Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A few years ago, I became friends with this guy named Sandor. It’s pronounced “Shon-door”. He’d explain his strange name, that it’s not really that strange -- his parents are Hungarian, and Sandor is just the Magyar version of Zander, or Alexander. Basically, in Budapest he’d be “Alex”. Kinda the way John takes on new forms in other countries -- Sean, Ian, Juan, Ivan, etc…

I thought of this recently in light of Brangelina’s bizarre babes -- Knox Leon, Vivienne Marcheline, Pax, Zahara, Pile o’Shit, Klaatu, Barada, Nikto…

And when Sandor gave the origin of his name, I realized something about my own family. See, my grandfather was Hungarian, too. Well, technically he was from what’s now Slovakia, but back then it was Czechoslovakia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so it was all one big slovenly Slavik mess. Anyway…

My grandfather’s name was Nandor, which seemed funny to me as a kid. But what was also funny was how everyone I knew called him Fred. Why Fred? Why not something that sounds closer to Nandor? Like Nathan or Andrew? The incongruity seemed to be along the lines of how some Asian people find that no one in the U.S. can pronounce Hritik or Toshiro or Li Xiaolóng, so they Americanize themselves as, say, “Bruce”.

How else do you explain Nandor becoming Fred? Those immigration workers at Ellis Island or wherever screwed everything up.

Except Nandor was the Hungarian version of Fernando, which is a variation on, you guessed it -- Fred. I only realized this a few years ago after meeting Sandor aka Alex. No big deal, but I can’t believe it took me that long to make the connection.

But I still say Knox Pitt is a stupid name.


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