December 11, 2008

"I don't really care what the students call me: 'Jay,' 'Wex,' 'Jaywex,' 'the Wexmeister'..."

Is Jay Wexler only saying that because his name happens to produce snappy nicknames? We're not all that lucky.

I agree with Wexler's view that the lawprof should call students by their first names. But does that mean students must call the professor by his or her first name? I think not. Does that seem unfairly unequal? I just said don't call the professor by his or her first name. You can use the all-purpose "first name" for a professor: Professor. Sample dialogue:
Hi, Joe.

Hi, Professor.
See?

Oddly -- as you may know -- I dislike being called by my first name -- by anyone. I don't even think of myself by my first name. Frankly, I don't even consider it a name. ← See? I had to write "it."

ADDED: Jay Wexler is just visiting at the linked blog. His regular blog is Holy Hullabaloos, and that's also the title of an interesting-looking book he has coming out next spring:
In the fall of 2007, I spent about six months traveling to all sorts of interesting places where big church-state Supreme Court cases came from. I wanted to visit the people who were involved in the cases and see the places where they actually happened. I went to an Amish farm, a high school football game in East Texas, the U.S. Senate, a community of really Orthodox Jews in New York State, a Santeria get-together in South Florida, and downtown Cleveland. Inspired by books like Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live, and Steve Almond's Candyfreak, my book will tell the story of this trip while also explaining the basics of church-state law and making jokes.
Cool.

87 comments:

Meade said...

Alright, Chip Ahoy. Where is she and what have you done with Professor Ann Althouse?

SteveR said...

Even worse they call you "Anne".

TMink said...

I understand you Professor Althouse.

I am legally a Thomas, but spiritually a Trey.

Now where is my empathically earned supreme court appointment?

Trey

dmfoiemjsof said...

Well, you have a cool last name, "Althouse." Kind of like arthouse, or alternative house. It's edgy and cool.

If it was weird though, you might like your first name more.

Southbound Blues said...

That's sort of weird, professor.

EDH said...

I like the name Althouse, especially for a blog.

It sounds almost like a place or destination for a happening.

Like a Grindhouse.

A venue where back to back posts and comments feature unsensored sexuality and hard core thrills... And one hot mama who knows the score.

Sorry Ann, er, professor.

W said...

"See? I had to write 'it.'" -- An annotation.

AllenS said...

"Oddly -- as you may know -- I dislike being called by my first name -- by anyone"

Isn't your full name Jo Ann Althouse?

Is it the Jo part you don't like?

Pogo said...

They call me 'hell'
They call me 'Stacey'
They call me 'her'
They call me 'Jane'
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name

They call me 'quiet girl'
But I'm a riot
Maybe 'Joleisa'
Always the same
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name
That's not my name

Oligonicella said...

So, Althouse then?

Theo Boehm said...

AllenS--From what I've read, Althouse's parents were into minimalist names. Her sister is Dell--not a nickname; that's her name.

I knew a girl in high school whose parents were similar minimalists. Like Althouse's parents, they were both in the Army in WWII. I think it may have been something about the atmosphere of efficiency and no nonsense of the Depression and war years that affected them, but my friend's parents also named her "Ann." But they took it one step further, and spelled it "An." They were Caucasian, so it wasn't an Asian name of any sort. Just a name just stripped to essentials.

She had a brother with some sort of short, weird Palinesque name, who, in fact became a math professor. I can't remember his name, because it was so embarrassingly strange for the time. I think he probably doesn't remember it either, because, well, he's a math professor.

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, I prefer to be called Althouse. (Or Professor.)

I know it's absurd.

I need a better first name. I could be like Joe the Plumber and Mitt Romney and make the middle name my first name, but it's not a feminine name.

Joe M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe M. said...

Frankly, I don't even consider it a name. ← See? I had to write "it." ← So are we to expect many such characters in the future?

MadisonMan said...

What should Ann Althouse's first name be?

I think it should be a name that harkens back to the original language, Mathilde, for example instead of Matilda, or Gertrude (pronounced with 3 syllables). A name that makes you say Wow!.

