What's in a name?

Updated: Aug 15

Updated August, 2021

I learned recently that some of the information I originally included in this blog post about the legal name of my father was not accurate. I also found a couple of typos. So, I felt compelled to update this post for the sake of accuracy.

Revised Post:

I have decided to introduce myself in this forum with a new name. Not that there is really a me here whose name needs to be changed; but I admit to an impulse to label this unit differently. Not legally; but in the context of these teachings.

Some background first:

Growing up, my parents and grandparents (and later, my brothers, cousins, and all relatives for that matter) used to call me Vinnie J, in large part to differentiate this biological unit from all the others in the family with the same (or similar name. Legally, my name was Vincent James III. My father's name was also Vincent. Except he was Junior. Not officially; at least not on his birth certificate. He was also not Vincent James. As I learned only recently, my father's legal name was Vincent Jimmy. And I also learned recently that my grandfather's legal name was Vincenzo. So, technically, even though my legal name included the 'III', I was not really the third Vincent James. (I also had an older cousin who was given the name Vincent James, but he wasn’t given a number [lucky him].)

Naming a child Vincent continued a tradition of naming children after a living patriarch, who in this case was my paternal grandfather, named Vincenzo. My grandfather's grandfather was also named Vincenzo, as was my grandfather's great grandfather. For some reason, my grandfather’s grandfather skipped the tradition when his son, named Onofrio, was born. Perhaps it was because he understood what it was like to be the third in a line of succession of individuals with the same name that he did not want to subject his own son to that indignity. Years later when Onofrio’s wife Anna (my great grandmother) gave birth to their first son, they named him Vincenzo. Vincenzo, however, died as an infant. And when their next child, a son again, was born, he was named (can you guess?) Vincenzo.

Now, back in Italy, for reasons unknown to me, individuals named Vincenzo were often given the nickname Gimí. Thus, Onofrio’s surviving son, Vincenzo, was called Gimí.