Kiefer Sutherland, the actor best known for playing Jack Bauer in the popular TV series ‘24’, is worth remembering for one more reason. He’s the guy with five middle names!
No. I am not kidding. Kiefer Sutherland is actually ‘Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland’. But that didn’t get him into the record books as Adolph Wolfe+585 (the man with 585 more characters in his surname) beat him hollow with 25 eye-popping middle names.
That raises the question as to what is a middle name. Technically, it’s the thing that appears between a given name and a surname. For instance, Damodardas is the middle name of Narendra Modi. You would have known that had you paid more attention to his 4.31 crore pin striped suit!
Anyways, the point to bear in mind is, middle names were largely a Western tradition (even in India, it’s a Western Indian phenomenon). It came into vogue around the nineteenth century when there was a sudden rush to take an alternative first name as the centrepiece. A few folks who were not particularly happy with their given name chose to flaunt it, instead. W. Somerset Maugham, J. Edgar Hoover, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Joseph Rudyard Kipling are some famous examples.
In Russia, the middle names are patronymic (derived from father’s name). They usually occur with an –ovich suffix for males and –vna for females. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Anna Sergeyvna Kournikova are cases in point. The Chinese don’t have any concept of middle names just like us South Indians.
A few weeks ago, twitter went crazy coining befitting middle names for celebrities. The creations varied from the downright insulting to the terribly funny. Virat *beep* Kohli was a nod to his sledging. Robert DLF Vadra was a tribute to his notorious land deals. Rajdeep Buy My Book Sardesai was a dig at his shameless plug of his tome.
Beyond trolling, many indulged in some delicious wordplay. Here are some pearls: ‘Hashim Dabur Amla’, ‘Naomi Kilo Watts’, ‘Stevie Seven Day Wonder’, ‘Stanley Rubik Kubrick’, ‘Cat On-A-Hot-Tin-Roof Stevens’, ‘David Take A Bowie’, ‘Wayne Loonie Rooney’, ‘Tiger Lost-In-The Woods’, ‘Charlie Sexma Sheen’, ‘Jim Cash N Carrey’, ‘Rock Paper Scissors Hudson’, ‘Lady GooGoo Gaga’, ‘Paul I Feel Like A Newman’ and ‘Whitney I Think We Have A Problem Houston’. The most ingenious one was reserved for the American Rapper ‘Jay ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY Z’. Ain’t that cool?