Onomastic Congress in Poland

Dear Participants,

The organizing comittee of the 27th International Congress of Onomastic Sciences 2020 in Kraków is aware of the threat caused by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and we are closely monitoring the evolving situtation.

At the moment, state and local authorities in Poland recommend canceling only events to take place in March and April. THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO PLANS TO CANCEL OR POSTPONE the ICOS Congress in Kraków, which is scheduled to be held on 23-28 August 2020. However, we will continue following the situation and in case of any changes we will inform you immediately.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Please also follow the news on the congress website https://icos2020.ijp.pan.pl

The Conference “The Borders of Early Medieval England”, Cambridge, UK, July 11-12 2020

Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 July 2020

GR 06/07, Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge

Domesday Book reveals that England in 1066 was bounded by complex borderlands to the north and west and criss-crossed with a plethora of internal boundaries demarcating hundreds, shires and other districts. How did these borders and boundaries operate? How did they evolve over time from earlier borders, such as the early Mercian border demarcated by Offa’s Dyke?


Saturday 11 July 2020

Session 1 9:30–11am

Rory Naismith (Cambridge): ‘“Bige Habban”: Money, Trade and Cross-Border Traffic’.

Neil McGuigan (St Andrews): ‘Scots, Normans and the End of Middle Britain: the Emergence of the Anglo-Scottish Border’.

Tom Lambert (Cambridge): ‘Jurisidictional Boundaries and Local Custom in Anglo-Saxon England’.

Session 2 11:30am–1pm

David Parsons (CAWCS): ‘Place-names and Offa’s Dyke’.

Keith Ray (Cardiff): ‘A Purposefully Multiplex Border? The Late C8th – Early C9th Mercian Marchland with Wales’.

Rachel Swallow (Liverpool): ‘Shifting Border, Shifting Interpretation: what the Anglo-Norman Castle of Dodleston in Cheshire might be trying to tell us about the Eleventh-Century Northern Anglo-Welsh Border’.

Plenary lecture 2–3pm

Chris Lewis (Institute of Historical Research): ‘England’s Boundaries 1066–1086 and the Limits of Domesday Book’.

Session 3 3:30–5:30pm

Oliver Padel (Cambridge): ‘King Athelstan and the Cornish’.

Robert Gallagher (Kent): ‘Language, Landscape, Borders and Bounds: Ninth-Century West Saxon Charter Production and its Possible Implications’.

Rebecca Thomas (Bangor): ‘Asser and the Borders of Alfred’s Kingdom’.

Charles Insley (Manchester): ‘The Merfynion and the Mercians: the Anglo-Welsh Borderlands before the March’.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Session 4 9:30am–11am

David Thornton (Bilkent): ‘I’m an Englishman in Newport: Anglo-Saxon Landholding in Domesday Wales’.

Jacob O’Neill (Lancaster): ‘Exploring Ecclesiastical and Tenurial Landscapes across a Frontier: Two Case Studies from the Anglo-Welsh Border’.

Ben Guy (Cambridge): ‘The Pattern of English Policy towards Wales in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries’.

Session 5 11:30am–1pm

Alex Woolf (St Andrews): ‘The Fosse Way: The First English March?’.

Richard Purkiss (Oxford): ‘The Limits of the Danelaw’.

Ben Allport (Bergen): ‘Political and Spiritual Borderlands: Danelaw Conversion Strategies and the Dedications to St Clement’.

Registration costs £20, inclusive of lunch and refreshments on both days.

To register, simply fill out the form below

The Neighborhood Name Game

By C. J. Hughes

Place names come and go — with help from (surprise!) the real estate industry — but a few that have stuck around offer a window onto the city’s past.

by Lindsey Spinks

Manhattan, for all its charms, can sometimes fail the imagination. From the “financial district” to “Midtown” to the “Upper West Side,” the names of neighborhoods can seem just-the-facts dull, seeming to prefer literal and safe over style and mystery.

It wasn’t always this way. Checkering the borough once were names far more novel, like Mackarelville (on the Lower East Side), San Juan Hill (on the Upper West Side) and Jones Wood (on the Upper East Side), names which frequently got wiped off maps with the help of developers.

Read more

About Names: Rooted in Irish mythology, Conor has a bright future

Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro – Conor Oberst – Luck Reunion in concert, SXSW Festival, Austin, USA – 16 Mar 2017

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his February 15th column, he looks at the history of the name Conor.

Conor is the modern form of ancient Irish Conchobar, from “con” (dog) and “cobar” (desiring, liking). In Irish myth Conchobar mac Nessa is a king of Ulster. His mother, Ness, convinces her husband, King Fergus, to make 7-year-old Conchobar nominal king for a year to cement his royal status. Ness makes such wise decisions for her son that Ulster’s nobles keep him king permanently. As an adult, Conchobar wins a war against Queen Medb of Connacht when she attempts to steal Ulster’s famous stud bull.

Conner is an English surname from Old English “cunnere” (“examiner”), indicating one’s ancestor was an inspector of measures in alehouses. It’s often been confused with Conor. Many American Conner families are probably O’Connors in disguise.

Connor first beat Conor as the top spelling in 1986 — probably because of the film “Highlander.” Christopher Lambert starred as Connor MacLeod, an immortal Scottish swordsman battling foes who can only be killed by beheading. “Highlander” was a cult hit, spawning several sequels.

Connor boomed, peaking at 38th in 2004. Conner had a smaller upswing, reaching 127th in 2005. Conor’s 1993 peak, at 232nd, is linked to Eric Clapton’s song “Tears in Heaven,” inspired by the death of his young son Conor in 1991.

