The World’s Hardest Consonant

Almost concurrent to the 2010 National Spelling Bee, I had another misadventure with my last name. As some of you know, the spelling of my last name has been fiendishly constructed to flummox PR people as well as fully sentient humans.

Last week I checked into a hotel for a conference and spelled my last name. Twice.

Later on, I wanted to use the hotel’s free Wifi, but when I tried the Last Name/Room Number form, it didn’t work.

I called the front desk. “Oh, we misspelled your name. Try O-C-H-W-A-P.”

(WTF? Well, OK. I tried it. Still didn’t work.)

I called tech support, and explained what was happening. I pictured a guy in a call center in the steppes of Asia, wearing a headset in a tiny cubicle. We went back and forth for a couple minutes, while various approaches failed.

I wasn’t angry or impatient, but I could sense his angst.

Anyway, the guy eventually figured out that the clerk had not only mangled my name, she had mangled the misspelling of my name. That is to say, she spelled “Ochwat” wrong, then said she spelled it “Ochwap,” when in fact she had spelled it “Ochwab.”

If she were a batter, she would be skulking back to the dugout after her three whiffs.

Tech guy eventually cleared the problem–and by that I mean he got me connected to the Internet.

But the problem with my name still remains, lying in wait for the next unsuspecting front desk clerk.

Hockey Aptonyms

An aptonym is one term for someone whose name is apt for what they do. The Freakonomics blog loves aptonyms, and there’s a good discussion of them on Slate. The Slate article notes that they’ve been talked about since Roman days, when they were nomen et omen. They’ve also been called “aptronyms,” “namephreaks,” “eponymy,” “cognomen syndrome” (which sounds painful), “nominative determinism” (which sounds like crap straight out of my old philosophy books).

But the Slate list leaves out hockey players, so I’m adding to the world’s knowledge of these. Without further ado or Zamboni laps:

The National Hockey League All-Aptonym Team

First Team:

  • Brad Bombardir, Defense, Nashville Predators
  • Radek Bonk, Center, Nashville Predators
  • Brian Savage, Left Wing, Philadelphia Flyers

Second Team:

  • Jon Quick, Goalie, Los Angeles Kings
  • Derian Hatcher, Defense, Philadelphia Flyers


Savage bonkery.


Radek getting bonked. (Or so implied the photo caption.)