Bringing the Text to Life
If a woman tells you that her child’s name is Kelsie, spelled K-E-L-S-I-E, what sex do you assume the child to be? Thanks to the popularity of TV star Kelsey Grammer, you might momentarily consider that the child could be a boy, but then the actor’s name is spelled K-E-L-S-E-Y. And anyway, how many males besides him do you know of who have that name, in either spelling? Not many, we bet.
No, probably your first thought is that the child is female.
In the case of Dr. Kelsie Harder, however, you’d be wrong. That Kelsie, with the S-I-E spelling, died earlier this year at the age of 84, but by then he’d made quite a name for himself as an onomastician — a student of names and their origins.
His own first name came about because his parents wanted their new son to have an unusual name. He already had a sister named Elsie, and they liked the sound of that, so they planted a “K” on the front of it and named him Kelsie. As a result, he spent a lot of...