Six Toe, Fritter Nose and other readers' nicknames
- 17 March 2014
The Magazine features about Somali nicknames prompted many readers to respond with stories about the amusing ones they've heard - or earned.
Here's a selection of their experiences, sparked by the original article - some are ironic, some a little cruel and the odd one on the rude side.
Nicknaming is endemic in the Highlands of Scotland. Since babies were traditionally named for relatives, after a while everyone in a locality tended to have the same name. There are a multitude of Donald MacDonalds, Norman MacLeods, and John Campbells in Scotland. I have even seen a phone book for the Isle of Lewis in Scotland where the nicknames were supplied to help identify someone. My father was from the area in the Carolinas [US] settled by the Scots and he was called Shorty because he was six feet six inches tall. James MacDonald, Williamsburg, USA
The same practice exists in Trinidad and Tobago and is at times revealed during the death announcements. Some examples: Hop And Drop (a person with a limp); White Line (a beggar who stands on the dividing white line in the road); Deafy (a deaf person); Clock (a person with one arm of normal length and a shorter arm). Trini, Brussels, Belgium
As kid, I was very thin - so thin that my collarbone could be used as to soap holder. The school kids use to call me " Tiibishooley" meaning I had tuberculosis . As you might know, people with untreated TB are very skinny. It was hurtful though. Fartun Weli, [Somali in]Minnesota, USA
Southern India, where my parents grew up, is fond of nicknames. My mother was known as "Bonda Muku" ("Fritter Nose") because she was the only one in her fine-featured family to have a flat nose. Anand K, Indianapolis, USA
For sake of clarity and due to limited range of surnames, most Icelanders adopt a nickname. Early 1970s, a friend of mine, surname Jones, studying Germanic and Old Norse languages at Cambridge, spent a holiday in Iceland combining work with study. He found work on Iceland's largest chicken farm. One night, he fell into an enormous cess-pit full of chicken droppings. He survived, but from then on was known in Icelandic as "Jones The Shit". He later left the farm and found work on a trawler. A bad move, because the Cod War then broke out... James Reid, Stockport
Whilst serving in the RAF 20 years ago, we had a Pizza Face (acne), Silver Fox (white hair), Pluto, Chalky, and I was called Thumbs because of my bilateral brachydactyly. Richard, Berkshire, UK
Growing up I would hear stories about my Jamaican parents' and grandparents' friends nicknamed such flattering things as Turtle, Feeble and, my favourite, Double Ugly. If nothing else, it teaches not to take oneself too seriously. Fulani, Miami, USA
I once had a hired car driver from Somalia taking me from Philadelphia to New York. He introduced himself as Six Toe. He was a good driver but I spent the entire 90-minute drive wondering if the name meant he had an extra, or suffered a loss. Paul Astle, Lansdale, USA
St Helena has a history of nicknames with a lot which are inherited - there are four generations of "Nails" and they don't seem to remember where it came from. My partner is Dogbone; there are Fishcakes, Buffalo, Oxie, Greek, Newpence, Small Change. Fifi Goldsmith, Jamestown, St Helena, South Atlantic