Ike Harder!
March 26, 2012 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Shoutmennonitenames.com generates Mennonite names (shouting not included, except for an exclamation mark). Does what it says on the well-worn tin passed down through the generations.

At shoutmennonitenames.com, artist Steven Cochrane takes a game played by his Winnepegian boyfriend and his chums and backs it up with information from the Global Anabaptist Encyclopedia Online, and other sources.
posted by oneironaut (47 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Rasmussen"? No. That's pretty much only a Scandinavian name. You'd think a Winnipegger would know that.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:18 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


FLAGGED AS: INSUFFICIENT BEARDIOSITY
posted by Samizdata at 12:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


How odd. So Mennonites are some kind of special group that we get to make fun of, without invoking wrath? How curious is that. I never understand when bigotry is funny vs. when it's disgusting.

Oh, and that sight is full of shit. My name isn't on there. I'm descended from Mennonites. A highly-persecuted people chased out of Europe and given refuge in Pennsylvania, thanks to William Penn himself. And by 'chased', I mean, given the option to leave, or die. Plenty were killed by those good and merciful people called "Catholics", praise God.

But yuck it up! HAHAHA! Funny names for white people! Open season!
posted by Goofyy at 1:30 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dorcas Dyck!
posted by chavenet at 1:30 AM on March 26, 2012


Interesting; I clicked 25 times and didn't see Yoder, Bechtel, Jantzen or Frantz. I guess the pool of names in Winnipeg is slightly different than Lancaster.
posted by dubold at 1:44 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm descended from Mennonites.

I tell you what, Mennonites are amazing about genealogical record-keeping. Thanks to them, I know that my paternal ancestor Melchior (The Exile) had a son, also named Melchior (The Pioneer), who was born around 1665 in Canton Bern and died in Lancaster, PA in 1737.

The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has an online archive of family Bibles, cemetery records, personal papers and more. Worth checking out, for sure.

Other great Mennonite-related things: More with Less and Simply In Season; shoo-fly pie; the Lehman's catalog
posted by dubold at 2:03 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


The joke is sort of lost, when you are German... then most of the name generated sound pretty common, mixed up only with an occasional non-German first (Becky) or last (Rasmussen) name.

They are also mostly last names from northern Germany.
posted by SAnderka at 2:44 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


So Mennonites are some kind of special group that we get to make fun of, without invoking wrath?

Well, likely not the wrath of the Mennonites, in any case.

I'm not a Mennonite, but I've become friends with a few over the past few years I've lived here in Nairobi, and let me tell you: they are some of the worlds' best people. Definitely not the type that would get a feather ruffled over something like this. In fact, I sent some of them the link, because I think they'll find it funny, rather than insulting. If there's anyone capable of not taking themselves too seriously, its my Mennonite friends.

A number of the Mennonites I know work in Eastleigh, the part of Nairobi inhabited predominantly by Somali transplants. For a normal white guy like me, it wouldn't be nearly safe enough to even walk around on the street there (in fact, my work prohibits me from going there without security). But a young Mennonite volunteer kid from Lancaster, who doesn't even speak a lick of Somali or Swahili, he goes there every day to teach basketball, and that's as right as rain with Somalis. Its interesting, a mostly Islamic (often radically so) culture with such a history of war being so accepting and friendly with a sect of Christianity.

Most of them are pacifists, too. I got to watch 1.5 years back as my good friend lost his best and closest Mennonite friend, a missionary running an orphanage outside the city, employing locals and caring for scores of parent-less children. On the night before pay-day, thieves broke in and shot him dead in front of his young wife and kids. What they did next to the wife in front of the kids could arguably be considered worse.

Now, I'm a Christian, but I'm no pacifist. Frankly if this kind of thing happened to my Mennonite friend, my resulting actions would probably land me in jail the rest of my life. Thank heaven I wasn't in his shoes, because he was able to handle the situation the way only a truly forgiving person could. Years later I still fantasize about bringing those thugs to justice (it would be a simple matter of paying off the cops that were clearly paid off by the thugs themselves to not be arrested in the first place), and my Mennonite friend is seeking new ways to serve the community that has suffered the loss of such good people.

