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VAZ

Short Name vs Long Name

19 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I know it seems to be a cross-disciplinary question, but I want to specifically ask my history folks.

Some historians have very simple/short names and sometimes it even rhymes. To name a few, Peter Burke, Peter Gay, Tara Zahra, Ann Blair and Lynn Hunt. The names are very easy to be registered by their colleagues and students, but it may lead to confusion sometimes if other historian/scholar/celebrity shares the same name. Too bad if he/she is in the exactly same field as you.

Whereas, on the other pole, some have relatively complicated/long names, for example, Thomas James Dandelet, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern and Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak, which make them unique and immediately spotted on sight, but it may take more effort for people to memorize their names and say it accurately. 

Accordingly, do you think a short name or a long name can make you stand out in the community?

Furthermore, is it necessary and beneficial to use the middle name in publication as well as on the social media (website, etc.)? Initial or full middle name? I'm not talking about marriage and maiden name issues, but, again, about surviving and interacting in the field, especially regarding the conflict between easily being remembered and easily being recognized. I know in real life conversation, people would be addressed informally as "First Name" (+"Last Name") and formally as Professor ("First Name") "Last Name," but on the paper what would you do?

I estimate the ratio among using "First Name, Last Name" : "First Name, Middle Name, Last Name" : "First Name, M., Last Name" in publication is roughly 1:3:1. Probably how many syllables in each name also matter. And if using the hyphen, it probably should count as two names/words.

A trend I see is that graduate students tend to use full names (in conference and on the website) and as they grow older and more established, they may initialize the middle name from their first publication on.

Another phenomenon that I notice is that no matter you initialize or leave the full middle name, when people talk about you, refer you, search you and mention you in their work (except for the proper citing), they may automatically skip over your middle name / second first name, simply calling you "First Name, Last Name" (for example, I said Ann Blair just now, who is actually Ann M. Blair).

What's your take on this name issue?

Edited by VAZ

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Posted (edited)

I like to use my middle initial. Both my first and last names are 2 syllables and are pretty generic (although my last name is also a common first name for men). However, there was really no rhyme or reasons when I started using it. It just kind of happened. For some reason in my BA, they had me registered with the middle initial, which was printed on my diploma. Then when I did my MA program it was the same. And finally, with my PhD program starting, they have me recorded that way, too, and all official correspondences and references to me include my middle initial.

Somewhere along the way I started using it on papers I write, too. I have no idea why lol I just do. And it's different for me because I actually have a nickname, Lottie, that everyone has called me since the day I was born. Literally no one calls me by my real name unless they dont know me. All my professors call me Lottie at my MA school, and I imagine I will go by that at my PhD university, as well. But when handing in assignments, submitting publications, etc., I always sign with my real first name and my middle initial. I've thought about using my nickname more often professionally, though, because it is a unique name and people tend to remember it.

Edited by nhhistorynut

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, nhhistorynut said:

I like to use my middle initial. Both my first and last names are 2 syllables and are pretty generic (although my last name is also a common first name for men). However, there was really no rhyme or reasons when I started using it. It just kind of happened. For some reason in my BA, they had me registered with the middle initial, which was printed on my diploma. Then when I did my MA program it was the same. And finally, with my PhD program starting, they have me recorded that way, too, and all official correspondences and references to me include my middle initial.

Somewhere along the way I started using it on papers I write, too. I have no idea why lol I just do. And it's different for me because I actually have a nickname, Lottie, that everyone has called me since the day I was born. Literally no one calls me by my real name unless they dont know me. All my professors call me Lottie at my MA school, and I imagine I will go by that at my PhD university, as well. But when handing in assignments, submitting publications, etc., I always sign with my real first name and my middle initial. I've thought about using my nickname more often professionally, though, because it is a unique name and people tend to remember it.

If you use your nickname would you put it in quotation marks? Like so:

 

FirstName "Nickname" Lastname 

?

 

For me, I have a "foreign sounding" name and I hate having to correct people or hear their butchering of my name. So that's why I want them to just call me my nickname which is easy to say. 

Edited by Averroes MD

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8 minutes ago, Averroes MD said:

If you use your nickname would you put it in quotation marks? Like so:

 

FirstName "Nickname" Lastname 

?

 

For me, I have a "foreign sounding" name and I hate having to correct people or hear their butchering of my name. So that's why I want them to just call me my nickname which is easy to say. 

