Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog



Writing about my name made me realise there’s another name I ought to write about.

One of the reasons I call myself Thomas in English, and not Tom, Tommy or Big Tam, is that Danish names are almost never abbreviated – Thomas, Tom, Tommy and Mads are all considered different names – so I felt I was changing my name if I abbreviated it. Funnily enough, I’ve never had any problems with short forms of names in Russian and Georgian… I wonder whether it’s because it’s an aspect of Anglophone culture they forgot to mention at school.

Another aspect is that from languages like German, Russian and Georgian, I kind of expected shortened names to be used only by friends and family. The way some guys called Thomas here are universally known as Tommy often strikes me as odd.

Phyllis in the windAnyway, to get to the point, when I got a new officemate four years ago called Phyllis, I noticed of course that most people called her Phyl, but I didn’t feel comfortable using this familiar form myself without getting her permission – I guess I more or less expected her one morning to turn around and say: “Please call me Phyl!” However, this never happened, and I thus continued calling her Phyllis, even after we fell in love and she moved in with me.

And now this weird thing is happening: Many people who have never ever called her Phyllis are now switching to this form – I guess they think she’s told me she prefers that form, but that’s not the case. I think she might have thought it was cute that I used a different form of her name, but I honestly don’t think she ever expect other people to switch too!

3 thoughts on “Phyl(lis)

  • Og så bliver det mere morsomt, fordi jeg vist har kaldt hende Phyl. Spørg hende lige, om det var at være for familiær.

  • For the record: I am Phyl, I have been Phyl all my life, my parents have never called me Phyllis and I introduce myself as Phyl – sure it said Phyllis on my old office wall – it had been stuck there before I started in the company – kinda like Susie in the office definitely isn’t a Susan! I sort of assumed you calling me Phyllis was a funny foreign thing, but if everyone else starts using that bizarre old lady form of address, i am afraid I may have to slap you, as recommended by the Tories in your next posting 😉

  • In general in the UK you have 2 sorts of diminutives: one used equally with your real name – as I use Charlotte/Lots/Lotsie, one which is the only form used despite something else being on your birth certificate – eg a Thomas who is always Tom, or a Robert who is always Bob. Personally I think if you are only ever gonna call your kid Bob, then it should say Bob on his birth certificate. My get out clause of course being named after a gran who died the week I was born – then you often get that person’s name but called a diminutive.


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