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OUR FIXATION WITH NAME SUFFIXES

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 12, 2016

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Do we make too much out of them?

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I have always been fascinated with our use of suffixes in names, such as “Senior” or “Junior.” I look upon the use of such monikers as a desperate cry for attention. Years ago I had a friend who put “Senior” after his name on business cards. Knowing he had no offspring yet, I asked why he did this. He explained it was wishful thinking on his part to someday have a son to carry on the family name. Of course, he was blessed with a trio of girls and eventually dropped the suffix.

Then there are the people who add Roman Numerals after their name to indicate they are the second, third, fourth, or whatever to bear the same name. I guess they see this as a way to add class and dignity to the family name. I think the highest was a “V” representing five people with the same boring name. I am tempted to add the Roman Numerals “MLXVII” to the end of my name, thereby confusing people or allowing them to believe there has been 1,067 generations of Tim Bryce. That should scare them.

In academia, Doctors use Ph.D. which actually means Doctor of Philosophy, or to be more literal, it is Latin for Philosophiae Doctor. The idea that a doctor is a philosopher in the strictest sense, isn’t very comforting if you are in the hospital where I would rather be treated by an MD (Medical Doctor, or Doctor of Medicine). In business there are the MBAs representing a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Interestingly, you do not see too many people denoting their Bachelor’s degree. I can only assume they are ashamed of the title as compared to the Ph.D. or MBA. As for me, I’m proud to say I hold a BSC degree, representing a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. I worked hard for this and am proud of the designation, but I do not print it on my business cards.

Depending on the line of work we select, there are often many certifications we can claim. The entertainment industry is full of them, most notably the American Cinema Editors (ACE). In my field, the computer industry, there have been numerous certifications. For example, I was among the first group to hold the Certified Systems Professional (CSP) title which, unfortunately died after the country stopped building information systems and focused on software instead. A Certified Data Processor (CDP) was also a coveted title requiring several weeks of study and testing. This too faded from view and was replaced by something called the Certified Computing Professional (CCP). It kind of sounds like the old Soviet Union doesn’t it?

The industry certification programs were replaced by those sponsored by specific vendors, such as Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and many others. In Microsoft’s case, there are at least six certification programs that I am aware of, including:

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE)

I would like to meet the guy who refers to himself as “John Doe, MTA, MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, MCT, MCE.” I do not believe there is a business card big enough to hold all this. Frankly, I believe this does more to advertise Microsoft products, than reveals any substantial skill.

Nonprofit organizations make extensive use of titles, particularly the Freemasons, the ancient fraternal organization well known for wearing aprons, sashes and other regalia. They also make extensive use of titles, such as Past Master (PM), Past District Deputy Grand Master (PDDGM), Past District Instructor (PDI), Past Grand Master (PGM), not to mention their prefixes of Worshipful, Right Worshipful, or Most Worshipful. I suspect this was all created to establish some sort of prestige competition. To me, too much emphasis is paced on these suffixes and not enough on the simple word of “Brother.”

A few years ago, I tried an experiment whereby I signed my name as “Tim Bryce, LSMFT” which, of course, are the initials for “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco,” an advertising scheme used for many years. I believe it is still printed on each pack of Luck Strike cigarettes. Nonetheless, very few people picked up on the ruse and were impressed by my title. Not many people asked me what it meant as they didn’t want to appear clueless. However, when someone asked me about it, I would explain what it meant and they would laugh, but then started to think about the point I was trying to make.

In the movie, “The Flim Flam Man,” George C. Scott plays the role of a southern swindler with the name, Mordecai Jones, MBSCSDD, which stood for “Master of Back Stabbing, Cork-Screwing and Dirty Dealing.”

I tend to believe we rely too heavily on these name suffixes. They’re pompous, arrogant and often result in negative political side effects. I’m of the age where I am no longer easily impressed. I have met way too many people with titles who are book smart but cannot produce a work product on time or within budget. I have also done my fair share of travel throughout the corporate world and have seen everything from the boardroom to the trenches. I certainly do not need another title. However, there are people who have led a sheltered existence and want to have their egos stroked with some form of recognition. These are the people who desperately seek such suffixes.

Keep the Faith!

– Tim Bryce, EIEIO

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  POLITICS AT THE DINNER TABLE – Do we use this as an opportunity to reason and discuss?

LAST TIME:  ADMITTING A MISTAKE  – “The longer you delay admitting a mistake, the more expensive it will be to correct.” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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3 Responses to “OUR FIXATION WITH NAME SUFFIXES”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A W.H. of Boulder, CO wrote…

    Well, as I am “William A*** H***, III” – I think I can comment on this one. As you’ll note with my amateur radio callsign, WA3H – it’s the closest I could come to getting what the FCC calls a “vanity” callsign with my initials that was legitimate and available. My previous automatically assigned callsign was WA5FXE. I won’t go into the way the FCC makes up callsigns, but “FXE” is a TERRIBLE callsign to send either phonetically OR in Morse code, so after over 30 years with that callsign, I petitioned to change my callsign – and I’ve held an amateur license for 53 years now.