If I was to use it professional, I'd probably just use it on it's own without the quotation marks.

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I don't think it's the length of the name that's more memorable, but the "brand" you've established. There can be two Ashley Martins studying 18th century Caribbean women's history, but if one Ashley publishes more, speaks at conferences, and otherwise has a higher profile, they are Ashley Martin in the eyes of most people. 

I've started using my first, middle, and last name because without the middle, my name feels generic. Also, since my middle name and last name start with the same letter, I can easily maintain my branding if I change my last name after marriage.

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1 hour ago, Averroes MD said:

If you use your nickname would you put it in quotation marks? Like so:

 

FirstName "Nickname" Lastname 

?

 

For me, I have a "foreign sounding" name and I hate having to correct people or hear their butchering of my name. So that's why I want them to just call me my nickname which is easy to say. 

I know I am not in my field's forum here, but the answer to this question might be relevant here too. In my field, people who have alternate names, especially due to language/translation, will put them in parentheses. This is the standard format for the major journals in my field. For example, you might see a paper authored by a name appearing like:

Li (Jack) Chou

In addition, the major journals now support Chinese, Korean and Japanese characters names and a lot of people with western names as well as a name in their own language have begun publishing with both. So you now see papers authored by people such as:

Mary (...) Wong

where the author's name in their own language appears inside the ... (I don't know how to type these on my keyboard). 

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Posted (edited)

My last name is pretty unusual, at least once you get away from certain ethnic neighborhoods in Canada.  For that reason, it won't matter much what other names I use-- there won't be a lot like me in the databases.

That said, I always use my full first name (even if everyone else thinks they can abbreviate it), and I add my middle initial when signing documents.  I think my master's dissertation required my full middle name, and I don't object to that.  It is a short family name of no particular complexity or bad associations.  I don't worry about the issue much.  The difference between "Firstname Lastname" and "Firstname L. Lastname" isn't going to confuse anyone who sees both forms published, and spelling out the middle name won't make me look like I'm stealing my own identity.

For some, of course, middle names can be a problem.  My wife's middle name was given as "Stella".  She hated that (and wasn't crazy about the person it referred to), so replaced it with "S", which gave her name a nice, crisp kind of authority. 

There is also the option of ditching a first name altogether when changing addresses.  One of my college classmates was listed in the facebook as "Barry S. Lastname" but immediately became "Steve" in his freshman year.   Get rid of those playground bullying ghosts!  A business-school classmate's given name sounded too much to everyone like "Sharon Stone", which became annoying to her after the famous interview scene hit the big screen.  So, she dropped the Sharon and replaced it with a very obscure middle name once she arrived at school.  The Southern solution, perhaps.

Edited by Concordia

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I have a very long foreign name. 

Americans think the first word is my first name and the rest are middle names. But it is one big name. I use this one when I sign or when I submit everything. It is my official name. There is a shorter version of that name (one of the "middle" words) that I use for when I introduce myself or for the e-mail recipient line. Both are still formal. This is very common where I come from: the first given name is not the one everybody calls you.

I never ever use my nickname. I want people to google me professionally and find my professional profiles, not my Facebook page (this is a stretch, because I have my Facebook blocked). Also, I don't like introducing myself with my nickname, even though English-speakers find it easier to pronounce. It would be the equivalent of someone saying their name was "Billy" instead of "William". 

So, although I have a pretty unique name, deciding how to use it for academia has been a challenge. 

Finally, I think that a way to make your name 'catchy' is to use it in whatever combination you want all the time. You'll find that my twitter handle, website, grad student bio, conferences, and the like, I'm always listed the same. And when I introduce myself for the first time to anybody, I give my last name. After all, your publications/classes/conference/etc will be better remembered by your last name. 

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I've used my first/last name most of the time. In some professional settings, I will use my middle initial. There is a historian in my field, although with a slightly different specialty, with the same last name and the male version of my name and the same middle initial. For instance, if I'm Alice E., he's Alistair E. So one thing I will not do is publish just with my initials as I've seen him do for a few articles. 

My name is fairly distinctive as it's not super common, but not enough to be memorable on its own. 

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Posted (edited)

I use the shortened 'nickname' version of my full given name (like Dave instead of David*), followed by my last name. Although my name is really common, everyone else seems to be in the sciences, so fingers crossed it won't confuse anyone in my field. 

