resulting couple and offspring acquire a name that is a sort of combined portmanteau version of the first half of one name and the second half of the other. Now there's still an element of patriarchy asserting itself here, as for hybrids the convention is that the male provides the first half of the name and the female the second (compare tigons and ligers, for example), but let's go with it for the moment.

So for the examples above, Mr. Jenkins and Ms. Winforth produce a brood of little Jenkforths, and when one of them marries one of the little Aquascythes we get a resulting litter of Aquaforths or Jenkfythes, depending on how the gender balance works itself out. It's implicit in this that both parents have to change their names as well, but that's not a huge departure from what wives are expected to do at the moment. There would have to be some scope for slipping the odd extra letter in here and there to avoid unfortunate results - Mr. Hunt marrying Ms. Cudd would produce a family of perfectly acceptable Hudds, but Mr. Cudd marrying Ms. Hunt would be problematic. Indeed myself and Hazel provide another example - our original names (Thomas and Hannant respectively) give the perfectly respectable Thomnant according to the rules, but if the genders were reversed you could end up with Hamas, which might be dodgy in some parts of the world.

You can have fun with celebrity couples according to this rule as well: Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman become Tom and Nicole Crudman, Brian McFadden and Kerry Katona become Brian and Kerry McFatona, Peter Andre and Katie Price become Peter and Katie Andrice (and who could resist calling their kids Vindaloo and Dopiaza under those circumstances), and of course Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley become Michael and Lisa Marie Jacksey. And then there's Gavin and Gwen Rossfani, Chris and Gwyneth Martrow, Lewis and Nicole Hamzinger, Mike and Zara Tindlips, and William and Kate Windleton. You can probably make your own up if you like.

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