Friday, April 12, 2013

Statement Analysis: Children and Nick Names

                                          What has the power to change language?

You've seen "currency" become "money" when it was stolen.
You've seen a "gun" become a "weapon" when fired.
You've seen a "car" become a "vehicle" when broken down and no longer running.

What about children?  What about your children?

When helping someone understand Statement Analysis, I often ask them,

"What are the names of your children?"

Next, I pick the name of one of the children (if there are multiple) and ask, "What else do you call him?"  "Any nick names?"

Then, I asked, "When is he *****?"

This often brings out humorous moments while highlighting Statement Analysis.

A mother of twins calls her sons, "the boys" regularly, but then called them "the guys" and asked me why.

I asked her, "When did you call them 'the guys'?"

She said, "Oh!  I get it!  I called them 'the guys' when I was so proud of them bringing in firewood!"

In Statement Analysis, we look at context.  We note when a mother calls her child, "my daughter" and when she calls her by her name.  We saw this in several cases:

Deborah Bradley, mother of missing Baby Lisa, went to great lengths to avoid saying "Lisa", instead she was "her" most of the time, and "our daughter" (not even "my" daughter).

The Jonbenet Ramsey case is another one that highlights this principle.  Her name changes when she is "safe" and when she is "at risk"; going from "Jonbenet" to "her" to "daughter" to "our daughter" and "my daughter" (all become significant).

We find, for example, that men who abuse their children avoid "daughter" in the context of abuse.  In other words, if the statement covers a period of time, during the abuse, the victim might be her name, or "the girl" (see prior example) but not "my daughter" until after the abuse.

The other morning I asked a mother of a toddler, "What other names do you call your son?" and she picked out a humorous nick name that she uses.

I asked her, "When do you call him ******?"

She said, "When his diaper needs changing!" of which we laughed.  We've both likely changed too many in life.

A few minutes later, the little fella took off and grabbed some items on the shelf and tried to run off with them.  She said, "Oh!  ********!  Come back here!"

We laughed again.  She recognized that when she must do something less than pleasant, he is ***** (a cute nick name), while changing the diaper, running after him, picking up his hurricane like mess, and so on.

She's a good, loving mother.

As our conversation continued, she told me about a "woman" of which something happened.  "She is my husband's mother's friend..."

I said, "You're not particularly close to your mother-in-law?"

She laughed and said, "Wow, you knew that because of the way I said it!"

I saw the light bulb above her head go on.

It takes careful listening to understand, which means that you must 'slow down' a bit, and focus especially on pronouns.

Note the order in which people name others, as important, one way or another.
Ask your children who they are friends with at school and note the order:

Was it the best friend named first?
Or, was it that child seated closest to your child that was named?
Was it the bully named?
Did your child save the last for best?  :)  (Not wanting to say so?)  Kids do get crushes in school!

For whatever reason, the order is important and should be noted.

Sarcasm and humor:

Always note the words chosen within the realm of sarcasm or humor:  the words come from somewhere.  Worst is the "teasing" in a passive aggressive manner in which a couple goes after one another, or, targets the child who feels the sting even though the parent says, "It was only a joke..."

Think of your child's proper name.
Think of what nick name, or abbreviation you use.

Next, listen and catch yourself and learn when he is "Robert" and when he is "Bobby" and when he is ******* nick name.

"Robert, do your homework!" 

"Good job, Bobby!"

Beware spankings that use long, full, syllabled names!  (dating much?)

Post your findings for us, when you come to understand what it is that impacted you to the level of causing a change in language.


S + K Mum said...

Haha this was fun to think about!

I use my kids full names when;
- calling on them
- when it's important that they are listening to what I am saying (not staring off into space!)
- when I am telling them off
- telling someone about them

Nicknames when;
- I feel pleased or proud
- when the family is relaxed and happy
- when they do something cute that warms my heart

If you have a name that is shortened and someone calls you by the longer full version, you think "uh oh what's wrong? I'm in trouble!"

Lynn said...

I have to laugh. I had not thought of their nicknames in those terms. I have so many nicknames for my kids, sometimes I wonder how they learn their real names! I will give you a fun example: I also call my kids by their middle names interchangeably so (changing names because I do not like to use their names online), Dalton Jacob is just as likely to be called Jacob as he is Dalton. I have always wondered why I do it. Several years ago we started going to a ne church and one of the gals thought my oldest son was actually a set of twins named Dalton and Jacob. I didn't know that until the day she asked why they were never in the same room!!