Suffice to say, its going to take a lot more than this website to upset a Mennonite, if the ones I know are any indication. I respect few people more than they.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:51 AM on March 26, 2012 [20 favorites]


Definitely needs more Yoder.
posted by sciurus at 3:27 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's "racist" about this? I don't really get Gooffy's objection at all. This site could work for any ethnic / cultural group and be just as fun, it is completely lighthearted and silly.

We can shout Jewish names, Kenyan names, Moroccan names, Swedish names, it would all be great.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:28 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


the solution is for people to simply not form groups
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:06 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


You'd think a Winnipegger would know that.

I'm from Florida.

Also, the only complaints I've ever received about the site have come from Mennonites irked that their own surnames weren't included (or Mennonites from other places furious about the unclusion of some detested spelling variant).
posted by wreckingball at 4:25 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


In my area, every ag- or lawn-related business is Mennonite-run. When my husband says it's time to take the mower in for service he has to specify whether it's going to Nolan (ag, west) or Nolan (lawn, south). Log deliveries? Made by El-WAYNE and his cousin Omar. Pigs come from Elmer's barn, and his wife, Lorraine, makes the most amazing homemade granola bars. Traditional names, sure, but these folks are also smart businesspeople, good community members and faithful members of their respective churches. They run the auctions to benefit mission work and disaster relief; they're good neighbors and good people. As much as I love to say "el-WAYNE Weaver," I do so in a spirit of affection and respect.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:29 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My name is Dwight Schrute. My father's name: Dwight Schrute. His father's name was also Dwight Schrute. His father? Dwide Schrude.
posted by notseamus at 5:04 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shout! Shout! Let it all out!
These are the names I can't do without!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:21 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nafzinger, Stolzfus, Yoder and Hartzler,
Bontrager, Newswanger, Reeser and Blosser,
Bertsche and Klassen and Unrau and Harms
These are a few of my favorite .. Narms..?

seriously, need a wider surname base here. stolzfus. how is any mennoname generator complete without stolzfus?
posted by gorestainedrunes at 5:44 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


as an aside, most north american german/swiss mennos can and do play a form of this game as a informal introduction. it's called the "mennonite game" and basically you start naming off families you're related to so that you can both find a common relation. one throws out pennsylvania yoders.. nah, then the other is like "what about northern indiana yoders?" nooope. got any zooks? go fish. "Klassens?" "Illinois Klassens?" "Doug Klassen?" "Son of Martin Klassen?" "YEAH!" "my grandpa's brother's son in law was Martin's brother ZORG KLASSEN!!" "OHHH UNCLE ZORG! He died in that awful tractor fire :(" "oh yeah :( that was a shame, that."

and admittedly, zorg is not an appropriate name here but i got bored. but that's how most german-ish N.A. mennos can find commonality.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 6:28 AM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Interesting- many of these signature names (like Yoder and Stolzfus) are also characteristically Amish. I've always been fascinated by the interchange between these groups theologically and culturally, and wonder if there's any degree of intermarriage between them.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:32 AM on March 26, 2012


So Mennonites are some kind of special group that we get to make fun of, without invoking wrath?

As a Winnipeger who has shared my entire life with Mennonites, I can't imagine any of them being offended by this light-hearted poke at their modest pool of names. In fact, one of my best friends just let me know how 'bummed' he was that his surname, Koop, wasn't included.

One of the few traits that would unite most of the hundreds of Mennonites I have known would be a gentle sense of self-deprecation.
posted by jeffen at 6:43 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So Mennonites are some kind of special group that we get to make fun of, without invoking wrath?

I never really knew what Mennonites were until this thread. But I'm so happy that I can now make merciless fun of them.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on March 26, 2012


There is no particular group that it's universally "not OK" to make fun of, but there are various groups who suffer from stereotypes that you might not want to pile onto. For whatever it's worth, this thread perpetuates the stereotype of Mennonites having monotonous names. Make of that what you will.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:00 AM on March 26, 2012


What's "racist" about this?

