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Dick & Bob

Can anyone explain why the short forms or the nicknames for Robert and Richard are Bob and Dick?

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Good question. While we're at it, how did Jonathan make it to Jack? How did Margaret become Peggy (or Daisy)? Chuck from Charles? Polly from Mary? Lolita from Deloris?

porsche July 26, 2007, 6:35am

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Just did a quick recce of the web & according to one website the Dick from Richard is to do with the sound of the "R" in Norman French being rolled with the tip of the tongue and the English (Richard being Norman French in origin) not being able to get their tongues round it.

The Bob connection is apparently to do with a trend in the middle ages for rhyming names (Hob is another example, which has fallen out of fashion). Peggy by the same token would come from Peg, in turn from Meg, from Maggie, thence from Margaret.

I suspect a lot of the name changes arise out of personal pet names that become fixed and widespread (Lolita, perhaps coming from Lola from Delores.

Trends do all sorts of bizarre things to names - there's a terend in some parts of the English speaking world for names beginning with La- (Latoya, Ladonna, Lashawn, etc.)

I've been reading a bit about this 'cos I'm having my first baby soon!

Sam July 27, 2007, 12:24am

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Latin nicknames seem even less connected!

José becomes Pepe,
Francisco becomes Paco or Pancho.

And, in Sicily,
Giuseppe becomes Pino, Beppe, Peppe, Peppino, or Peppone,
Antonio becomes Nino or Nuccio,
Francesco becomes Ciccio.

I always figured these and English nicknames just came about from people fooling around, in the "anna banna bobana, banana fanna fofanna--Anna!" spirit. Also, in places like Sicily there seem to be fewer names because everybody gets named after a limited number of relatives and saints, so alternates must be found to call a slew of cousins home for lunch. I'm sure the same happened in English towns as well.

Fabien July 30, 2007, 6:15am

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I think that a lot of those nicknames might have come from nursery mispronunciations. Dick, Bob, Ciccio could be a toddler's attempts at pronouncing the names Richard, Robert, and Francesco. Awwwww :-)

Sparkina August 11, 2007, 5:19pm

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Actually Fabien is right. I remember a Linguistics class, where the transition from Robert to Rob to Bob was explained with kids playing around with sounds. It is quite common for young kids to mispronounce a new word (in fact, combined with other's responses, it's the way they learn), especially if the first consonant is a difficult one. In this case R is way more difficult than B and it just gets replaced. Those 'mistakes' turned in to cute nick names and finally in to normal first names.

LowB August 14, 2007, 1:58am

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Margaret to Daisy: the flower named daisy is called in many latin languages Margarida, from which Margaret was derived.

José to Pepe: In the new testament, Joseph (Jose) was the "supposed father" of Jesus, in latin "Pater Putativus", or in short, P.P, pronounced as Pepe
maybe it's just the repetition of the last syllable of Giuseppe, which is the Italian version of Joseph.

Francisco to Paco: St. Francis' name was written Phrancisco, and was abbreviated to, hence Paco.

hplattek+pite October 8, 2007, 4:54pm

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LowB may be on the right track: my two sons have a speech impediment that makes it difficult for them to pronounce /r/. Their speech therapist tells me it is a chromosonal twist carried through the male lineage (my daughter doesn't have that pronunciation problem). Has to do with a high, narrow palate and the tongue muscles. So, Bob may be the diminutive more often than Rob, in some familes.

cdevorak November 10, 2007, 2:22am

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Francisco becomes Paco because St Francisco de Asis was the Pater Comunitas (in latin means father of the [religious] community) of the order of Franciscanus Movement, hence Pa.Co.

Jacques October 6, 2008, 6:33am

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Lolita is a diminutive for Lola.

CJ October 31, 2008, 7:37am

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Can someone explain how Peggy became the knickname for Margaret?

bosley202 August 10, 2009, 10:49am

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Robert to Bob, Richard to Dick is due to the R/D thing. The first name of the bassist for the band Rush is Gary...when his mamma called him, she sounded like she was saying "Geddy", hence Geddy Lee.

But, I still can't make the walk from John to Jack...anyone? Bueller?

nontechietalk August 20, 2010, 1:22pm

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