What’s in a Name? – Dumbo

14th March, 2011 - Posted by DisAnim - Comments Off on What’s in a Name? – Dumbo

Dumbo’s true name is Jumbo Jr. The name “Dumbo” comes from the other elephants’ mockery of his large ears. Dumbo is actually a clever nickname (albeit a rude one) as a portmanteau of “dumb” and “Jumbo.” Jumbo was the name of an especially large elephant (which is where the common usage comes from—meaning large in size). Jumbo had many homes, beginning in the jungle where he was born and ending up in the circus. But it was while he was in the London Zoo that he obtained his name. The word “jumbo” did not exist before being dubbed as the elephant’s name. Apparently the zookeepers thought that the word sounded African. And they were right, actually, as both “jambo” and “jumbe” are words in Swahili.

Most of the characters don’t have real names (for example: the ringmaster). The head crow was called “Jim Crow” during production, however, and the name stuck. This has sparked controversy as it is an obvious reference to the racist Jim Crow laws that plagued the south for almost a century. It didn’t help that most of the crows were voiced by African Americans and the characters have been accused as being racist stereotypes.

Timothy Q. Mouse and Casey Junior are two characters who do have particular names. I couldn’t find a specific reason for such names, other than the fact that both Timothy and Casey are popular American names.

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