The Colin McEnroe Show
4:01 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Are Middle Initials a Thing of the Past?

Credit Bruce Szalwinski / Creative Commons

Imagine two people. One of them is named Betsy Kaplan, the other, Betsy F.P.R. Academic studies suggest people, on average, would infer a higher intellectual capacity for Betsy F.P.R. Kaplan and be more likely to admire her and think she made more money than plain old Betsy Kaplan. A middle initial, says the scholarly literature, is basically a free ticket to higher status. 

Which makes it odd that each successive generation is less likely, overall, to use them. 

This hour, we go deep into middle initials and the middle names behind them. Would people feel the same about a person named Samuel Jackson, Philip Dick, William Buckley or Johnny Goode, and how did Abraham Lincoln amount to anything with no middle name?

 You can leave your comments below, email us at colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.

GUESTS:

Anna Mormack was unable to join us but you can access her blog, "Onomastics Outside the Box" or tweet her. 

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