Holocaust Education Week lecture explores discrimination based on names

The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University will host an event on November 3 2020 that explores how Nazis used names to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision.

The event runs during 2020 Holocaust Education Week and features a lectures with guest presenter Iman Nick on “Hitler’s Lists: How the Nazis Used Names to Spawn the Holocaust.” It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Even before the infamous Yellow Star, the Nazis devised a simple yet effective method to pinpoint victims for wide-spread discrimination, marginalization, relocation, deportation and finally extermination. Using first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors and documents unearthed from the once secret files of the Nazi Party, this lecture tells the story of how personal names were used to fulfill Hitler’s genocidal vision. The talk will also present modern-day examples in which something as seemingly innocuous as a person’s name has been used to carry out crimes against humanity.

Register online here to join the virtual event.

Walls of Names as Mnemonic Devices to Commemorate Enslaved People

The article by Ana Lucia Araujo examines walls of names commemorating the victims of Atlantic slavery and the slave trade in US heritage sites and museums. By exploring how, during the twentieth century, memorials of wars and genocides in Europe, Africa, and the Americas have featured walls of names to honor the dead, this article proposes a genealogy of the walls of names, by emphasizing the various contexts in which this device has been employed. Whereas naming has been a long-standing practice to honor the dead since antiquity, naming enslaved individuals in ship manifests or farm books was part of a process of dehumanization. Yet, during the last 30 years, emerging initiatives commemorating slavery incorporated walls of names to recognize the humanity of enslaved men, women, and children. By looking at a few case studies in the United States, the article seeks to understand how effectively this specific kind of memorial has been employed to recognize and pay homage to the victims of slavery.

Journal “Onomástica desde América Latina” has interface in English

We are glad to announce that the Journal Onomástica desde América Latina has interface in English and is receiving articles  to compose its volume 2, numbers 3 and 4,  with publication scheduled, respectively, for the first and second semesters of 2021. Student´s papers are welcome, as there is a section called Works that receives articles from graduate and undergraduate students.

The”Onomástica desde América Latina” journal is a semiannual publication dedicated to the promotion and diffusion of onomastic researches in national and international scope aimed at the internationalization of the Graduate Program in Language and Literature at Unioeste  as a  result of a partnership between Unioeste and Unam (National Autonomous University of Mexico).

Names and Selves: Transnational Identities and Self-Presentation among Elite Chinese International Students

What accounts for name choices in a transnational context? What does the choice of ethnic or English names reveal about global identities and the desire to fit into a new culture? Drawing on the sociology of culture and migration, Philip Jun Fang and Gary Fine examine the intersection of naming, assimilation, and self-presentation in light of international student mobility. Based on 25 semi-structured interviews with mainland Chinese students enrolled in an elite Midwestern university, they find that these students make name choices by engaging in both transnational processes and situated practices. First, Chinese international students negotiate between multiple names to deal with ethnic distinctions. While ethnic names can signal distance from other ethnic communities, they also distinguish individuals from others. For these students, names are multi-layered and temporal: their name choices evolve throughout school lives, shaped by power relations in American cultural contexts and channeled by images of their home country. Second, multiple names allow these students to practice situated performance, incorporating the reflective self, the distinctive self, and the imagined self. The authors address “cross-cultural naming” that accounts for identity in transnational social spaces.

Fang, J., Fine, G.A. Names and Selves: Transnational Identities and Self-Presentation among Elite Chinese International Students. Qualitative Sociology (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-020-09468-7

Trends in Onomastic Research in Brazil

An article with this title has just been published at the Swiss “Linguistik Online” (2020) by Márcia Sipavicius Seide and Marcelo Saparas.

