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.
- 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.
- 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. ✺