How about Bella? (Your middle name isn't Donna is it? Oh wait, you said your middle name isn't feminine and Donna is (phew)) Bella Althouse. The only bad thing: too rhyme-y with Dell.

Joe M. said...

It makes one wonder what our currently fashionable system of decorating our sentences (i.e., punctuation, italicization, *adornment*, &c.) will look like in 300 years or so.

We have a hard enough time nowadays with the Manner in which those Englishmen and Others of Yore handled their nouns, now try to imagine how our language will look after a couple of centuries on the internet. Egads.

Having considered this I find myself much more sympathetic to Cormac McCarthy's approach.

AllenS said...

Theo--

I think her sisters first name is Lyn.

Ron said...

But "Ann Althouse" sounds good, and looks good in print! Better than say "Betty" or "Hazel."...

veni vidi vici said...

Her sister, who became famous as one of the Wisconsin Dells...

Oligonicella said...

"Yes, I prefer to be called Althouse."

And I prefer Oligonicella or Olig, but never Og.

peter hoh said...

She isn't just an Althouse.

She is the Althouse.

Edward said...

What gives you the right to call students by their first names?

Why not show a little respect for them and for tradition (an alleged conservative value) and call them Mr. or Ms. Student. (Not that Ms. is traditional per se but you do have to be politically correct.)

Here's how a sample dialogue might go:

Ann: Good morning, Mr. Smith.

Smith: It's afternoon in the eastern time zone.

Now isn't that much better?

EDH said...

She's a Brick House.

Theo Boehm said...

Joe M: Read some of Sir Archy's comments around here if you want adornment.

If we're having a "Name That Althouse" contest, it's a hard one, because knowing the online person as we do, it's hard to imagine her as anyone other than "Althouse."

Being classically-minded, I would name her "Minerva," or, if we want to get Shakespearian, "Portia."

But the name her parents should have given her, and one I really like for a woman of northern European ancestry is "Freyia." It's a beautiful name with all sorts of good connotations for any woman, especially one as accomplished as Professor Althouse.

(Have I laid it on thick enough?)

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that "The" is a better name than "An/Ann." And that's a big part of my problem with my name.

As for alternate first names, it would need to be feminine, but it cannot end in "a." I don't like the uh uh sound with the last name.

"She had a brother with some sort of short, weird Palinesque name, who, in fact became a math professor. I can't remember his name, because it was so embarrassingly strange for the time. I think he probably doesn't remember it either, because, well, he's a math professor."

Pi?

Theo Boehm said...

Damn! All my a-ending names won't work.
Grump.

And, no it wasn't Pi, but I suppose Trig would have done.

AllenS said...

Why not go with Althouse Althouse.

AllenS said...

Let me borrow from Peter Hoh: Althouse The Althouse. There, now you have a middle name also.

Henry Buck said...

You could go with one of the more trendy names for girls for the past few years -- Madison!

Theo Boehm said...

I'm still laughing about "Pi," because the last name, which I suppose I can't reveal, would work perfectly.

Another damn and grumble. A great joke if you like them incognito.

Joe M. said...

"Joe M: Read some of Sir Archy's comments around here if you want adornment."

I quite enjoy Sir Archy's comments. I have a fondness for the archaic that runs counter to my desire for clear and straightforward language. Perhaps we English-speakers make up with punctuation what we lack in grammatical intricacy. Though this has its exceptions.

On the one hand, Dickens:
Although I do not mean to assert that it is usually the practice of renowned and learned sages, to shorten the road to any great conclusion (their course indeed being rather to lengthen the distance, by various circumlocutions and discursive staggerings, like unto those in which drunken men under the pressure of a too mighty flow of ideas, are prone to indulge) ; still, I do mean to say, and do say distinctly, that it is the invariable practice of many mighty philosophers, in carrying out their theories, to evince great wisdom and foresight in providing against every possible contingency which can be supposed at all likely to affect themselves.

On the other, McCarthy:
If much in the world were mystery the limits of that world were not, for it was without measure or bound and there were contained within it creatures more horrible yet and men of other colors and beings which no man has looked upon and yet not alien none of it more than were their own hearts alien in them, whatever wilderness contained there and whatever beasts.

