The Weird Science of Naming New Products

6355351769_766503f534_mWhat do the names SoyJoy, Lytro, Kixx, Scribe, Spontania, and Yum! all have in common? They are all the brainchild of naming guru, Anthony Shore.

Read this New York Times Magazine article about the legendary man behind these brand names as well as the other companies that participate in this quirky (and lucrative!!) world of product naming.

UND changes team name to “the Fighting Hawks:

10791370375_19cb460d9e_mThe University of North Dakota (UND) has joined a growing number of American institutions deciding to end their use of potentially disparaging Native American names. According to university officials, the team once known as “the Fighting Sioux” will now be called “the Fighting Hawks”. In an interview with the local news, UND President Robert Kelley explained that the change in name policy expresses “our state spirit and the fact that UND continues to ascend to newer heights.”

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Onomastic news includes conference information, calls for papers, information about names, and names in the news.


Toponyms that become disease names

7383934724_86a2665963_mThe Zika virus of the Flaviviridae family derived its name in 1947 from the Zika Forest in Uganda where it was first identified in a rhesus monkey. Since that initial isolation, viral outbreaks among humans have been tracked in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently the Americas and Europe.

Given the spread of the virus and the possible link to life-threatening birth defects, African residents of the Zika Forest are worried that negative onomastic associations will endanger their vital tourist industry. Other toponyms which have served as the basis for disease monikers include the West Nile; and Lime, Connecticut.

Djokovic Names His 2016 Goal the Djoker Slam

tennis-363662_960_720Number one ranked tennis star, Novak Djokovic, is using the power of names to prepare himself for the upcoming French Open. As a part of his motivational strategy, the winner of 11 Grand slam trophies has devised a name for his goal to take the French Open: “the Djoker Slam”. Djokovic, or “Djoker” as he is called by friends, is not the first player to use this linguistic technique. Tennis legend, Serena Williams, called her 21st Grad Slam title, the “Serena Slam”.

2016 Olympics Games Onomastic Controversy

Although the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for Rio de Janeiro have not even begun, the local Committee is facing blistering controversy. From the emergence of the disastrous Zika virus to public fury over the millions being pumped into the Games, the de Janeiro Committee has been beset with problems, including a juicy onomastic controversy:

One of the main sports arenas is named after João Havelange, a former Olympic athlete and ex FIFA President who allegedly accepted nearly $1 million in bribes.… Read More

Name Stories: Actor Harry Belafonte

3127022030_ed0a67dc4e_mLegendary singer and actor Harry Belafonte did not always find that his name opened doors. In the 1950’s, he, like many African Americans, was routinely refused housing in segregationist America. An ardent supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, when Belafonte found his dream penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West, he did not take no for an answer. In a clever move, Belafonte sent his White publicist to pick up the rental agreement and then signed the lease in his own name. When the landlord discovered the name “Belafonte” on the agreement, he demanded the singer give up the apartment. Not only did Belafonte refuse, but he went on to buy the entire building!