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


Call for Papers for the Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference, New York, NY, January 4-7, 2018

ANS Panel at the Modern Language Association Conference

January 4-7th, 2018 in New York, NY

The American Name Society is inviting abstract proposals for a panel with the literary theme “Literary Wordplay with Names.” Case studies in world literature have repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of wordplays in producing puns or highlighting aspects of a narrative. However, comparatively little scholarly attention has been given to examining the names themselves as a rhetorical tool for literary wordplay. Interested authors are encouraged to submit an abstract examining the use of any type of name (e.g., personal names, place names, trade names, etc.) in literary wordplays for any period or genre of literature. Submissions utilizing interdisciplinary approaches are most welcome.

Proposal submission process:

  1. Abstracts proposals of up to 400 words should be sent as an email attachment (PDF format) to Andreas Gavrielatos (
  2. Proposals should include “MLA proposal” in the subject line of the email.
  3. All submissions must include an abstract title, the full name(s) of the author(s), the author affiliation, and email address in the body of the email and NOT with the abstract.
  4. Proposals must be received by 5pm GMT on 11 March 2017. Authors will be notified about results of the blind review on or by 20 March 2017.
  5. Contributors selected for the thematic panel must be members of both MLA and ANS in order to present their papers.
  6. For further information, please contact Andreas Gavrielatos (

More information about ANS and MLA conferences in available on the Conferences page of this website.

Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue of NAMES devoted to Indigenous Names and Toponyms

The American Name Society (ANS) is issuing its final call for abstracts for an upcoming special issue of the Society’s journal, NAMES.  This issue will be devoted to analysis and discussion of indigenous names and toponyms found in former European colonies in the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Antipodes. Any area of the use of indigenous names may be the subject of analysis. Suggested issues for discussion include, but are by no means limited to the following: the transcription (spelling) of indigenous names and/or determining their meanings, indigenous naming practices, indigenous names as identity markers, the reinstallation of indigenous toponyms, the reclamation of indigenous language and culture through their names, and the appropriation of indigenous names, etc. For more information, see the complete call here.

Proposal Submission Process:

  1. Proposals should include a précis of no more than 500 words and a 50-word biographical sketch of the author including the author’s name, affiliation, onomastic interests, and email.
  2. All submissions must follow the Journal’s official stylistic and grammatical regulations.
  3. Proposals should be sent via email attachment in a .doc or .docx format to Dr. I. M. Nick at <>, with “Indigenous Names and Toponyms” in the subject line.
  4. All submissions will be subjected to a blind peer review process.
  5. Notification of acceptance will be announced on or about 31 March, 2017
  6. Final submissions due for publication 31 July, 2017.
  7. For questions, please email Dr. I. M. Nick at <>.

Call for Papers: ANS 2018, Salt Lake City, UT, January 4-7, 2018

The ANS is inviting abstract submissions for the 2018 annual conference to be held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America.  Abstracts in any area of onomastic research are welcome. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is June 30, 2017.  To submit a proposal, simply complete the 2018 Author Information Form.

Please email this completed form to Dr. Dorothy Dodge Robbins using the following address: For organizational purposes, please be sure to include the phrase “ANS 2018” in the subject line of your email. Presenters who may need additional time to secure international payments and travel visas to the United States are urged to submit their proposal as soon as possible.

All proposals will be subjected to blind review. Official notification of proposal acceptances will be sent on or before September 30, 2017. All authors whose papers have been accepted must be current members of the ANS and need to register with both the ANS and the Linguistic Society of America. Please feel free to contact Dr. Dorothy Dodge Robbins should you have any questions or concerns.

We look forward to receiving your submission!

Onomastics Outside Academia Panel at ANS 2017 in Austin

ANS 2017 saw the first ever “Onomastics Outside Academia” Panel, in which professional onomasticians talked about their work and their career paths outside of the university.

The panel included the following presentations:

  • Pamela Redmond Satran ( Nameberry: Revolutionizing how and what parents name their babies
  • Kemp Williams (IBM Corporation): Computational onomastics in threat and fraud detection
  • Lisa Spira (Ethnic Technologies):  Onomastic data skills
  • Laurel Sutton (Catchword Branding): Creating brand names for fun and profit
  • Jennifer Moss ( How the internet changed baby names (careers)
  • Deborah Walker (Linguistic Consultant): Product naming reviews: Evaluating names for global readiness

Congratulations on a great panel, and many thanks to all of our speakers!

Pamela Redmond Satran

Lisa Spira


Jennifer Moss

“Aleppo” Chosen 2016 Name of the Year

“Aleppo” was chosen the Name of the Year for 2016 by the American Name Society at its annual meeting in Austin, Texas on January 6, 2017.

The name of the largest city in Syria, which has endured over four years of conflict in the country’s civil war, has became a symbol for the horrors of modern warfare. It also figured in the presidential election when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson asked an MSNBC interviewer “What is Aleppo?” in response to a question in September, showing he was not paying attention to international news.

