Introducing Alessia Battista, Recipient of the 2021 ANS Emerging Scholar Award

Alessia Battista, Ph.D. Student at the University of Naples (Photo courtesy of Alessia Battista)

In 2021, Alessia Battista of the University of Naples was named the winner of the ANS Emerging Scholar Award (ANSESA) for her research in literary onomastics. Her winning paper was entitled “Stone Butch Blues: A linguistic negotiation of butch identity” which she presented at the ANS Annual Conference in January 2022. Ms Battista is currently working with her ANS mentor, Professor I.M. Nick, to turn her presentation into a manuscript for possible publication in NAMES. In addition to this mentorship, the ANSESA winner also received a cash prize of 250 US dollars, and one year of membership in the ANS. As a part of her doctoral studies, Ms. Battista would like to expand her knowledge in onomastics through a study abroad in Germany. In this interview, the 2021ANESA winner explains how she first learned about onomastics and describes what she hopes to gain from studying in Germany. If you would be interested in temporarily hosting this summa cum laude PhD student in Germany, or if you have a colleague who might have such an opportunity open for this self-funded emerging scholar, please contact her directly via email, using the phrase “GERMANY” in the subject line of your email.

How did you first become interested in names?
I have always been truly passionate about names ever since I was a child. As I grew older, I became curious to find out more about names connected to my birth city and my hometown. I first became aware of the field of onomastics by chance. I was about to complete my Master’s Degree, when the call for the ANS Emerging Scholar Award was brought to my attention. I suddenly realized how my final dissertation could contribute to the field. I was already analyzing names, but I was not aware that my work fit perfectly into onomastics. However, once I realized that, I started learning more and more about the field, and now it is an area I am deeply committed to pursuing.

Why is it important for you to study abroad in Germany?
I am currently enrolled in an international PhD program in my home country of Italy. However, as a part of my studies, I am expected to spend several months abroad for research. I would love to spend that time in Germany. I have always wanted to move there for my studies. Its advanced education system, multicultural cities, rich culture, and musical language have always attracted me. After completing my BA and MA in Foreign Languages (English and German), now is the time I hope I can make my dream of studying in Germany come true.

What could you offer a potential sponsor?
As an Italian PhD student in English and Terminology, I am currently seeking opportunities to carry out research which is relevant to my PhD project. My doctoral thesis is examining European Languages and Specialized Terminology. I would also welcome the chance to contribute to the research being conducted by a department willing to host me as an exchange student. I am a qualified teacher of Italian as L2/foreign language and I am currently a teaching assistant for English at the University of Naples. I have also successfully completed exams in Business Law, EU Law, Marketing, and Economic Sustainable Development.

Applications are now being considered for the ANSESA2022. To learn more about the application guidelines submission procedures, and eligibility requirements, please click here.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts’s Theater Will No Longer Bear Name of Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle (Photo by John Bauld, CC-BY-2.0)

Dave Chappelle announced that the Duke Ellington School of the Arts’s Theater will no longer bear his name. According to CNN, “During Monday’s dedication ceremony, Chappelle said he decided to decline the honor because he did not want his name to distract from the students’ work at the school. Last year, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts initially postponed the naming of their theater after backlash mounted over Chappelle’s Netflix comedy special, “The Closer.” The set included graphic jokes about transgender women.” The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC is Chappelle’s alma mater.

Read more over at CNN.

About Names: “‘Admired’ Miranda popularity flows with the tides”

Photo of Carmen Miranda from a 1941 issue of New York Sunday News (Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 3rd column, he looks at the name Miranda.

Miranda plays on the “Green” five more times this summer.

Omaha’s Shakespeare on the Green festival started June 23. Its two 2022 plays are “Othello” and “The Tempest,” with performances of the latter scheduled July 8, 10, 13, 14 and 16.

Miranda, the only female character in “The Tempest,” is the teenaged daughter of Prospero, a sorcerer who was Duke of Milan before his brother, Antonio, usurped the throne. When a ship carrying Antonio along with Alonso King of Naples and Alonso’s son, Ferdinand, sails by the island where Prospero is exiled, he conjures up a tempest, forcing them to land. Miranda and Ferdinand then fall in love.

