Brewing Association tightens rules on names of beers

The Brewers Association, the Boulder, Colorado-based trade association that hosts the Great American Beer Festival, has updated its advertising and marketing code, placing restrictions on the marketing of beer with brand names and labels seen as sexually explicit, lewd, or demeaning.

An independent, three-member panel that brings expertise from academia, marketing and law will take up a case when another brewery lodges a complaint. If a brand name wins an award but has been deemed inappropriate, it is not allowed to use names and logos from the Great American Beer Festival, which will be Oct. 5-7 in Denver, or World Beer Cup to promote their winning beer.

Harry Potter character provides name for new species of crab

Science fiction and fantasy have inspired the naming of many plants and animals. Some two decades ago, the intrepid zoological collector Harry Conley became the very first researcher to capture a maddeningly elusive species of crab, now named Harryplax severus.  In honour of this spectacular discovery, the crab was given Conley’s first name.  And, in honour of the crab’s impressive ability to keep its identity such a well-guarded secret, the illusive crustacean was given a second name inspired by Harry Potter’s teacher, Severus Snape. Writing in Zoekeys, Jose Mendoza and Peter Ng said they had named the new species severus as an allusion to the notorious and misunderstood potions master “for his ability to keep one of the most important secrets in the story”.

Color names around the world

In 1969, two Berkeley researchers, Paul Kay and Brent Berlin, published a book on a pretty groundbreaking idea: that every culture in history, when they developed their languages, invented words for colors in the exact same order. They claimed to know this based off of a simple color identification test, where 20 respondents identified 330 colored chips by name. If a language had six words, they were always black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. If it had four terms, they were always black, white, red, and then either green or yellow. If it had only three, they were always black, white, and red , and so on. The theory was revolutionary — and it shaped our understanding of how color terminologies emerge. To learn more, watch this short video from, or click through to YouTube.

African Names for American Plants

One of the many skills that helped enslaved Africans survive in the Americas was their in-depth knowledge of plant life. Modern linguists and ethnobotanists working together have revealed the importance of African names in revealing the breadth and depth of this collective naturalist knowledge. Ethnobotanist Tinde van Andel describes how such work has spawned new collaborations between botanists and linguists. (And you can read the original paper, published in PNAS, here.)

About Names: Is ‘Star Wars’-inspired moniker the chosen one among parents picking baby names?

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 23 column, he looks at the influence of popular media like Star Wars on the most popular baby names of 2016.

Riley shot up 18 percent last year, twice as fast as the year before. Two Disney characters helped: Riley Matthews (played by Rowan Blanchard), the title character of the Disney Channel’s recently canceled “Girl Meets World,” and Riley Andersen, the girl whose personified emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear are the chief characters in Pixar’s animated film “Inside Out.”

Social Security’s website divulges names among the top 1,000 that made the biggest jumps in 2015. Kylo skyrocketed from 3,269th to 901st. Thirty-five were born in 2015 and 238 last year. It wasn’t just the new characters: Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa inspired a 32 percent leap in girls named Leia. Last year, 1,005 were born.

Of course pop culture can also hurt a name’s popularity. Alexa fell 19 percent last year. Perhaps parents don’t want their daughter to share a name with Amazon’s electronic personal assistant.