About Names: Famous Neils have made giant leaps throughout history

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his March 13th column, he looks at the history of the name Neil.

Neil is the English spelling of Niall, an Irish Gaelic name so ancient its derivation is unclear. “Cloud,” “passionate” and “champion” are all possibilities. The original Niall was Niall of the Nine Hostages, a king who lived in the fifth century. Few facts are known about him, though legends say he led the raid on Britain when St. Patrick was brought to Ireland as a slave.

The 1850 United States census includes 1,801 men called Neal, Neil or Niel — a third born in Ireland or Scotland. When Social Security’s yearly baby name lists started in 1880, Neal ranked 270th and Neil 292nd. Neal fell off until Neil became more common in 1912 — still ranking 292nd.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Neils in history!

TransOnym: The self-naming of transgender people in Germany

This website presents the project “Onymic Border Marking: The Self-Designation of Transgender People in Germany”. In this project, they examine the self-categorization of people from an onomastic (i,e., naming) perspective. The subject is the name choice and self-naming of trans people in the course of their gender change. The central issue is the extent to which names can be used to construct and visualize gender identity.

Read the detailed project presentation , find out about the employees or write to them.

Note: the website is in German.

The Problem With Putting Your Name on a Restaurant

Famous chefs often use their names as the names of their restaurants – but, like fashion designers, those chefs can lose control of that name in court. That’s what happened to Alon Shaya, who, with partner John Besh, started opened several restaurants in New Orleans, including one called Shaya. But since his split with Besh, Shaya has been embroiled in a legal battle with his former partner, and a court has ruled that the restaurant doesn’t have to change its name.

This article at Eater takes a look at this phenomenon. Here’s a sample:

The reality is that chefs and owners want to use the reputation and recognition of a chef’s name and brand to lure in customers. If that’s the case, the best way for a chef to protect herself is with a series of well-written, well-vetted legal documents — an operating agreement that gives her either a controlling interest or controlling vote in the operating company, and/or a very good license agreement.



Kitchen Vocabulary: Care for What You Say

In this fascinating essay at Life & Thyme, Katie Bell writes about the importance of language in the professional kitchens of restaurants. She points out that the special terms and names used between chefs and staff serve multiple purposes – building camaraderie, to reinforce philosophy, to teach, and for so much more. Here’s a small sample:

For the majority of us, picking up that language is a rite of passage. On my first job as a host in a nice restaurant in Colorado, I entered the kitchen to a host of words I knew, but in a context that made no sense. I had so many questions. What is this four top? Why do they keep saying deuce? Who is taking a turn? What is this girl calling a double seating? Why does this guy keep screaming corner every time I walk around one? Why is that cook telling me there are eighty-six chickens? What does it all mean, and why is everyone getting so excited about it?

Click on over to read the rest of it!

Walmart introduces new clothing labels

Walmart is introducing low-cost clothing brands for women, kids and plus-size customers. The store brands include Time and Tru in ladies’ wear—which will replace the retired DanskinNow label—along with Terra & Sky in plus-size apparel and Wonder Nation for kids. The George apparel brand, which Walmart brought over from its British unit Asda, will be refocused for men only. The new brands will replace older ones such as Faded Glory, White Stag, and Just My Size.

The moves are part of Walmart’s push to make its apparel business more streamlined and stylish—a response to consumers shifting more of their budgets to experiences such as travel and eating out, rather than clothing. To find out more about Walmart’s branding strategy, click through to this article at AdAge.

About Names: With French roots, famous Joannes (and Joannas) spread far and wide

Joanna Lumley

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 27th column, he looks at the history of the names Joanne and Joanna.

Joanne is a medieval French feminine form of John, derived from Jehohanan, Hebrew for “God has been gracious.” Joanne was common enough in the Alpine province Dauphiné to become a French surname. Adolphe Joanne (1813-1881) wrote the “Guides Joanne,” popular tourist manuals from the 1840s to the 1920s. By 1500, Joanne was eclipsed by Jeanne in France. It’s still very rare there.

Joanna became a regular English name after the Reformation. In the gospel of Luke, the King James Bible’s Joanna is one of the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Joannes and Joannas in history!

Famous Restaurant Names

Why did they name it Spago? Was there really a laundry at the French Laundry? And why is it Pizza Hut and not Pizza Bistro? Find out the stories behind the names of famous restaurants in this interesting article at The Balance. Here’s a sample:


Chez Panisse Café – Berkeley, California

Chez Panisse is known as the birthplace of modern California cuisine and helped start a movement for restaurants to use fresh, local ingredients. Co-founder Alice Waters named the café after a character in a film trilogy by Marcel Pagnol (who was a French novelist, playwright and filmmaker). Chez Panisse is a restaurant legend and was number 20 on Restaurant Magazine’s Best Restaurants in the World.

A podcast about baby names!

Announcing the Baby Names Podcast, hosted by sisters Jennifer Moss (ANS member) and Mallory Moss Katz, creators of BabyNames.com. Join them as they dish about name trends, the latest celebrity baby names, and take your questions about names and naming.

In the first episode, Jennifer and Mallory talk about their own names, names from the Winter Olympics, the latest celebrity baby names and more. The podcast is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Riverdale’s fun fake brands

One of the most delightful running gags on the TV show Riverdale is the use of almost-but-not-quite-right brand names: Veronica charges up a storm on a shopping website called Glamazon.com, and buys Fred Andrews an expensive wallet at Barnaby’s. Riverdale‘s faux-name practice is an homage to the original Archie comics, which used similar wordplay for products and celebrities — as when Bingo Skar of The Bottles visited Riverdale (Issue 155, in 1965). This article at EW by Kristen Baldwin lists ten of the best fake brands to appear on Riverdale, such as:

“Five Seasons”
“It’s not the Waldorf nor the Plaza, but The Five Seasons, like all of Riverdale, has its charms.” — Veronica Lodge (Season 2, “When a Stranger Calls”)
Veronica is clearly underselling this establishment. A true luxury hotel knows that there’s no reason to settle for Four Seasons when you can have Five.

“American Excess”
“Reporting my American Excess card as stolen? Well played.” — Veronica Lodge to mom Hermione (Season 1, “In a Lonely Place”)
Commentary on our culture’s addiction to consumerism, and it rhymes with American Express? Well played indeed.

“Vanity Flair”
“Betty, come on. An impossible situation is being invited to both the Vanity Flair Oscar party and Elton John’s Oscar party on the same night.” — Veronica Lodge (Season 1, “The Outsiders”)
There’s no rhyme or reason to which real brand names Riverdale uses versus which ones they choose to parody. Why namedrop some real networks (HBO, Netflix), events (the Met Ball), and cultural luminaries (Toni Morrison) but spoof something like Vanity Fair? Then again, why am I looking for order in the chaos that is Riverdale’s narrative storytelling?