Call for Papers: The 25th International Symposium on Onomastics and Literature, Cagliari, Italy, 22-24 October 2020

The Society “Onomastica & Letteratura” (O&L) invites you to participate at the Twenty-Fifth International Symposium on Onomastics and Literature (Cagliari, 22-24 October 2020).


Themes that can be addressed include:

  • Inadequate, alienating insulating or insulting names
  • Proper names in the titles of literary works
  • Names in dedications
  • Methodological issues
  • Regional literary onomastics (Sardinia: the region hosting the conference)

Abstract proposals (350 words) should be sent as an email attachment to Dr. Donatella Bremer <donatella.bremer@unipi.it> along with a short biosketch (100 words) no later than 30 June 2020.

For further information, please contact Dr. Maria Giovanna Arcamone <magiarc@gmail.com> or Dr. Giorgio Sale <giosale@uniss.it>

For more information about this Call for Papers, please visit: http://oel.fileli.unipi.it/?page_id=501

Baby Names That Have Been Banned Around The World

Although the United States is pretty lax when it comes to baby-naming regulations, other countries are much stricter. In places like Italy, France, Malaysia and New Zealand, the government has the right to reject parents’ baby name choices, and in many cases, select more suitable alternatives.

Naturally, such cases have made the news over the years. HuffPost took a look and rounded up a number of interesting examples. Without further ado, here are 27 baby names that have been rejected or outright banned in different countries around the world: Lucifer, Nutella, Ikea, Messiah, Robocop, Prince William, etc.

Czech Prime Minister didn’t know the country’s name was changed

The Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš in the interview with The Wall Street Journal said he didn’t know that his country had officially changed the name of his country to Czechia. He didn’t like it at all and called it “a stupid idea” because of possible confusions between Czechia and Chechnya.

President Zeman prefers Czechia, a centuries-old name that he said sounds nicer, and more evocative. But Mr. Babiš, the prime minister is strongly against and that is why he stationery retains the name Czech Republic. Mr. Babiš heads the government and constitutionally holds more power than President Zeman. “The prime minister has a different opinion than the president. This is freedom and democracy. That is all,” said the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček.

U.S. Ambassador Stephen King recently said that the Americans rarely use the short name and he personally couldn’t remember the last time he had used it in his remarks. He added that in all official communications they use Czech Republic as most Czechs.

Highway signs featuring shíshálh place names to be up by end of March 2020

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) of Canada plans to have the Shashishalhem-English dual language road signs installed along Highway 101 by the end of March. The sign project, with an estimated cost of $80,000, was one of the initiatives identified in the 2018 Foundation Agreement between the shíshálh Nation and the province. The 20 new signs will be placed along a 65-kilometre stretch of the highway between Roberts Creek, at the southern boundary of the shíshálh swiya, and Lang Bay, about mid-way between Saltery Bay and Powell River, at the northern end.

The sign installations are getting underway as the province’s Geographical Names Office begins consultations with local governments and other stakeholders on proposals for official name changes for the communities of Madeira Park and Wilson Creek.

Heritage and toponymy at “Politics, Uses and Governance of the Past”, Lecce (Italy), May 29-31 2020


The management of controversial places of memory and heritage has an important political meaning. Geographical names can also celebrate a past that you want to impose. Or forget. In some cases, there is a double toponymy, which on the one hand celebrates the unity of the nation-state and of the majority population, on the other hand recalls the cultural specificity of the territory. In others, there are names in two or three different languages. Yet in other places, tourism erases the traditional toponymy and imposes its own, more in tune with the happy image that you want to promote. For this reason, a thematic conference on the „geographies of the heritage“ opens a broad debate, which can involve many of the voices that the IGU commissions may put together.

Sessions and papers could be devoted to the following sub-theme: Heritage and toponymy. Call for papers is closed but you may attend the conference!

REVISED Call for Papers for the Modern Language Association (MLA) Conference, Toronto, Canada, January 7-10, 2021

ANS Panel at the Modern Language Association Conference

January 7-10 2021, Toronto, Canada

Please note the revised deadline: MARCH 31, 2020

The American Name Society is inviting abstract proposals for a panel with the literary theme “Toponyms and Literaryscapes”. Although toponyms are often taken for granted in our daily lives, they bear considerable potential for acquiring personal and social meanings depending on their contexts and co-texts of use. These multi-layered meanings are often utilized by authors as a literary resource to evoke associations or invoke evaluative positioning. Papers accepted for this panel will explore how the meaning potential of place-names—be they real or fictional—is effectively harnessed to shape literary settings within specific works or by specific authors. Examples of themes that can be addressed include toponyms choice/invention and their connotations; toponyms in translation; toponyms in literary theory; and toponyms and intertextuality.

For more information about the MLA, check out the official website.

Proposal submission process:

  1. Abstracts proposals (350 words) should be sent as an email attachment (PDF format) to Dr. Luisa Caiazzo (luisa.caiazzo@unibas.it>
  2. Proposals should include “MLA 2021 proposal” in the subject line of the email;
    All submissions must include an abstract title, the full name(s) of the author(s), the author(s) affiliation(s), and email address(s) in the body of the email and NOT with the abstract
  3. REVISED DEADLINE: Proposals must be received by 8pm GMT on 31 March 2020. Authors will be notified about the results of the blind review on or by 3 April 2020
  4. Contributors selected for the thematic panel must be members of both MLA and ANS in order to present their papers
  5. For further information, please contact Dr. Luisa Caiazzo <luisa.caiazzo@unibas.it>.

A downloadable version of the Call for Papers can be found here.

More information about ANS and MLA conferences is available on the Conferences page of this website.