Cornelius Galore – The Best of Dutch Names from Duck to Kok

We’ve written about some Dutch names on these pages before – see now-ancient posts about Cornelius Drebbel or Guus Hiddink or (take a breath) Kees A. Schouhamer Immink. But having now lived for almost three years here in the land of windmills, tasty cheese and towns named after said cheese, I have built a whole new kind of appreciation for Dutch names.

Everywhere you look, it seems the Netherlands has blessed the world with beautiful names. Almost everywhere there seem to be towns like Wommels or Sneek or Vlaardingen which make spotting signage on road trips a true adventure. (Those trips are pretty short though as you can drive across country in about 4 hours).

So, in honor of this fine land and its finely named people, I present this list of (some) of the best names the Netherlands has brought into the world. Only some, because honestly this list could be endless, so some editing had to be done. Here are some of the finest names of Dutch people through time.

First, some art. Jacob Duck was a painter in the 1600s from the town of Utrecht. It is unclear if he painted any bird pictures, but it would be a shame if he never got around to it.

Young Duck in a rare photo.

Next, Jacob Quaeckernaeck. Our second Jacob seems to flow logically from the first, sounding partially like a duck utterance, and partially like what you may say when stubbing your toe on Dutch furniture. Mr. Quaeckernaeck was a seaman and navigator, and of course the possessor of a magnificent name.

The Cornelius rule has already been immortalized in our Funny Names Theory section, stating “If your name is Cornelis, Kornelis, or Cornelius, then you are awesome.” There is no arguing that fact, certainly when it comes to legendary jurist Cornelius van Bynkershoek. I have run into some great lawyer names in my studies, from the legendary Learned Hand to England’s Lord Diplock. But a Bynkershoek is hard to beat.

Moving on to the ” pardon me, what was that?” department, we have Willem Godschalck van Focquenbroch. This delightful monstrosity is courtesy of a 17th century playwright. Be careful with the pronunciation of that last name, you wouldn’t want to slip into R-rated territory by mistake.

Staying in poetry, we also have the poet F. van Dixhoorn, which probably requires no further comment.

Which brings us logically to the world of Politics, and two consecutive Prime Ministers blessed with diplomatically promising names.

Wim Kok was PM of the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002. And he was immediately preceded by Ruud Lubbers. Can’t argue with those selections for country leadership, based on funny nameology at least.

This is an interestingly titled children’s book found at a local shop, by the great Willy Vandersteen.

Moving on to the world of science, where one of the inventors of the telescope, a Mr. Hans Lipperhey reports for duty. He is delightfully identified on wikipedia as a “spectacle maker”, which it can probably be said to apply to him in more ways than one.

Back to literature, where we find Beb Vuyk. She is one of the most celebrated names in Dutch literature, and not just because that name is fun to say (but probably hard to pronounce correctly).

Finally, but certainly not least amusingly, two names that can only come from the Dutch or children’s literature. Wubbo Ockels was an astronaut who became the first Dutchman in space. In a land famed for its flying citizens, Wubbo certainly flew higher than any before. And finally, we meet renaissance man Govert Bidloo, not to be confused with your favorite Star Wars characters.

We hope you enjoyed this journey through perhaps Europe’s most fruitful land for great and delightful names. Vote for you favorite below and leave a comment if I forgot one!

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Deep Purple Names

I’m betting you’ve never heard the names Antonino and Carol Vincinette LoTempio. I’m also betting, if you are of a certain age, that you’ve heard of them under two very different names. And, of course, you’ve heard them sing.

They are publicly known as Nino Tempo and April Stevens, a brother and sister singing act from Niagara Falls, NY, now 85 and 91 years old, respectively; they have a firm place in this history of 1960’s pop/rock music.

Most notably, if you were alive and old enough to remember the notorious date of November 22, 1963, the song that may have been interrupeted on your radio with the somber news that JFK had been shot, was Nino and April’s rendition of Deep Purple. I centainly remember that day–I was in 8th grade, and I certainly remember the song.

