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Roger Mills wrote:

> Dan Jones wrote:
>
> >I've noticed something. Loads of American names have an initial in the
> >middle, like Raymond E Feist, Kathlyn S Starbuck and even our own David E
> >Bell. Whereas over here we don't do this. Generally we just ignore our
> >middle names, and consequently a random letter in the middle of the name
> >looks weird to me. To me Daniel B Jones looks slightly pretentious. So, a
> >question for you over on the other side of the pond, why do you do it?>
>
> Winston S. Churchill (well, he was half American), Wm. Butler Yeats,
> J.R.R.Tolkien (multiple middle names are fairly rare here!-- There was a
> college classmate, British, Alastair X.Y.Z. Something, who was known as
> Alastair5).
>
> Perhaps, in a large population, to distinguish one Dan Jones from the
> others... Semi-legal requirements, such as bank and credit-card signatures.
> The power of the bureaucracy.  It does seem to be more 20th Cent. than 19th
> or earlier. Custom?  I've noted that Russians, in written work, tend to use
> just their initials-- V.I.Lenin, N.S.Khrushchev, Yu. Kh. Sirk etc.

In my case, using initials helps maintain a connection between my various
aliases.  My full legal name is Joel Matthew Pearson, but I go by Matt.  How I
choose to list my name depends on how 'intimate' the situation is, as well as
the particular requirements of whatever form I'm filling out.  I generally
refer to myself as "Joel" in highly official situations where I wish to
maintain a certain formality or distance--e.g., in dealing with credit card
companies, student loan agencies, passport offices, etc..  In less formal, more
familiar situations I refer to myself as "Matthew" or "Matt"--e.g., in dealing
with my department at UCLA.  On forms which require full first name, and give
only a space for middle initial, I am necessarily "Joel M. Pearson".  On other
forms, where I am given some choice as to how to write my first and middle
names, I opt for "Joel Matthew Pearson" or "J. Matthew Pearson".  But I always
include an initial:  I can't expect people to figure out that Joel Pearson and
Matthew Pearson are one and the same person, but if I list my name as Joel M.
Pearson and J. Matthew Pearson, then there's some hope that people will make
the connection.

Matt.