TM Soundararajan is a household name in Tamil Nadu. A playback singer beyond compare, he was the trademark voice of Sivaji Ganesan and MGR in countless hits. A friend of a friend often poked fun at his ‘ganeer kural’ (Tamil euphemism for being ‘high on decibels’) by labelling him as SOUNDararajan. That set me thinking. Does the name forebode your profession?
Is it an uncanny coincidence that William Wordsworth turned out to be a poet, Margaret Court became a tennis player, and Usain Bolt chose to be a sprinter? Actually, many wise people have applied their mind to this hypothesis.
Celebrated psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung saw a meaningful pattern in it. Chicago columnist Franklin Pierce Adams went a step further and coined the word ‘Aptronym’ to chronicle names that match the occupation or character of a person.
From the evidence in hand, one can safely say that aptronyms are not as commonplace as hair on Anil Kapoor’s chest or cuss words on Virat Kohli’s lips. But they are not a rare commodity either.
The New Scientist magazine was once famously flummoxed when they received an article on the Polar Regions from a Daniel Snowman and a piece on Subterranean London from one Richard Trench.
There are many more chuckle-some examples on the internet. Let’s start with Sara Louise Blizzard. A weather presenter on BBC, she’s apparently weathered many a storm with her surname. Then there’s Dr. Kevin De Cock of the World Health Organisation. The genital man (oops…gentleman), predictably heads the AIDS project. Journalist William Headline was often described by reputed anchor Wolf Blitzer as having the ‘best name in news’ as everything about him was headline material.
The eeriest one I’ve heard is Dr. Russell Brain. He grew up to be an authoritative neurologist. Another name that’s likely to make you go ‘good heavens’ is Alan Heavens. He’s a renowned professor at the Imperial College London teaching astrophysics!
Everyone’s favourite is Sue Yoo. She’s currently the legal director at Verizon. From what one hears the serial digs at her name made her consider turning a lawyer. At the other end of the crime spectrum is Christopher Coke. He’s a Jamaican drug lord with cocaine literally in his veins. They say his dad Lester Coke was an even bigger snorter. I’ll sign off with Thomas Crapper. True to his name, he founded a company that made the flushing toilet ubiquitous. If that shit didn’t unnerve you, nothing else will.