*Not actually my name.

On 2017-7-12 at 1:00 AM, TakeruK said:

I know I am not in my field's forum here, but the answer to this question might be relevant here too. In my field, people who have alternate names, especially due to language/translation, will put them in parentheses. This is the standard format for the major journals in my field. For example, you might see a paper authored by a name appearing like:

Li (Jack) Chou

In addition, the major journals now support Chinese, Korean and Japanese characters names and a lot of people with western names as well as a name in their own language have begun publishing with both. So you now see papers authored by people such as:

Mary (...) Wong

where the author's name in their own language appears inside the ... (I don't know how to type these on my keyboard). 

Eh, I don't see that very often in my field. I can't recall anyone who puts their English name in parentheses; it's much more common to see it placed before their given native name, such as Victor Cunrui Xiong. It's also interesting when Western scholars publish in foreign languages such as Chinese or Japanese, which opens up a different can of worms: do you use the phonetic transliteration of your English name (David becomes Dawei 大伟 for example in Chinese), or do you use an 'unofficial' name that you've chosen yourself? I think there's typically a bit more shame attached to the former, because it always sounds foreign and inauthentic, but I guess that's a somewhat different conversation.

Edited by qkhitai

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Posted (edited)

My grandfather was a scholar who worked in China before the Revolution.  He chose to come up with a close copy of his name in Chinese.  Publishing in China wasn't such a big deal-- he just needed to have a name for his cards and that he could introduce himself with.  Nobody ever would have doubted that he was foreign; in those days, that might have added to his status a little.  In any case, based on the body language in the photos he took, he seemed to get along well with every imaginable kind of person, so perhaps his choice helped.

Edited by Concordia

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, qkhitai said:

n't see that very often in my field. I can't recall anyone who puts their English name in parentheses; it's much more common to see it placed before their given native name, such as Victor Cunrui Xiong.

To the best of my knowledge, "Li (Jack) Chou" is quite common in relatively informal settings (such as department profile) for those Taiwanese and Hongkonese (or Zhou for mainland Chinese) scholars who want to retain their exact Asian legal names (though Latinized) in print and also want people to know their preferred Western/Anglo name ("illegal" in a sense) called in the real life. "Victor Cunrui Xiong" can be an American-born or acculturated person who would like to publish in both of his (il)legal Asian and English name.

1 hour ago, qkhitai said:

Mary (小红) Wong

This looks awkward to me.

1 hour ago, qkhitai said:

It's also interesting when Western scholars publish in foreign languages such as Chinese or Japanese, which opens up a different can of worms: do you use the phonetic transliteration of your English name (David becomes Dawei 大伟 for example in Chinese), or do you use an 'unofficial' name that you've chosen yourself?

Most Western sinologists have a Chinese name, possibly chosen by their teachers and modified later by themselves, that appears phonetically quite similar to their native name but contains some intellectual/literary meanings beyond the transliteration. You can tell from the following examples:

John King Fairbank (Harvard) = 费正清 (Fei Zheng Qing), Fair-Fei, Zheng-John, King-Qing, but it means Justice and Purity, which are deeply reflected in the Chinese value system. As a pun, the name also means "justifying the Qing Dynasty." As a scholar of 19th-century China, he could not have a better name than that.

Albert E Dien (Stanford) = 丁爱博(Ding Ai Bo), Dien=Ding, Al=Ai, Bert=Bo, but it means universal love. He is a borderland historian, and he probably tries to show a love of neighboring countries/ethnicities through his name. 

Hans Bielenstein (Columbia) = 毕汉思 (Bi Han Si), Bie=Bi, Hans=HanSi, but it means Chinese thought (although he is an economic historian).

Richard Barnhart (Yale) = 班宗华 (Ban Zong Hua), Barn=Ban, Hua=hard, but it means Chinese clan.

Stephen Owen (Harvard) = 宇文所安 (Yuwen Suo An),  Owen=Yuwen, Ste=Suo, En=An. He chose a compound surname and it really sounds like a Northern Zhou / Sui aristocrat. His specialization is Sui-Tang poetry. No surprise. 

David Keightley (Berkeley) = 吉德炜 (Ji De Wei), Keight=Ji, David=Dewei. His name is David but he didn't choose 大伟 like in your example, a street name which literally means "Big Great" (Communism/Mao), but 德炜, morality and illumination. 

