The Cognitive Momentum Of Names

Prompted by a conversation that I had with a few of Andy II‘s college buddies, I’ve observed the following:
Unless one puts a concerted effort into doing so, it is well-nigh impossible to call a friend or acquaintance something other than what they were introduced to you as.
Case in point: one of our assistant pastor’s name is “David”, yet he was introduced to me as “Dave”. I’ve called him Dave ever since meeting him, although his wife adamantly refers to him as “David”, he answers the phone as “David” and most people newly-introduced to him call him “David”, yet I can’t bring myself to do it. He just doesn’t look like a “David”, if that makes any sense at all. Further, Andy’s college friends know him as “Drew” and I know for a fact he isn’t a “Drew”. The list goes on.
Am I alone on this one?

7 Replies to “The Cognitive Momentum Of Names”

  1. I think you’re right. By the time I’ve committed something to memory, it’s hard to apply the white-out, and write it again.

  2. he will always be retnuh werdna or hunterdness to us! Slurpees, Volleyball and 100 games of Mortal Kombat do that to ones mind.

  3. Story #1: A coworker had been introduced to me as “Allen”, which is his name. I had called him that during his entire employment with my company, and we grew to be friends. When he left my company and moved to Oregon we kept in contact, but he reverted to using the same name as what his family called him, and which all of the friends of his youth used: Buddy.
    It was a very difficult transition, and I found myself becoming oddly conscious of who knew him at what time merely based on what name I needed to use for them to make sense of me.
    Story #2: Another coworker, a chinese woman, was hired to fill an entry-level programming support position at my company. She was introduced to me as Lucy, and so I called her that. She was a shy, older woman who obviously spoke Chinese better than English, and I assumed that she had simply “Americanized” her given name in the interest of engratiating herself with English-speakers.
    Time progressed, and about two weeks into her employment I came to learn that her name was not Lucy, but Liu. Our manager – an Irish-American not really ready for the rigors of a multi-cultural workforce – had apparently not bothered to read her name from her application, resume, or any other paperwork, and had himself naturalized her name.
    She was fired shortly afterward for printing out the source code to our primary product (a stack of paper several inches high) to take home for study.

  4. @nobrainer:
    I’d say it applies to cities, as well. I learned “Peking” and “Bombay”, thus ever shall they stay in my head, no matter how many times CCN anchors call them “Beijing” and “Mumbai”.

  5. The one thing I learned as a freshman in college was when someone asks do you prefer Andy or Andrew, don’t reply “I don’t care, just don’t call me Drew.”
    That’s how I got that nick….
    AO – Don’t forget the “Um, I think the corn is getting closer to our car…”

  6. 1. My father in-law’s name is Hal. His family (excluding his kids) call him Bud. In the past, he has asked that I call him Bud but I’m still working on calling him Hal. In my head, I still think Mr. W at least half the time.
    2. My sister-in-law’s name is Denise but my wife always calls her Dee. Which lead to me making a “great” first impression when I got her name wrong.
    3. One of my former co-worker’s name is William, but people who knew him before we all worked together call him Bill. Whenever I hear him called that; it totally blows my mind and I lose the thread of the conversation while trying to figure out who they’re talking to.

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