Beautiful.

Meade said...

If you were my daughter, I'd nickname you Addy.

Balfegor said...

I'm not sure I see his point. Yes, it would sound silly to say, "Hi Ms. So-and-so," (e.g. "Hi, Ms. Smith.) But to say "Hello, Smith," doesn't really. It might sound a trifle old fashioned, but that shouldn't stop one.

The follow-up post by Esenberg (Professor Esenberg?) notes:

What I find interesting, however, is what happens after graduation. My view is that, when you grab the diploma, I become "Rick." With the exception of one woman, who is the same age as I am, they all refuse to comply, including one former student with whom I have frequent ongoing professional interaction. I wonder, if others here, including the Wexmeister, have noticed the same thing. My colleagues have.

This is perfectly natural. Even when the apprentice finishes his apprenticeship, the master remains the master. The junior and the senior remain junior and senior.

former law student said...

Oddly -- as you may know -- I dislike being called by my first name -- by anyone.

I did not know this, and apologize for frequently giving offense.

As for alternate first names, it would need to be feminine, but it cannot end in "a."

I often read this admonitory passage: If you have a tip on what I should blog, email me at annalthouse (at) gmail (dot) com. as "email me at anna lthouse." I suggest the nom des tubes of Lt. House. (Quick: What was the movie in which Mrs. Outhouse requested her name be pronounced as O'Thoosey?)

If you were my daughter, I'd nickname you Addy.

That would have been ok until 1990 or so, but nowadays, Addy carries associations with historic American dolls, and Attention Deficit Disorder.

Original Mike said...

I apologize. I did not know you don't like "Ann". But just "Althouse" sounds quite rude to people of a certain (i.e. my) age. Professor Althouse also sounds strange. I don't call any of my colleagues on the faculty "Professor". It would just be weird. I guess I can call you Ms. Althouse.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

My grandparents forced my mom and all my aunts and uncles to call them by their first names, and not "mom" and "dad." Especially not "mommy" or "daddy," they really hated that. Their reasoning was, 'how would you like it if we called you "Son" or "Daughter"?' They were insane, btw.

And the same thing went for the me and the other grandkids. Instead of "grandma" we had to call her Jane.

As far as Althouse's new name...I vote for ANNIE. It's cute, close enough to the original, and it's one of my favorite movies.

Annie Althouse

Jay said...

"Oddly -- as you may know -- I dislike being called by my first name -- by anyone. I don't even think of myself by my first name." --> I take it I would never call the good prof "Prof. Ann" on here, then.

How would Prof. Althouse prefer it, then?

ricpic said...

I don't see what the fuss is about. You could have been named Sam - the female equivalent of a boy named Sue - a cruelty that some parents actually impose on their daughters. Or Chastity. Or Sunday Rose, Rose being not good enough for ditzy Angelina Jolie. Or who knows? Starburst, Starfish, Mirth, Galaxy, one of those kooky age of aquarius names kids were saddled with by their hippydippydoo parents. Ann? Peace a' cake.

Pogo said...

I hope Althouse adopts an unpronouncable (and unspoken) glyph or symbol, like Prince did for awhile.

Maybe Palladian or Chip Ahoy could create a logo or sign that incorporates or invokes vortex, law, blog, art, and the like into an image.

And it could become like YHWH, a name that should not be said.
"I Ann who Ann"

AllenS said...

Good thing that your father wasn't Frank Zappa. His kids are: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

AllenS said...

"Good morning class, my name is ♀ ♪ ♫"

Joe M. said...

I have always liked the sound of Jezebel and Delilah, but the associations are not so pretty. And neither would work with "Althouse" in any case.

Would "Annabelle" work?

Darcy said...

Salty.

*laughing* Sorry, sorry.... :)

Ahem. Althouse needs no embellishment.

Sigivald said...

How about "the Altster" or "the Altinator"?

rhhardin said...

Annie. A dog's name is called a call name.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

You're gonna have to serve somebody

Michael McNeil said...

How about treating “Ann Althouse” as a unitary name?

As for “the Althouse,” as Zero Mostel put it in A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, she's “the the him [her] self!”

