"All she can say is 'Nyu', so let's call her that."
In Pokémon Speak
, the only thing a character says is his or her name. This is essentially the inverse: a character is named for the only thing he or she says. If it's the only thing they've ever
said, it might be unclear (or forgotten) which came first, especially if the first question they were asked was "what's your name?"
The way it usually works is someone with a limited or one-word vocabulary is named after that one word. Often, this will occur because other characters don't know this character's real name (if there even is one), and are uncomfortable with not having something to call them beyond "Hey, You!
." The simple solution: Take the only word(s) they ever utter and turn that into their name.
Note that, despite the title, the source of the name isn't necessarily a Verbal Tic
. However, the spirit is there in that the character's limited vocabulary is his or her defining attribute.
Anime & Manga
- Chi from Chobits.
- Chomesuke from D.Gray-Man, cho~! Also, Lero/Relo.
- It's suggested from the director's notes that Culumon (Calumon in the dub) from Digimon Tamers, not being a real Digimon at first, gave himself his name and adopted a Verbal Tic from it.
- Giru in Dragon Ball GT
- Nyu from Elfen Lied. Her speech pathology makes sense, as she took a bullet to the head (see "Tan" in real life below for what brain damage can do) but her recovering then becomes an issue.
- Pyoro in Vandread.
- The little draconic creature Raac ( who turns out to be a magical spy for Borel/Krasus) in Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy.
- Nyorori from Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger ends every sentence with his name, Nyorori.
- Di Gi Charat's Pyokola Analogue III ends hers with "pyo!"
- Babu, Chihiro's cat whose death and subsequent zombification triggered the plot of Sankarea, was named after the sound he makes, due to malformed vocal cords.
- Mone in Yumeria.
- Yun in Toriko. In the anime, Komatsu used the Wall Penguin chick's cry to call out for it when it got lost, and the name fell into place afterwards.
- Chicchi the flower spirit in Berserk is an odd example in that she's not named for her own verbal tic, but because it's the sound that rats— her only companions until Guts shows up— make.
- Coo from Summer Days With Coo.
- Todd Casil from Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and the Spin-Off Squee! makes a squeaking noise when he's scared, which is quite often. When he meets the Ax-Crazy Johnny and is asked his name, naturally the only noise he could muster up was "Squee!", which later became Johnny's nickname for him.
- Paulus De Boskabouter: Krakras the crow, whose name is based on the crow sound Kra, described as krassen in Dutch. Oehoeboeroe the owl's name is based on the sounds an owl makes.
- The Howlibird from The Smurfs, due to its screeching noise of "howli howli howli".
- Eegah! in the film of the same name.
- Yeah-Yeah from The Sandlot.
- In Topsy Turvy, Gilbert dubs a young Japanese woman "Miss Sixpence Please" after the only two words of English she seems to know.
Henry Hill: [narrating] ...And Jimmy Two-Times, who got that nickname because he said everything twice, like:
Jimmy Two-Times: I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.
- Guardians of the Galaxy "I am Groot"
- Errand from The Belgariad. His real name, given in the Mallorean, is Eriond.
- Oy from The Dark Tower series. He's a billy-bumbler, which is a talking raccoon-like creature native to Mid-World. The name comes from his attempts to say "boy".
- Gleep the baby dragon in the Myth Adventures book series. In a story written from Gleep's POV it's shown that he's quite intelligent and erudite — the problem isn't his linguistic ability, it's that his vocal cords aren't yet capable of human speech.
- He does learn to talk more understandably in later books, however.
- Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, because of the noise he made in his throat, and Níniel (meaning "tear-maiden") in The Silmarillion, after losing her memory.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has Hodor, the lovable simpleton stable hand whose only word is "Hodor". Later on, Old Nan reveals that his real name is Walder, which she thinks is what he's trying to say, but few people even remember him having another name.
- A partial example from Discworld is Hodgesaargh the falconer from the kingdom of Lancre. He speaks normally, but that's what he says whenever asked for his name (thanks to one of his overzealous falcons trying to attack him): "I'm Hodges... aargh!".
- Also, from The Wee Free Men is Sneebs, so called because that's all he says, though whenever he says "Sneebs" you hear words in your head.
- As a half-example, in the Legends of Ulm series, the protagonist, Gom, was named for the sound he made as a baby.