It was number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 that infamous week in 1963. We’d hardly call it rock today, but it went on to win a Grammy for “Best Rock and Roll Recording of the Year.” And we certainly wouldn’t call April’s spoken lyrics, under Tempo’s singing, “rap.” Apparently, that effect was an accident. In an early warmup session in the recording studio, Tempo forgot the lyrics and Stevens jokingly whispered them to him. The producer liked the effect and insisted on including it in the final release version, much to the consternation of Tempo who didn’t like somebody speaking over his singing.

Need some more trivia? I don’t know how Stevens felt–and maybe still feels today–about her brother briefly dating a budding singer named Cherilyn Sarkisian. But Cherilyn would later meet and marry one Salvatore Bono. So maybe, just maybe, Nino and April were the inspiration for Sony and Cher.

While the duo would go on to have a few modest hits, nothing ever came close to the success of Deep Purple. It’s timing, on top of Kennedy’s demise, may have signaled the end of an era for America’s pop charts. Less than three months later, Beatlemania struck the USA.

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Bjørn to Be Wild? Norwegian Jazz Drummers from K to N

Every year my Christmas Grinch schtick lingers past the expiration date, like a dried up ole Christmas tree that the family got too lazy to throw away. So, the first order of business here is to bump that puppy off the top.

Not only is it unsightly, it’s a fire hazard.

So, we turn to another worn out BoFN tradition to get the job done. That’s right! It’s Norwegian jazz time!!!!

This all started with bass player names. We discovered a disproportionate percentage of Norwegians, with extraordinary talent and outstanding names–at least from our non-Norwegian BoFN perspective. Then we moved on to drums, and it started to get just ridiculous. I mean, seriously?

It seems like if you walked down the street in Oslo, every third or fourth person would be a jazz musician. And that’s a conservative estimate.

Anyway, we took it to J last time, and feel pretty confident as we move ahead to K.

Two drummer names of note, and both take a walk on the mild side. First, we have Andreas Lønmo Knudsrød, whose understated brush sticks we can hear below in “Say No More,” a moody contemporary cut with Emilie Christensen and Harald Lassen,

Next, Bjørn Krokfoss, who has been both a drummer and bandleader for several traditional swing ensembles. Bjørn is a pillar of the jazz and arts community in Trondheim. His bandmates (at least for what I’ve sampled) have impressive chops and hold together a bright, tight sound. “Good Queen Bess” here is no exception.

The album is Kroks Fot (2018), which means “Hook Foot.” Nice play on words, there, Bjørn! We hope Bjørn can take a joke as well as make one, because we hereby place him among the other immortals of BoFN.

Moving on to L, our featured drummer/composer is Torstein Lofthus, a hugely sought after musician not only in Norway but all over Europe. He lays down some hard funk in the drum solo below.

We’re already seeing a mighty range in jazz genres here.

Surprisingly, there’s only have one drummer to choose from for M, but a worthy entry: Ole Mofjell. Everything I can find of Ole and his associates is waaaay outside (to use some hep jazz lingo), including this cut. For me, they channel Ornette Coleman (a good thing).

At the risk of jumping the Sjark, I’m going to move on to N. Here we encounter a problem similar to we had with “J” in the last episode. All of the drummers with N names sound kind of normal and . . . you know . . . just . . . Scandinavian. I’m going to go with Helge Andreas Norbakken, just because it’s the best I can do.

Here Helge plays “The Tree Did Not Die” with Phronesis, from their We Are All album.

Wow, I got lucky here. This is a great group and piece to round up the post. Outstanding!

Until we meet again at the letter O, this is wdydfae signing off and wishing you a Happy 2021!

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Merry Grinchmas! (Seasonal Reblog)

In the good land of BoFN when Christmas drew near
Folk were having . . . not quite universal good cheer.
For in fact, there was one . . . er, his name we can’t say . . .
Whud Id Fah? Whud Yuhd Fee? Or, Why Diddy Fay?
But in all BoFN towns and in each BoFN city
The BoFNites chose to just call him . . .


Now in Diddy’s hard, cold, little bristly brain
There bounced back and forth only one tired refrain.
“This name waste must stop! Stop wasting those names!
No, no, no! Don’t you waste! No more name wasting games!
Funny names are a rare, irreplaceable treasure!
Don’t waste them, I say! They are rare beyond measure!”

