Character Surnames

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Character Surnames

Post by Snowth Poogle on Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:16 pm

Like a lot of kid shows, Elwood City's actual location has always been vague and never explicitly been stated, but there's two common theories: one has it that Elwood City must be somewhere in the deep south since before it was developed, the entire area used to be swampland; while another says Elwood City might be farther north (perhaps New England or somewhere like that) with how snowy their winters are (then of course there's the idea Elwood City is in Canada because the mailman wears a red uniform rather than blue and such).

But could Elwood's location be determined by the characters' surnames? Apparently, the theory of RECESS is that 3rd Street School is somewhere in the midwest, since many of the characters has Germanic last names (T.J. Dettweiler, Mikey Blumberg, Gretchen Grundler, Gus Griswald, et al.) A lot of the characters have some rather unique-sounding last names, many of which I've never really heard before: Deegan, Lundgren (that one I believe is Scandinavian), Datillo, Compson, et al. Well, okay, Compson may not count since that family is originally from Louisiana, and we're trying to figure out where Elwood City is.

Then of course, we have our usual friends: the Reads, the Baxters, the Frenskies, the Crosswires, the Barneses, the Powerses, and such. The Reads may be a little tough, I almost get a sense that Marc Brown came up with that one as a subtle nod to the fact that ARTHUR was originally a book series. I believe Frensky is Polish.

What do you guys think?

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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Lundgren Slugger on Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:54 am

Elwood City is basically suburbia. I get the impression that the Elwood City community is very diverse, judging from the fact that many of Arthur's friends have different backgrounds and nationalities. Because Elwood City is such a generic suburbs, its location is hard to determine.

It reminds me a lot of where I live, though, and I live in a boring old suburbs in the Northeast US.
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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Kerry9Story on Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:44 pm

whole place made up bro
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Re: Character Surnames

Post by A Lotta Moms on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:23 pm

It's interesting, I have noticed a distinct difference in the types of last names people have as I've moved from one geographic region to another.  Without citing any actual studies or statistics, the names in Arthur seem to have a much more Northern ring to them, though not quite Midwestern.  At this point, I'm going to concur with Snowth and Lundgren and put my money on the Northeast/New England region as the most likely candidate. The Northwest (Washington, Oregon, etc.) might also be a possibility.
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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Roabe on Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:28 pm

Elwood City had a lot of influences from the towns Marc Brown grew up/lived in. Erie, Pennsylvania (Lakewood Elementary, Mill Creek Mall) and Hingham, Massachusetts (Button Island, also a majority of the houses in the show were based on real ones found throughout Hingham) being the most obvious.
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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Snowth Poogle on Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:39 am

I tried doing some research on these surnames, and here's what I've been able to come up with so far as far as origins go...

Read: The subject of controversy, because it either has Scottish origins, or British
Baxter: Anglo-Saxon (derived from Baker)
Powers: English, Irish, or possibly French
Barnes: Anglo-Saxon/English (someone who once worked in a barn)
Walters: Anglo-Saxon, possibly English or German
Lundgren: Swedish (derived from the Swedish words "Lund", meaning "forest," and "gren," meaning "branch").
Morgan: Welsh/Celtic
MacDonald: Scottish (son of Donald)
Deegan: Irish
Haney: English

Apparently, Frensky, Crosswire, Datillo, and MacGrady don't exist.

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Re: Character Surnames

Post by BionicBunny on Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:41 pm

Seriously? Those names don't exist? >_<

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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Snowth Poogle on Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:15 pm

Every website I've come across that gives you information about the origins and meanings of last names turns up nothing with those names.

As I've said before, Frensky sounds Polish to me... I'm certain MacGrady would more than likely be Celtic, either Scottish or Irish, and Datillo sounds vagely Italian.

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Re: Character Surnames

Post by A Lotta Moms on Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:53 pm

I've managed to turn up some close variants:

McGrady: Irish
Dattilo: Italian
Krensky: Polish.  Marc Brown apparently derived Frensky from a friend whose last name was Krensky.  It's worth noting that I was able to turn up a very small number of actual people with the last name of Frensky, there's just no surname info available on it when it comes to etymology or background.

No luck finding anything reasonably similar to Crosswire, although I did turn up 5 birth records for people with that name.  I get the idea that it's more of a play on words to underscore Muffy's haphazard personality.
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Re: Character Surnames

Post by Snowth Poogle on Wed Oct 22, 2014 5:15 pm

If Deegan is Irish, I'm surprised I haven't heard of it till recently, considering my bloodline is mostly Scotch/Irish.

I'm trying to think though... Crosswire, to me, sounds similar to certain surnames that end with the suffix "mire", which makes me wonder if Crosswire is somehow derived from names like that.

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