Separate from and prior to all that Mircea Eliade stuff about sacred naming and names nobody’s allowed to say, I’ve conceived a new theory about the function, significance, and ubiquity of nicknames. Here it is:
We can’t help but use funny, diminutive variants of the names of our intimates because our emotions about them constrict our mouths just as we name them–with delight, surprise, or some other trespass of emotion.
Like say you’re a caveman and I’m a caveman, and my name is Wug. You come out of your cave and you see me and you go to say my name, Wug! But you’re so excited that we’re here and we’re both still alive and there I am and instead, with a wide grin on your caveman rictus, you say “Wug-UH!” or “Woo! Woo!” or even “Weeeee!” New nicknames for me that so far only you and I know. Over millennia the anatomical/emotional fact of this has become etched into our naming rituals, bro-bros.
It’s a rare day off for work for me. On a clear winter afternoon, I sit out on the back porch and sun with our dog, Georgia, whom we refer to variously as “Georgie-G”, “G-G”, “Joo Joo”, “G Girl”, “G Gordon”, and “Goo Goo.” :-)