The Pink Lake isn’t pink!

When tourists arrive in Esperance, they make a beeline for the Pink Lake the Western Australian south coast town is famous for. The problem? It’s not pink anymore.

Conservation experts believe the fate of Pink Lake was sealed years ago when a highway and rail line cut off the natural flow of water into the salt lake system. Super saline conditions are needed to support the green algae that accumulates the beta-carotene pigment, the same pigment that colours carrots, which turned the lake pink. “With the loss of the channel, these salts aren’t flushing through into Pink Lake, and as a result Pink Lake doesn’t turn pink any more,” State Government conservation officer Steven Butler said. Salt mining on the lake, which has long since shut down, was also a factor.

Tourism Esperance chairman Wayne Halliday said the organisation was lobbying the Western Australian Department of Lands to remove any reference to Pink Lake on official documents and replace it with the original name. “We are currently seeking to have the Pink Lake, just the lake name, reverted back to its original gazetted name of Lake Spencer,” Mr Halliday said.

Read about possible solutions to this colorful issue at ABCNews!

LKAS Interdisciplinary PhD Scholarship: Place-Names on the Rocks

A PhD studentship is being offered by the University of Glasgow for students who are interested in researching connections between place names and geology. The project, called Place-Names on the Rocks, intends to test the proposition that place-names reflect, and might even be used to predict, aspects of underlying geology in the landscape. This will be achieved by subjecting Scottish place-name data to a rigorous examination underpinned by geological expertise. Fieldwork will contextualise place-name data in a geological framework to strengthen the candidate’s research linking these two features. The project proposes that the link between place-names and geology is not confined to only one language or area, and so the research will encompass different parts of Scotland, and involve investigating names originally coined in Gaelic, Scots and Old Norse. The deadline for formal applications is: 12noon, Friday 12 January 2018. Requirements and information on how to apply can be found at the web page.

Interstellar asteroid given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid, `Oumuamua. 

An asteroid that visited us from interstellar space is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science, a study has shown. Discovered on 19 October 2017, the object’s speed and trajectory strongly suggested it originated in a planetary system around another star. Astronomers have been scrambling to observe the unique space rock, known as ‘Oumuamua (pronounced oh MOO-uh MOO-uh), before it fades from view.

The asteroid’s name, ‘Oumuamua, means “a messenger from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) also approved an official scientific designation for ‘Oumuamua: 1I/2017 U1.

‘Oumuamua was first spotted on Oct. 19, by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. The smallish object was first classified as a comet but then regarded as an asteroid, after further observations revealed no evidence of a coma (the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust that surrounds a comet’s core).

Find out more about this amazing asteroid in this BBC News article!


Call for Papers: Nicolaisen Essay Prize

The Scottish Place-Name Society is now accepting submissions for the annual Nicolaisen Essay Prize in honor of the late names scholar, Professor Bill Nicolaisen. Interested applicants are invited to submit an original work (ca. 5,000 words) on any topic of onomastics. The deadline for receipt is the 31st of December 2017. The winner will be invited to present a paper at a conference at the Scottish Place-Name Society. Submissions should be sent to the Society’s Convener, Professor Carole Hough:

Property prices lower on streets with silly names in Australia

House prices on streets with silly names are significantly lower than houses on nearby streets, a study by Victorian school students has found. High school girls at Sacred Heart College (SHC) in Geelong, a city in Melbourne, Australia, conducted the research with guidance from the school’s head of science, Adam Cole.

The students identified 27 streets in Victoria with silly names, including Butt Street, Wanke Road and Fanny Street. (American readers: “fanny” has a different meaning in the UK and Australia/NZ than it does in the US!)  They found that property prices in streets with silly names were about 20 per cent lower than properties in the normally-named roads. As the report notes, that amounts to a $140,000 saving on a median-priced Melbourne house.

Read this article at ABC News to find out more – and if Australians would take advantage of the savings!

The most popular girls’ names in Tudor England

The “Darnley Portrait” of Elizabeth I (c. 1575)

What were the most popular names for girls in England during the 16th century? This was one of the questions examined by Scott Smith-Bannister in his book Names and Naming Patterns in England 1538-1700.

A large section of Smith-Bannister’s research was to follow the records of baptisms found in 40 parish registers spread throughout England. By following their records from 1538 to 1700, the author was able to get a sample of 122,710 names. Here is a sample from his lists:

Years: 1538-49

1. Joan
2. Elizabeth
3. Agnes
4. Alice
5. Anne
6. Margaret
7. Mary
8. Jane
9. Margery
10. Edith

Click through to this post at to see the rest of the results!

WIll Olivia Garton get free breadsticks?

Justin Garton/Twitter

One Olive Garden–loving couple has decided to give their new daughter a name bearing a striking resemblance to the restaurant, both confusing and delighting the Internet at the same time: Olivia Garton.

Both Jordan and Justin grew up eating at Olive Garden, but it wasn’t until shortly after their wedding in 2015 that their enthusiasm turned into outright love. After purchasing a $100 never-ending pasta pass, the Arkansas couple ate their fill at Olive Garden every day for weeks. “We committed to eating there every day for six or seven weeks to get our money’s worth,” Justin told ABC News. “It saved us several hundred dollars when we really needed it.”

They decided to go with Olivia instead, claiming that they “immediately” felt like it was perfect for their little girl. “We were able to make the joke, but a little more subtle, and it’s still a pretty name,” said Justin. “It was definitely an easy decision.”

Click through to this article at CafeMom to see how the internet reacted!

About Names: Walter weathers name’s ebbs, flows

Walt and Lillian Disney departing from Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen 1959

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 5th column, he looks at the history of the name Walter.

Walt Disney (1901-1966) was born Walter Elias Disney 116 years ago. After creating Mickey in 1928, he made “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), the first successful animated feature. He won 22 Academy Awards, the most by one person, and created the theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

The name Walter comes from an ancient Germanic name combining “wald” (ruler) with “hari” (army). The form Walter was brought to England by Norman conquerors in 1066. Around 1380, Walter ranked eighth for English men. It was especially common in Devonshire. There, Walter of Cowick, a 12th century monk who had visions of purgatory and wore bearskins, was revered as a saint. Back then, Walter was pronounced “Water,” and its nickname was Wat. Family names Walters, Watt, Watts, Watkins, Waters and Waterson show descent from Walter. After 1600, as literacy increased, people started pronouncing the “l.”

With such a long stretch of popularity, there are scores of famous Walters besides Disney. Poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and basketball star Walt Frazier (1945) are two known by the nickname.


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