And so it went on, and then on, and on more
Until BoFNites marched to bang on the king’s door.
“Tell this Diddy to cease! Tell this Diddy to hush!
But don’t you stop there: tell this Diddy ‘Shush! Shush!'”

So King Dave rolled his eyes and paid Diddy a visit.
And he said, “Look here, Diddy! This isn’t keen, is it?
This pouting and shouting and spouting–not good!
The real estate’s tanking in each neighborhood.”

“Look around you! These names are not really so rare!
They are here! They are there! There are names everywhere!
You see, Diddy, funny names DO grow on trees
And on bushes and twigs and from pods of green peas.”

Now, according to custom, a Scrooge-ish conversion
Takes many long scenes in a good movie version,
And many a page in a fine children’s book,
And that is indeed how long Diddy’s took,
But we’ve got strict word limits so we’ll jump on ahead
And show, not old Diddy, but the new one instead.

“King Dave, you are right!!! How could I be so wrong?!?”
Diddy said (and we promise this change did take long).

“There are funny names here, and funny names there!
Why, there’s one on the porch, and on the third stair!
Yes, finding these names is not hard! It’s a cinch!
Look, here’s Cindy Lou Who, Mayor Maywho, and Grinch!
Cindy Lou lives in Whoville and Grinch on Mt. Crumpit,
And he tore down its slopes blaring blasts from a trumpet!”

Thus Diddy expounded, his arms stretched aloft.
“Oh, and Grinch had a song sung by Thurl Ravenscroft!”

“Now you doubters who gasp, to your total surprise’ll
hear Theo LeSieg, Theodor Seuss Geisel
A.k.a. Theophrastus, our own Dr. Seuss!
(Who drew the green eggs with a car and caboose)!
And our Seuss had a publisher named Bennett Cerf,
And though it’s off topic, this thing’s called a Smurf!

Well, the BoFNites marched to King Dave’s house once more.
“Stop this Diddy!” they cried. NOW HE’S WORSE THAN BEFORE!!!

So, we hope that our tale gave you some small delight,
We’ll end here and wish you a good Christmas night!

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
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Humpy Koneru–Qxe4 mate!

“Women, by their nature, are not exceptional chess players.”–Gary Kasparov, former world chess champion

” We want more women players to take up chess.”–Viswanathan Anand, more recent former world chess champion

“I get more upset when I lose at Monopoly.”–Magnus Carlsen, current world chess champion.

Whoo boy.  With a name like Humpy, who cares what she does?  Well, maybe her countryman, Viswanathan Anand, cares.  And maybe her naysayer, Gary Kasparov, is embarrassed.

You see, Humpy Koneru is currently the second highest rated female chess player in the world, and held the record–for a time– as  the youngest woman ever to attain grandmaster designation.  Here at TBOFN, we just love awesome competitors with even more awesome names.  I’ll get to the origin of that name in a bit, but just a  little more of her chess accomplishments first.

Born in India in 1987,  she achieved grandmaster status in 2002 at the age of 15 years, one month, 27 days, surpassing the record of the legendary Judit Polgar by some three months.  To give you an idea how impressive Polgar’s record was when she set it in 1991, at the time it was the record for the youngest ever by any person, male or female,  beating the previous mark set by one Bobby Fischer in the 1960’s.  Maybe you’ve hard of him? (The current male record holder, by the way, Sergey Karjakin,  attained the title at age 12 years and 7 months.  I think he started playing in utero.)


Anyway, Humpy’s female grandmaster record has since been surpassed, but she is still rated on the edge of the top 100 players in the world, and she still has the best name in the game.  Interstingly enough, her name was originally Hampi, but her father changed it to Humpy, apparently because he thought that sounded Russian.  How that sounds Russian and why he desired that for her is anybody’s guess.  Anyway, by any name, I would not care to run into her across a chess board.

I leave you, though, with my favorite chess quote of all time.  It’s from another former world champion, Boris Spassky.

He was asked, “which do you prefer, sex or chess?’

He replied: “it depends on the position.”


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