Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's in a name?

On the epic trip I went on with my family not too long ago, I had this discussion with my sisters, in particular Elise and Juli, about names. To be specific, my name. While we were in Boston, Elise's old mission companion came by to spend the day with us. Elise introduced me as Kirsti, the name she usually calls me apart from Booger (the STRANGEST nickname I've had, and also the oldest one). When I was caught in the rain with her and she decided to ask me how I liked BYU (her Alma Mater), the friend addressed me as "Kirsti" and it threw me for a loop. I had to shake off the feeling of weirdness so that I could respond to her inquiries.

To help me and you to understand WHY I felt such a strange reaction, let me go ahead and describe the usage of both names.

Kirsti [KEER-stee]
This is what my family calls me. Kinda like a pet name, since Kiki didn't stick (and it NEVER will!). Also, since my parents are active members in the church, most of the older people in the church know me by this name. This also includes old friends in the church. My friends I met through school don't know me by this name. Only one has called me this and we are no longer friends. So it comes as a shock when someone outside of that small circle addresses me by this name. And I thought that if you were a member of the church and knew my family (even new members or people who've moved into the ward) that you could use it freely. But I have recently discovered that only FEMALES can use it. Once a member of the opposite gender uses it and they're a member of the church, it's the same strange feeling. Unless you're a kid. Even when guys who I've known since I was WAYYY young would use it, it would still be weird.

Friends like Mariah and Leigh, who are both girls from my stake and go to BYU with me, introduce me to people as Kirsti. But the whole female/male thing still applies. I'm more okay (though still weirded out) when females call me Kirsti. But once a male utters that name, I have a strange impulse to correct them. But I don't. And then there were people who would know me as Kirsten initially, but then would hang out with Mariah and Leigh and then change over to Kirsti, almost as if because they were with people who used that name, they were now entitled to such an intimate level without getting permission.

So, really, I have no idea WHO is allowed to call me Kirsti. Maybe if you do, ask me if its okay. Or call me by this name instead to be safe...

Kirsten [KEER-sten]
This is how I introduce myself. This is what I call myself. This is what my BEST friend knows me as. It's technically not my full name, but this is my name in its fullest form that I accept. Everyone that I meet knows me by this name. Not Kirsti. Not Kirsten-Anne. But Kirsten. It's the one I'm most comfortable with (unless you're family. If anyone in my family calls me Kirsten, it freaks me out a bit, like when people call me Kirsti when they shouldn't).

But sometimes I wish that people knew me as Kirsti. Kirsten is such a harsh name. The "ee" verses the "en" is such a difference. Kirsti is definitely the informal version. If my name were a French salutation, Kirsti would be the lesser known "salut" and Kirsten would be the very formal and traditional "bonjour". Yeah. That describes it very well. "Salut" is only acceptable in French society amongst familiar people and peers. "Bonjour" is uttered to strangers and people in formal settings and superiors.

Anyways, I've tried to figure out the rules to which name is proper, but maybe, if you really are unsure as to what I'm comfortable with, just approach me and ask. Or say "Kirsti" and see if I wince. Or punch you in the face. Both are prone to flash through my system when such a name is uttered at an inappropriate time.


Peeser said...

I just think it's funny/interesting that you even mentioned the nickname "Booger."

Would you rather I call you "Kirsten"?

Too bad.

Sarah Lambson said...

I still prefer Goober. Kind of like booger, huh? Why do you think you keep getting gross names? Unless you think of Goober as the delicious candy.

Julina said...

It amuses me that in talking about your "family" vs "public" (or "informal" vs "formal") names, you use my "informal/family" name, so that if your friends who read this meet me at some point, I'll have a turn at the awkwardness of a relative stranger calling me "Juli" ;D

Kirsti said...

Sorry, Julina AKA Juli! I remember having this discussion with you and how you go by Julina to all the people that don't include your family and close friends. I apologize for not using the formal form of your name.