mamaw got run over by a combine

Researching naming conventions/practices in the South and found this study: Mamaw Got Run Over by a Combine: Grandparent Naming Practices in the Rural South by Susie Shy Thompson at the University of Louisville.

You might be wondering how I got here. It’s not specific to grandparents, per se, but female naming conventions in the South are so interesting. Have you met a millennial woman named Flaherty? How about an older woman named Martin? I have (but have swapped out the examples with different names as a courtesy). But only since moving to the Deep South.

I was searching for a house back in September 2016, if memory serves. My buyer’s agent Stephanie Nix (exceptional real estate broker and REALTOR®) showed me one in Belhaven, and we had the good fortune to meet one of the neighbors. Lovely person. After we visited with the neighbor, Stephanie and I headed to her car when Stephanie took me aside, “Did you notice her first name? Her first name is probably her mother’s maiden name. You’ll find that a lot in the South.” Indeed. As Thompson notes in her research study:

Other facets of Southern naming practices that seem unusual in other parts of
the country are Southerners’ penchant for double given names, which often team one typically male name with one typically female name. Such double names may be given to either sex, but appear more commonly as women’s names. Thus the author [Thompson] has a paternal grandmother named Nora Oscar and a great-aunt Mary Willie, and on the other side of the family a great-aunt Frankie.

Want to learn more? You can read Thompson’s study in its entirety here.