No more "Christian name, sir?" in Kent, UK

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 27 16:36:26 UTC 2010

Let's see... We seem to be in a similar boat with the lineage/secular
"problem". I would me amused but also mildly offended by someone asking
for my Christian name. OK, not offended, but certainly annoyed. I find
pervasive use of AD and BC more offensive, especially when the Texas
school board tried to impose it on national textbooks--not so much
specifically because of the implication, but because people tend to
repeat mindless drivel without even considering the implications. (CE
and BCE do just fine--and, yes, I am absolutely offended by the Texas

Asking for first name might discriminate against Billy Joe Bob--or Gian
Carlo or Billy Bob or Jean-Francois. As you point out, given name
demands would lose many an actor in their 60s and 70s (not to mention a
horde of dead ones and all the African-American sports figures who
decided to become Muslim), and a few other people who changed their
official or public persona or use their nicknames (any recollections of
Boom-Boom Mancini? What /was/ his first name?). "Forename" sounds like
something that needs a Victorian euphemism... Well, we just might have
to revert to that 800 year old tradition of just asking, "So, what do
they call you?" Oh, wait, there is one more left--what is your /legal/
name? Haven't heard this one in a while and it does tend to produce the
/full/ name rather than just the "given" one, so it's not equivalent,
but still...


On 3/27/2010 9:59 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> If "prénom" is good enough for the French (as I
> recall from filling out all those cartes
> d'identité), it should be good enough for us.
> The problem is that "forename" does sound a bit
> odd, and would probably lead to comments like "I
> only have three".  There's always "first name",
> which is perhaps more accurate than either
> "Christian" or "given" name for the likes of
> Tiger Woods, Mark Twain, or Cary Grant, depending
> on the meaning of "given".
> As a non-Christian (by both lineage and
> (non-)belief), I do find "Christian name" a bit
> off-putting, more so than the relatively opaque
> "BC" and "AD" for dates, which I know others
> eschew.  (I guess opacifying "Before Christ" and
> "Anno Domini" to ease the discomfort of
> non-believers was an early instance of the "KFC"
> model).
> LH

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