Ford Paused To Contemplate His Ford-ness

My mother is considering reverting to her maiden name of Ford. (This blog was named after a Douglas Adams character and the car I'm driving is a complete coincidence too, I swear!) My passport needs renewing next year so, if I'm going to follow suit, I should do it soon or not at all.

The issue is threefold. I'd welcome being able to pronounce my own name without having to concentrate and ridding myself of a name that totally belies my rural roots (Sheppard) would be a bonus. I'd also like to honour my mother for all she's done for me, though my father's been refreshingly supportive of late so I'm not just trying to find new ways to piss him off! My middle name (Charles) was given for his father and would seemingly cover my ass when it comes to representing his side of the family but I'm sure he's going to react badly, despite that.

The ideal solution would be to find a way to commemorate both parents. But double-barrelled names are pretentious and Ford-Sheppard sounds like the motor company just built their first tractor. What would you do with your own name in similar circumstances? What would you do if you had my four names to choose from? How many names is too many? It's one thing to be saddled with a stupid name from birth but if I make a bad choice now I'll have no-one to blame but myself. I'm overwhelmed with possibility and could use some guidance here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend who was getting married had a good idea about what to do with her name. She was going to replace her middle name with her maiden name and then her last name would still officially be her husband's name. But, of course this would mean that you would have to shed the Charles bit. The friend ended up not doing this, I think because she was named after a grandmother or something. I like the idea anyway.

Marcus Sheppard Ford? I think it's cool.

Anonymous sarah said...

The silly thing is, it's only the hyphen that adds pretension. Four names without a hyphen never seems pretentious because you never really use all four names at once, anyhow. I'm curious as to whether it would feel weird to all of a sudden have a name that hasn't quite been your name all your life. I hate my last name (my middle, as well) but I don't think I could ever change it because I've always had it. I wonder if you'd miss the Sheppard if you completely dropped it. And why's it such a bad thing to have rural roots?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with sarah's pretentious comment. No hyphen, for sure.

As for it being weird to have a different name--you'd be surprised how easily you get used to it. I suppose if it were changed against your will or somehow changed very abruptly, you might feel some resistance. Whatever you choose, you'll still be the same person.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

Sarah: It's not a bad thing in and of itself but in this case the local accent is horrendous. The B.B.C. uses announcers with many different regional accents but not this one! The number of times I've met a good-looking girl only to have the illusion shattered when she opened her mouth...! Oy.

Kat: Nice idea, though I'd have to call myself Marcus Ford when I meet strangers or I'll still have two 'S' sounds next to each other. What about Marcus Charles Ford? Does anyone that knows me think it doesn't suit me? Does Sheppard have anything going for it aesthetically, i.e. any reasons to keep it except for not offending other people?

Thanks for the feedback.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Marcus, why not ask your father how he would feel about you changing your name? Maybe he doesn't care, and you're off the hook!

Blogger Michael J. Hercus said...

When choosing names for my book, I went with the writer's guide recommendation that the more syllables in a name, the higher the public stature that person should have.

"Joe" has a totally different connotation than "Joseph" simply because of the length.

That's why "Don", my main character in books 3-5, has a full name of "Donovan Dela'Roche sur Raltier" plus several titles and suffixes that he picks up along the way. He's a main character and deserves a multi-syllabic name to prove it!

As for your situation, I think Marcus C. Sheppard is far more impressive than Marcus C. Ford. Somehow, I think it also suits you better. Although it probably would be too pretentious to use the ā€œCā€ to split up your running-S problem while speaking, it looks pretty darn cool on a business card.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

I'm confident he'd care. But it might not even happen yet so I think it's safest to make up my mind before talking to him about it.

Blogger Kathy said...

I read about a couple who wanted a last name that represented both of them when they got married. She didn't want to hyphenize, because 1) it's lame and 2) the only last name she had was her father's last name, which is hardly all that feminist a thing to protect.

They ended up taking their middle names and combining them into a believable sounding last name. Is there a combination of the two names you could stand? "Shord" sounds, well, odd. "Fard" doesn't really work either, really. Admittedly, I'm not putting much effort into it at the moment.

Blogger Major Rakal said...