Shakespeare created the name Miranda from Latin “mirandus,” meaning “admirable, wonderful.” When Ferdinand asks for Miranda’s name “that I might set it in my prayers,” his response to “Miranda” is “Admired Miranda! Indeed the top of admiration! Worth what’s dearest to the world!”

Coincidentally, Miranda’s a common Spanish and Portuguese surname, derived from places whose names meant “lovely” or “watchtower.”

In the 1700s, Shakespeare fans began naming daughters Miranda. By 1800, alternative spellings Maranda and Meranda appeared.

The name became much more popular in America than Britain, probably because it sounded like Amanda, another American favorite. In the 1850 United States census, there were 6,432 Mirandas, Marandas and Merandas. The 1851 British census found only 265, though total populations were similar.

“Wendy’s” Namesake and Founder Dave Thomas’s Regret

Wendy’s Restaurant (Public Domain)

A recently published piece on CNN Business discusses the namesake of fast-food chain “Wendy’s”: Dave Thomas’s fourth child Melinda Lou. While the restaurants were a hit, the founder was not always satisfied with his choice of name for the chain. According to Nathaniel Meyersohn, Thomas later expressed regret over naming the restaurant after his daughter, saying “”She’s lost some of her privacy. Because some people still take her for the official company spokesperson, sometimes she hedges speaking her mind. I don’t blame her.”

Read more over at CNN Business.

About Names: “Moses popularity brought on by athletics, pop culture and biblical revivals”

The Finding of Moses by Hendrik de Clerck, Eskenazi Museum of Art (Public domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 19th column, he looks at the name Moses.

Today should be a celebration of bowl haircuts.

Moses Horwitz (1897-1975), known by his stage name Moe Howard, was born 125 years ago today. From 1934 through 1970, he played the irascible leader of The Three Stooges, the world’s most famous slapstick comedy troupe, in more than 200 films. Their 190 Columbia Pictures shorts became television staples, making Moe’s trademark haircut known to millions.

The original Moses is the man who led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt by parting the sea in the Bible’s Book of Exodus. Egypt’s pharaoh ordered Hebrew male infants to be killed. To save him, Moses’ mother put him in a basket floating on the Nile. He was discovered by pharaoh’s daughter, who calls him Moses because she “drew him out” (Hebrew “mashah”) of water.

That derivation isn’t plausible. Why would Pharaoh’s daughter speak Hebrew? Moses is likely from an Egyptian word meaning “born of” or “child of,” found in names of Egyptian Pharaohs Thutmosis and Ramesses, “born of” gods Thoth and Ra. The basket story was probably invented to explain the name after its Egyptian origin was forgotten. That origin, though, makes it credible Moses was a real historical figure raised in Egypt.

Before the Reformation, Moses was primarily a Jewish name. In the 16th century, it was adopted by Puritans, one example being Moses Fletcher (1564-1620), a Pilgrim signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Moses stayed in use among descendants of the Puritans. Two later examples were Moses Cleaveland (1754-1806), a Connecticut Revolutionary War general who founded Cleveland, Ohio; and Moses Beach (1800-1868), founder of the Associated Press and inventor of print syndication.

“First Peoples Mountain” at Yellowstone will Honor Native Americans

The mountain formerly known as Mount Doane in 1977 (Public Domain)

What was once known as “Mount Doane” will now be called “First Peoples Mountain.” The former name of the mountain was given to honor Gustavus Doane, the person responsible for securing federal protection for the land during the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition. The National Park Service recently announced that Doane was also responsible for the Marias Massacre, an attack that led to the deaths of at least 173 Native Americans, and the mountain would therefore be renamed. The new name, NPR reports, “is part of a trend to better recognize the roles and contributions of Native Americans” and a priority of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Read more over at NPR.

World Health Organization to give “Monkeypox” a New Name

Flag of the WHO (Public Domain)

The World Health Organization has pledged to change the name of the “monkeypox” virus. NPR reports that the decision was made “after scientists recently criticized the current name as “discriminatory and stigmatizing.” The researchers say it’s also inaccurate to name versions of the virus after parts of Africa.” The virus has gained notoriety after a growing outbreak in nearly 40 countries around the world.

Read more over at NPR.

