OT: Re: Prime number algo... what's wrong?

Alex Martelli aleax at aleax.it
Fri Mar 28 13:01:03 CET 2003

Peter Hansen wrote:

> Max Khesin wrote:
>> David, I would prefer that my first name be used instead of treating me
>> as a schoolboy.
> Just an FYI: this is perhaps more a cultural difference, than a sign of
> impoliteness.
> In North America, it is common in, for example, journalism to refer
> to an individual by last name throughout an article, after introducing
> the full name the first time it is used.  Sort of like using an acronym

That's the normal journalistic convention in Italy, too.  Using the
first name instead would imply personal familiarity, "mock" familiarity
(common with stars of the movie/TV/music worlds), or that you're speaking
of the Pope, another sovereign (e.g. you might say 'Napoleon' instead
of 'Bonaparte'), or one of the relatively few historical figures who
ARE conventionally identified by their first names (e.g. 'Michelangelo'
for 'Michelangelo Buonarroti', but NOT for 'Michelangelo Merisi', who is
invariably referred to by his nickname of 'Caravaggio' instead -- no REAL
reason, just the way tradition happened to develop, just as e.g. many
use Dante for "Dante Alighieri" but NOBODY uses Francesco for "Francesco
Petrarca", who's invariably referred to by his surname Petrarca instead).

I don't think it's reasonable to say that e.g. Horatio Nelson is "treated 
as a schoolboy" because he's invariably referred to by his surname while
for Napoleone Bonaparte both first name and surname are often used.


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