December 19, 2002
An Unlikely Pair Anywhere Else

Colby Cosh has had a few entries lately about groups with a wide assortment of unusual first names (blacks and Mormons) or a severe shortage of different names (Nova Scotians). For the latter phenomenon, he could also have mentioned the most bizarre news story of 1998, about a pair of Amish cocaine dealers named Abner Stoltzfus and Abner K. Stoltzfus (no relation).

Posted by Dr. Weevil at December 19, 2002 11:55 PM

Fredric Klees, in The Pennsylvania Dutch (New York: Macmillan, 1961):

Almost all of the Amish today are direct descendants of the Amish immigrants of the eighteenth century, probably only five hundred in number. As marriage outside the church is forbidden, the Amish have intermarried to an amazing degree, until today there are only about thirty surnames among them. Indeed, most of them have one of a dozen surnames. There is a school in Lancaster County in which for the last ten years 95 to 100 per cent of the children, and the teacher as well, have been named Stoltzfus.

Posted by: CGHill on December 20, 2002 08:53 AM

On the other hand, there are people who have been making up new names. A friend of mine went to school with girls named "Loquesha" and "Bumsheca." (My spelling may be off, it's been a while since I saw the documentary evidence). The first apparently unrelated to loqui in any form, as Latin was not widely known in that school district. (What would the correct form be? Loquacia?)

Posted by: qsi on December 20, 2002 01:51 PM

No, the subject form of 'loquacious' is loquax in all genders. Most of the other forms have C in them: the object form (masc. and fem.) is loquacem, the plural subject and object forms are loquaces (masc. and fem.) and loquacia, and so on.

By the way, just about all the '-acious' words in English come from Latin words ending in -ax that are formed from verbs and mean 'prone or tending to do' whatever the verb means. So if rapere means 'to grab, snatch', then Latin rapax and English 'rapacious' mean 'prone to grab', and so on with 'tenacious' (prone to hold on to things), 'capacious' (tending to hold things in), and many more. Of course, when I explain this, impertinent students often ask if 'bodacious' comes from a Latin word bodax. I'm sure it doesn't, though I don't know its etymology.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on December 20, 2002 03:22 PM

Anyone interested in names, and who is prepared to be alternately drenched in hilarity and horror, should go to and click on the baby names section.

I can't even begin to describe it.

Posted by: Alex Bensky on December 25, 2002 10:33 PM