Aleppo was also voted Place Name of the Year for 2016.

Aleppo won the vote in a close contest with Drumpf, which was chosen ANS’s Personal Name of the Year. The original German form of President-elect Donald Trump’s family name became well known when John Oliver, host of HBO’s satirical news show “Last Week Tonight,” urged viewers to refer to the candidate as “Drumpf”.  HBO created, which still sells “Drumpf” merchandise. The continued use of “Drumpf” shows the power of naming and name-calling.

Hamilton was chosen as Fictional Name of the Year. The title of this hugely popular Broadway musical was in the news in 2016 both because of winning 11 Tony awards, and because of a statement by cast members to Vice-President-elect Pence when he attended a November 18 performance, stating among other things “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”  Donald Trump later demanded an apology for that in a Tweet.

Brexit and Uber tied for ANS’s Trade Name of the Year.  Uber, the worldwide online transportation network company, was cited because of its influence on the language, now having become a verb. Brexit, the blend of “Britain” and “exit” which is the now universal title of the June referendum where United Kingdom voters decided to leave the European Union, was mentioned in the Presidential election when Trump called himself “Mr. Brexit.” The name Brexit was created on the analogy of the earlier Grexit, coined when Greece was deciding whether or not to leave the European Union in 2015.

The American Name Society is a scholarly organization founded in 1951 devoted to studying all aspects of names and naming. The Name of the Year vote has been held since 2004. “Caitlyn Jenner” was the 2015 Name of the Year. “Ferguson” won for 2014, “Francis” for 2013, and “Sandy” for 2012.

For further information contact Dr. Cleveland Evans, chair of the Name of the Year committee, at or 402-210-7458.

Last chance to submit nominations for 2016 Name of the Year!

The Name of the Year selection for 2016 will take place tomorrow, Friday, January 6th, at 12pm (CST) at the annual ANS meeting in Austin, Texas.

Please send any last minute nominations to the American Name Society today!


Email any last minute nominations to

Tweet any last minute nominations to @AmNameSociety.



The names selected will be ones that best illustrates, through their creation and/or use during the past 12 months, important trends in the culture of the United States and Canada.

Nominations are called for in the four following categories:

Personal Names: Names or nicknames of individual real people, animals, or hurricanes.

Place Names: Names or nicknames of any real geographical location, including all natural features, political subdivisions, streets, and buildings. Names of national or ethnic groups would be included here.

Trade Names: Names of real commercial products, as well as names of both for-profit and non-profit companies and organizations, including businesses, universities, and political parties.

Fictional/Literary Names: Names of fictional persons, places, or institutions, in any written, oral, or visual medium, as well as titles of art works, books, plays, television programs, or movies.

Winners will be chosen in each category, and then a final vote will determine the overall Name of the Year for 2016. Anyone may nominate a name. All members of the American Name Society attending the annual meeting will select the winner from among the nominees at the annual ANS meeting in Austin, Texas on January 6, 2017. The winner will be announced that evening at a joint celebration with the American Dialect Society.

Award for Best Article in Names: A Journal of Onomastics 2016

The 2016 Award Winner is:

Dr. Gerrit Bloothooft and David Onland, “Multiple First Names in the Netherlands (1760-2014)” Names: A Journal of Onomastics 64(1) 3-18.

Learn more about their article in this interview in Names: A Journal of Onomastics.








Committee: Michael McGoff, Kemp Williams, Dorothy Dodge Robbins

2017 Emerging Scholar Award Winner

Daniel Duncan (New York University)
Understanding St. Louis’ love for Hoosier.

The 2016 Emerging Scholar Ward Committee is pleased to announce this year’s winner: Daniel Duncan from New York University. The title of Mr. Duncan’s submission is “Understanding St. Louis’ love for Hoosier.”


Danial Duncan is a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics at New York University. His work primarily focuses on language variation and change within suburbs in the United States, using the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area as a case study.


The name Hoosier (‘Indiana resident’) instead means ‘poor, rural, white trash’ in St. Louis (STL), Missouri (Murray 1987). This paper engages in discourse analysis of several texts to explore why its use persists despite less-localized alternatives (redneck, etc.) and why it would become enregistered (Agha 2003) as a feature of the local dialect. Findings show Hoosier is used to police behavior. Unlike similar slurs, its use requires knowledge of STL’s social geography. Hoosier allows speakers to demonstrate localness while positioning themselves and STL as cosmopolitan compared to the derided target. As such, the slur asserts positive values for St. Louisans.

Attendees of the upcoming ANS annual conference in January will have a chance to hear him present his research in person.

As the ESA award-winner, Mr. Duncan will receive a cash award as well as a mentor who will assist him in preparing his research manuscript for possible publication in a future issue of NAMES. Click here for more information about the award.

This year’s ESA Committee was made up of Dr. Jan Tent (committee chair), Dr. Mirko Casagranda, and Dr. Luisa Caiazzo.