A while back I wrote a note about how sometimes the names of my customers reflect their areas of interest. A typical example being Mr Walker who stores with Admiral a set of very old maps that were issued in the early days of the Ramblers Association. We also have in store a set of notes on the treatment of aches in the knee joints of elderly patients, prepared by Dr Emma Payne.
But I was not prepared for a note which appeared in the Christmas edition of New Scientist, kindly lent to me by a reader of my occasional ramblings, which pointed out that the book “London under London: A subterranean guide” was written by Richard Trench and Ellis Hillman.
That I must say seems awfully hard to believe, but on the other hand New Scientist is a highly reputable journal – and so I went on reading with interest.
And thus it was that elsewhere in the journal I found a particularly interesting piece about Buzz Aldrin, the second man to stand on the moon, and an astronaut (or StarMan as the Daily Mail has been known to call him) from the Apollo 11 and Gemini 12 missions.
Although now in his mid-80s Dr Aldrin is still active in science and recently went on an expedition of Antarctica where, sadly, he was taken ill and rushed into the medical facilities on the hospital in Christchurch New Zealand. The senior medical practitioner who attended the venerable Dr Aldrin was Dr David Bowie. Also known (if you are familiar with popular music) for his composition “Star Man”.
Such oddities are, of course, part of the rich tapestry that is our language, and with 7 billion people now on the planet there is no doubt that by pure chance some such connections are going to crop up occasionally.
But with over 6,000 languages in the world it is important for us to make sure that we do tend to say what we mean and mean what we say. And if we are what our name says we are, that can be helpful in getting through the basics.
I reflected on this when I was offered a copy of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology by one of my customers who was also depositing materials in the Admiral Storage Facility and had joined in the conversation. Over a coffee he directed my attention to a headline from the said august journal which read, “Manuscripts with no enough English standard will be rejected before scientific evaluation”.”
And I think we can by and large agree that this is not a bad idea.
After my customer had left I returned to my pondering of surnames, and it was still on my mind a couple of days later when I was visited by a customer whom I have got to know rather well over the years and who has collected together details of football as it was played in England in the 1930s.
I mentioned to him my recent fascination with names and we spoke for a moment on the topic of how many players of the modern game were called “Ball” or even “Foot”. Then, having a moment to spare, we looked with interest at the names of players from his period of interest to see if any carried a family name that related to the game which they played at the highest level.
Of course, having a name that reflects our profession was not the only way our surnames originated – Mr Smith was of course originally the name for the village blacksmith, but other names are harder to trace, but still have an origin – if not in terms of a job then at least in terms of a place of origin.
But I wanted to take this further so I chose the surname Bastin (a 1930s footballer who was a star both of the 1st division and of the England team of the era) and I was told it was originally given to people from Sebastia (a village in Palestine) or as a name given in honour of Saint Sebastian, an early Christian saint and martyr. My customer assured me that the gentleman in question was born and brought up in the west country – but clearly someone somehow had brought the name across from afar.
That seemed quite odd, so I tried another England footballer of the era. Hapgood. Obvious explanations for the origin of the name coming from words like “good” and “happen” failed to cut any ice with the growing number of people in the office who had joined in the discussion, and so we were forced to visit Google.
The website told me the name is of Old German origin (by which I think they mean the language now known as “Old German”, not some old German fellow who happened to be wandering around) and it derives from the personal name “Habgood”.
Now this is where Google gets a bit besides itself in my opinion because it then says (and I will go back to the start and quote it exactly lest you think I am making this up) the name is:
“composed of the Old German “Oppo, Opo, Opi, Hopi” meaning wild, plus the obscure second element “gaud” good.”
So Mr GoodWild. Or Mr Wildgood.
I remain, at least for the moment, unconvinced, although fortunately for trade this has not stopped Admiral being open for business in the new year as it was in the last year, and the year before and the year….
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