 

Abstract
This article brings together recent onomastic investigations developed in Brazil between 2011 and 2018. In the field of toponomastics there is some degree of uniformity resulting from both the use of the same research paradigm and the development of projects dedicated to the production of toponymic atlases in several regions of the country. In the field of anthroponomastics, however, there is dispersion and fragmentation of anthroponymic studies due to non-affiliation with the field by some sociolinguistics and literature researchers The comparison between research papers in this review and a number of onomastic studies in Europe reveals that the socio-onomastic field is an emerging one in both Brazil and Europe. There are investigations that relate the studies of linguistic settings to toponymic studies and socio-anthroponomastic investigations based on data collection in written documents or data generation through field investigations. The existence of comparative anthroponomastic research and studies dealing with theory, methodology and literature review in the field of anthroponomastics can be observed. Studies about Brazilian indigenous onomastics and secondary non-official personal names used by Brazilian city councilors has been found just in Brazil in the literature review presented in this paper.

In the name of science: animal appellations and best practice

 

The practice of giving animal research subjects proper names is frowned on by the academic scientific community. While researchers provide a number of reasons for desisting from giving their animal subjects proper names, the most common are that (1) naming leads to anthropomorphising which, in turn, leads to data and results that are unobjective and invalid; and (2) while naming does not necessarily entail some mistake on the researcher’s part, some feature of the research enterprise renders the practice impossible or ill-advised.

Jessica du Toit (Western University, Canada) aimed to assess whether the scientific community’s attitude towards naming animal research subjects is justified. That is, he wishes to consider whether the practice of naming animal research subjects is good or bad for the purposes of scientific research. After reviewing the extant literature, he constructed a list of the main arguments researchers provide for desisting from naming their animal research subjects. He then analysed these arguments, with a view to determining whether they in fact provide good reasons to avoid naming animal research subjects. Read more here.

Long-term sociolinguistics trends and phonological patterns of American names

 

This paper (published in Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America, Vol 5, No 1 (2020) identified macro trends and phonological patterns of 348 million American baby names over 137 years from 1880 to 2017. The analysis showed that sociolinguistic trends have significantly influenced naming over time, as seen in the rise of individualism and unisex names, the impact of public figures and pop culture, and the substantially higher count of unique female names compared to male names. In addition, phonological analysis showed significant differences between male and female names in the number, type, and location of vowels as well as the number of syllables. On average, female names had more vowels, less consonants, and more syllables than male names. Also, names with certain wordfinal vowels and consonants were identified to be mostly-female or mostly-male. These findings demonstrated an inherent correlation between phonology and the perceived gender of names.

McGill BA student receives American Name Society’s Emerging Scholar Award

Congratulations to McGill BA student, Marielle Côté-Gendreau, who was recently awarded the American Name Society Emerging Scholar Award, which recognizes “outstanding scholarship of a names researcher in the early stages of his/her academic or professional career”. She received the award for her submitted article “Tracking Napoleon, his name and his myth in 19th century French Canada: Sociodemographic regard on a revealing naming pattern“, at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Name Society, which meets concurrently with the Linguistics Society of America, last week in New Orleans. Congratulations Marielle!

Naming the Sacred: Religious Toponymy in History, Theology and Politics

The new publication on religious toponyms has been recently published by Anna Mambelli and Valentina Marchetto.

At what point is a place perceived as holy? And when does it become officially so in its definition? Inspired by the UNESCO debate and decisions made concerning holy places, the authors seek answers to these questions. “Naming the Sacred” is a diachronic excursus into the issues of perception and denomination of holy places. The volume examines historical cases in which names and places have been modified or literally eliminated and others where places were subject to policies of protection and tutelage. The work appertains to an ongoing, evolving global debate where the challenge of the reciprocal recognition of holy sites has become increasingly complex.

Ophthalmia and the toponymy of outback Australia

Two men — one a 19th century explorer and the other a 20th century surveyor of the Australian outback — suffered blinding ophthalmia during crucial times in their exploits. Each then undertook a distinctive step in toponymy by naming places in the Australian landscape after their afflictions, each place given a different name. Ophthalmia Range was named by Ernest Giles in 1876 after suffering debilitating conjunctivitis, known as ophthalmia in the 19th century. Sandy Blight Junction was named by Len Beadell in 1960 when he too suffered from this disease, also known as “blight” or “sandy blight”. While there has been speculation that what these men suffered was actually trachoma, this cannot be proven. This is both the story of how these places acquired their names and a study of what motivated these men to undertake such unique acts.