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Vincenzo - Better Known as Jim
What's In A Name
My mother's brother Jim was given the name Vincenzo at birth. A few years back a conversation ensued between my aunt and I with regards to the name Vincenzo. I had told her that our friend's son and daughter-in-law had just recently had a baby boy and had named him James Vincenzo. This I knew was to honour both sides of their family - the husband's British side and the wife's Italian side. My aunt thought this was rather funny and wondered why they would call him "Jim Jim".
Wondering where she got this strange idea from I proceeded to tell her that as far as I was concerned Vincenzo meant "Vincent" in English. She retorted that "every Vincenzo she had ever known had always gone by the name of Jim"! Strangely enough I just yesterday finished reading a novel about an Italian family - a local story - and the protagonist's name was Vincenzo. You guessed it; somewhere along the way in the story I saw reference to the fact that someone was calling him Jim. All of this got me thinking!
An Italian Thing?
I used to think it was an Italian thing. My grandmother was named Maria Giovanna, which would translate in English to Mary Joanne. Well that makes sense, except that everyone called her Jenny. Both my mom and her one sister were also called Maria - my mom Maria Adelina, better known as Del and my aunt, Maria Anina, better known as Mary. Who decided who got the privilege of using the first name "Maria - or Mary"? Doesn't matter because every time I went to the doctor or the hospital with my mom they would call out the name "Maria" because of course that is on all of her official records. We would just look around like dummies waiting for Maria to appear before we eventually caught on and jumped up.
Thank goodness the third sister, and the oldest, was named Aida Constance, simply going by the name of Ida. No one to confuse her with. I guess it pays to be the oldest. Their other brother was called Joe - well he was really Giuseppe - but Joe was always who he was to us. What happened to my grandfather whose name was Luigi? I thought most Italians always named their first born son after the father. Obviously I was wrong.
Back To The Name Jim
It's not just an Italian thing, as I eventually found out, because my husband Craig always called his brother Grant, you guessed it, "Jim"! In fact Craig's name was Wallace - yes!; Wallace Craig - and I have to tell you that I am supremely grateful that they ended up calling him Craig; needless to say, so was he! Not only that he had a brother-in-law named Bev, whom he always referred to as George. When I came into the family I became royally confused and sometimes called him both names, until I finally settled in on George. I thought after all - "surely his name is not Bev - I must have heard that wrong". So George it became for me too.
So what is it about this name "Jim"? I went looking and see that it is derived from the hebrew name Ya'agov or Jacob and was the name of the two apostles in the New Testament - James the Greater and James the Lesser. And since the 13th century this name of Jim became popular in England and Scotland where it was used by many kings. So, take your pick. Biblical or Noble?
All I know now is that the Italian version of the name Jim is Giacomo - it is NOT Vincenzo, just as I always thought. So I now wonder what would have happened had they named my uncle - Giacomo? Would my family have called him "Vincent"? Hmmmmm!!! You see my dilemma!