AllenS said...

I'm thinking about creating another sock puppet: ♂S

former law student said...

I vote for ANNIE

Annie is just Ann with an ie.

It occurred to me why Prof. A feels Ann is undistinctive. Where I grew up, "Ann" was hugely popular as a middle name for girls born during the baby boom. Most of the remaining girls had some variant of "Mary" for a middle name. Being named Ann thus must be as undistinctive as a Muslim boy being called Muhammad. (Catholics dominated the returning GI tract in which I was raised. Baptists and Presbyterians were no more numerous than Buddhists and Bahais are today. Mary is the Mother of God, and Anne was Mary's mother. Joseph, God's stepdad, fills a similar role for the middle name of Catholic boys.)

Not to stereotype Prof. A, but I would suspect that she experimented with her name as a high schooler. The same drive to redefine themselves that produces a Teri Hatcher causes some young women to change their name entirely.

Henry Buck said...

You could go with one of the hobo glyphs. The glyph for "Man with a gun lives here" is great but perhaps not feminine enough. How about "Kind woman lives here; tell pitiful story."

Bissage said...

A New Yorker cartoon from the 1980s.

A man and a woman are sitting at a café table across from one another holding hands.

The man says: “Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, I don’t like the name Kate.”

TMink said...

Elizabeth.

It sounds nice with Althouse. I know that I have referred to you by your first name before, I will not again, sorry for the mistake!

I had a friend in college whose last name was Leventhal. He became "Levange" and later, "the Levange" and finally just "the." We collectively decided that he was an archtype unto himself, and worthy of the distinction.

Would Madam Althouse work?

Elizabeth, that is really best.

Trey

Theo Boehm said...

And it could become like YHWH, a name that should not be said.
"I Ann who Ann"


Hoo boy, Pogo. And I thought I was laying it on thick with "Minerva" and "Portia."

Will anyone who insists on using her first name now have to write, "A-n?"

Pogo said...

Theo,

Exagerration is the sincerest form of flattery.

A-n
Oooooh, that's good.

Henry Buck said...

L'Althouse's gang name could be "Fisheye." Is that feminine enough? In a bad way?

zeek said...

Call you by your last name or the title professor? Hate to be a five cent shrink but this sounds like intimacy issues and not that you don't like your first name. Any substitute name would only be a mask since it would not be your real identity. What happens during sex? Your lover says, "Oh, oh, Althouse, ohhh!" If you were robbing the cradle with a much younger student I suppose, "Oh Professor Althouse!" during orgasm might be deliciously naughty but in any other scenario... weird. Apparently your first name should be Mistress, as in "Yes, Mistress Althouse, I am here to serve you."

Ophir said...

"How did you become estranged from your own name, to regard it... in a negative way?"

Perhaps, if you're not satisfied with your vanilla, white-girl American name, you can change it to Hussein.

rhhardin said...

A cat that has been named Fido has been made a clown. I think John Hollander wrote that somewhere, probably in Raritan...

Yes.

Talking to our cats. It is their very independence of us, their mythical self-sufficiency, which makes them so malleable, like language itself. They do not possess, but rather are, a kind of language, and one is always taking cats figuratively. We interpret them when we address, and then respond to, their silences, whereas we merely come to understand, without intervening fables, models, or metaphors, our dogs. Cats are named differently from dogs, not in that ``Fido,'' ``Rags,'' or ``Spot'' would be inappropriate (there are cats so named, cats who have been made clowns), but because feline names are never in a true grammatical vocative. Cats never respond to their names per se, as do dogs. Their names are the titles of poetic texts, the names of tropes, into which all of the uncharacterizable life of each particular cat seems to grow. We read the cat as we do an unfolding book, and our glossing of its invisible expressions is like moralizing a dark, pregnant myth. Our discourse is with a fable we have invented, albeit in order to explain one of the most compelling of presences, a domestic spirit. Its response to us, and ours to it, are both parts of a parable.

``The Poetry of Everyday Life'' _Raritan_ I:2 Fall 1981

RR Ryan said...

I use my middle name, Robert. And it used to really bug me when people called me Bob. Bottom line: at some point it no longer matters.

