Name Game

So here’s a puzzle.

When I was a little kid I often went by “Rod.”

But from at least 5th grade on I went by “Roderick,” as was my preference, and everyone called me “Roderick” (except my mother, who was the only person who still often called me “Rod,” and indeed did so ever after).

In high school I was Roderick. In college I was Roderick. In grad school I was Roderick.

Then, in the 90s, when I got my first teaching job at Chapel Hill, nearly everyone suddenly started calling me “Rod.” (I recall several people at Chapel Hill asking me if I preferred “Rod” or “Roderick”; I told them “Roderick,” but to no avail, as they usually gravitated unhesitatingly back to “Rod” again soon thereafter.)

And it wasn’t just a Chapel Hill thing, because people that I met in the libertarian academic sphere during that period – the Institute for Humane Studies, the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, etc. – also generally called me “Rod.” So it’s hard to identify a unified cause.

And to this day, people who first met me during that period of 1990-1997 (except for those who know me well enough to know better) usually call me “Rod.”

But then I moved to Auburn in 1998, and from then on people have almost always called me “Roderick” again – and not just people I met at or through Auburn either, so again a unified cause is elusive.

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