Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Die A Little Inside

My name is "Tom Jones". Seriously. To be more correct, it's "Thomas H Jones II". It's "II" because my father, in some kind of pique of vanity, decided to bequeath me his name. Not sure what he had to be vain about, but, there you have it.

At any rate, the name "Tom Jones", while formed of two fairly common name roots (in the U.S., "Jones" is one of the top-5 most common surnames - right behind "Smith", "Johnson", "Williams" and "Brown") is also sort of a famous name. Back in the sixties, a Welsh performer by that stage name ("Jones" being the Welsh form of "Johnson") became fairly famous. Prior to him, there was the titular character in the 1749 novel, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Over the years, I've been treated to people saying (or worse, singing) snipets from the Welsh performer's songs. Most typically, I get treated to "What's New, Pussycat" or "It's Not Unusual". Generally, the users of the literary reference have been English teachers or literary professors. Damned few "normal" people have ever used this reference with me. Several friends and associates, over the years, have even seen fit to refer to me as "Dr. Jones" (in a nod to the even more recent cultural phenomenon, Indiana Jones)

And, yes, the prior use of "normal" is me saying that there's something not "normal" about people that would choose to be either English teachers or literature professors for a living. Deal with it. 

I think that all of this contributed to why, when Donna and I were trying to have kids, I'd threatened to bestow "Indiana" upon whichever first-born daughter we might have spawned. I mean, hell, it's "character building" to have such a name. You either learn to see it with a sense of humor or you go mad.

Hmm... Maybe I've done both? But, I digress...

No, the real problem I have with my name is that people can fuck it up. I mean, it's really freaking common. But, yeah, misspellings still happen. I always wonder, "how," but, whatever. Worse is that people don't seem to understand how to create the possessive forms of my name.

For the record, if something belongs to:

  • a single person with the last name Jones, the proper possessive is Jones's.
  • two or more people with the last name Jones, the proper possessive is Joneses'

By way of example, if one is referring to my ownership of my car, it would best be written, "that is Tom Jones's car." It should never be written as, "that is Tom Jone's car," nor should it be written as "that is Tom Jones' car." If you write the former, what you're really saying is that my last name is "Jone". Clearly, since my last name is "Jones", then writing "Jone's" simply makes no sense. I get tad tetchy when things make no sense.

Further, there's a fairly common saying, "keeping up with the Joneses". Thus, it should be fairly evident that the plural form for "Jones" is "Joneses". It's really only when  "words ending in 's,' just tack on a trailing-apostrophe" apply.

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