RR Ryan said...

I use my middle name, Robert. And it used to really bug me when people called me Bob. Bottom line: at some point it no longer matters.

madawaskan said...

Well ya it's weird.

I hated when people called me by my last name.

My last name is unique as hell and always singled me out as different.

I think Ann-[ I'm addressing the rest of the gang] doesn't like the ordinariness of-

Ann.-worse without an 'e' on the end-even.

It's sooo white bread sooo W.A.S.P.!

Generic white bread even...

Lem said...

The professor is coming in loud and clear ;)

Darcy said...

I can understand this. I love when people call me by my last name. Or any of my nicknames.

I'm not sure Althouse is really looking for suggestions (and what? nobody liked "Salty"? lol), but initials are pretty interesting, in place of full of names. Like "E.A" (Elizabeth Ann).

madawaskan said...

I dunno-

How would you like to constantly address someone-as Colonel?

After awhile you'd reminisce about how America was started and our problem we had with those falutin' titles.

Pogo said...

Intimacy issues?

Is that what you use when you sneeze during sex?

Darcy said...

er...one too many "of"s there in my post.

LOL, Pogo.

Beth said...

Trey, I may have asked you this before and if so, I apologize for being boring.

Are you a Thomas Mink the Third"?

rhhardin said...

It's bad luck to rename a horse.

Pogo said...

My daughter remained unnamed for almost a week after her birth; my wife simply couldn't decide.

Worse, the narcotics resulted in some unusual choices. Still worse, I was still a young man and prone to being useless in these issues. So my name choices were insulting and unfunny.

They wouldn't discharge the two until she was named.
I wanted She Ra, Princess of Power, but was overrruled.

Ann Althouse said...

"As far as Althouse's new name...I vote for ANNIE. It's cute, close enough to the original, and it's one of my favorite movies."

No, don't call me Annie. I'd rather be called Annikins than Annie. I don't identify with Annie at all. No one has ever called me Annie. I've been called Annabelle and Anna Banana more than I've been called Annie.

Abigail would be good, don't you think? Abigail Althouse. But don't call me that.

"I take it I would never call the good prof "Prof. Ann" on here, then."

If my name was Prof. Ann, I'd be writing ProfAnity.

ricpic said..."I don't see what the fuss is about. You could have been named Sam - the female equivalent of a boy named Sue - a cruelty that some parents actually impose on their daughters. Or Chastity. Or Sunday Rose, Rose being not good enough for ditzy Angelina Jolie. Or who knows? Starburst, Starfish, Mirth, Galaxy, one of those kooky age of aquarius names kids were saddled with by their hippydippydoo parents. Ann? Peace a' cake."

That reminds me. My mother used to call me Susie. She called my sister, Dell, Pat and my brother, George, Sam.

"Maybe Palladian or Chip Ahoy could create a logo or sign that incorporates or invokes vortex, law, blog, art, and the like into an image."

A simple spiral will do.

"Would "Annabelle" work?"

Some people called me that when I was a child, but they were trying to annoy me.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said..."You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy,
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy,
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray,
You may call me anything but no matter what you say You're gonna have to serve somebody"

Hi, Richard.

"It occurred to me why Prof. A feels Ann is undistinctive. Where I grew up, "Ann" was hugely popular as a middle name for girls born during the baby boom."

Yeah, it's like a space keeping the first and last name separate.

"Not to stereotype Prof. A, but I would suspect that she experimented with her name as a high schooler. The same drive to redefine themselves that produces a Teri Hatcher causes some young women to change their name entirely."

I probably put an "e" on the end a few times.

zeek said..."Call you by your last name or the title professor? Hate to be a five cent shrink but this sounds like intimacy issues..."

And your point is?

"Perhaps, if you're not satisfied with your vanilla, white-girl American name, you can change it to Hussein."

LOL. Whatever happened to those fools?

"I'm not sure Althouse is really looking for suggestions (and what? nobody liked "Salty"? lol), but initials are pretty interesting, in place of full of names. Like "E.A" (Elizabeth Ann)."

Then I'd be A.A. Althouse. See the problem?

Joe M. said...