Just as I was thinking about this in terms of SA, I realized I use the middle name more often when we are in a group or there are several kids there. It gets their attention more quickly but sounds less harsh than calling them by both names which might make them feel like they've done something wrong.

My daughter, I often call sister, again mostly in public, but there are several nicknames I use for her and I realized reading this that each one seems to go with an emotion, whether it be pride or excitement or feeling sentimental.

I have also noticed that in speaking about them online it is difficult to not use their names and feels awkward.

Anonymous said...

My mom would often say, "Sister get me this or that.."... When I had my kids and I called my son, Brother or my girls in-laws threw a FIT! Why would you do that??!! I think I did like my mom, called my kids sister or brother, because they were sisters and brothers. I normally did it like my mom, when you were NOT in trouble, but more of an endearment type thing.

shmi said...

My son's nickname is Sweet Pea. I call him that when he is helpful or kind or just being sweet. I also call him Sweet Pea when he is in a bad mood or needs an attitude change. It works! He is getting too old for that nickname, so I'll have to come up with something else.

Ladyluck WI said...

My daughter who just turned 3 is named Arielle. pronounced, (R-E-L)

She most commonly goes by "Ari" 90% of the time, often when being scolded as well.

Her full name is often used when summoning her to the dinner table, getting ready for a bath, or being introduced to someone.

Her other nick name is "ari bell" which is usually only used in a playful manner when i have some free time to play with her like i'm a kid myself,lol

Dee said...

In my case full names are used for my kids when they are in trouble (even now as adults). In thinking about that I realized something interesting. My grandsons live with me along with my daughter, their mother. I never call my grandsons by their full names like I do with everyone else. I call them by their first and middle names if I'm speaking to them and they're in trouble with me. I don't like their father (more like just a donor - he's not actively in their lives). I think that's why I avoid using their last names.

elf said...

Last summer I went to Walmart to get in a little early shopping with my youngest daughter (ill call her Kate) who was 3 then. I let her out of the cart so I could hold an outfit up for size comparison and when I reached for the rack to grab another outfit Kate darted about panic! I started yelling her name and looking for her. I saw a Walmart employee and told her to call a code Adam... looking back I was probly pretty rude but all the what ifs were in my mind. The employee was quick to respond and within a few minutes another employee found Kate in the shoe section. I remember using her first and middle name when I was calling her.
All's well that ends well but ill never forget that panic.
When I was a kid I always knew the degree of trouble I was in by the way my mom called me. First, middle, and last usually meant a major scolding and/or grounding lol I find myself doing the same with my kids now.

Nanna Frances said...


"Beware spankings that use long, full, syllabled names! (dating much?)"

Typo or marbles?

Apple said...

Haha Nanna!

It is a joke in my house that I say "your dogs" or "your son" to my husband when they are misbehaving.

Anonymous said...

A lot of times when I am proud or happy with my adult daughter, I call her Megan Rose. I can not ever remember having to use her middle name because I was upset or she was in trouble..because she very rarely was in I tend to call her Megan Rose because I love her name and I love her....good thinking about nicknames...

My sons name was dillon and we called him dillon the villian cause he was always in trouble... he turned out to be everything but the villian.

Seagull said...

This is so true. Usually I'm Chris but whenever I did anything wrong it was "Christopher" Mums know best.

John Mc Gowan said...

What i tend to take notice of aswel,is when families name the children in chronological order,and when i know the age and order i listen for the change in the order they are named..

EG:John is the eldest (12years old),and he usually comes for because he is first born.

Then comes his brother Michael(10years old).Etc..

If then, Michael is mentioned first when naming them,i often find that john has done something wrong and his parents are not happy with him.

I also wonder when parents mention the youngest or the middle child first before the eldest,do the favour the first child named...

Tania Cadogan said...

Not having kids i had to think laterally.

Due to the nature of my work i have several nicknames, this applies both now and when i was working before i became raspberry rippled.

In my previous job my nickname started off as Muppet (i'm vertically challenged)which then progressed to Tasty or Taste even to my bosses using it.
I never figured out how i got the nickname even though i had it for 9 years

These days i have my playname, my general working name and my admin name.
When i visited Canada and the States i was introduced to everyone in my work name even to signing the guestbook at a wedding with it, (years down the line they will read it and ask who the heck brought a dog) It did cause confusion as guests asked who names their child after a dog?

