Why Samsung’s name for its personal assistant may twist quite a few tongues

Washington Post reporter Hayley Tsukayama interviews linguists and branding experts about the name of Samsung’s new personal assistant, Bixby. While the name is short and unique, it may pose difficulties for speakers of languages other than English – including Korean! (Samsung is a Korean company.) Bonus: quotes from Laurel Sutton, ANS Information Officer:

Bixby can also be a good brand for Samsung because it doesn’t have many preexisting associations with it, said Laurel Sutton, co-founder of the naming firm Catchword, linguist and information officer for the American Name Society.

U.S. surnames in the 2010 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 2010 Census surnames product, a table of all last names occurring at least 100 times in the 2010 Census returns. For each of the 162,000 last names, the table includes its frequency, national rank, and breakdown by Hispanic origin and race category. Despite the nation’s growing racial and ethnic diversity, the five most frequent American surnames in 2010 remained the same as in 2000 and were mainly reported by whites and blacks.

Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown and Jones were the most common last names, according to a Census Bureau analysis of the 2010 Census.

This is the third in a series of data releases based on names recorded in the decennial census. Previous products tabulated name frequency from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses. The complete product, along with a methodology document, is available here.

Name of the Mascot for Tokyo Olympics 2020 to be decided by professionals only

The mascot of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 is to be unveiled in 2018. Proposals for the mascot’s design can be submitted by anyone of the general public. But the choice of its name will be left to professionals, in particular copywriters and jurists. The organizing committee explained that this decision is due to the complexity of an international trademark registration being too difficult for the layperson. In 2015 the Games’ logo faced allegations of plagiarism and was consequently replaced, possibly leading the committee to now err on the side of caution. “We discussed the possibility of asking the public about the name of the mascot. But as you know, it’s a much tougher task (than the design) when it involves trademark rights,” said the panel’s vice chairman, Yoshiko Ikoma.

A trip to the domain name conference

Photo: Ingrid Burrington

Over at the Atlantic, Ingrid Burrington reports on a trip to NamesCon, an annual domain names conference in Las Vegas. Find out about domain name auctions, unicode, political domains, .horse domains, and dropcatchers. Here’s a sample:

The making of a “good domain name” is, I heard in conference sessions and was told repeatedly by NamesCon attendees, more alchemy than chemistry. Again, brevity is typically a good move, though memorable phrases are also effective. Some TLDs are hot right now (.io), and some single words are always a good investment (lotions.com, furs.com), but good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of furs.io and lotions.io in one session).

What’s your favorite domain?

Do You Come From Royal Blood? Your Last Name May Tell You

[Image: Library of Congress]

At the Ancestry.com blog, Sandie Angulo Chen writes about surnames and social mobility. According to a new study of unique last names from around the world, moving in or out of the upper class doesn’t take just a few generations — it takes centuries. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the London School of Economics conducted the study, which they published in the journal “Human Nature.” Read on to find out how the study of surnames led to these results.

Chinese baby names and changing trends

Since January 1, 2016, China has relaxed its one-child policy to allow all married couples to have two children. The result? Millions of children who need names. This article at the Shanghai Daily looks at the challenges new parents face, as they consider Chinese naming customs (names that have been used by elder people in the family cannot be used for babies), Chinese character choices (uncommon characters can be unscannable in banking or social security systems), and the influence of pop culture in China. Not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of work for naming experts!

The islands at the heart of Japan-Russia dispute

06/06/2010 at 03 :05 UTC
Southern Kuril Islands
Satellite: Aqua
NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

Diplomatic tensions between Japan and Russia have become extremely tense over naming rights.  Japan has filed a formal protest against Russia’s decision to give names to five uninhabited islands in the Kuril chain.  Located in the Pacific Ocean, just to the North of Japan’s Hokkaido Island, the chain has been a source of contention between the two for nearly a century.  The act of naming is not the only reason for Japan’s ire, but also the onomastic inspiration for the name.  For example, one of the disputed islands has apparently been named after General Kuzma Derevyanko.  According to CNN, it was General Derevyanko “signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender with the Allies in 1945”. The Japan Times has also covered this international dispute over names and territory.

About Names: You can find Waldo — if you look hard enough; the name now is extremely rare

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 14th column, he looks at the history of the name Waldo. In Continental Europe, Waldo is a Latinized form of “wald,” Germanic “rule” or “power.” Originally part of names like Walter and Oswald, it was a nickname that became a surname. But only eight Waldos were born in the United States in 2015. Is it time for a revival of this name?


The restaurant is called what again?

Pabu, Pagu, Porto, Mida, Moona, Ruka: Incantation? Or buzzy restaurants that opened recently around Boston? Hint: These days, if you have no idea what a word means, go with hot restaurant. This recent article in the Boston Globe looks at the spate of “Dr. Seuss”-type restaurant names in Boston, as well as the plethora of ampersand-laden monikers. And they even talk to a baby-naming expert, Laura Wattenberg, on why naming a restaurant is like naming a child.