Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chunk It!

I once knew this fellow whose name was Chuck. And he refused to take his own name in vain.

Where you and I would say, "Chuck it!"... Chuck would instead say "Chunk it!" He would not say "Chuck it!", because "chuck" wasn't just any old word, "Chuck" was his name.

He wasn't demonstrative about it, he never explained himself, and you might know him a long time before you ever caught onto this little quirk of his. Then, in conversation, it would just quietly slip out. He simply could not or would not use the word "chuck" as a verb or common noun. He always said "chunk" instead.

I didn't know quite what to make of this. I mean, I had known since early childhood that the word pall (as in funeral pall, or as in A gloomy pall hung over the crowd) was a homonym for my first name. And growing up on Sam Loyd rebuses in The Human Interest Library, I was well aware that P + [Picture of an Awl] was a rebus for my name— I think I identified with this one more than anything else.

As I grew older, I became aware that another homonym of my name was pawl, "a lever which engages with a ratchet wheel so as to permit movement in one direction only."

Hell, I even ran across one wag who contrasted Norman Vincent Peale with my sainted namesake from Tarsus, thus: "Paul appealed, but Peale appalls."

And through all of this, I never had the slightest trouble using the words "pall," or "pawl," or "awl," or even "appall," simply because my name is Paul.

So what was it with Chuck, and "chunk it!"? Have you ever known any folks who had a hard time using words that sounded like their own name?



Blogger Caltechgirl said...

was he southern? There are a lot of folks down here who say chunk instead of chuck normally....

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 8:14:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Nope, I'm acquainted with that Southern usage, too. But he was a native and lifelong resident of northern Illinois.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 8:28:00 PM  
Blogger Attila Girl said...

My first name is Joy, and I don't like it much for a handful of reasons (people think it's Julie when I first say it; I really don't care for that dipthong; as a child I couldn't figure out if it was one syllable or two).

When I was young people used to sing the Christmas version of "Joy to the World" whenever they saw me.

When the word is used I keep my face carefully neutral, so no one will stare at me and make a joke. As a writer, I avoid it like the plague, though it's actually a great word.

Given all this, one would think I'd realize that "attribute" names are a dicey call. But somehow I do like the name "Hope." Go figure.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005 12:14:00 PM  

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