- In The Edge Chronicles, Twig is named his own name by a trog insistent on keeping him as a pet. Her mother insists that she won't have a pet that talks, and when Twig unthinkingly answers her question "What's your name?", he tries to make it sound like a verbal tic: "Twigtwigtwigtwig. Twigtwigtwig". The trog delightedly responds "I think I'll call him Twig."
- In the Layer Cake novel, the Diabolical Mastermind's bodyguard gained a habit from his SAS experience of calling everyone "Troop". Thus, he's identified as Mr. Troop (in the film, he doesn't have the habit, but is still given that name).
- The World According to Garp, inverted. Technical Sergeant Garp's name is the only thing he can say.
- Redwall: "Assssmodeussssss ..."
- In one of the funnier parts of The Magician's Nephew, when the Talking Beasts adopt Uncle Andrew as a pet they name him Brandy because he makes that noise so often. Unusual in that Uncle Andrew was perfectly capable of speech. The animals named him this because they couldn't understand much of the other stuff he was saying—partly because he was rendered rather incoherent by the previous events of the novel, and partly because he shut off his mind from communication. [invoked]
- Freak the griffin from The Kane Chronicles is partly named because of his freakish behavior, and partly because of the screeching noise that he makes.
- Eppon in Galaxy of Fear is both this and Pokémon Speak.
- In Gone with the Wind, Honey Wilkes gets her nickname from the fact that she calls everyone "from her father to the fieldhands" by that endearment.
- Anyang! In Arrested Development, Lucille Bluth adopts a Korean boy that doesn't speak English. He pretty much only says the word "Anyang," which means "hello" or "how do you do" in Korean, and the Bluths decide that it is actually his name. Whenever he's present and one of them mentions Anyang, he usually says his name back (because that is the polite response if they were speaking Korean).
- And it turns out his real name is "Hel-loh."
- Chantho from the Doctor Who episode "Utopia" precedes everything she says with "chan" and follows it with "tho." Apparently, leaving them out is rude where she comes from.
- Possibly Dorothy "Ace" Mc Shane, who tends to shout "Ace!" when she's enthusiastic about something.
- GoGo Sentai Boukenger: "ZUBAAN!"
- Count Blah from Greg the Bunny has an extensive vocabulary, but he's named after his Verbal Tic of saying "Blah" at the end of sentences. Which did not go well when in-universe Executive Meddling made him change his name to Count A'ight, which he couldn't pronounce.
- Nuh-Uh from The Little Rascals.
- On Stargate SG-1 there is an Unas named Chaka. Or rather, that's what Daniel calls him, 'cause that's what he says most often. There's a language barrier, you see.
- De Fabeltjeskrant: In this Dutch children's show many characters had names that were based on the sounds they made, such as Zoef the hare, who always said Zoef Zoef.
- Noodle of Gorillaz learned to speak English later on, but at the time she was mailed to the other band members, the only word of it she knew was "Noodle". So they decided to call her that.
- According to legend, Lemmy of Motorhead earned his nickname as a schoolboy by constantly mooching from friends, such as with the phrase, "Lemmy a quid!"
- Louie Cuneo, nicknamed The Turkey, was a friend of Frank Zappa who had a very peculiar laugh, much like a turkey. He can be heard on the album Lumpy Gravy (1968).
- The wyrm-corrupted Black Spiral Dancers from Werewolf: The Apocalypse were given a new name upon completion of their first dance around the black spiral, after the first sound they made. Mostly these new names are incoherent noises of rage or distress, but one notably unfortunate individual was named Parrupt, as the first sound she made did not come from her mouth...
- KILLFRENZY, the Chaos-possessed starship from, guess it, Warhammer 40,000.
- A semi-related example; In Magic: The Gathering, it is an obscure fact about goblins that they are named after the noise their mother made when giving birth to them. Though there wouldn't be a whole lot of creativity going into their names anyway, considering that goblins are born in litters, (giving them their iconic numbers) and are none too bright to begin with (giving them there iconic tactics).
- The famous Dungeons & Dragons story of Noh. A DM had a group of adventurers enter a room with a couple of treasures and a little girl. The girl wasn't a real person, but a magical construct who could only say two things "No" and "Please don't take these items". The players, unsure of what to do, tried to ellicit more responses from her, but failed. Finally the bard tried playing a beautiful song, and rolled so high on his skill check that the DM had a single tear roll down the girl's cheek. The players immediately decide she's too adorable to leave behind and adopt her, naming her "Noh". The DM eventually allowed her to be granted a soul and a personality (and the ability to truly speak), but the name stuck.
