1. hvb
    Offline

    hvb Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Queensland, Australia

    annoying character name

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by hvb, Jan 4, 2014.

    We talked about naming our characters before.
    I am reading Noah Gordon's 'The Death Committee'. Disappointing after 'The physician', but that was such an excellent book, it would be hard to top it.
    But in 'The Death Committee' , one of the character's first name is Spurgeon. And yes, he is a surgeon.
    Every time I read this, it is a nail screeching over glass. For heaven's sake, what made him choose that name? This is a very serious book, it definitely isn't a joke...or, if it is, I don't get it.
    My point: a character's name can be a big distraction/annoyance.
    Hetty
     
  2. Thornesque
    Offline

    Thornesque Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    71
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Most definitely. And it can go any number of ways, whether it's a name that you don't know how/is hard to pronounce; a name that seems, such as in the above mentioned case, to be a joke, where a joke is not appropriate; or, for me, an overly-simplified name, though that's a personal issue (I hate reading about Bob, Stan, Jenny and Larry...).
     
    hvb likes this.
  3. Thomas Kitchen
    Offline

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    The only person I can think of in real life with the name Spurgeon was Charles Spurgeon, a Christian writer/evangelist. Perhaps a wild guess is that he researched him or discovered him through research and decided he liked the name, and that the character being a surgeon was just icing on tp of the cake - for him. I too feel that if it was a joke, it was particularly gimmicky.

    And yes, things like that can annoy me. Although some characters I read of don't have annoying names, they become annoying because of their personality, and subsequently I become annoyed at anyone real person with that name! :rolleyes:

    Probably just a weak joke (Spurgeon the surgeon, geddit?) or nod at a name he came across and liked.
     
    Thornesque likes this.
  4. Thornesque
    Offline

    Thornesque Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    456
    Likes Received:
    71
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I call 'EENIE MEENIE MINEY- SPURGEON! Dude, how funny would it be if he was Spurgeon...the SURGEON!!!!????3.3LIUYR;OI3H!'
     
    Okon and Thomas Kitchen like this.
  5. Remus Penn
    Offline

    Remus Penn Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    [Insert fandom location here]
    Eesh...maybe that name wouldn't have been so bad if he wasn't a surgeon, but...

    Personally really the only names that annoy me are stereotypical Mary Sue names (Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, anyone?).

     
  6. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Having just gotten halfway through Modelland before stopping the madness, I sympathize. The mc was called Tookie De La Creme.
    Which sounds like something on Sesame street....
    You Tookie my Cookie.
     
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,900
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    One word: Tolkien.

    Too many names that sounded too alike and were too foreign to register and stay put in my mind. And the man had a TH fetish.

    "Tharathflaflathathan, I would like to introduce you to Mormir, Soromir, Goromir, Tajikistanomir, Mamamir, Papamir and of course Babimir."
     
    PastelParfait, KaTrian and Mckk like this.
  8. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Mamamir and Papamir sound so cosy and cute...

    My pet peeve is names the author hasn't seemingly researched. They have picked up something that sounds cool, but it looks weird in the story's context or for that character. I don't know, an African-American man with a Danish surname is a bit odd. I guess I'd like to know about his ancestry then, or maybe he was adopted, or came from Denmark.

    I'm not so sure about viking-y names winding up in fantasy novels either. I kind of expect some cohesion there, then, like maybe they should have more vocabulary from Old Norse or Icelandic or something. I do like surnames that end in -dóttir/dotter. They look nice, but it feels out-of-place if that's all. Where are the svens and olofs and vigdises?
     
  9. David K. Thomasson
    Offline

    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Messages:
    341
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    Or hasn't given a moment's serious thought to, like Spurgeon the surgeon. In Gone with the Wind, there's a character, a slave, named Big Sam. That name works. But imagine if Margaret Mitchell had named him Big Santino or Big Luigi.

    The simple and commonsense lesson is, Don't do that. Don't.
     
  10. PastelParfait
    Offline

    PastelParfait New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    US
    The only thing I can think of is perhaps the name was intended to be ironic. So obvious and simple that it stands out to you for seemingly no reason. But perhaps the author has a reason, whether it becomes clear reading the book or not. I'm not extremely familiar with the book - is 'Spurgeon' a caricature? Does he have any personality beyond his job as a surgeon? Maybe I'm being a little too analytical here, but it's hard to ignore the word "purge" hidden in "Spurgeon". I wonder if that has plot significance? Or maybe it's just an inside joke. Maybe the author typoed the word surgeon and just went with it ever since. Who knows.
     
  11. rodney adams
    Offline

    rodney adams Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2013
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    16
    I remember reading somewhere, maybe in a psych class I took in HS, that many times, people can gravitate toward a profession that sounds like their name. It's like a sort of subconscious identity that they associate themselves with.

    A quick search on google popped up Nominative Determinism, which is exactly what I was thinking of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_determinism
     
  12. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    It would've been cool if he wasn't even a human, but a sturgeon too, or maybe a vet who specializes in sturgeons; Spurgeon, the sturgeon surgeon.


    My pet peeve is close to KaTrian's: foreign names the author thinks are cool but, to a native, look silly. The Japanese do this a lot in manga / anime, especially with Finnish names (in general I have no idea why so many in Japan like Finland), sometimes even with English names. Like some young hero could be called Urpo Jortikka. Both are real Finnish names, but 1) Urpo is an old guy's name, i.e. very rare nowadays, 2) Urpo is also slang for a dumb person, 3) Jortikka is slang for penis, so while it wouldn't have been the case 50 years ago, to the contemporary reader, your character's name means 'dumb penis.'
     
  13. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,900
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Another peeve I have is overly obvious symbolic names. In my favorite series by Octavia Butler, the story is slightly marred for me from the beginning because the misunderstood, savior/Judas MC is a woman named Lilith. I was like, Lilith? Really? A bit on the nose, don'tcha think, Miss Butler?
     
  14. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    I did just 1-2 minutes of research. behindthename.com says it means "of the night". Wikipedia says it's from Jewish mythology and means "Night creatures", "night monster", "night hag", or "screech owl". Wikipedia has a pretty large page on Lilith.

    In Jewish myth, she was Adam's (of Adam and Eve) first wife and was sent out because she wouldn't submit to him. The offspring of the short lived union are the evil spirits in the world.
     
  15. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,900
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    The goddess Lilith predates even Judaism, but she was syncretized into Judaism (stripped of her goddess status, of course) and a number of other religions. Her role as Adam's headstrong first wife was part of Christianity too and then Council of Nicea Boys Club happened and she and Enoch a number of others got the boot. She is a goddess often related to the sea and the wind and in the Judeo-Christian tradition, she is the original misunderstood, devalued Woman figure.
     

Share This Page