Search This Blog

Follow by Email

23 Dec 2013

Excuse me there's a dot there - punctuation of initials

We seem to have a difference of opinion over our use of initials in the UK.  In the US, they like to put dots after everything.  With ordinary speech, we know Americans like to use ‘air commas’ but why do we never see kung-fu punctuation in the same way.  They must be itching to punctuate.
‘Mr. Jas. M. O.’Dowd.,:’ 
might be a typical greeting on a letter.

One poor boy was given the middle name of J – that’s it.  His whole life Americans wanted to punctuate it, and he yelled out them, it doesn’t take a period, it’s just ‘J’.  To which the other Americans nodded, and mentally added a full-stop.  (His name was Clinton J Parkhouse.)

This stuff matters if you’re searching Google Books.  If you have a Richard Welch Feltham, in England he’d be either:
Feltham, Richard W.; or
R. W. Feltham
In the US, he’d usually be ‘Richard W. Feltham’.  Yes, you’ll spot that older UK records included punctuated initials.

So if you read of a W H Morgan or W J Roberts, what are their names?  Well for sure that’s William Henry and William John.  And F W Jones – well that’d be Frederick William Jones, or just possibly Francis William.  Interpreting initials is a fairly easy business.

I needed to prove that a BGH Jones living in Lancaster was married to a woman called Elizabeth A.  (This was to prove Elizabeth wasn’t my Elizabeth A Jones born 1949 in Wolverhampton.)  If you need to work with initials, the findmypast marriage finder (link) is the place to go.  Sure enough Bonar Glyn H Jones turns up as marrying a lady called Elizabeth.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Your comment will be live once moderated. You don't need to log in - just select 'anonymous' from the dropdown menu.