Elizabeth is nice.

"How would you like to constantly address someone-as Colonel?

After awhile you'd reminisce about how America was started and our problem we had with those falutin' titles."

I think the difference is that a Colonel is presumed (perhaps falsely) to have done some thing (or, preferably, many things) to merit his title.

Kevin Shaum said...

I've always considered 'Eleanor' an impressive name, both feminine and serious; and having a namesake played by Katherine Hepburn is a plus.

Ditto 'Margaret'; though there are some negative associations for those who grew up reading Dennis the Menace, watching M*A*S*H, or disliking the British Tories.

Baron Zemo said...

My dear lady I will continue to call you by my pet name for you,
nappy headed ho.

madawaskan said...

Well see that's the point...

I know a lot of Colonels not a one of them likes to be addressed as such outside of the military environment-but then the guys I know are awsome human beings.

Like I'm related to them and one of them just vectored the space shutlle down here to earth.

Ann Althouse said...

"Eleanor, gee, I think you're swell/And you really do me well/You're my pride and joy, et cetera."

That's my association with Eleanor.

By the way, there are no pop songs about "Ann." Actually, there are few pop songs with one-syllable names.

Pogo said...

" few pop songs with one-syllable names."

Beth, KISS

Ann The Stooges

Meade said...

By the way, there are no pop songs about "Ann."

So. We still think you're swell.

And even betta?
We think you're et cetera.

Joe M. said...

"I know a lot of Colonels not a one of them likes to be addressed as such outside of the military environment-but then the guys I know are awsome human beings."

That's nice. And sure, it would be off-putting if a Colonel went around demanding that he be addressed as "Colonel," but if others wished to address him as such as a sign of respect for his service, it would hardly be the same as those English titles to which our forefathers objected.

Eleanor(e) is a nice name, too. Though I am surprised it's the Turtles and not the Beatles that spring to mind.

I suggested Annabelle thinking of a song (perhaps this song and my preference for "Eleanor Rigby" should indicate something about my taste in theme for pop music?), though I cannot bring to mind any songs about "Ann."

blake said...

Catholics dominated the returning GI tract in which I was raised.

May I suggest more fiber?

No? Too medical?

I'm intrigued that Althouse has discovered the Smalltalk assignment operator. (←) Perhaps Althouse could be her first name, with that symbol being her last?

Althouse ←

Very reflexive.

How about "M". Then you'd be "Malthouse". Students of your philosophy would be "Malthousian".

Meh.

I can call you Betty, and Betty, when you call me, you can call me Althouse.

Ann Althouse said...

Funny about the Stooges. I've had that album for years.

There's also a Little Richard song "Miss Ann."

Shawn Levasseur said...

"I agree that 'The' is a better name than 'An/Ann.' And that's a big part of my problem with my name."

Reminds me of comedian, A. Whitney Brown who early in his career introduced himself in his standup by saying that he aspired, one day to become THE Whitney Brown.

Oligonicella said...

You took my arm and you broke my will
You made me shiver with a real thrill
You took my arm and we walked along
Down the road to a quiet song
I looked into your cool cool eyes
I felt so fine, I felt so fine
I floated in your swimming pools
I felt so weak, I felt so blue
Ann, my Ann I love you Ann
My Ann I love you right now!

Iggy

timber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Althouse is a great name for a blog but Ann is kind of generic. I can see why you don't care for it.

Now I know an artist named Fred Stonehouse. I just love that name. The name Stonehouse is great on so many levels. Fred is a funny name but on him it works because he's a larger than life person. Just the opposite of what I picture when I hear the name Fred.

peter hoh said...

Though they are rare, here's a pop song featuring a one-syllable female name.

Google suggests that there is a David Hasselhoff recording of "Jean," but fortunately, I was unable to find that on YouTube.

Henry Buck said...

There's "Peg", if you don't remember the song right away, don't worry, it will come back to you.

TMink said...

Beth, sorry I missed your question. Yes, Trey refers to my being the third.

I try to call one of my sons Quart, but I am threatened each time by my wife.

Oh, and I made the oyster dressing from torn French Bread. It was absolutely killer. 8)

Trey