I'm in this same boat, and I genuinely don't want to offend people or support something that does, but I don't understand? I am entirely ignorant of Mennonites and why this would be offensive, and if there are good reasons for this that can be explained I would really love to hear them.

I clicked around a bit and didn't really get a lot of redundancy... is what LogicalDash said correct, that the 'humor' of it comes from a small pool of names?

I thought it was just a neat little thing that exposed me to names that are Mennonite in nature, and I think things like that are pretty cool. I mean I'd have no idea otherwise. But then I read the MeFi comments. I want to stress again that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as on a lot of topics I generally trust the MeFi community to point me in the right direction.

Does it not help that it is apparently not complete enough as a 'database'?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:08 AM on March 26, 2012


Well "Mennonite in nature" or "more typically associated with Mennonites or Mennonite tradition". I mean I get that Mennonites are people (I don't think this needs to be said really but you know, clarity) and in this day and age might have a greater variety of names or something. I'm not trying to 'other' people is what I'm saying.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:11 AM on March 26, 2012


Mormons are famous for choosing unusual first names, and there's a generator for that, too.
posted by padraigin at 7:37 AM on March 26, 2012


the stereotype of Mennonites having monotonous names

Stereotype? Surnames such as Martin, Nolt, Zimmerman and Weaver account for a whopping percentage of family names, at least where I am, in part because Mennonites frequently have many children (not Duggar-style, but having eight or nine kids is not thought to be unusual). There are a LOT of people sharing a relatively small pool of names; the interesting part is seeing how these common last names get combined with gorgeous first names, like Galen. I'd imagine that in the Mennonite dating world, it's probably pretty important to establish possible kinship; Uncle Zorg kinfolking is expected and comfortable chat.

And before you make jokes, flapjax, go have a look at what the Mennonite Central Committee has done in partnership with Ten Thousand Villages stores. I've said it here before: I have no stake in, or truck with, their theology--but I respect the MCC's disaster relief efforts because of the material help they bring to damaged communities.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:39 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I have the Mennonite More with Less and Simply in Season cookbooks--they're wonderful. I'm glad to know a little more about them than they make their own soap.
posted by Tesseractive at 7:47 AM on March 26, 2012


Aw, the second name that came up was my grandpa's first and last name! My mennonite grandpa. I approve of this name generator.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:16 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, which country has the largest Mennonite population? Ethiopia, and they're not German/Swiss/Dutch Mennonites, either. So, an accurate Mennonite Name Generator should have names like Bedada, Delelegne, and Negussie.

I'm a Mennonite with the last name Fitzgerald, and I'm not at all offended by this site, and can't imagine my German/Swiss/Dutch Mennonite sisters and brothers being offended either.
posted by willF at 8:16 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


No Charmagne yet?
posted by clvrmnky at 8:18 AM on March 26, 2012


Interesting- many of these signature names (like Yoder and Stolzfus) are also characteristically Amish. I've always been fascinated by the interchange between these groups theologically and culturally, and wonder if there's any degree of intermarriage between them.

The Amish are Mennonites.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 AM on March 26, 2012


So what do you call a metafilter Mennonite? A Metafennonite?
posted by Tesseractive at 8:29 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Amish are Mennonites.

This is only sort of true. Both are Anabaptists and the Amish descend directly from Mennonite roots. But the schism occurred over 300 ago and there are definite distinctions between the groups. It's like saying Anglicans are Catholics.

I, too, find this vaguely offensive. Part of it is the "!"... the point of it is not at all clear but it seems to convey something like "Ha ha!" Making fun of people's names is really cool in my book. (I'm not Anabaptist FWIW.)
posted by Dano St at 8:42 AM on March 26, 2012


Err, by "this" I mean the site, not Sys Rq's comment I was replying to in my first paragraph.
posted by Dano St at 8:44 AM on March 26, 2012


dammit not really cool
posted by Dano St at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2012


So what do you call a metafilter Mennonite? A Metafennonite?

A Metanite.
posted by tel3path at 8:54 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's almost as offensive as naming a fictional character Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski!
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on March 26, 2012


I come from Mennonite stock, and my ancestors came here with William Penn (the way it was told to me, in the same ship). I'm sitting here scratching my head how anyone could find offense at this - and I consider myself hyper-sensitive to in-group disparagement.

