International Life

Having the right name at the right, or sometimes wrong, time

Image: FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner arrives at U.S. Federal Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of sending obscene messages to a minor, ending an investigation into a “sexting” scandal that played a role in last year’s U.S. presidential election, in New York, U.S.,September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When reporters descended on upstate New York to ask about a stunning prison break in 2015, state police spokesman Major Charles Guess took their questions.

A dog named Trigger stepped on his owner’s 12-gauge shotgun during an Indiana waterfowl hunt just months later and shot her in the foot.

Sometimes the name fits the news story. Correspondent Julie Weed writes about legal marijuana for Forbes. This month, a front-page New York Times story on obesity was edited by Hilary Stout.

And former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner on Monday was sentenced to prison for sending explicitly sexual pictures of a certain body part to an underage girl.

This phenomenon has secured its own line of scientific research, called nominative determinism. It even has a name of its own: aptronym.

In some cases, it may be rooted in the tradition of a profession determining a family name, such as Baker, Smith or Taylor.

Other times, it is a coincidence. But it nearly always raises an eyebrow or even a smile from those realizing the unusual pairing.

Recent news stories have mentioned Jack Dagger, the U.S. director of the International Knifethrowers Hall of Fame. Then there is Detective Martin Speechley, the ever-quotable spokesman for the New York Police Department.

Sometimes the odd connections can be horrifying. When a gunman at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, killed nine people, including a woman in a wheelchair, her service dog named Bullet survived.

But strange synergies also can signal hope. Josh Outman now pitches for Mexico’s Triple-A Minor League Pericos de Puebla but was once with the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and other U.S. Major League Baseball teams. Perhaps a streak of no-hitters by Outman could get him back to the big leagues.


(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)
Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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