In January 1993, the former European country Czechoslovakia was divided in two separate nations. One is called “Slovakia.” What is the name of the other nation? The answer to that question will depend on who you ask. While some people prefer the name “The Czech Republic,” others prefer “Czechland,” “Bohemia,” or the snappy short version, “Czech.” Recently, government officials have tossed yet another onomastic contender into the ring: “Czechia.” Follow this toponymic debate.
One of the best and safest recreational activities when you find yourself locked in traffic is decoding the names encrypted within the endless sea of technicolor vanity plates in front of you. In many US states across the nation, the creativity of some motorists to come up with eye-catching, unforgettable number-letter combinations seems limitless. But appearances can be deceiving. As Guardian reporter Mona Chalabi reports, many federal courts have tight restrictions on what may and may NOT appear on a license plate.
For sci-fy gamers who dream of naming what no one has named before, “No Man’s Sky”, an online space exploration game that was released this August, offers the opportunity to discover and name a seemingly endless supply of virtual planets. Just how many planets are up for grabs? Eighteen quintillion. For those name enthusiasts who also love numbers that would be, more specifically, 18,446,744,073,709,551,616. Ironically, the highly anticipated release of the space exploration had to be delayed several times thanks to an unanticipated legal brawl over who owns the right to the product name “Sky”.
In commemoration of one of the bloodiest battles waged during World War II between German and Russian forces, veterans living in the city of Volgograd have begun campaigning to change the city’s moniker back to Stalingrad. The toponym “Stalingrad” met its demise in 1961 under the former Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev. Now, some 80 years after the legendary battle, Russia’s current leaders have expressed their favor with the onomastic back-step in an effort to celebrate the “Great Patriotic War”.
First-time travelers to Tasmania will discover not only new and unusual flora and fauna. They can also expect to find an unexpected tapestry of relatively unexpected place names. While many of these toponyms are a source of pleasure and pride for native Tasmanians (e.g. Milkshake Hills, Bob’s Knobs, and Nowhere Else), there are a few names that have become the center of considerable pubic controversy. An excellent case in point is the name “Eggs and Bacon Bay.” According to animal rights activists and a few hopeful food nutritionists, it is high time that a more vegan-friendly alternative be found.
What would YOU call an 8 centimeter (okay, 4 inch), blue-n-orange multi-tentacled sea slug that eats stinging jellyfish found along Western Australia’s ocean waters? That was the question recently posed by the Western Australia Museum and ABC News in a public competition to name the curious creature. After reviewing thousands of onomastic suggestions, the winner of the competition was finally announced. The animal is now called “Mordilla fifo” in honor of the state’s mine workers. Learn more about this underwater species and the onomastic runner-ups.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when the female first name “Isis” was borne with a sense of pride. Today, women and girls who carry the name of this noble ancient Egyptian goddess report that those days are gone. Public outrage towards the similarly named terrorist group has made carrying this name a painful public burden. In a series of interviews conducted for The Guardian, UK journalist, Chitra Ramaswamy, tells readers about victims of this modern onomastic plight.
Known by aficionados as “the champagne of honeys,” Manuka honey, or rather the name for the bewitching elixir, has become the center of an increasingly nasty onomastic battle Down Under.
On the one side of the wrangle is New Zealand, who claim that the name “Manuka” by rights is theirs because the one and only plant used by bees to produce this exclusive honey, the Leptospermum scoparium, is native to New Zealand and the name “Manuka” comes from the Maori language. According to John Rawcliffe, head of New Zealand’s Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, this is reason enough for his country to own the trademark on this name.
Trevor White, however, from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, told ABC news in an interview this past August that this campaign is ridiculous because the plant also grows in Australia and ”the name has been used in Australia for many years going back into the 1800’s.”
While some observers might dismiss both arguments as petty, there is more at stake here than onomastic bragging rights. Thanks in part to the reputed anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-mircrobial benefits of the natural sweetener, the combined Manuka market in Australia and New Zealand is worth ca. three hundred million dollars.
Personal names are often all the rage one day and horrifically out the next. These maddeningly unpredictable yet routinely merciless changes in onomastic taste can leave name-bearers stranded with monikers that leave them cringing every time they hear the question: “What was your name again?” Melbourne-based comedian, social worker, and names enthusiast, Deirdre Fidge, (yes, D-E-I-R-D-R-E) offers fellow victims of parental onomastic whimsy some heartfelt advice.