Middle Name Definition Example Essay

What to call the OED: The first time you refer to the dictionary in your paper, use the full title: the Oxford English Dictionary. After the first time (which may come in the body of a paragraph or in a citation), then you may use the abbreviation OED throughout.

A side note on titles and abbreviations: This abbreviated title rule does not always apply for the body of your paper. The OED may be called the OED in the body because, although it is an abbreviated form, people actually call it this (at least this is my explanation). Generally, abbreviated titles are only acceptable within citations, e.g. a paper on Love's Labour's Lost, while referring to the entire title in the prose, may, after the play has been identified, thereafter cite simply by using LLL followed by the act, scene and line number(s). However, the author would not say, "When the acting company first performed LLL?"-this is too informal, and while I have seen it done, it is rare and best avoided for our purposes. When we get into writing papers that compare and contrast multiple texts from this course, you'll be able to abbreviate Fight Club as FC and The Talented Mr. Ripley as TTMR in your citations, after the first time you've identified the text by its full name. In general, one word titles are not truncated to a single letter, so we won't be representing Vertigo as V.

What the citation will look like: Include the particulars in your citation. If you are using one of the definitions of sympathy in your paper, you might say something like this:
Sympathy, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, canbe a "favourable attitude of mind towards a party" (OED, n. 3.d.).OR, if you've already mentioned the OED:sympathy can be a "favourable attitude of mind towards a party"(OED, n. 3.d.).OR, if you haven't yet mentioned the OED, and choose to deferidentifying the source until the citation itself, then:sympathy can be a "favourable attitude of mind towards a party"(Oxford English Dictionary, n. 3.d.).

I've attached the OED's entry for sympathy as a noun; as you'll see, there are four main definitions, and #1 and #3 have sub-definitions. The citation I use above shows my reader that I am referring first to the entry for sympathy as a noun, secondly that it is definition number 3, and thirdly that it is sub-definition d. Citing so specifically is crucial, especially since differences between various definitions can often be maddeningly subtle on first examination. If you are using a definition to shape or support your argument, you want to eliminate any possibility of misunderstanding on the part of your reader.

How often have you come across forms that require you to enter your first name, middle initial, and last name? In the rest of the world, and to some extent in the USA, they may not work. The reason is that there are 2, not 3, major components to people's names:

1. Given-names: these are the names given to children by their parents (or, rarely, are changed by the children).

2. Family-names (otherwise known as surnames): these are the names passed down from generation to generation (except in Iceland).

Example 1: Mary Elizabeth Smith has two given-names and one family-name. If she calls herself Mary, then she has a first name, can use a middle initial, and has no problem with the forms.

Example 2: Supposing, however, that she has been called Elizabeth (Liz for short) since birth. Then, her name won't fit the standard forms. Neither will that of J. Edgar Hoover (a former FBI director) and many others. You can believe that Liz would not want to have to answer to the name Mary just because someone designed a form that records only her first name and middle initial.

Example 3. Liz Smith marries someone called Jim Brown. She may call herself Elizabeth Smith, or change her name to Elizabeth Brown, or Elizabeth Smith Brown. Her name Mary still is first, but she hardly ever uses it. So, what is now her "middle initial"?

Example 4: Ada María Guerrero Pérez is Mexican. Her names (nombres) are Ada María (and she always uses both these names), her primer apellido (father's family name) is Guerrero and her segundo apellido (mother's family name) is Pérez. You would find her in a Mexican phone book under "Guerrero Pérez, Ada María." She calls herself Ada María Guerrero. So what should she do when she encounters a US form asking for her "first name, middle initial, and last name"?

Example 5: Ada María marries someone called Alfonso Ernesto Hernández López. He has two given-names (and uses the second of these), and two family-names (Hernández and López). You find him in a Mexican telephone book under "Hernández López, Ernesto." He calls himself Ernesto Hernández. How does he respond to a US form asking for first name, middle initial, and last name?

Example 6: Ada María has new problems with US forms: after her marriage she is Ada María Guerrero de Hernández. So now how does she respond to a US form asking for first name, middle initial, and last name?

Example 7: Li Xiao Ping is from China. In China, Japan, Vietnam, Hungary, and some other countries, the family-name (Li) comes first. The two components (Xiao Ping) of his given name are used together as one name such that they could almost be written Xiaoping. You find him in a Chinese phone book as Li Xiao Ping (written in 3 chinese characters with no comma). How should he respond to a US form asking for first name, middle initial, and last name? Which of his names is last?

The design of US forms asking for "first name, middle initial, and last name" is for the convenience of US designers of forms. It assumes ignorantly that everyone's name fits this mold, or imperiously that everyone's name must be forced into this mold. It would be more appropriate to design forms to ask for (a) given-names, and (b) family-names, and then (c) underline the given-name and family-name by which you wish to be known.


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