 

 

Edited by VAZ

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My first name is incredibly unique, and, combined with a flowery-sounding last name, has led friends to joke that I should have been a romance novelist and am missing my true calling (seriously, my name doesn't even sound like a real name, it sounds like a nom de plume that somebody made up). That being said, there is no danger that I will ever meet anyone with the same name to compete with for publishing purposes. I'd never include the middle name or middle initial, as I think it would be overkill.

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6 hours ago, VAZ said:

Most Western sinologists have a Chinese name, possibly chosen by their teachers and modified later by themselves, that appears phonetically quite similar to their native name but contains some intellectual/literary meanings beyond the transliteration. You can tell from the following examples:

John King Fairbank (Harvard) = 费正清 (Fei Zheng Qing), Fair-Fei, Zheng-John, King-Qing, but it means Justice and Purity, which are deeply reflected in the Chinese value system. As a pun, the name also means "justifying the Qing Dynasty." As a scholar of 19th-century China, he could not have a better name than that.

Albert E Dien (Stanford) = 丁爱博(Ding Ai Bo), Dien=Ding, Al=Ai, Bert=Bo, but it means universal love. He is a borderland historian, and he probably tries to show a love of neighboring countries/ethnicities through his name. 

Hans Bielenstein (Columbia) = 毕汉思 (Bi Han Si), Bie=Bi, Hans=HanSi, but it means Chinese thought (although he is an economic historian).

Richard Barnhart (Yale) = 班宗华 (Ban Zong Hua), Barn=Ban, Hua=hard, but it means Chinese clan.

Stephen Owen (Harvard) = 宇文所安 (Yuwen Suo An),  Owen=Yuwen, Ste=Suo, En=An. He chose a compound surname and it really sounds like a Northern Zhou / Sui aristocrat. His specialization is Sui-Tang poetry. No surprise. 

David Keightley (Berkeley) = 吉德炜 (Ji De Wei), Keight=Ji, David=Dewei. His name is David but he didn't choose 大伟 like in your example, a street name which literally means "Big Great" (Communism/Mao), but 德炜, morality and illumination. 

Indeed, I have my own ^_^ I was always particularly jealous of Stephen Owen's, it's really classy. However I still often see people, grad students and professors sometimes, publish under a phonetic transliteration; so someone called Elizabeth Lloyd, to take a name at random, could publish as 伊丽莎白・劳埃德 (Yi Li Sha Bai・Lao Ai De). My question about which one to use was somewhat rhetorical (although thank you for the reply), but I am actually a bit unsure about the etiquette surrounding publishing under a 'fake' or 'unofficial name', such as the examples you give - which I'm sure also applies to people like Chou Li who publish under the name Jack. As far as I'm aware nobody vets these names beforehand and I'm not sure there are any legal procedures to go through. Do journals and publishers just accept whatever 'unofficial' name you give them? Could Elizabeth Lloyd turn around and say she was called Luo Aili 罗艾丽 or something, and then everyone would accept it? Does Chou Li just call himself Jack and that's the name he can publish under? I don't know, I find the dynamics of 'fake names' in academia really interesting; I've yet to publish under mine. I assume it would be fine, but there is still something unnerving about it.

(I'm also not too sure what the link is between Keight and Ji 吉?)

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Posted (edited)

55 minutes ago, qkhitai said:

Do journals and publishers just accept whatever 'unofficial' name you give them? Could Elizabeth Lloyd turn around and say she was called Luo Aili 罗艾丽 or something, and then everyone would accept it? Does Chou Li just call himself Jack and that's the name he can publish under?

Well, I've actually done a bit research on this issue before as I also have similar questions. I don't think journal editors and publishers demand you to publish under the same name as what your passport/driver license shows. Think it somehow as your "pen name." Just don't forget to use your legal names on real serious issues (pay cheque sending, money reimbursing, contract signing, air ticket booking, etc.). It's actually less a problem for them, but more a problem for you to keep name consistency in academia. In other words, people should link your beautiful face, to your whatever name, and to all your publications. That's kind of have answered the Chou Li part of the question. For publishing on foreign journals specifically, better do "罗艾丽 (Elizabeth Lloyd)," or "Elizabeth Lloyd (罗艾丽)" so that it will be searchable and identifiable on Google Scholar and World Cat whenever people in the West type in "Lloyd." Never use "Luo Aili" or "伊丽莎白·罗伊德“ if you already have "罗艾丽” as your Chinese name because it would just create more confusion than clarity. I never believe in the Latinization (Sinicization/Cyrillization/Arabization/Hebrewnization) of foreign names based on conventional transliteration. It just doesn't do.

