My Name Explained: Are You “Kenneth” or “Scott”?

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act II Scene II
Fitzgerald, Hoover, Coolidge, Kipling
What do this novelist, this director of the FBI, this President of the United States, and this poet have in common? (I mean other than being old stuffy white guys.)

For the record, I don’t think my name is confusing.

Experience tells me otherwise. I have been asked many times what label I prefer to use to refer to myself. This page should explain with clarity how I prefer to be referred to.

As per my birth certificate, my legal first name is Kenneth. My legal middle name is Scott. All government documentation (passport, drivers’ license, etc) reflects this, as do any other types of legal documentation.

I have never been called Kenneth in my personal life. I have always been known as Scott. This is not unusual; many persons have used their middle name in their personal life. Some examples include:

Professionally, I prefered to be addressed by both names: Kenneth Scott or K Scott.

My father is Kenneth Huntley, I was indeed named after him, but I have never been called Ken or Kenneth or Kenny by them, and never Junior. Ken just isn’t my name; my first name serves the same purpose as most people’s middle name, just an additional superfluous label.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How did you choose your name?

A: Well, it’s an interesting story how I chose my name. My parents kept using this word over and over, and eventually I realised they were using it to refer to me, and often to get my attention. Eventually I decided to adopt this word as my name. Actually I assume all this is true, because it all happened before the threshold of my conscious memory, and it’s how 99.999% of the human population chooses their name.

Q: Why don’t you just change my name to Scott Kenneth Huntley?

A: Ahh, I should change my name conform to society’s notion of how a name should work? Well, aside from the unbelieveable amount of unnecessary paperwork and legal hassles that would cause me for the rest of my life, I don’t believe I should have to alter my name to conform to your narrow beliefs, especially as this is not a unique or unusual case. If people can accept Buzz and not keep calling him Edwin, or accept that Gordon prefers Sting, then damn it, society can accept that I’m Scott.

Q: Hey Kenny, I’ve been calling your name out for minutes. Why didn’t you acknowledge me?

A: Oh, hi!

It’s probably because I didn’t associate “Kenny” with being me. It’s not my name, I’ve never been called Kenny by anyone who’s known me for more than 2 minutes. And now that you know, please don’t call me Kenny.

Q. I have screwed up your name even though we have met before. Will you be offended?

A. No, it’s okay.

Look, I’m Canadian, I’ll probably let you call me Ken for up to 10 minutes before I correct you (but forgive me if I don’t realise you’re talking to me at first; see above).

Just try to remember my prefered name is Scott.

Q: I’m going to call you Kenny to piss you off. Hahaha. They killed Kenny! How do you like that?

A: It’s not the reference to South Park that’s annoying me. In actuality, a lot of that rolls off my back. (Not to mention, Kenny is the star of that show).

I’m more irritated when people try to do it in a professional capacity. Or try to use it when they surmise it’s a proper nickname for me to create an illusion of instant familiarity.

In fact does the exact opposite; it illustrates you don’t know me at all because you got my prefered name very wrong.

It’d be more appropriate to tease me with “Scotty doesn’t know” taunts.

Q. What’s the most unusual way your name has been misconstrued?

A: There was a conference (that will remain nameless, I don’t want to embarrass the organisers) who picked up on the fact that I had purposely used all three names. However, they interpreted this in a very different way; I was introduced as Kenneth Scott-Huntley, as in I had a hyphenated last name. I found this quite amusing, I had gone from two first names to two last names.

(While I’m at it, I acknowledge that Scooter is an occasional nickname for Scott. Please don’t call me Scooter. I have only recently accepted Scotty as a nickname. Scooter is never going to happen.)