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 Post subject: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 20:18 
Carrie A wrote:
Was it coincidence that the name 'Jo' has a masculine feel and so the authors could portray them in a similar way to male characters?


What a very interesting observation ... Jo certainly does have masculine characteristics in the way she's not the fainting-female type of person, like Doris Trelawny. I wonder if we could take this further?

Len (and to a lesser extent, Con) has a masculine name, but does this allow her to take on a male-type lead without stricture?

And who else has a name that's very definitely feminine or masculine, and does this then affect how they're perceived by the reader - or by the author?


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 21:00 
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I suppose the obvious one here is Tom

And Cecilia known as Cecil.


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 21:03 
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Well, there are the ones that EBD did or mentioned deliberately:

Tom Gay, who got dispensation from being called Lucinda - changing a very feminine name to something masculine that suited her personality and upbringing;

Jack Lambert, who was named after Jacynth Hardy, and exhibited a lot more boyish traits than Jacynth, hence the short form;

Prudence Dawbarn, who had a "virtuous" name that was commented on several occasions as NOT suiting her personality.

All the "Anne"s I can remember seem to have been quiet and ladylike...


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 21:28 
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And Ted Grantley - again please note it is Jo who suggests this particular short form - having given her daughters boyish 'shorts' :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 21:40 
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I've definitely thought this about other books - I think it's Clare Mallory who does it a fair bit, where an older girl gets abbreviated to a masculine short, and a younger girl has a crush on her, and I did wonder whether it was a replacement for the male characters that just didn't seem to exist in these books. But I never got the same impression in CS books - maybe that's why I don't like Jo's children's shorts, because they're so masculine, but none of the girls have personalities or actions to match (and with the really small girls, they're too young to know what personality they're going to end up with).

I agree that Tom and Jack are more deliberate, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 19 Jul 2012, 21:48 
I do wonder why Elinor gave Jo's children so many boyish shorts. It's very odd.

And while there are the obvious ones, as people have mentioned, I'm very interested in whitequeen's comment about the use of boys' names possibly being a replacement mechanism.

What 'masculine' characteristics does Jo herself display? I don't mean as in tom-boyish things, more in the ways she's always the leader, or how she organises the people around her and they generally obey her without question. And does Len show masculine characteristics at all? She's nowhere near as masterful as her mother, but when she's around people do respond to her as if she is, somehow.


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 05:49 
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Genie wrote:

All the "Anne"s I can remember seem to have been quiet and ladylike...



How about Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame)?

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 09:19 
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I think I've read elsewhere suggestions that EBD just liked boyish girls names - wasn't she herself called "Len" by friends? Maybe it was fashionable when she was writing for girls to adopt boy's names as nicknames or boyish versions of their own names as "shorts"?

Jo, Len, Tom, Robin, Jack, Con, Phil, Ted, Cecil... etc.

(My great aunt Peg (Helen Margaret) was one of six sisters born between 1898 and 1914, a couple of whom had boyish nicknames: "Johnnie" was actually Constance Joan and "Phil" was Phyllis Barbara. The others were "Bay" (Monica Cecil - Bay was, we think, short for Baby), "Moll" (Janet Letitia - we've never worked that one out) and Fran - (Frances Mary). They had one brother, poor chap!)


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 09:35 
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Using boys names for girls is fashionable even now - look how many little girls out there are called Jordan, Morgan, Kennedy, etc. Courtney started out as a boy's name and is now mostly used for girls. The list goes on.

But as for 'Jo' being a masculine short-name that leads to a confident, outgoing personality...that didn't work for me, I'm afraid!

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 11:02 
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Quote:
"Johnnie" was actually Constance Joan and "Phil" was Phyllis Barbara.

In the Katy books, among Katy's siblings are Johnnie, Phil and Dorrie. When I first read them it took me a long time to work out which was a boy and which was a girl. (I think I read At School first, and it was rather assumed that readers knew.)

One of my mum's sisters was known as Tim. No-one remembered why, but no-one thought of it as a 'masculine' name - it was just her name.

I don't think there's any gender related reason for most of the 'boyish' shorts. EBD needed to shorten Helena, and she already had a Nell. And there really isn't any other way of shortening Constance.

It happened in reverse, too. John Bettany was known as Jackie as a child. That would be considered entirely a girl's name today.

