Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Historical Names I Don't Understand

1. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is guy we all know and care about
This is that guy's dad
This guy is sick of getting mistaken for the first guy

Usually people get called junior when their dad did something famous. Martin Luther King, Sr., according to wikipedia, was the head of the NAACP in Atlanta. But no one remembers that now. All they know is he fathered the other MLK. When someone mentions Martin Luther King you can be pretty sure which one they're talking about. Is the junior really necessary?
Then there's his middle name. You don't talk about Barack Hussein Obama or Thomas Alva Edison. They get a last name and maybe a first name if you're feeling formal. People call him King if they're writing a news article but in conversation he always has three names.
Maybe it's because king is a common noun and Obama or Edison will always be names. Maybe it's because black people were usually called by their first names back then and we want to respect him.
But really? It just makes it easier to mix him up with the German monk.
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
Full length portrait of Napoleon in his forties, in high-ranking white and dark blue military dress uniform. He stands amid rich 18th-century furniture laden with papers, and gazes at the viewer. His hair is Brutus style, cropped close but with a short fringe in front, and his right hand is tucked in his waistcoat.
Famous guy

NapoleĆ³n III, 1865.jpg
Famous guy's nephew
Guy who can't dance
See? Napoleon has a last name. Not that anybody ever uses it. Granted, Napoleon isn't that common, so you don't need to worry about mixing him up with anyone. But aren't generals and politicians usually on last name terms with history?
I guess he was an emperor too. And once you become royalty surnames don't mean much. Queen Elizabeth II isn't Elizabeth Windsor. You get one name and a number. Napoleon I had a nephew, Napoleon III, who's famous for rebuilding Paris to make riot control easier. There was a Napoleon II as well but he didn't rule for very long. Bonaparte is just Napoleon, not Napoleon I.
The only other Napoleon I've heard of Napoleon Dynamite. Um, is that really his last name?
1. Matoaka
Who? You know, this lady.

Except she looked more like this.
File:Pocahontas by Simon van de Passe 1616.jpg
Her "real" name was Matoaka, but since names were thought to have special powers, she didn't go around telling it to English colonists. She went by Amonute for a while. Pocahontas was just a nickname-I think it means mischief but I'm not sure.
And as if this wasn't enough, she had to go convert to Christianity and change her name to Rebecca. She got a last name, too, when she married a tobacco planter named John Rolfe.
So here she is with four different names and Disney picks the hardest one to spell.

Moral of this story: If you plan on going down in history for something, leave behind specific instructions so they get your name right.

No comments:

Post a Comment