My admin name is far stricter then my working name ( so they don't realise we are one and the same) it is also a name that for some reason they get confused on the gender, (the tash and beard should be a giveaway)

These days i pretty much only ever hear my proper name when i am in trouble or from my bro's kids when i am aunty ...

When i post on blogs and forums i am hobnob or hobs, it is my thinking name :)

I have noticed bro and wifey call their kids a nickname when they are good and their proper name when naughty and when their son was being a pita my bro would always ask what's up buddy? so the buddy nickname is when he is upset.

as a side note all my pets have had strange names rhianna tuatha de danaan, tara saggy baggybum, marmalade gingerbits annoying lil ba$st$rd, beelzebub pandalugs, lil bag of S**T and wingnut cubert picklebutt,

Rhianna .. (who turned out to be a tom) answered to rana, tara anwered to booby, boobydog or boobage, marmalade.. answered to hobbit, beelzebub answers to beezle and wingnut answers to scabbycat.

I blame my dad for my track record of calling pets strange and unusual names, at least i know no one else has a pet with that name ( plus they were all trained to come to a specfic 2 tone whistle)

Sus said...

How about grouping? I am the oldest of a large family, and rather than calling out all our names, we were the "big kids", "little kids", "big girls", "little girls".

My little brother, fourth child, was a big kid or a little kid, depending upon his behavior. Lol

Tania Cadogan said...

Thinking back to childhood nicknames i was chookpeg, my bro's in order were baby grumplin' , piglet and lastly grommet (dad chose our names and nicknames)

My youngest bro Merlin is pretty glad dad was reading about King Arthur and the knights of the round table when he got his name, he could have ended up being named after some cartoon character suc as Noddy or Aslan or as we have suggested, a teletubby.

Strangely enough, Merlin is an entertainer who does juggling, firewalking, stilts, escapology and all sorts of stuff, i wonder if the name led him to go into show biz, it perfectly suits what he does.

The rest of us, i am the nerdy smart one, middle welsh bro is the indecisive depressed one with no interest except darts and sex and younger bro is the techy geeky photographer computer fixer.

Merlin, bro and myself have dad's laid back tempermant, cheerful if warped view on life and vivid imagination whilst welsh bro is the exact opposite, stressed, depressed unable to make a decision and currently ignoring the rest of us.

Lorraine said...

I was thinking about how my mom through the years has quite often refered to me and my sister as "the twins." I remember that when we were younger, my sister and I felt irritated at being refered to bein called "the twins" by my mom. Then as we got older,(we are now 47!) my mother still calls us "the twins" and I was thinking as to why that would bother me, and I thought it bothers me because it makes us sound like little kids. Then when I was reading this article I thought about when my mom does this it's usually because she feels proud of us. I got to thinking that she has always enjoyed the attention of having twins. (My sister and I are identical, so we would attract a lot of attention especially when we were younger) And that got me to thinking that I shouldn't have felt irritated at being called "the twins" so much because I think my mom did it because she was happy to have twins. Thanks for the article. I can see this situation from a different view. I'm going to share this with my mom!

Skeptical said...

There is a certain amount of implied power in naming. In the Old Testament God changed Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's to Sarah, Jacob became Israel. The implication being that when a person changed their character, their name was changed.

When Juliet spoke: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;" she said much the same thing. It was Romeo's character that mattered, not his name.

I think nicknames are a combination of power and intimacy and reflect the emotion we feel for a person at a particular time.

Sarah said...

OT--Peter would you please weigh in on this? On the method and the topic.


Tania Cadogan said...

off topic

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The defense attorney for a 15-year-old charged with felony murder in a baby's slaying in Georgia says he should be tried separately from an older teen accused of shooting the toddler in the face.

Attorney Kimberly L. Copeland said Tuesday she believes her client, Dominique Lang, is "more of a witness than a defendant."

Copeland says she's afraid Lang would automatically be found guilty if the same jury also chose to convict 17-year-old De'Marquise (deh-mahr-KEESE) Elkins. Authorities say he was the gunman.

