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I was reading this question about Ford's name, and was reminded that it is not his original name. Do we know what his name was before it was "Ford Prefect"?

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Sort of, but not really

There's a footnote on this topic in the novel; it doesn't tell us his actual name (though there's a quite compelling reason given for why not), but we do learn that his nickname at school was "Ix":

Ford Prefect's original name is only pronuncible in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect, now virtually extinct since the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758 which wiped out all the old Praxibetel communities on Betelgeuse Seven.

[...]

The other kids at school nicknamed him Ix, which in the language of Betelgeuse Five translates as "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven".

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy About Ford Prefect

  • 5
    Related reading: What is a Hrung? – Rand al'Thor Nov 10 '16 at 22:26
  • Hm, I wonder if this was a reference to Ix from Dune? – Finn O'leary Nov 11 '16 at 1:25
  • @FinnO'leary I don't imagine so. There's no real similarity other than the name, and the shortage of very short names (as required by the joke) that don't immediately call to mind an English meaning means that authors who use them are highly likely to have coincidental clashes. – Periata Breatta Nov 11 '16 at 7:00
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    Isn't Ix from Dune just the 9th (IXth) planet? I think there's even a passage in an inner monologue of one of the Bene Gesserit about that, something about that the stupid Ixians don't even understand where their name comes from. – Jörg W Mittag Nov 11 '16 at 8:37
  • @JörgWMittag Yeah, so even then we'd ran out of short names. – Mr Lister Nov 11 '16 at 9:43

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