 

55 minutes ago, qkhitai said:

(I'm also not too sure what the link is between Keight and Ji 吉?)

I guess "Keightley" has a /y/ ending sound, and "kie-t" can be palatalized into /c-t'/ then to /dz/. And then it becomes /dzi/=ji=吉.

Edited by VAZ

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2 hours ago, qkhitai said:

My question about which one to use was somewhat rhetorical (although thank you for the reply), but I am actually a bit unsure about the etiquette surrounding publishing under a 'fake' or 'unofficial name', such as the examples you give - which I'm sure also applies to people like Chou Li who publish under the name Jack. As far as I'm aware nobody vets these names beforehand and I'm not sure there are any legal procedures to go through. Do journals and publishers just accept whatever 'unofficial' name you give them? Could Elizabeth Lloyd turn around and say she was called Luo Aili 罗艾丽 or something, and then everyone would accept it? Does Chou Li just call himself Jack and that's the name he can publish under? I don't know, I find the dynamics of 'fake names' in academia really interesting; I've yet to publish under mine. I assume it would be fine, but there is still something unnerving about it.

(I'm also not too sure what the link is between Keight and Ji 吉?)

All of my experiences with journals do not "vet" names and I don't think journals should "vet" names. As @VAZ says, it's like a pen name and you can publish as whatever name you want. I know some academics who use a different name in academia than they do in everyday life. For example, they might use their academic name for all professional events: conferences, publishing, websites, etc. and have a different name legally or in everyday life use. 

I think it's better this way, since I am a proponent of a person having as much control over their identity as possible. So, if a person's legal name isn't what they want to be called, they should be able to use whatever name they want when publishing. It's not like a journal or a publisher is a legal entity that needs to know the legal name anyways!

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I think I'm encountering another problem here. What if all of my professors, POIs and academic friends know me by my social/professional name, but I guess I have to write down my full legal (and unrelated and never used in my case) name in the application form. Would it lead to a naming mismatch in the admission committee discussion? Or can I note my preferred name somewhere or maybe clarify it in my SoP? Should I tell my letter writers to use my full legal name instead? 

Edited by VAZ

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@VAZ  I think you're overthinking here a little.  Use your legal names on all forms (your transcripts need to match your file after all).  Professors and staff aren't clueless; it takes them a moment to realize that you have a nickname/preferred name based on your communication with them, application form, and your letters of recommendations. Most application forms have a "preferred name" section. If in doubt, your date of birth and last name will confirm your identity.

My colleague has a full name that she uses for applications even though everyone calls her by her nickname. She "corrects" people when she introduces herself or signs her e-mails.

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3 hours ago, VAZ said:

I think I'm encountering another problem here. What if all of my professors, POIs and academic friends know me by my social/professional name, but I guess I have to write down my full legal (and unrelated and never used in my case) name in the application form. Would it lead to a naming mismatch in the admission committee discussion? Or can I note my preferred name somewhere or maybe clarify it in my SoP? Should I tell my letter writers to use my full legal name instead? 

Use your full legal name where you must in the application form. Note that some application software matches things like transcripts to your application form by an algorithm so if these don't match, it might take an extra step to link them (or the online software will show that they didn't receive your files, but a human has already linked them).

As TMP pointed out, there are usually entries in the application form to indicate your preferred names. If you put your social/professional name there, it should be no problem. I would not write about this in the SOP or ask my letter writers to indicate this. Sometimes the application forms have a box at the very end for any "special notes". This is a good place to note that you use XYZ in your work and personal life, however, ABC is the legal name that may appear on some documents.

I would also suggest that you use the name you want to be called in all other parts of your application. For example, your CV can have your social/professional name rather than your legal name that you never use.

Finally, as TMP also pointed out, these profs can figure out your name from the above actions. If you really want to be extra sure, almost all application software assigns you an Applicant Number or something like that. Just include that in the header of all your attached documents so it will be quite clear which files goes with what. You can also put your legal name there if you really wish.

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