Is “Called” a Kiddy Thing?

One of the downsides of watching the NCAA basketball tournament (aka March Madness®) is seeing the same commercials over and over (and over) again. Occasionally, there’ll be an ad repeat showings of which I actually enjoy. There’s at least one such this year, for the chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings:

I post it here because of what the manchild on the phone says at the beginning: “I have a new friend! He’s called Jeff. I can’t wait to have him over.”

So, “called,” the American equivalent of which is “named.” The question is whether the “called” in the commercial is a NOOB, or if an actual American little kids would tend to say “called” instead of “named.” I await your collective intelligence.

16 responses to “Is “Called” a Kiddy Thing?

  1. “Called” is probably used equally with “named” in America.

  2. In my entire life I never would have said “named” instead of “called” in such a sentence, although I might have said with equal probability, “His name is Jeff.” (I was born and reared in western Pennsylvania.)

    By the way, I never knew that “March Madness” was a registered trademark before you called it out. The NCAA certainly doesn’t make that obvious. I couldn’t find the notice on their web site, even on their March Madness page.

    • Yes, Hal, I agree that “His name is Jeff” sounds more like something an American kid would say. But not, to my ears, “He’s called Jeff.”

      • As a Brit, “his name’s Jeff” sounds more natural to me but “he’s called Jeff” is possible.

        Also, “I’m called x” sounds completely wrong.. For me, it would be “my name’s x” or “I’m x”. I remember when I first learned French (age 11) being told that “Je m’appelle” literally translated as “I call myself”. That sounded funny to us.

  3. I think hah15 may have it, here. I’m inclined to agree that a child is more likely to say “is called” than “is named,” but “his name is” sounds even more Amurrican to my ears.

  4. Why use either? Wisconsinite here. I’d have been more likely to say, “here’s my friend Jeff.” — called or named is just an extra word that’s unnecessary.

  5. I’d only used “is called” if it’s a strange nickname. Eg clarifying that someone whose name is William Edward that “he’s called Ted” or “we call him Bigs.” It might be becoming more common with more acceptance of the trans community and gender fluidity – so someone who looks masculine may be “called Sarah.” If someone told me their friend is “called” something, I’d assume that it’s their nickname, and possibly an unusual one. (Mid-twenties, AmE Midatlantic)

  6. Called is for humans, named is for products.

  7. “he’s called” is not something I would ever have thought of as specifically British, or non-North American. But I agree with the comments above, with regard to “his name is” being the more natural thing for an American child to say in that context.

  8. I’m with SamC that “called” makes me think “nickname”. But here’s the thing: that isn’t the part that makes it sound “kiddy”. The childlike part is “I made a friend!” Who says that? I’d say, “I met this guy, Jeff…” and go on to describe him in positive terms, maybe talk about how we hung out, and let the listener figure it out. Besides, if I just met the guy, I’m not going to call him a friend until I know him better.

    I wouldn’t use “named” unless it’s really necessary. “That guy Jim—” “His name is *Jeff*.” Otherwise, he’s pretty much going to be referred to as “this one guy, Jeff” and leave “name” out of it.

    For the record: I am Nebraskan.

  9. As a middle and high school teacher I’ve never heard a child use “named,” “Called” is universal, at least here in Iowa.

    • What I’m taking away from this conversation, at least for the U.S., is that “called” seems to dominate in speech while “named” predominates in writing.

  10. In Yorkshire people often say “They call him x”. That may apply more to the surname than the Christian name. It is especially common to hear, of a married worman, “They call her [married name]”, with a slight suggestion that her maiden name is still the real one.

  11. Peter from Oz

    I always assocaite ‘named’ with an accustion of worngdoing. “Josephine Bloggs was named before the Royal Commission into Politicians’ Slush Funds.”

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