Both teenagers are charged in coastal Brunswick with the March 21 slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, who was shot in the face as he sat in his stroller. Police say the baby and his mother were attacked in an attempted street robbery.

Read more:

I am not sure if this would work, as if he was there when the gun was fired that killed Baby Antonio, he is guilty as an accomplice.
He is treated the same as if he had fired the gun himself.

This smacks of distancing and minimising in an effort to protect their own client.

Sus said...

OT Hobnob,
"more of a witness than a defendant"
Or a deal.

Police say once they talked to Lang, it led them to Elkins.

Lemon said...

Better scabbycat than Smelly Cat :)

Anonymous said...

Peter, I have 2 questions. First, I have some close friends who have been married about 35 years, and have never heard the husband refer to his wife by her first name. Instead, he says "My wife." Does this indicate a poor relationship? By the way, the wife always refers to her husband by his first name. Second, my daughter and son-in-law are the very proud parents of a 3 month old son. They now refer to everyone by their nicknames relative to the baby. She calls him Daddy, he calls her Mommy, they call me Nana, etc. Perhaps they are just enamored of their new positions as parents, but it strikes me as a little odd. What do you think? Thanks.

~mj said...

I have four. My husband and I have "yours, mine and ours". We instinctively call the two younger "the littles" yes they are younger than the two older (mine from my first marriage and his from his first marriage) but after thinking this through - I think we call them that because they are a product of us AND because they both are Asperbergers. I believe we will always see them as "younger" no matter their age.

~mj said...

@ anon 1:09

It is quite common for parents to refer to people around them in relation to their new baby.

wildpitch40 said...

I am new here. Peter, please explain your comment regarding spankings. Thank you for your time.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

A spanking done by syllable using all three names!

Peee terrrr Frannnnn cccciiiissss HHHHyyyyyaatttt don't you ever talk back to a nun again!


some will say "my wife" and you note that it has the possession pronoun, "my", which is good. It is in the introduction to strangers that "my" plus "title" and "name" all are important.

In bars, when someone says "the" wife, it is often not a good relationship.

"My ex wife" is a good relationship where as "the ex" is less, and "the mother of the children" is even further down with "what's her name" coming in last.

Anonymous, using nicknames with relatives --I think you are correct: they are enamored with parenthood. It sounds cute, even if it is a bit annoying.

Some great responses here show that people are understanding that emotion has the power to change language.

Anonymous said...

LOL@Peter Hyatt re: use of terms for exes. My brother-in-law referred to his ex simply as "Plaintiff", would you say this is above or below "what's her name"? :-)

Excruciating Headache said...

Anon 11:55, Can't wait to hear his answer. Working in a law firm (defendant side), "plaintiff" is practically a swear word.

lane said...

My Dad thinks it's funny when he introduces "The mother of my children."

I heard him say it once.

curiosity killed the cat said...

Peter, what is the message when a person asks you, "how's the husband?" The person asking the question being your male boss.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes do court transcription and I once heard a subject refer to her abusive ex-husband as 'The Kids' father.' I couldn't get a handle on it, were 'the kids' not biologically hers? (They were.) He was an abusive husband, but 'kids' seemed to indicate that maybe he wasn't abusive to them, right? Turns out 'The kids' father' was abusive to her but not 'the kids' (and also called by their first names in the testimony) at first. Later testimony about the marriage she started calling them 'my children' and that was when she decided to leave him -- ah ha!

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Dawn said...

Older post I know but a light bulb went on for me. I never got how you would red flag the term, "the baby," from certain parents. I use that term for my toddler all the time. But today (Mother's Day!) my husband took the kids to his parents and when I called him and asked how it was going I asked about, "the baby" but it felt really wrong. I realized after it was because I wanted my baby with me (freedom from the kids is nice but I'm sure missing the cuddles). I'd stumbled over my words but it would have felt much more natural to call him by name.

So I had to think about when I do use, "the baby". Ah ha! I use it when I have to run to do the laundry and ask the kids to, "watch the baby." or when I send him out to toddle around with my husband and say, "here comes the baby!"

All times when I'm giving up responsibility for a moment and passing the responsibility over to someone else. When, in a way, I'm distancing myself from him. I wanted to feel closer to him today when I called my husband and that's why the use of, "the baby", felt so awful. And, I realize, why it would be so out of place in ANY situation where he wasn't with me and I was longing to have him back and hold him.

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