Former McDonald’s Locations in Russia to be Rebranded “Delicious, That’s All”

The new logo for “Вкусно – и точка”

All of Russia’s former McDonald’s locations that were recently sold to Siberian coal baron Alexander Govor will be rebranded Вкусно – и точка, which various media translate “Delicious, That’s All” or “Tasty — full stop”. The move comes after McDonald’s ceased operation of its popular fast food restaurant after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. Govor announced that he will keep all employees of the former McDonald’s locations employed for the next two years. Many of McDonald’s famous dishes will remain on the menu at the rebranded fast food chain, though they are also slated for rebranding.

Read more about the name change over at NPR. 

About Names: “Exotic Ian found American popularity after the 1960s”

Photo of English-Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid, best known for his role as Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious) in the Star Wars (Official Star Wars Blog, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 5th column, he looks at the name Ian.

Ian will find a way to deal with dinosaurs again next Friday.

“Jurassic World: Dominion,” the sixth film in the hit “Jurassic Park” series, opens June 10. It features Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, an expert on mathematical chaos theory whose line “Life finds a way” is iconic for fans.

Ian is a simplified spelling of Iain, a Scottish Gaelic form of John, ultimately from Hebrew “God is gracious.”

Before 1880, Ian was very rare in written records. Back then names, like other words, were translated from one language to another. A Scottish Highlander called “Ian” in Gaelic would automatically be called “John” in written or spoken English. Only one man is listed as Ian in Scotland’s 1851 census, alongside 252,476 Johns.

Educated artistic parents often start new name trends. Scottish-born John Forbes-Robertson (1822-1903) was one of the first professional art and theater critics in London. Five of his eleven children became actors, including second son Ian (1858-1936), perhaps the first example of Ian’s use as an official name in England.

In 1894, Presbyterian minister John Watson (1850-1907) published “Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush” under pen name Ian Maclaren. This collection of sentimental tales whose characters spoke in heavy Scots dialect (“Wull ye no come wi’ me for auld lang syne? … it wud dae ye gude”) was a huge bestseller in both Britain and America. “Ian Maclaren” died in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, while on an American lecture tour.

The actor and the author inspired many namesakes. By 1935, Ian was a top 50 name for baby boys in England and Scotland. That year, Ian entered the top thousand in the United States, helped by the career of character actor Ian Wolfe (1896-1992).

Call for Editors, Onomastica Canadiana

Onomastica Canadiana is inviting applications for a new Editor. A team of two Co-Editors will also be considered. This voluntary position will be available from August 1, 2022. The initial term will be three years, with renewal upon mutual agreement.

Onomastica Canadiana was established in 1951 and moved to an online and open-access format in 2022. It is the official, bilingual, peer-reviewed journal of the Canadian Society for the Study of Names. Its principal objectives are to promote the study of names in Canada and abroad, as well as to exchange ideas among onomatologists, toponymists, and scholars in the related fields of literary onomastics and linguistic aspects of names. Onomastica Canadiana welcomes submissions such as research articles, review articles, opinion articles and commentaries, academic interviews, and book reviews in both English and French on all topics in the field of onomastics or name studies. For further information on the journal, please see

The responsibilities of the Editor include:
– Day-to-day management of journal activities
– Identifying and communicating with appropriate reviewers
– Making decisions on manuscripts
– Evaluating special issue proposals
– Liaising with authors and reviewers
– Working with the Editorial Team / Editorial Board and the Executive Committee of the
Canadian Society for the Study of Names

Selection Criteria
Essential skills
– Experience and knowledge in the field of Onomastics
– An understanding of the focus and scope of the journal
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
– Excellent organizational and time management skills
– Advanced proficiency in English or French

Desired skills
– Bilingual in English and French
– Experience with journal management
– Prior experience of editing a journal

Application Process
Interested candidates should send their abbreviated CV (2 pages) and a statement of interest in the position and vision for the journal (1 page) to Grace Gomashie ( by July 15, 2022. Please use ‘Application Editor Onomastica Canadiana’ as your email subject line. Applications will be evaluated by the Editorial Board, which will make its recommendation to the Executive Committee of the Canadian Society for the Study of Names, and all applicants will be notified of the results.

A downloadable PDF of the call can be downloaded here.