    Anyway, most people I know do not automatically put Jr., III, etc., after their name. In fact, they don’t get much choice in their name at all – since the parents pick it for them. My grandfather, who lived during the civil war era and into the early 1900’s didn’t use “Sr.” after his name until my father was born in 1911. And, once my grandfather died, my father stopped putting “Jr.” after his name when he signed it. When my father died in 1980, I stopped using “III” after my name – except on certain LEGAL documents which were keyed to my birth certificate. In fact, I always have to ask people how they want me to sign my name on legal documents – because some of them want the “III” and some don’t care. When you mentioned the guy that put “Sr.” after his name, but wasn’t married or had any children, I thought immediately of business owners who put “& Sons” in the business name to designate the fact that they are working with their sons and will be handing over the business to their sons. When we first got here, our plumbers were “Labella & Sons” (he had two that were working in the business). Over the years, one son left the profession, and when the father retired from the business, the remaining son changed the name of the business to his name. So, I suppose you see it both ways.

    In fact, when my oldest daughter was born in Scotland in 1979, I went to the local Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages to register her birth. (They fill out those birth certificates by hand in nicely formed script.) The lady at the desk who was helping me asked for the “father’s name” and I replied “William Alexander Hickey, III” and was politely and firmly told that they only use suffixes for ROYALTY over there. I said “but my father, William Alexander Hickey, Jr., is still alive.” The lady said, “does he live in Scotland?” Nope. Well, then, there’s no problem.

    The singular unique name/suffix was my roommate at Navy Officer Candidate School in 1969 – Scott Merritt Moxley Hobby, V (from the deep south).

    When you talk about letters after names, you should see some of the UK signature lines. These guys have some pretty darned obscure letter combinations after their names. Oh, “MBE (Member of the British Empire)” is one that they are justifiably proud of, because it is a title conferred on them by the reigning monarch…but most of them are just plain obscure. I have a guy here in the Denver area that has joined just about every possible Masonic body, held offices in many of them, also belongs to a number of non-masonic bodies (like Sons of the Revolution, Sons of the Confederacy, etc). His “sig” line in email is probably 40-45 lines long – really a pain in the posterior when he’s only sending you a one line reply to an email. In fact, he has so many memberships that he can’t attend all of them any more, but he continues to “collect” the things.

    People often ask me why I don’t include all my titles and such – and I ask “WHY?” “Who gives a rat’s ass what titles I have, UNLESS they already know what title I have, and then I don’t need to remind them.” I’m a retired LCDR, USN – and I can definitely use that title as I hold a commission for life just like every other military officer on the retired list. The ONLY time I use it is when it is appropriate and/or necessary to do whatever it is I’m trying to do (like if I’m on a military base).

    I do have cards printed up (one card is my business card as the Executive Director of the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association, and believe it or not, I do NOT include my military rank on that one. The other card I have is for my official position with the National Sojourners as local chapter secretary, local camp adjutant, Colorado Regional Representative and Rocky Mountain Area Representative – that one I have to put my rank on because Sojourners formally uses the rank when you join – but I think I’ve handed out MAYBVE 5-6 of those cards over the years to people within Sojourners who needed information to contact me. I’m kind of torqued with their headquarters staff because every bit of correspondence I get from them is addressed to LCDR William Alexander Hickey, III, USN (Ret) because that’s the way their data base shows me (because to join, I had to show them my DD214 which had it that way) and they don’t know how to add a “nickname” or truncated address name into the file.

    I’m pretty sure that lawyers will be fond of those suffixes and post-name letters (like ESQ) – but I’ve really met very few people who will WANT to use those on their business cards.

    As to the utility of generational suffixes, I find they can come in handy when you are looking for ancestry information. In my family’s case, when I get back past the civil war and approach the revolutionary war era, I find that a typical generation will have 10-16 children. And, when you’re hunting for which of the siblings is YOUR direct relative instead of an uncle, or whatever removed, having a generational designation would sometimes help. I can tell you that I saw no less than 5 “William A. Hickey” names in the same generation in my family alone. The problem was, at least 2-3 of them had birthdates in the same year, and one set were within a couple of days of each other – makes trying to figure out which branch they belong on kind of a challenge. Not to mention that there is NO way to be sure that the “A” in each of those names was for “Alexander” and not something else. But, when you’re dealing with records that old, some of which come from overseas, you just have to work with what you can get.

    Anyway, I always found it more of a nuisance than anything else, and I’m sure my dad did as well. Before my voice changed, when people would call for my dad on the phone, it was easy – I was “Billy” and he was “Bill.” But, after my voice changed, it became hard for people to identify my dad by voice alone. Then it became “Old Bill” and “Young Bill” – which, by the way, did NOT go over well with my dad. It couldn’t be “Big Bill” and “Little Bill” because he was only 5’8” and I was already 6’1”. So, it became “Bill the Engraver” and “Bill the Student.” When we found out my wife was pregnant, she asked me if I wanted to name a boy William Alexander, IV – and I said “not only no, HELL NO.” While I was named to honor my father’s late dad, I felt it was important for a child to have their own unique name, and not tie it to some obscure generation they never met.

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