Monday, March 31, 2008

Exnicios--is that Greek or what??

In the wake of "horrible-disease"-gate, I thought that it might be interesting to take the narcissim of blogging to exciting new heights with 500 words about a subject near and dear to my heart--the thoroughly non-Greek name of Exnicios.

My Aunt Carol G (nee X) had this to say about the possible (non disease-related) origins of the family name:

"In French 'exnicoise' means 'from Nice'. Like a salade Nicoise is a salad from Nice or in the Nice style. Exparisian refers to someone from Paris and so forth.

So, I believe that our ancestor came from Nice and when asked his name in Louisiana (probably by a Spanish immigration guard) he replied je suis exnicoise (I am from Nice) and voila, the name was born."

This is one of the most plausible Exnicios origin-stories floating around out there, but it's by no means the only one.

As you might imagine, we Exnicios's get asked about our name on a near daily basis--how to pronounce it, where it's from, etc. As I don't know the answer to the origin question for sure, I feel entirely fine with rotating which explanation I give (there are 3 or 4 that I like).

If I'm in a hurry for some reason, I'll sometimes even agree that it's Greek just to end the conversation and be on my way.

If I'm feeling peevish and I've got the time to tell a story, I'll launch into a lengthy explanation of multiple theories. It's impolite for the questioner to stop and say "that's alright, I really didn't care that much..." But at the same time, all anyone wants to hear is a one word answer--Greek, French, Spanish, whatever. A 5 minute story is more than they bargained for, and will hopefully teach them not to ask after the nationality of every confusing name they stumble across.

But under most other circumstances, I politely share whichever theory/explanation I've recently taken a fancy to. As the topic comes up regularly, I've got a pretty good little stump speech prepared, so I get the important info across without losing my audience's interest.

My current favorite explanation is that Exnicios was simply made up by a pretentious ancestor. This is a theory of my own devising, but it can easily nest inside of an explanation like the one above. Somebody took to calling ol' Jean-Louis by the family name Exnicoise, and he thought it was nifty enough that he kept it around. And if you look through old records you'll find that there are several ancient Greek names that pop up in the family through the years. As recently as this century, my dad and Aunt Carol had an Uncle Tellie--short for Telemachus. No kidding. So even if the first Exnicios wasn't a pretentious Greek-o-phile, some of his descendants tended in that direction.

So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it...until I get bored and move on to the next one.

Happy almost-April everyone!

10 comments:

The original X-man said...

Pure salad fantasy. And it was Telemaque, not Telemachus, as in Hercule, Valery, Delphine or Achille - old school South Louisiana French names. Check out comment four to the disease post for further info. Would anyone believe Lithuanian?

KyleC said...

Yeah...I quit reading 3 lines in. You're Greek, right?

Mrs. Exnicios said...

I feel that all of this "family lore" should have been better explained before I spent 3 hours in the Social Security Office making myself an Exnicios.

Chris said...

Don't forget about the Alaskan pronunciation:

ex-NEE-SI- us


...or the 1SG that refused to say it any differently.

Exnicios said...

South Louisiana French, sure, but still culled from Greek mythology...how many people have recent ancestors named after characters from the Odyssey??

Tom Fitzsimons said...

Let me see if I understand. You're from "France"? Like the Coneheads? That certainly explains the mass quantities of beer I saw Andrew consume.

Exnicious said...

I've been searching for a while to find the origin of my last name as it ends in oUs. I'm wondering if somewhere along the way someone forgot to put the U in or decided to leave it out. I'm also from Louisiana. EXNICIOUS

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