Well, the last time I changed my name was over 30 years ago, when I got married. It was a fair bit of a nuisance at the time, even though I didn't have nearly the amount of paperwork in my life then to need altering. (College ID and Social Security card was about it; I didn't get a driver's license till later.) It did take me a while to get used to it. But I don't believe I gave any thought to retaining my maiden name. In 1972, a wife taking her husband's name simply wasn't open to question, at least not in my experience.

Now that I'm divorced, I could go back to my maiden name if I wanted to, but I didn't seriously consider it. Just too much of a hassle. Heck, just changing my address and phone number three times in a little over two years was a major hassle; I just couldn't bear the thought of going through all that to change my name.

Besides, at my age, after having this name for almost 33 years, I suspect it would be a lot harder to get used to the change than it was when I was 21. It's bad enough that I routinely draw a blank when asked for my phone number (and after three months on my new job I still don't know my work phone number without looking it up). I'd be giving the wrong name for at least a year.

Now, you're a lot younger than I am, so you're probably more adaptable. On the other hand, no one really thinks twice about a women changing her surname when she marries or divorces, because it's the "normal" thing to do. For a man to change his last name is arguably a bit more unusual. I've known only one or two men who hyphenated their last name with their wife's (which I agree sounds pretentious), and only one who changed his last name for other reasons. I'd most likely have trouble thinking of you as anything but Marcus Sheppard, but that's just me.

All in all, probably not much help, eh? Changing your name is such a personal choice that ultimately it has to be about how it affects you and how you feel about it.


Anonymous Shig said...

If you're really serious about this, why not try Marcus Ford Sheppard? No prententious hyphens; your mum and dad are both happy; you get rid of the "Marcusheppard" problem; and you don't even really have to change documentation because your name is still to some extent Marcus Sheppard.

Honestly, I think you're bonkers. What's wrong with having a name that roots you, gives you a sense of place? You are a west country Sheppard, so why fight it? Even if I didn't have a Welsh name, people would spot the Welsh blood in me easily enough. Just move away from the women with the dodgy accents!

If you really want to free yourself from the spectre of Sheppard, why not try Charles Ford? With no disrespect to your mother's maiden name, it sounds as bland and anodyne as anyone could wish. I'd never get used to calling you Charles, though.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

Shig: I think I'm serious about it. That's what this chat is helping me find out!

Kathy: I was just reading about Bill Oddie who married Jean Hart and their daughter is Kate Hardie. These people are probably only famous here, and then only semi-so, but I think that was your point.

Major: if my mother decides it's all too much hassle, then this whole conversation is moo.

Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Go with Foppard. You know you want to.

Blogger Shocho said...

I think I'm just old-fashioned about these things. Hyphenated names, for example, make me crazy. If I changed my name it wouldn't seem like it was me anymore. I believe in the power of names (I liked the College of Names in the Dragonslayer RPG) and the story of Rumplestiltskin. However, YMMV.

Some of you may find this hard to believe, but I had a smartass comment here that I deleted because I believe that Marcus is truly in a quandary.

Blogger thisismarcus said...

I'm invariably in a quandary about something most of the time so don't hold back because of that :).


Blogger thisismarcus said...

Update: I caught up with my mother tonight and she's gone and done it already. Very happy for her! She didn't even have to pay because one of her magistrate colleagues did it for her.

We talked about me taking Ford (she's not pushing it in any way BTW) and the diplomatic thing to do seems to be to take Ford as a middle name for now to spare my dad's feelings. Then, when he passes on or when I get married (he'll probably go first, given my track record) I'll go all the way.

It seems a bit silly to do what I really want to do in two stages, but what can you do? All the feedback I have says it would be wrong/bad/inconsiderate to switch to Ford now, even though (and this is the main point) I'm really close to my mum's family and not my dad's. Even my sister isn't a Sheppard any more. Ho hum.

Anonymous Shig said...

Get married quickly and take her name.

Blogger Candace said...

I just want to know who Shig is since that was my nickname when I was younger (a shortening of my maiden name) but I'll throw out a vote for Marcus C.S. Ford or maybe Marcus C.F. Sheppard. Or maybe Ford Marcus Charles Sheppard, LOL! (I love Adams's books, too!)

Or maybe you should go with Dentarthurdent. . .


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