Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Like soldiers, some people are nameless.  This is a sad but true fact.  Generally, these invisible persons are either dead or victims of administration.  However, without or without a known name of birth, they must have a nomenclature.

In English, they are often referred to as John Doe, Jane Doe, and Baby Doe, reportedly after an episode of the television.  Note that the Doe is not a very common last name, fortunately as it is because most people would not want others to think that they been shot and robbed of their identity.  Another way of marking these ghostly persons is the term fnu lnu, standing for first name unknown and last name unknown.  There was an amusing story in the New York Times of people actually searching for pictures of people with the strange name of Fnu Lnu.  Apparently they thought these individuals came from Taiwan or the Philippines. 

The French have M. et Me. Dupont or Durand.  These are also not very common last names.  Other French terms are Monsieur le Monde and un citoyen en lamdaWhy a Greek letter pops up here is not clear to me.  

The Russia language goes with something the most banal of solutions.  A nameless person is иван иваиович иванов [Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov], a name, patronymic, and last name using the most common name in Russia.  This makes perfect sense, but may be a source of annoyance to those so actually named.

Hebrew has a more poetic solution that avoids any confusion with any citizen in good standing.  Instead of using David Cohen or any common name, Hebrew refuses to those silent bodies as פלוני אלמוני [ploni almoni] with the second word meaning anonymous.

I will not take the fifth amendment and instead fully admit that I wrote this column.

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