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 13:33 
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I absolutely assumed Jackie Bettany was a girl - he and Bride were mentioned in passing in the first book I read, and there were a folk duo about at that time called Jacqui and Bridie so it seemed to make sense!

I actually quite like the ambiguity - it suggests to me being able to choose whether to be (say) masculine, practical Jo or romantic Josephine! It's almost as though shortening a name for everyday use is something practical, like tying your hair back. (Speaking as a Jo[anne] myself, who sees myself as practical and definitely prefers the shortened version!)

If it's true that Jo was inspired by Jo March, who wished she was a boy because of the restrictions placed on girls, I think julieanne's probably right about how EBD perceived some of her characters - Jo, Tom and Jack in particular.

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 13:49 
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Miss Di wrote:
Genie wrote:

All the "Anne"s I can remember seem to have been quiet and ladylike...



How about Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame)?


Sorry, I meant EBD's "Anne"s - Anne Shirley was definitely not a meek and mild character!


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 13:52 
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How odd about Jackie. I think this may be age-related. I would always code "Jackie" as a small boy unless I had evidence to the contrary.

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 14:04 
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cestina wrote:
How odd about Jackie. I think this may be age-related. I would always code "Jackie" as a small boy unless I had evidence to the contrary.

I think Jackie Bettany would agree with you - in one of the books we are told that he is refusing to answer to 'Jackie' any more and wants to be called by his proper name, John, instead!

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 14:56 
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And let's not forget Vic Coles. I always thought he was a boy when I first read the books. I was surprised to find when I first read CS discussions online that some people thought he was a girl!

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 16:51 
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JayB wrote:
And let's not forget Vic Coles. I always thought he was a boy when I first read the books. I was surprised to find when I first read CS discussions online that some people thought he was a girl!



Yes, I wish there was more about Vic in the book.... I assumed s/he was a boy as well, but then it occurred to me that maybe EBD would have made a lot more of Joan hanging around with a boy, and written it as more shocking than she did... but on the other hand, most "Victorias" are shortened to "Vicky", aren't they? Not that that means anything when other girls are called Phil and Cecil.

When the Trips are born, Jo says Constance will be known as Connie, which I really liked, and I wish she'd stuck to that instead of shortening it further.


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 17:03 
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To me, having grown up with the Chalet books, I associate the name Con with a womans name. I don't think I have ever known a male Con.

And Con Maynard wasn't the only Con. She was named after Constance (Con) Stewart.

I also hate the name Connie. It feels to me that it is fine as pet name for a baby or toddler but like Jackie Bettany, I can see why she didn't keep it or why it was swapped by Jo and Jack.

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 18:10 
JayB wrote:
Quote:
"Johnnie" was actually Constance Joan and "Phil" was Phyllis Barbara.

In the Katy books, among Katy's siblings are Johnnie, Phil and Dorrie. When I first read them it took me a long time to work out which was a boy and which was a girl. (I think I read At School first, and it was rather assumed that readers knew.)


Smae here. It was years before I sorted it all out ...


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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 19:31 
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I think that, with the exception of Tom Gay, the "boyish" names reflect EBD's affection for short, snappy nick-names rather than her perspectives on gender roles. In the same way, the 1920s Betty Wales series, set at a women's college, features Tim, Ted, Bob, etc. (Bob has a "pretty blush," and it's Babe who's the most tomboyish of her triumvirate.) In my own experience, similar nicknames are more androgynous than you might think, though I'm of the "Y" generation. (All six of my sisters were given –Y shorts.)

I think each of stores up a raft of associations that influence whether we see a given name as masculine or feminine, in the same way that our experience with real and fictional characters affects our predisposition to like or dislike a name. For example, with no further data I'd probably peg Jacky as a boy and Jackie as a girl, though of course it's not that straightforward in real life. Likewise, I was a little startled when I first read Lucy Maud Montgomery that Leslie and Shirley showed up as boys' names. And does anyone else suspect that Anne Shirley's learned dislike for Josie (thanks to Josie Pye) accounts for the paucity of Josies in EBD?

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 Post subject: Re: Masculine and feminine names
PostPosted: 20 Jul 2012, 21:54 
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I think it seems to be the done thing in GO to want to be 'boyish' that is sporting, brave, unsentimental etc. Jo has 'a boyish hatred of tears' for instance so I suppose the names reflect this. It's odd that Mary-Lou, a super-heroine has such a girly name!


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