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In British literature and history, usually 19th and early 20th centuries, I come across individuals with the given name of St. John. When I have heard the name pronounced audibly, it’s pronounced like “Sinjin.” Can you explain (a) why St. John would have been used as a given name in the first place, and (b) why it would be pronounced Sinjin?
RobertB said: That must be the most common reason behind a given name- to take after someone beloved, a role model.
Indeed, honor is one of the most common reasons. Check out this surname origins website, where I entered “St. John.” Probably the other most common origin is a trade, like “Carpenter” “Farmer” “Shoemaker” etc.
MargeS: Welcome to the forum! I have never heard “St. John” pronounced the way you describe. Could be a regional thing. Where did you hear that pronunciation?
Heimheng said: I have never heard “St. John” pronounced the way you describe. Could be a regional thing.
I’ll bet you have heard it and didn’t know what you were hearing. If you don’t already know what you are hearing there is no way to associate the pronunciation and the spelling. I think it is probably a British name. You may have noticed that British names and their spellings often don’t match, for example Worcester sounds like Wooster. I occasionally hear St. John/Sinjin on British TV shows. The first time I became aware of this was on the TV show, “Airwolf.” The main character’s name was Stringfellow Hawke and his brother’s name was St. John. I kept hearing this strange sounding name and found out what it was when I read the cast credits.
I certainly associate the Sinjin pronunciatiation with the British. In most US contexts it would be pronounced as the saint, cf. entertainer Jill St. John (pronounced Saint John), a stage name.
My first encounter with the Sinjin pronunciation of St. John was also as a family name, albeit fictional and an alias to boot, and not as a given name. It was in the 1985 Bond film, View to a Kill, where Bond posed as James St. John-Smythe. The movie makes some fun of the inscrutable pronunciation.
The family name Sinclaire / Sinclair is a reflection of the same ironic reduction of Saint to Sin: Saint Claire becomes Sinclair.
It seems these saintly family names often originated as place names honoring saints. They came to name families from those locations.
This site indicates that Sinjin is also first name, and also American.
To quote just some bits–
…about 15,000 individuals surnamed St. John in the US. And, just like Carter and Jackson and Reese, some parents promoted St. John to the first spot.
Christopher St. John (“Sinjin”) Smith was born on May 7, 1957 in Santa Monica, California. He goes by his middle name…
Glenn, was it your intention to use ‘cf.’ ? because I usually understand cf. as calling attention to something different or even contrasting.