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Usually more extended thoughts by Michael Camilleri.

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This article originally appeared on one of my former blogs. I still have the problem described in this post and think about this phenomenon often.

Is there a word for when you confuse people based on the fact they share either a first name or a last name? I propose a rather inelegant neologism of my own devising: connomming. I am a frequent connommer, only discovering well after the fact that I have been confusing, or indeed conflating, radically different people.

I became aware of two separate connomming instances today: one involving Richards and one involving Ians. For the record, and my own personal reference, I’m setting out who these people actually are.

The Richards are Perle, Clarke and Armitage:

  • Richard Perle is a neoconservative political scientist who has previously worked in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush;
  • Richard Clarke is a former member of the National Security Councils of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and
  • Richard Armitage is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan and a former Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush.

The Ians are Buruma and Johnson:

  • Ian Buruma is a writer who grew up in the Netherlands and Japan and is fluent in Japanese (among other languages); and
  • Ian Johnson is a writer and journalist, fluent in Chinese (among other languages), who sometimes writes for the same publications as Ian Buruma.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. ✺