Why Is Dick a nickname for Richard
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Fri Aug 14 01:29:34 UTC 2009
I don't know if you can push the "ease of pronunciation"
argument too far. For starters, note that Rick, Rob, Will, and Ed are
I thought that there were more than these four examples
(including Hob/Robert), but these are all that immediately come to mind.
For what it's worth, all of the given names are disyllabic, have the
accent on the first syllable (as is common with names in English), and
do not begin with plosives, while all of the nicknames are monosyllabic
and (except for Hob, which is less commonly used) do begin with
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:40 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Why Is Dick a nickname for Richard
At 12:22 PM -0400 8/13/09, Baker, John wrote:
> I'm not sure what to make of the original post, but I think
>any real answer does need to take account of the fact that some
>traditional nicknames are rhyming short forms of the full given name,
>such as Dick/Richard, Bob/Robert, Bill/William, and Ted/Edward.
But I think you still need to bring in ease of pronunciation to explain
the *direction* of the substitutions. "Wen" rhymes with "Ben", but I
doubt you get changes in that direction, or "Wabs" for "Barbara"/"Babs".
Or "Rave" and "Ran" for "Dave" and "Dan". And this is sheer
speculation, but perhaps "Bob" (instead of "Dob") for "Robert" might be
anticipatory influence from (or assimilation to) the upcoming [b].
While as Arnold notes the OED doesn't do proper names, surely
*someone* has written a book (or at least a dissertation) on this
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