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What’s in a name?

I was reading a review for the new movie Rescue Dawn and nearly sprayed soda on my screen in a rainbow array of backlit droplets when I read that the main character’s name is “Dieter.” It seemed somewhat appropriate since Christian Bale plays the character and I’ll never forget how scary thin he got for the film The Machinist. I should print out the picture of him imitating a bird and paste it in my dictionary next to the definition for “heebie-jeebies” because it always gives me them. The man made Nicole Ritchie look plump. But upon further research I realized that the name “Dieter” is German and I’ve actually heard it said many times, most notably attached to the Mike Myers character of a German talk show host. I’d just never seen it spelled before. It’s not pronounced “DIE-et-er” but “DEET-er.” It means warrior of the people and has absolutely nothing to do with SlimFast shakes.

However, I still think it’s funny that there are probably thousands of kids and adults in Germany named “Dieter.” I wonder how many of them are actually on diets. I also have to wonder if there are any American names that translate to something funny in foreign languages. The whole concept reminds me of a quote from The Breakfast Club where Bender says “Claire is a fat girl’s name.” I have no idea what Bender meant by this, but can your name really make you fat or thin? Claire Danes is pretty thin. I used to go by the nickname Jenny before the 2nd grade. However, Jennifer was the most popular girl’s name for girls born in 1980 so there were always lots of other Jenny’s around. I changed it to Jennette when we moved to another state. Jenny is also the name for a female bird, like a turkey. Gobble, gobble. Does Jenny sound fatter than Jennette? Thinner? The same? I have no idea. It was only because I was going by Jennette that I was called Jennetti Spaghetti, the great PastaQueen, so my Internet handle would probably be different if I’d never dropped my nickname. At least my parents didn’t name me Meridia.

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shinypenny • July 6, 2007 at 10:22 am

Melting Mama had some great posts counseling a 19-year-old who was writing in re whether she should get WLS at her age. Worth checking out.


Têtue • July 6, 2007 at 11:02 am

Haha! I didn’t even read the name as “Diet-er,” it came directly across as “Deet-er.” I guess it’s the two German friends and semester of German in college, eh? I got a chuckle thinking of you reading it and being like, “What the…?!”

I do not think Jennette is a fat name at all. Although there are some names that just *sound* fat. (ie. Bertha)


jessica • July 6, 2007 at 11:07 am

HAHA! I was a little confused when I read that too. I read it as DIE-et-er as well, I guess it’s no surprise what’s on my mind these days.


Nathan • July 6, 2007 at 11:51 am

What happened to the weigh-ins?


PastaQueen • July 6, 2007 at 11:57 am

Nathan, see here.


Melting Mama • July 6, 2007 at 12:03 pm

My name is Beth. I got “Bertha.” Thanks for that. I was a fat kid. Yep.


SB • July 6, 2007 at 3:42 pm

I don’t know about personal names but I know that when brand names get translated directly into German there are jokes. Like “Soft Cakes” which is a kind of filled cookies, would be pronounced like “ca keh” (sounds like caca), and “AFter Eight” mints — “After” is an archaic German word for a***.


Kate H • July 6, 2007 at 3:46 pm

I will always be eternally greatful to my dad for refusing to let my mother name me Rowena Fern. Oh yes… my mom is definitely short on common sense sometimes LOL


jake silver • July 7, 2007 at 8:19 am

I’m not lurking today. Funny post. I want 2 see this movie.


Mymsie • July 7, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Hee, my minor in college was German (and I studied it all 4 years of high school too) so for me, Dieter is a familiar name. I had to re-read your post a few times before I understood what you heard when you read “Dieter.” :) Funny! I’ve never noticed.


Chris H • July 8, 2007 at 1:06 am

I would have commented on your latest blog post, but there is nowhere to comment!???? Help!


origamifreak • July 8, 2007 at 12:36 pm

What Chris H said!


anji • July 8, 2007 at 2:58 pm

I don’t really think she wants comments… sometimes a girl just has to vent and doesn’t want people to really talk about it… I’ve been there, done that so I know how it feels…

We’ll just have to stay tuned for the next entry :)


Laura • July 8, 2007 at 4:13 pm

PQ, sorry to comment on your non-commentable post from 7/7, but I have to. It’s probably just hormones, girl– you will feel like yourself again soon. We ALL go through what you’re going through. And it feels like it’s never gonna end, that THIS feeling is the permanent feeling. The awfulness, the restlessness, the who the heck cares-ness. It can last several days for me, and I’ve really just come to accept that they are going to be not so perfect days. I’ll do my best–I’ll definitely keep going to the gym, whether I feel like it or not (because that does help keep me sane, just like your walk did for you)–and I repeat over and over “THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY.”

It’s only temporary. You’ll get your mojo back. Hang in there.


starbird • July 8, 2007 at 11:23 pm

“It’s probably just hormones…”

Or the heat. I personally can barely move today and it only got to 83 out here in Oregon. Blech!


jae • July 11, 2007 at 1:13 am

First of all, I didn’t get it at first since my husband has a friend at work named Dieter and funny that I never read his name like that until you pointed it out. Ha!

Secondly, (if you remember that my real name is Jeanette also) someone called my house and asked for Mr or Mrs Spaghetti. No lie, just because my last name starts in ‘sp’ and has some ‘g’s’ in it does not mean my last name is Spaghetti. Read soliciters! How funny it actually rhymes!! ~j


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

Man looking into telescope

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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