- There was a kids' musical where the main character's only phrase was "No Fibbin'," so that's what the other characters called him. It was pretty odd.
- Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Guys and Dolls, who always says "nicely, nicely, thank you" when someone asks how he's doing.
- Nina in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter is named after the only sound her damaged vocal cords are capable of producing.
- Although Gau from Final Fantasy VI can say quite a few words, his favorite seems to be "gau", a Japanese onomatopoeia for roaring.
- Susan Strong on Adventure Time. Her first came from her trying to say "sun", and her last name came from saying she was strong.
- Timmy from South Park
- Poof from The Fairly OddParents.
- Does Chet Ubetcha count? You betcha (but not very often, though).
- Goo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends got her name because her parents let her choose her name when she was born and the only thing she could say was "goo goo gaa gaa."
- Tweety Bird of Looney Tunes in spirit - he doesn't actually tweet much, but, well, he's a canary.
- Boo in Monsters, Inc. is a slight variant. Her real name is Mary, but she's just a baby and doesn't know how to introduce herself. 'Boo' wasn't the first word she said to Sully, but she screams it later.
- Bubbles the yellow tang from Finding Nemo, who gets his name from the treasure chest-shaped aquarium decoration that periodically spouts bubbles, and his obsession with it.
- In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, the characters call an alien Meap because that's the only word he says (so that's how he replies when they ask his name). He gets hold of a translator mustache at the end of the episode, though. Considering he never corrects the kids when he does speak English, and his enemy Mitch also calls him Meap, it might actually be his name.
- The Flintstones Comedy Show had Dino's nephew Pow Pow who would say his name at the end of his sentences.
- King Erik VI Menved (1274-1319) of Denmark. The byname "Menved" is derived from his habit of saying "ved alle hellige maend" (by all holy men).
- Heinrich II Jasomirgott (1107-1177), Duke of Austria. His byname "Jasomirgott" is explained as a slightly garbled form of "yes so help me God", which he apparently used a lot.
- Charles Ludwich Dodgeson, otherwise known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was nicknamed by his friends as 'Do Do Dodgeson' due to his stammer which made him call himself 'Do-Do-Dodgeson'.
- Ernesto "Che" Guevara, nicknamed after the Argentine slang interjection "che", which he used a lot.
- A famous patient in the field of expressive aphasia known as Tan could only produce the sound "tan". Paul Broca's research on Tan's brain after he died revealed extensive damage caused by Syphilis in a particular area of his brain, an area which would later be known as Broca's area. It is one of the parts of the brain responsible for the formation of words and coherent speech.
- In many languages, dogs and other animals do go around saying what they are called in that language, such as "gau" for "dog" and "maau" for "cat" in Cantonese.
- You get a number of birds named after the sounds they produce, like the chickadee, the whippoorwill, the bobwhite and the cuckoo.
- And that isn't only the case in English: German: Kuckuck, French: Coucou (pronounce "coocoo"), Chinese: Xique (approximately: shee-chue-eh, a magpie).
- The Japanese Cicada-TsukuTsuku Boshi.
- Gecko lizards. Their name comes from the fact that their chirps sound like they're saying "gecko gecko" over and over again.
- The Tokay Gecko in particular makes the distinct "gecko gecko" chirp as well as a chirp that sounds like "tokeh"... which is where it got its name.
- The coquí, a family of small tree frogs native to Puerto Rico, named for its distictive call, "co-KEE."
- The Quagga (an extinct relative of the zebra) was said to be named after its call (or the Khoikhoi word for zebra)
- South Africa has plenty more where that came from: tok-tokies (beetles that make that 'tok-tok' sound by thumping the ground with their abdomens), the Hadeda (an ibis that makes that call - a lot), repeating words like "now-now" for emphasis in common speech... I could list forever.
- The Aracuan (yes, they actually do exist), a South American bird named after its distinct call.
- The Greeks thought that the languages of everyone beyond their borders sounded like "Bar bar bar bar bar"—hence, barbarians. (Barbaros if you're talking to an ancient Athenian.)