What putative negative characteristic of Mennonites is being disparaged here?

Is this one of those things where people pretend that only members of groups are allowed to recognize their membership in groups? OK, on behalf of the community of Anabaptists, Mennonites, and Amish, I hereby place "Mennonite" into the public domain. There, done.
posted by facetious at 10:10 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I lived in California's San Joaquin Valley for five years, and in refreshing this page a reasonable number of times, I came up with five last names of people I knew in the stone fruit business, all at least Mennonite by extraction. So I'd say it works.
posted by jocelmeow at 10:30 AM on March 26, 2012


It's almost as offensive as naming a fictional character Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski!

Assuming there's a hamburger tag in there, the difference is that Krusty is a complete character. There's more to the joke than "hey, funny ethnic name!" Maybe there's more to the Shoutmennonitenames joke that I'm just not getting. To me it just seems kind of pointless and I guess my default reaction to pointless ethnic jokes is vague offense.
posted by Dano St at 10:30 AM on March 26, 2012


If people would like something more concrete to be offended about, I'm sure I can pull together a "Harry Dyck" or "Dick Froesen" joke.
posted by wreckingball at 11:25 AM on March 26, 2012


I clicked and got Neufeld, so I can confirm this page is working as advertised.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2012


...the difference is that Krusty is a complete character.....

[I don't understand how 'hamburger' is used on MeFi (does it just mean 'sarcasm'?).]

But my point is that Krusty has the middle name 'Shmoikel' for no other reason than that it sounds funny. As someone whose middle name (Shlomo) has brought great pleasure to many people, I am firmly in favor of humor that is based on words that sound funny.

But if, as you say, "pointless + ethnic = offense" for you, then you are right to be offended by this.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2012


Interesting; I clicked 25 times and didn't see Yoder, Bechtel, Jantzen or Frantz. I guess the pool of names in Winnipeg is slightly different than Lancaster.

dubold, did you see the surnames file (.pdf) from the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society? Definitely a more complete list than the site author uses.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:34 PM on March 26, 2012


dubold, did you see the surnames file...

Sure did.

I thought this line from GAMEO was quite interesting:


The total of different traditional family names among the Mennonites of Europe, exclusive of Holland and the newer families in Emden and Krefeld, has been determined to be about 600. Of these, 167 names of Swiss-South German origin, and 105 names of West Prussian and Northwest German origin are treated in this Encylopedia


GAMEO, or the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, is a fascinating way to read up on Mennonite history. They include the strangest details; I was reading about one of my distant relatives and they noted that he was said never to have laughed out loud.
posted by dubold at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Probably 3/4 of my ancestors were Mennonites. I am not in the least offended. Though to be fair my Lutheran ancestors had even wackier names like Melancthon Broadt.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Melchior (The Exile)

This is a totally epic name to have for an ancestor. Check to make sure that you haven't inherited a broken sword that needs to be reforged or other heroic destiny.
posted by XMLicious at 3:11 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I married into a Mennonite family and I can't imagine that any of them would be offended. They'd probably be looking for relatives: "Hey, look, Cousin Jake Neufeld came up!"

I suspect that some of the relatively small set of names comes from a tradition where children are named after parents and grandparents. Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law were eldest children in their respective families and their first names were the same ones given to eldest children for generations. They incurred some family disapproval when they named their children, my husband and his sister, with names that were not from the family line.

(My husband and I were in Winnipeg during a Mennonite World Conference. There were thousands of Mennonites all gathered downtown in the major conference hotel and my husband suggested that a great prank would be to go to the information desk and ask for "Abe Friesen" and see how many showed up. I persuaded him not to, but just barely.)

My mother-in-law is an expert Mennonite Game player (as per gorestainedrunes above) and found out that my husband, a white guy born in Winnipeg with a typical Mennonite name, is related to one of his colleagues, a woman of Chinese extraction, with a typically Chinese name, born in Vancouver.
posted by angiep at 7:08 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


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