What’s my name?

If you deal with Jamaicans a lot you know that amongst their or our many eccentricities are nicknames. They have meaning, and real origins that mark a key characteristic of a person or their background. Common names are Lenky (tall, thin); Blacka (blacker); Flex (if you are a good mover)
Maxi (look like Maxi Priest); Slim (usually fat or slim–take your pick); Mawga Man (meager, ie slim); Bigga; Piggy; Chubby; Dimples; Flabba, and many more. I love the names that really stand out, such as One Finger.

I’ve used them for my children a bit. My little daughter asked me this morning “What’s my name today?” I had to disappoint her and tell her that the name I use for her often depends on mood and context. One of my favourites at the moment is Pongo. But I do like Sweet Bean, which is more a term of endearment rather than a nickname. If you know your 101 Dalmatians you will understand a little. My older daughter I often call Billy Bongo, or Lean Bean (another term of endearment, rather than nickname).

I have my own, which everyone in my family uses instead of my given name: it harks back to my maternal grandmother. In fact, I never had to answer to my Christian name until I went to school in England, and it was a time until I responded automatically instead of wondering “Who’s that?”. My father has a great one: “Cock”, which he constantly reminds me is still very fitting, even in his 80s :-). Why? Well, if you don’t know, I’m not telling you here…yet.




About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Children, Education, Family, Human relationships, Language, Life styles, Parenting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What’s my name?

  1. Pingback: Jamaica: Nicknames · Global Voices

  2. Natalie Ludaway says:

    nick names are not limited to jahmaicans – i live with a Bahamian who uses quite a few.

  3. I’m Jamaican and my nickname as a child was string bean because I was so skinny.

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